Hundreds of migrant children quietly moved to a tent camp on the Texas border

The New York Times reports:

In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.

Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.

But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.

These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year. [Continue reading…]

‘I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia’

Lindsey Hilsum writes:

In June the circus came to town. Nothing remarkable, you might think, except that the town was Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where until two years ago all forms of entertainment were banned. The previous week, the head of the General Entertainment Authority—sometimes called the Ministry of Fun—had been fired because a female performer in another circus had worn a tight-fitting, flesh-colored outfit that had sparked protests on Twitter (75 percent of Saudis use social media, about the same as Americans). The mutaween—the religious police—had carefully vetted the circus I attended, and the ankle-length black leggings and sparkly long sleeves of the lady with the dancing Dalmatians had passed muster, as had the body-hugging dark costumes worn by a group of androgynous flamenco-style dancers.

It was a particular joy to be in the audience, watching the delight of both children and adults, oohing and aahing at the tightrope walkers and convulsing with laughter at an act involving a large poodle leaping in and out of a garbage can. In the intermission I canvassed opinion. It was a few days after women had been permitted to drive legally for the first time, and spectators understood that this was about more than the right to go to the Big Top. “I hope that everybody benefits from change while respecting our religion first of all,” said a woman whose face was covered by a niqab, sitting with her husband and three kids who were munching popcorn. “It’s a big change here, with women driving and everything,” said a knowing ten-year-old girl. “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia!” [Continue reading…]

The belligerence of male entitlement and the cowardly rituals of male bonding

The Associated Press reports:

He let his anger flare repeatedly, interrupted his questioners and cried several times during his opening statement. She strived to remain calm and polite, despite her nervousness, and mostly held back her tears.

Throughout their riveting, nationally televised testimony on Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh served as Exhibits A and B for a tutorial on gender roles and stereotypes. Amid the deluge of reaction on social media, one prominent observation: Ford, as a woman, would have been judged as a far weaker witness had she behaved as Kavanaugh did.

“Imagine a woman openly weeping like this on a national stage and still getting elected to the Supreme Court. Or any office,” tweeted Joanna Robinson, a senior writer with Vanity Fair.

Kavanaugh, nominated to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, mixed tears with fury in his statement forcefully denying Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1982 when they were both in high school. He choked up at several points when referring to how his family has been affected by the tempest surrounding allegations by Ford and other women. [Continue reading…]

David Rothkopf writes:

Asshole Culture has carved out a very clear, unsavory role in American film, literature and life. Entitled, wealthy bros who take what they want, treat everyone around them like shit and then rise to positions of power is a common trope in our mass culture. And, if you have been following the news recently, you know that it exists at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

In films and books, these jerks usually get their comeuppance. From the downfall of the indulgent rich of Fitzgerald to Philip Roth’s tweaking of the entitled, from the sleazy elites of Bonfire of the Vanities to the snotty villains of every private school movie ever made to greed-driven bros of The Wolf of Wall Street, wealth and privilege set them up and karma ultimately knocks them down.

In real life, not so much. They usually just keep working their way up the greasy pole, covering for and enabling one another and rising generations of assholes to come, their paths assured by aging assholes who came before them and now sit atop big institutions.

Brett Kavanaugh, the GOP leaders in the Senate, and above all Donald Trump embody this subset of the ugliest Americans to such a degree that you can hardly believe they are real. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times notes:

Perhaps the most maddening part of Thursday’s hearing was the cowardice of the committee’s 11 Republicans, all of them men, and none of them, apparently, capable of asking Dr. Blasey a single question. They farmed that task out to a sex-crimes prosecutor named Rachel Mitchell, who tried unsuccessfully in five-minute increments to poke holes in Dr. Blasey’s story.

Eventually, as Judge Kavanaugh testified, the Republican senators ventured out from behind their shield. Doubtless seeking to ape President’s Trump style and win his approval, they began competing with each other to make the most ferocious denunciation of their Democratic colleagues and the most heartfelt declaration of sympathy for Judge Kavanaugh, in a show of empathy far keener than they managed to muster for Dr. Blasey.

