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Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
For the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, the New York Times published an article by Max Fisher headlined “20 Years On, a Question Lingers About Iraq: Why Did the U.S. Invade?”
The article is a fairly cogent summation of the evidence. However, when it was first published, it was undermined by an extremely significant and extremely funny mistake. After inquiries from The Intercept, the paper has changed the original mistake into a fresh, new mistake.
Here’s how the article originally read:
Mr. Hussein had ejected international weapons inspectors, which was seen in Washington as a humiliating policy failure for Mr. Clinton.
When the American leader was weakened by scandal later that year [in 1998], congressional Republicans pounced, passing the Iraq Liberation Act …
One reason this is so funny is because in 1998 the Times accurately reported what happened. The United Nations inspections team, called UNSCOM, was not expelled by Saddam Hussein, but rather was withdrawn by Richard Butler, the head of UNSCOM, after he consulted with the U.S. — about the fact that the U.S. was about to start bombing Iraq, in a campaign called Operation Desert Fox.
Even funnier is that the Times went on to claim erroneously that Iraq had expelled UNSCOM in 1998 at least five times, twice in 1999 and then in 2000, 2002 and 2003. It issued corrections on the three latter articles.
Two decades later, the paper apparently wanted to recapture its youth by being wrong again. The paper has now issued its fourth correction on this subject. Its present-day story currently reads:
Hussein had ejected international weapons inspectors in 1997, which was seen in Washington as a humiliating policy failure for Mr. Clinton.
Then, when Mr. Clinton was weakened by scandal in 1998, congressional Republicans pounced, passing the Iraq Liberation Act …
Wonderfully enough, this is also wrong. Iraq did expel the American members of the U.N. inspections team in 1997. But the rest remained in Iraq until they were withdrawn by the United Nations. All, including the Americans, returned to Iraq eight days later.
You can find this information in a story published when it happened, by a little-known paper called the New York Times.
The corrected text in the 2023 story also leaves out the reason Iraq expelled the (American) inspectors in 1997: Because some of the Americans were conducting espionage against Iraq. Again, you can read about this in the New York Times.
A Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility
Transgender Day of Visibility celebrates the joy, strength, and absolute courage of some of the bravest people I know — people who have too often had to put their jobs, relationships, and lives on the line just to be their true selves. Today, we show millions of transgender and nonbinary Americans that we see them, they belong, and they should be treated with dignity and respect. Their courage has given countless others strength, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves. Every American deserves that freedom.
Transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul — proudly serving in the military, curing deadly diseases, holding elected office, running thriving businesses, fighting for justice, raising families, and much more. As kids, they deserve what every child deserves: the chance to learn in safe and supportive schools, to develop meaningful friendships, and to live openly and honestly. As adults, they deserve the same rights enjoyed by every American, including equal access to health care, housing, and jobs and the chance to age with grace as senior citizens. But today, too many transgender Americans are still denied those rights and freedoms. A wave of discriminatory State laws is targeting transgender youth, terrifying families and hurting kids who are not hurting anyone. An epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls, in particular women and girls of color, has taken lives far too soon. Last year’s Club Q shooting in Colorado was another painful example of this kind of violence — a stain on the conscience of our Nation.
My Administration has fought to end these injustices from day one, working to ensure that transgender people and the entire LGBTQI+ community can live openly and safely. On my first day as President, I issued an Executive Order directing the Federal Government to root out discrimination against LGBTQI+ people and their families. We have appointed a record number of openly LGBTQI+ leaders, and I was proud to rescind the ban on openly transgender people serving in the military. We are also working to make public spaces and travel more accessible, including with more inclusive gender markers on United States passports. We are improving access to public services and entitlements like Social Security. We are cracking down on discrimination in housing and education. And last December, I signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, ensuring that every American can marry the person they love and have that marriage accepted, period.
Meanwhile, we are also working to ease the tremendous strain that discrimination, bullying, and harassment can put on transgender children — more than half of whom seriously considered suicide in the last year. The Department of Education is, for example, helping ensure that transgender students have equal opportunities to learn and thrive at school, and the Department of Justice is pushing back against extreme laws that seek to ban evidence-based gender-affirming health care.
There is much more to do. I continue to call on the Congress to finally pass the Equality Act and extend long-overdue civil rights protections to all LGBTQI+ Americans to ensure they can live with safety and dignity. Together, we also have to keep challenging the hundreds of hateful State laws that have been introduced across the country, making sure every child knows that they are made in the image of God, that they are loved, and that we are standing up for them.
America is founded on the idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives. We have never fully lived up to that, but we have never walked away from it either. Today, as we celebrate transgender people, we also celebrate every American’s fundamental right to be themselves, bringing us closer to realizing America’s full promise.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2023, as Transgender Day of Visibility. I call upon all Americans to join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination against all transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
"I'm from the great state of Texas. I served in the military. I go to church every Sunday. My faith is very important to me, but God made me in her image," Clymer said. "God made me transgender, and to see these people so cynically weaponize this and exploit these children's deaths and their teachers' deaths, it breaks my heart."
"I can't see where the biblical principles of loving your neighbor and walking the walk with Christ that they can see. I can't see what they're seeing."
On Tuesday night, much of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show was a deeply disturbing diatribe targeting trans people, painting them as terroristic anti-Christs, afforded special privileges by the elite. “The people in charge despise working-class whites, but they venerate the trans community,” Carlson said.
