When will White violence be addressed?

Last week, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage in all 50 states in the U.S. legal. Right wing and conservative newspapers, websites and news broadcasting companies referred to this as an attack on Christianity. They fumed at the idea of gay marriage, saying it would ruin good Christian values and negatively influence young children. Yet in the weeks since the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, 8 churches and counting have been set on fire, with almost complete media silence. It seems odd that this isn’t also considered an attack on Christianity.

In April, a “riot” broke out in Baltimore after weeks of peaceful protests went unheard. Hours of news footage replayed images of damage to police cars and the burning and looting of a CVS, while news anchors and viewers at home chided those involved. How could those people destroy their own neighborhoods this way ? — was their lament as they ignored the much deeper systemic problems in the city. Yet when 8 churches across the Southern U.S. burned, no one mourns the loss of property.

In Texas, the police were called and harassed teenagers at a pool party because of the perceived threat of their presence. They were accused of general misbehavior and were considered a threat to the other (white) residents there, and a 14-year-old Black girl was slammed to the ground by a police officer. Yet when nine people were murdered during Bible study, their killer was arrested unharmed and treated well.

There’s a very strict yet unspoken code of conduct that Black people have to live by in order to be even considered human and worthy of life in the U.S. That list becomes stricter and stricter with each passing day. It’s inhumane that perceived violence by Black people seems to bother White America more than the actual violence that happens to Black people daily from White people.

Instead of the violence towards us being addressed, we’re told the ways we must act in order for it not to happen. But as the list gets stricter, Black people in the U.S. are still being killed by police, racism, White supremacy and violence at an alarming rate.

June 3, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 129

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: Why the media should take Bernie Sanders more seriously, the raid on FIFA, and remembering Beau Biden. People: Bill, Nate, guest UD alum Kevin. Produced: June 1st, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– Why is the media devoting negative coverage (or little coverage at all) to Bernie Sanders relative to many Republican presidential candidates this year?
– Why did the U.S. government finally step in on FIFA corruption?
– A few personal recollections about the late Beau Biden

Episode 129 (50 min):
AFD 129
(If you are unable to stream it in your browser on this page, try one of the subscription links below.)

Related Links/Stats

Columbia Journalism Review: “Bernie Sanders can’t win”: Why the press loves to hate underdogs
Media Matters: Daily Show Blasts Media’s Dismissive Coverage of Bernie Sanders
Quinnipiac May 28, 2015 Poll
NY Times: Democrats Seek a Richer Roster to Match G.O.P.
Press Think: Campaign reporters: you are granted no “role in the process.” It is your powers against theirs.

Additional notes:
– On this episode, Bill mistakenly implied that Jay Rosen is affiliated with Columbia University. In fact, he is affiliated with New York University’s journalism school. We regret the error.
– This episode was recorded prior to the announcement of Sepp Blatter’s plans to resign in a few months.


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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

The White Savior: The Last Hope for POC (According to Hollywood)

Movies need heroes. Whether they’re everyday people or aliens in tights, heroes are the characters in movies that the audience wants to see succeed. They save the day, they help others grow.

Unfortunately, there’s a subgenre of hero movie that is very popular in Hollywood: The White Savior movie.

You’ve seen these movies before, a group of poor, deprived kids of color have potential in something, but that potential can’t be manifested into a realized talent without the main White character showing the kids of color how to focus it. Bonus points if the White savior of the movie spends time trying to participate in the kids’ “weird” culture, much like Kevin Costner does in the trailer for the upcoming “McFarland, USA”, a movie which covers all those bases.

A section of the very telling promotional poster for "McFarland, USA"

A section of the very telling promotional poster for “McFarland, USA”

But that’s not the only type, there’s also the lone White hero in the society of People of Color who seems to be the only person capable enough to save everyone from an impending doom — which in some cases is that White Savior’s own culture, but at times is the implied “backwardness” of the culture he has joined into. Films such as “The Last Samurai” (2003) or “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) are examples.

Crop of "The Last Samurai" promotional poster.

Crop of “The Last Samurai” promotional poster.