Men who value other men more than women

Jia Tolentino writes:

As with Trump’s spasmodic talk about Tic Tacs and magnets [in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape], the stories about Kavanaugh seem to show sex—and sexual assault—as something that men do for other men. Christine Blasey Ford, who attended the all-girls Holton-Arms School while Kavanaugh attended the all-boys Georgetown Prep, has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly corralling her into a bedroom at a high-school party, and, while a friend egged him on and both boys laughed, pushing her down onto the bed, trying to pull off her clothes, and covering her mouth to stop her from screaming. Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale with Kavanaugh, has said that, during a freshman-year drinking game, after one male student pointed a plastic penis at her, Kavanaugh dropped his pants and, laughing, put his penis in her face. (Kavanaugh has said he “never sexually assaulted anyone” and called Ramirez’s accusation “a smear, plain and simple.”) “In each case the other men—not the woman—seem to be Kavanaugh’s true intended audience,” Lili Loofbourow wrote at Slate, noting the jarring presence of laughter in both stories. “If these allegations are true,” Loofbourow went on, “one of the more shocking things about them is the extent to which the woman being mistreated exists in a room where the men are performing for each other—using the woman to firm up their own bond.”

This is a common dynamic in fraternities, and it has been a persistent one in the Yale chapter of Kavanaugh’s fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, or DKE (pronounced “deek”). When Kavanaugh was a sophomore, the Yale Daily News ran a photograph of DKE pledges carrying a flag woven out of women’s underwear across campus (Kavanaugh did not appear in the picture); in 2011, DKE received a five-year suspension after its pledges yelled “No means yes! Yes means anal!” in front of the Yale Women’s Center. The fraternity’s 2016–17 president was suspended after the school found that he had engaged in “penetration without consent.” (In a statement to the Yale Daily News, he denied “many of the claims made” in the complaint filed against him.) “Fraternities attract men who value other men more than women,” Nicholas Syrett writes in his history of white fraternities, “The Company He Keeps,” published in 2009. “The intimacy that develops within fraternal circles between men who care for each other necessitates a vigorous performance of heterosexuality in order to combat the appearance of homosexuality.” [Continue reading…]

Brett Kavanaugh and the cruelty of male bonding

Lili Loofbourow writes:

For what it’s worth, and absent evidence or allegations to the contrary, I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s claim that he was a virgin through his teens. I believe it in part because it squares with some of the oddities I’ve had a hard time understanding about his alleged behavior: namely, that both allegations are strikingly different from other high-profile stories the past year, most of which feature a man and a woman alone. And yet both the Kavanaugh accusations share certain features: There is no penetrative sex, there are always male onlookers, and, most importantly, there’s laughter. In each case the other men—not the woman—seem to be Kavanaugh’s true intended audience. In each story, the cruel and bizarre act the woman describes—restraining Christine Blasey Ford and attempting to remove her clothes in her allegation, and in Deborah Ramirez’s, putting his penis in front of her face—seems to have been done in the clumsy and even manic pursuit of male approval. Even Kavanaugh’s now-notorious yearbook page, with its references to the “100 kegs or bust” and the like, seems less like an honest reflection of a fun guy than a representation of a try-hard willing to say or do anything as long as his bros think he’s cool. In other words: The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.

In both these accounts, Kavanaugh is laughing as he does something to a woman that disturbs or traumatizes her. Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with [Mark] Judge, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me.”

“Brett was laughing,” Ramirez says in her account to the New Yorker. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said.

If these allegations are true, one of the more shocking things about them is the extent to which the woman being mistreated exists in a room where the men are performing for each other—using the woman to firm up their own bond. The Kavanaugh yearbook is littered with dumb codes that seem to speak to exactly this tendency—stuff like “boofing” and “devil’s triangle” all suggest that what mattered to Kavanaugh was displaying club membership. The question is: At whose expense?