“The trans movement is the mirror image of Christianity, and therefore its natural enemy,” he continued, echoing violent and fascistic ideologies, like crypto- and neofascism. “In Christianity, the price of admission is admitting that you’re not God. Christians openly concede that they have no real power over anything, and for that matter, very little personal virtue. … The trans movement takes the opposite view. Trans ideology claims dominion over nature itself. ‘We can change the identity we were born with,’ they will tell you with wild-eyed certainty. Christians can never agree with the statement because these are powers they believe God alone possesses.” He concluded the segment with a warning for Americans about the dangers of the so-called trans movement: “Yesterday’s massacre did not happen because of lax gun laws. Yesterday’s massacre happened because of a deranged and demonic ideology that is infecting this country.”
Here, of course, Carlson is wrong; if there is one measure that would curb rampant gun deaths in this country, it would be making it more difficult to obtain assault-style weapons, of which police said the Nashville attacker had two (plus a handgun). As my colleague Hayes Brown argued, access to guns, not ideology, is fundamentally responsible for the mass shooting crisis.
But, given the tragic reality of rampant access to guns, research shows that there is a commonality among mass shooters, who often experience trauma and deep levels of social rejection and bullying. And ironically, it is precisely this kind of rhetoric Carlson shared, which targets and vilifies entire groups of people, that will increase the likelihood of this type of violence, in lieu of a ban on assault weapons.
Sociologist James Densley, a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University, and Jillian Peterson, associate professor of criminology at Hamline University, conducted a rigorous study on the profiles of every mass shooter, defined as everyone “who shot and killed four or more people in a public place, and every shooting incident at schools, workplaces and places of worship since 1999," to gain better insight into any potential commonalities. The hope was that an evidence-based approach to the psychology of mass shooters would make it easier to detect people prone to committing these acts of violence before tragedy struck. The duo’s research was funded by the Justice Department and ultimately compiled into a book, “The Violence Project: How To Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic.”
“There’s this really consistent pathway,” Peterson said of mass shooters in an interview with Melanie Warner in Politico last May. “Early childhood trauma seems to be the foundation, whether violence in the home, sexual assault, parental suicides, extreme bullying. Then you see the build toward hopelessness, despair, isolation, self-loathing, oftentimes rejection from peers.”
Crucially, this internalized pain at some point becomes externalized, Peterson explained: “What’s different from traditional suicide is that the self-hate turns against a group. They start asking themselves, ‘Whose fault is this?’ Is it a racial group or women or a religious group, or is it my classmates? The hate turns outward.”
The hateful rhetoric of those such as Carlson helps perpetuate these very social dynamics. In fact, Carlson’s rhetoric is so divisive and unhinged that it helps create the social conditions that hurt and isolate both the victimized — “working-class whites” — and the vilified — trans people. Carlson creates a direct and spurious connection between the perceived social injustices of working-class, white Americans and “the rise of transgenderism” (referred to on Fox News earlier this month as a “social contagion”). In so doing, he is terrorizing the trans community, fomenting hate and social isolation.
In 1974, Neil Vidmar and Milton Rokeach conducted a U.S.-Canadian-based study to examine various viewers’ perception of the sitcom. The purpose of the study stemmed from the results of a CBS opinion survey. CBS reported that most people simply enjoyed All In The Family and did not take offense to its content.
Using the selective perception hypothesis and selective exposure hypothesis, Vidmar and Rokeach discovered that viewer perception is oppositional to the dominant reading of the show, as well as different than the results of the CBS survey.
The study found that the show appealed more to high prejudiced viewers, who agreed with Archie Bunker’s view on race, than lower prejudiced viewers, who found his opinions to be insensitive and offensive.
The overall result of the study proved that Lear’s dominant reading of All In The Family was not what most of the audience perceived. It was found that most viewers enjoy watching the show because they think Archie speaks the truth about American society. With this data, the study concluded that the program is more likely reinforcing prejudice and racism, rather than combating it.
Aniston’s comments suggest an anxiety on her part about what can and cannot be said in a comedic context that echoes Chappelle and Gervais’s rage against “cancel culture.” But that anxiety neglects the way comedy functions, and in particular what the undercurrents of homophobia and outright transphobia on Friends implied about queer and trans people. The show’s jokes about Chandler, Ross, and Joey’s casual discomfort with queerness, their frequent panic at being considered gay, may have—as Aniston implied—been intended to reveal how ridiculous homophobia is.
But those jokes also normalized that discomfort, portraying it as harmlessly laughable rather than toxic. The show did little to dismantle the notion that queerness is shameful, instead making its 90s audience comfortable with laughing it off rather than interrogating why grown men would be so fearful of being considered gay.
Friends’ treatment of Chandler’s transgender parent was even worse, consistently portraying her as an oddity, a freak, someone whose experience of herself and the world could never be understood by “normal” cisgender people.
The NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll surveyed people across the political spectrum. It found the biggest issues people are worried about are the economy, “preserving democracy”, immigration, crime and the climate.
On the topic of introducing drag bans, as recently done in Tennessee, 58% opposed such moves. This rose to 73% of Democrats and fell to 37% of Republicans. 57% of those who stated they were Independent opposed such drag restrictions. Overall, just 39% said they supported restrictions on drag performances.