Both of these types of White heroes in movies succeed in doing one thing; making the People of Color involved look inadequate. It’s an old and racist trope that can be found in what a lot of people consider classic literature. The People of Color, whether they are schoolkids or townspeople, are treated as more props than people. Their main purpose in the story is to better the main character or be saved by the main character.

Hollywood knowingly continues this trope. Many movies have been rewritten and even have had production blocked because of a lack of a White main character, like Danny Glover’s “Toussaint” (which I have mentioned on Arsenal for Democracy before). Their reasoning behind this is that having People of Color leads in movies doesn’t sell, and that White main characters are universal and everyone can relate to them.

But they’re not. What Hollywood has failed to realize is that the People of Color in these movies are people, not props, and the cultures that these White characters are navigating or destroying so easily in these movies are more important — and deserve to be more — than a plot device.

This style of movie is one that hopefully fades out as more and more People of Color are using the internet to create alternatives or even express distaste for how we and our cultures are being mistreated in media. Movies like “Dear White People”, which talks about the experiences of Black students at a majority White school, are able to be crowd-funded and go from being a short YouTube trailer to being a theatrically released, full length movie.

Twitter has had several hashtagged calls for more diverse media — and not just movies, but books, video games (full article➚), and television shows as well — that include well thought out characters of color and are created by People of Color.

Hopefully someday in the near future, the next time The Last [Person of Color] won’t always be a White Savior, and if we’re lucky there will be no Last [Person of Color] at all.

Boko Haram humiliate Nigeria government: What deal?

Finally ending a lengthy silence of several weeks, the man that Nigeria claimed (again) to have killed in September issued a video confirming that there is no ceasefire deal and there is no deal on the kidnapped Chibok girls, contrary to the claims of Nigeria’s government:

In a video released on Friday, [Boko Haram leader] Abubakar Shekau said: “We have not made ceasefire with anyone. We did not negotiate with anyone. It’s a lie.

“We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not.”

Shekau also claimed that the militants were holding a German national, thought to be a teacher, who was kidnapped by gunmen in July.

There was no indication of when or where the group’s latest video was shot.

The BBC’s Tomi Oladipo in Lagos says the video will come as a huge embarrassment for the Nigerian government after it said it had secured a ceasefire with Boko Haram.

Nor is there likely to be a deal (tragically):

But the Boko Haram leader said the girls were “in their marital homes” after being married off by the group.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said in a report that Boko Haram was holding more than 500 women and young girls captive and that forced marriage was common in the group’s camps.

I don’t root for failure in a terrible situation like this, but I have to point out that I predicted exactly how this would pan out. There was never a deal to begin with, as everyone should have suspected from the moment that there was no matching announcement by Boko Haram. This video is actually the first comment on the situation at all. This was either a gigantic mistake by the Nigerian government or a spectacular lie. Whichever it was, it sounds like time has run out (potentially quite a while ago) for the girls taken in May and probably many taken since then, due in large part to the ongoing ineptitude of the Nigerian government and military.

This should also “come as a huge embarrassment for” all the Western media outlets that reported it as fact, despite its obvious absurdity.

Arsenal For Democracy Radio Conversation – October 29, 2014:

Why is Western media reporting on Nigeria so bad?
Part 1 – Nigeria – AFD 105

Still image (via AFP) from the Boko Haram video communiqué received October 31, 2014.

Still image (via AFP) from the Boko Haram video communiqué received October 31, 2014.