It goes without saying, I hope, that virgins are perfectly capable of doing everything Kavanaugh has so far been accused of. Offering a detail that personal was not only meant to be exculpatory in a specific sense; it was also deployed to counter an emerging image of Kavanaugh as a sleazy frat guy like his close friend and classmate Mark Judge. But he overshot the mark. If you’re going by his reactions in the Fox News interview, Kavanaugh’s wounded astonishment at the very existence of bad behavior would mean he couldn’t have known his good friend Mark Judge, who has written plenty about his own, very well at all. Kavanaugh’s strategy, in other words, was to present himself as all innocence: not just a virgin, but a virgin who’s never even heard of—let alone done!—some of the things he’s accused of. [Continue reading…]

Tariq Ramadan: The rock star scholar and the rape claims


The male cultural elite is staggeringly blind to #MeToo. Now it’s paying for it

Moira Donegan writes:

First, it was Harper’s. In their October issue, the magazine published an essay by John Hockenberry, the disgraced former public radio host who was accused of sexual harassment and racially inappropriate comments by women he worked with. He sent them emails asking for dates, made comments on their appearance and made sex jokes. In August 2017, after multiple complaints about his behavior were made to WNYC management, Hockenberry quietly retired from his program, The Takeaway. His behavior was only made public later, in reporting by Suki Kim for The Cut.

Hockenberry’s Harper’s piece, titled Exile, reached nearly 7,000 words – extraordinarily long for a personal essay – and details the suffering that Hockenberry claims to have endured since his behavior was made public. In the essay, Hockenberry relies heavily on the notion that his disability is exculpatory of his behavior – Hockenberry uses a wheelchair – and compares himself to Lolita, the teen girl who is kidnapped and raped in the Vladimir Nabokov novel.

He claims that he has reached out to his accusers and has been ignored or rebuffed, an assertion denied by the women, who say that they have not heard from him. Later, Hockenberry likens the Me Too movement to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, and characterizes his harassment of colleagues as “courtship”. “Do I dare make a spirited defense of something once called romance from the darkness of this exile, at the nadir of my personal credibility?” He does dare.

Then, there was the New York Review of Books. In an issue titled The Fall of Men, centered on what editor Ian Buruma called “Me Too offenders who had not been convicted in a court of law but by social media,” the magazine ran a similar piece, entitled Reflections from a Hashtag, by the Canadian former broadcast star Jian Ghomeshi.

The piece, like Hockenberry’s, was a first-person account from a man accused of sexual misconduct – in Ghomeshi’s case, sexual assault – that detailed the suffering he said he had endured as a result of his behavior being made public. Like Hockenberry, Ghomeshi seems not to have much considered the impact that his actions had on the women he targeted, and like Hockenberry, he downplayed the allegations against him and distorted the facts in a self-serving and myopic piece that is short of self-reflection and long on solicitations for pity. [Continue reading…]

Georgetown Prep students ‘treated women like meat’

Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer report:

[Christine Blasey] Ford’s allegation has made [Mark] Judge a potentially pivotal witness for Kavanaugh. Judge told The New Yorker that he had “no recollection” of such an incident. Judge, who is a conservative writer, later gave an interview to The Weekly Standard in which he called Ford’s allegation “just absolutely nuts,” adding, “I never saw Brett act that way.” Asked by the interviewer whether he could remember any “sort of rough-housing with a female student back in high school” that might have been “interpreted differently by parties involved,” Judge told the publication, “I can’t. I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys.” He added, “I don’t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.”

After seeing Judge’s denial, Elizabeth Rasor, who met Judge at Catholic University and was in a relationship with him for about three years, said that she felt morally obligated to challenge his account that “ ‘no horseplay’ took place at Georgetown Prep with women.” Rasor stressed that “under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,” but, she said, “I can’t stand by and watch him lie.” In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, “Mark told me a very different story.” Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep. (Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney for Judge, said that he “categorically denies” the account related by Rasor. Van Gelder said that Judge had no further comment.)

