Christian Identity is a religious ideology rooted in the idea that Jews are actually the offspring of Satan, the product of a second conjugal relationship in the Garden of Eden between Eve and the serpent. Those who call themselves Jews are really imposters, descendants of Satan through that relationship. Minorities are descendants of what the Book of Genesis refers to as the “beasts of the field.” Minority groups, especially African-Americans, are seen as subhuman, “mud people,” as they are sometimes called. The idea is that Jews have engaged in this deceptive, cosmic conspiracy to manipulate minorities against whites. And at the end of times we’re going to get a race war. This is the battle of Armageddon for Christian Identity: a race war.
Is Southern culture perpetuating unequal practices or such thinking? For instance, the accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, in Charleston hadConfederate license plates on his car, and the Confederate flag is sometimes used as a symbol of post-Civil War white supremacy.
Southern culture in particular and American culture in general often casually perpetuate racism in the present, often by recrafting narratives of the past. The Confederate flag, which flies over South Carolina, was not a long-lived historical symbol — it was the symbol of a rebel force against the United States. The “heritage not hate” trope conveniently skips over the central issues of the Civil War, the position of black people who labored in the antebellum South, as well as the costs that the war had on the nation. Symbols like the Confederate flag are common among hate groups, but also are part of the state’s image. The history of those symbols, along with the large number of schools and statues named for Confederate soldiers and even [Ku Klux] Klan members, create a hostile environment for those who understand the history of race in the nation, and those whose ancestors were painfully forced to labor under those flags during and after the end of slavery, and who had their lives terrorized by groups like the KKK.
Sure signs that Burgis is no knee-jerk apologist for African elites arrive early in the book, beginning with his fascinating and lengthy account of “the Futungo,” a shadowy clique of Angolan insiders who he claims control their country’s immense oil wealth, personally profiting from it and also using it to keep a repressive ruling regime in power. The country’s leader, José Eduardo dos Santos, has been president since 1979, and in 2013, Forbes magazine identified his daughter, Isabel, as Africa’s first female billionaire. “When the International Monetary Fund [IMF] examined Angola’s national accounts in 2011,” Burgis writes, it found that between 2007 and 2010, “$32 billion had gone missing, a sum greater than the gross domestic product of each of forty-three African countries and equivalent to one in every four dollars that the Angolan economy generates annually.” Meanwhile, according to Burgis, even though the country is at peace, in 2013 the Angolan government spent 18 percent of its budget on the Futungo-dominated military and police forces that prop up dos Santos’ rule—almost 40 percent more than it spends on health and education combined.
Those who tend to blame Africa’s woes on elite thievery seize on such examples with relish. But Burgis tells a much fuller story. Angola’s leaders may seem more clever and perhaps possess more agency than other African regimes—and indeed, other African states seem to be eagerly adopting the Angolan model. But the regime relies on the complicity of a number of actors in the international system—and the willful ignorance of many others—to facilitate the dispossession of the Angolan people: Western governments, which remain largely mute about governance in Angola; major banks; big oil companies; weapons dealers; and even the IMF. They provide the political cover, the capital, and the technology necessary to extract oil from the country’s rich offshore wells and have facilitated the concealment (and overseas investment) of enormous sums of money on behalf of a small cabal of Angolans and their foreign enablers. Because Angola’s primary resource, oil, is deemed so important to the global economy, and because its production is so lucrative for others, Angola is rarely pressed to account for how it uses its profits, much less over questions of democracy or human rights. Burgis shows how even the IMF, after uncovering the $32 billion theft, docilely reverted to its role as a facilitator of the regime’s dubious economic programs.
Are Uber drivers employees? A very narrow ruling in California says they are. This is very narrow, applying to one person and Uber will certainly spend a lot of resources appealing. But there are similar lawsuits underway elsewhere and a larger hearing in California in a few months. The stakes are very high for this class of company.
At the time, the widespread public impression was that scientists were still divided over whether humans were primarily responsible for the warming of the planet. But how sharp was the split, she wondered?
She decided to do something no climate scientist had thought to do: count the published scientific papers. Pulling 928 of them, she was startled to find that not one dissented from the basic findings that warming was underway and human activity was the main reason.
She published that finding in a short paper in the journal Science in 2004, and the reaction was electric. Advocates of climate action seized on it as proof of a level of scientific consensus that most of them had not fully perceived. Just as suddenly, Dr. Oreskes found herself under political attack.
Some of the voices criticizing her — scientists like Dr. Singer and groups like the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington — were barely known to her at the time, Dr. Oreskes said in an interview. Just who were they?
She's also on Chris Lydon's Radio Open Source this week on the reaction of the science community to the Pope's new encyclical.