October 29, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 105


Topics: Media coverage of Nigeria, comparing Mexico’s cartels to ISIS, reform Islam versus billionaire barons. People: Nate, Bill. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: October 26th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Why is Western media reporting on Nigeria so bad?
– Is Mexico’s Cartel War a bigger threat than the Syrian Civil War and the spread of ISIS?
– How big money for extremist causes is overriding Sunni Islam’s natural tendencies across the world

Episode 105 (56 min)
AFD 105

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: The Farce that is Nigeria’s Armed Forces
AFD: There was never a truce in Nigeria, just so we’re clear

Segment 2

Al Jazeera America: Mexican drug cartels are worse than ISIL
AFD: Mexico’s war: Still a bigger threat to the US than Syria’s
Global Post: Mexico’s vigilantes are building scrappy DIY tanks to fight narcos
NYT: 43 Missing Students, a Mass Grave and a Suspect: Mexico’s Police
The Daily Beast: She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

Segment 3

The Globalist: Reform Islam Vs. Billionaire Barons


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There was never a truce in Nigeria, just so we’re clear

On Friday, the world media foolishly decided yet again to take the Nigerian military at its word when they announced a truce with Boko Haram and a deal to release the kidnapped girls from Chibok. I explained, with a laundry list of evidence, why there was no reason to trust that this huge claim was true, especially with zero confirmation or comment from Boko Haram.

It only took a day for “we have a deal” to become they have “agreed in principle” to a deal, with negotiations to follow. And then came the explaining away of ongoing violence after a purported ceasefire.

A senior public affairs aide to the president, Doyin Okupe, told VOA that Boko Haram leadership is on board with the truce and that the violence was perpetrated by “fringe groups” of fighters who likely had not gotten word of the agreement.

Over the weekend, the violence continued to mount, undercutting any case that a ceasefire actually existed.

Suspected militant Islamists have shot and slaughtered people in three villages in north-east Nigeria, despite government claims that it had agreed a truce with them, residents say.

Boko Haram fighters raided two villages on Saturday, and raised their flag in a third, residents said.

The government said it would continue negotiating with Boko Haram, despite the alleged breach of the truce.

It hopes the group will this week free more than 200 girls it seized in April.

Boko Haram has not commented on the announcement made on Friday that a truce had been agreed, and that the militants would release the schoolgirls abducted from the remote north-eastern town of Chibok.

The government tried to point to the recent release of dozens of Cameroonian and Chinese prisoners as evidence that the purported negotiations were making progress, while skipping over the fact that they were released days before any such deal had been announced and were probably unrelated.

Moreover, the Nigerian government claims to be negotiating in nearby Chad with a man named Danladi Ahmadu, which has immediately raised all kinds of red flags… Read more

The Farce that is Nigeria’s Armed Forces

Today the global media was aflutter with an announcement by senior Nigerian military officials that a deal had been reached with Boko Haram to have a ceasefire and get back the kidnapped northern girls. Boko Haram did not confirm or deny…or say anything…according to every single news report around the world that I heard or read.

I flat-out do not believe any such deal has been reached. Not even a little bit. The only thing that will convince me otherwise is when those girls are actually back home with their families and the world media can verify that fact.

Why don’t I take it seriously? In addition to the lack of any confirmation from the deciding player in the situation (Boko Haram), this year has been marked by one long series of increasingly vast fabrications and demonstrations of incompetence by Nigeria’s military and security forces.

Below are just a few of the completely absurd things that either actually happened in Nigeria or have been made up entirely by the military, just in one week of September. It’s genuinely hard to decide which ones — the facts or the fictions — are more flabbergasting. But either way, there’s no credibility anymore.

One shining week of lies and failure: Compiled September 27, 2014

From the People Who Failed to Bring Back The Nigerian Girls Comes…the receiving end of the most boring A-Team heist of all time:

Last week it was reported that government agents took $9.3m (£5.7m) in cash to South Africa to buy weapons.
South African police said last week customs officials seized the money in $100 bills in three suitcases that arrived on a private jet from Nigeria at Johannesburg’s Lanseria airport earlier in September. The two Nigerians and an Israeli allegedly did not declare the money and it was impounded.

Parliamentary inquiries into the affair were immediately stonewalled for “national security reasons.” Then, after re-affirming everyone’s lack of trust in them, the Nigerian government and military proceeded to initiate the most epic and ham-fisted scramble to get out of trouble probably since “the dog ate my homework.”

First they tried to claim that the kidnapped girls had been rescued only to have retracted that within hours. This is the second time they have tried to pull this.