Another woman who attended high school in the nineteen-eighties in Montgomery County, Maryland, where Georgetown Prep is located, also refuted Judge’s account of the social scene at the time, sending a letter to Ford’s lawyers saying that she had witnessed boys at parties that included Georgetown Prep students engaging in sexual misconduct. In an interview, the woman, who asked to have her name withheld for fear of political retribution, recalled that male students “would get a female student blind drunk” on what they called “jungle juice”—grain alcohol mixed with Hawaiian Punch—then try to take advantage of her. “It was disgusting,” she said. “They treated women like meat.” [Continue reading…]

Why women’s rage is healthy, rational and necessary for America

Carlos Lozada writes:

She looked at me with arched eyebrows as I read aloud several passages from the two books late one night. “You didn’t know that?” my wife asked quietly.

No, I didn’t.

Even now, a year since the Harvey Weinstein revelations and nearly two years since the “Access Hollywood” video, after hearing so many #MeToo stories and reading books on the structures of misogyny, there was still so much I didn’t know about the depths of anger that these accounts draw from — so much, I suppose, I had the luxury of not knowing.

I didn’t know that, by the time they are preschoolers, children learn that boys can express their anger but that girls must suppress theirs. I didn’t know how much physical pain women endure in their lives, simply because they are women, and how frequently that pain is discounted, deemed “emotional.” I didn’t fully grasp how throughout our political history, principled rage has been lionized when emanating from men, but pathologized when coming from women, acceptable when it upholds women’s roles as nurturers, not when it serves their personal ambitions or collective aspirations.

And I didn’t quite realize that the #MeToo movement is not solely about revealing the pervasiveness of rape, assault and harassment, though it is accomplishing that. It’s also, as Rebecca Traister writes in her new book, a broader insurrection against gender inequality driven by “the righteous fury of the unrepresented” and, as Soraya Chemaly writes, an attack on “the injustice of having one’s social experience denied and hidden from communal understanding.”

Traister’s “Good and Mad” and Chemaly’s “Rage Becomes Her” are two urgent, enlightening books that I hope will be read together, works that are well timed for this moment even as they transcend it, the kind of accounts often reviewed and discussed by women but that should certainly be read by men. Traister, whose columns on gender and power earned her a National Magazine Award this year, focuses on the political history of female anger. She spans the suffrage movement to the 2016 election to, of course, the #MeToo wrath now upending the casting couch, the anchor chair, the editor’s desk and possibly even the highest bench in the land. Chemaly, an activist with the Women’s Media Center, emphasizes the psychology and culture of female anger, mixing personal experience with reporting and academic research to show how that anger is deemed a transgression of gender norms, and how the pressure to dial it back — and not be labeled shrill or scolding or imperious or just plain crazy — only pisses women off further.

But more than anything, these two writers have come to praise female anger, as an emotion and a tool. Anger is a catalytic force for activism and organizing, they argue, a demand for accountability, a statement of rights and assertion of worth. It is also a vital form of communication, Traister explains, a way for women to find one another and realize that their frustrations are shared. “The expression of primal, agonizing anger that followed Trump’s election meant that for the first time, some women — even those who’d been living in proximity to one another for years — could hear one another.” Or as Chemaly puts it, “Anger isn’t what gets in our way — it is our way.” [Continue reading…]

Memo to Kavanaugh’s defenders: Passage of time doesn’t erase youthful mistakes in the criminal justice system, especially for people of color

File 20180919 158222 ddfi12.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

By Eileen M. Ahlin, Pennsylvania State University

The accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, made by California professor Christine Blasey Ford, has been met with a variety of responses.

Among those responses has been the idea that what happens when someone is young should not be held against them, especially if they’ve led a commendable life ever since.

My research and that of others on criminal justice shows that, in fact, that’s not the way the system treats offenses committed by minors, especially if they are a person of color. Their crimes often haunt them for the rest of their lives.

[Read more…]