Then they went for a lie so big it might almost work, except again for having no way to prove it or even prevent it being disproven… They announced that Boko Haram’s leadership had been dispatched with extreme prejudice and the group was rapidly collapsing overnight.

Now by this point in the week there was NO WAY I could believe anything the Nigerian military claims, let alone something as gigantic as that, without outside proof and yet it rapidly circulated in Western media:

The military claims Mohammed Bashir was an imposter posing as Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, thought to have died in 2009

General Chris Olukolade of the Nigerian military said that Mohammed Bashir, who was killed in the latest offensive against Boko Haram, was a lookalike.

The Nigerian military has said that more than 260 Boko Haram militants have surrendered in north-eastern Nigeria.

Purely coincidence that they accidentally lose a ton of cash to South African customs officials, then suddenly start trying to claim they’ve rescued the kidnapped girls, and then when that’s proven false claim they’ve killed the lookalike and real leader of Boko Haram. I’m not sure they grasp how distraction tactics or plausible lies are meant to work work.

By the way: Nigeria and Cameroon’s armed forces have between them claimed to have killed the head of Boko Haram — or one of his doubles — multiple times over 5 years. Some experts think he’s been dead the whole time, like Bruce Willis. Others think he’s still alive.

Meanwhile, the claim that Boko Haram is collapsing was based on an unverified assertion of two separate incidents involving surrenders of fewer than 200 fighters … out of thousands. In contrast to those claims, Boko Haram staged multiple dramatic attacks in the 24 hours following the announcement of their purported collapse.

Wow, that held up all the way to the next day.

Trust us, this time

Again, all of that happened in, essentially, a roughly 7-8 day period preceding September 27. Now, less than a month later, we’re meant to believe that the previously “collapsing” Boko Haram has struck a major ceasefire deal and will be returning the girls, whom we’re told (without much evidence) are being treated well and are fine.

Here’s the thing: These lies matter, and they don’t mean nothing. They are deeply propagandistic, however incompetent, and this means the global media (or Western media, particularly) is complicit in this disgusting charade. There are few if any other countries where false claims of this magnitude are readily and regularly repeated with so little criticism or investigation.

Reporting false or unverified deals with insurgent groups is unwitting propaganda because it makes subsequent lack of progress appear one-sided. As in, if Nigeria’s military announces a deal and then fighting continues, it must be that Boko Haram broke the deal, instead of that there was never a deal because the government and military didn’t put in the work to make it happen. (For all we know, nothing was ever even negotiated!) We see this happen quite often during civil conflicts, as a way to score public approval points.

If a country or military announces a ceasefire or peace deal with rebel or terror group and then peace doesn’t happen, the default assumption is that the rebels/terrorists sabotaged the deal. Which is certainly plausible in many situations, but that assumption actually makes it easier for the authorities to exploit. Thus, governments have an incentive to announce non-serious or even imaginary peace offers as a done deal, to strengthen their “peacemaker” credentials. They get to say “Look, we tried to make peace and they stabbed us in the back!” and then keep fighting, and the media dutifully reports that version of events.

How the media should report on claims by Nigeria’s military
  1. Until Boko Haram confirms a deal and until those kidnapped girls are back, there is no deal.
  2. The Nigerian military lies regularly, constantly, and spectacularly. Anything they assert, at this point, should be assumed false until proven true.
  3. Stop repeating anything they say, without absolute confirmation. Official sources are only worth something when they’re usually reliably factual.

It’s pretty simple. Don’t splash those headlines all over the web, TV, and radio, unless and until you have absolute proof that it’s not made up. Don’t even report unverified “progress” announcements with the caveat that it can’t be confirmed. There’s no room for benefit of the doubt anymore with the Nigerian military’s statements.

We usually don’t see such epic and false proclamations from top military officials except in North Korea, and we don’t see U.S. media outlets unironically and uncritically reporting the claims of wondrous majesty and prowess by the Dear Leader. The claims by Nigeria’s military and government on the situation in northern Nigeria consistently proven untrue within about 48 hours, but buy them a little extra time and faith that isn’t warranted. Stop helping.