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Hope for Critically Ill Covid-19 Patients Within Reach

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There is new hope for severely ill patients with Covid-19. On March 30th, US company CytoDyn, released results from a randomized, double-blind study of a drug called leronlimab. The study revealed an unprecedented 82% reduction in the rate of death at Day 14 for patients on a ventilator who received 2 weekly doses of leronlimab compared to a placebo.

To confirm the finding, CytoDyn will need to perform another trial that will take months to complete. In the meantime, the company asked FDA to approve access to leronlimab for critically ill patients now, under an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA.

Unfortunately, the FDA rejected that request. The consequences of that decision, both here and abroad, where regulatory agencies generally follow the FDA’s lead, will likely be devastating as new strains of mutant virus sweep the globe.

The FDA is given the authority to exercise judgement and approve emergency use of a treatment when evidence suggests it will provide more benefit than harm. The Agency has already approved EUAs for various antiviral therapies, all of which work in the early stages of Covid-19 illness. But, to date, there is still no emergency access to effective treatments for patients with advanced disease on a ventilator.

In contrast to traditional antiviral drugs, leronlimab is a monoclonal antibody that disrupts signals that create inflammation in the lungs and elsewhere in advanced illness. In one remarkable case, a patient on life support for 2 months was able to start weaning off that support just 4 days after receiving his first dose. Also, since leronlimab works by calming the immune system rather than attacking the virus itself, it should remain effective against mutant strains.

The FDA is understandably focused on safety as well as efficacy. But here, too, the agency’s decision is difficult to understand. Leronlimab has already been safely given to over 1200 patients, including those with HIV or cancer, as well as Covid-19. Some patients with HIV have received the drug by weekly injection for over six years without significant adverse effects. Equally important, the drug causes no harm in those patients it doesn’t appear to help.

We write today as two physicians who don’t have an equity interest in CytoDyn and have published in peer reviewed journals on the use of leronlimab in the ICU setting. The striking survival benefit seen in the recent CytoDyn study fully aligns with our own experience. We are convinced that leronlimab gives intubated patients and their medical teams a fighting chance.

The future of the pandemic remains uncertain. As the US reopens, we are already confronting a growing surge of mutant viral strains that are more infectious, probably more lethal, and likely a greater threat to younger individuals.

Current evidence clearly suggests that leronlimab is safe and can save lives. Indeed, it is the only drug to have demonstrated a survival benefit in critically ill patients with Covid-19 in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

We urge the FDA to issue an EUA for leronlimab now while confirmatory studies are completed. Hope and relief for the sickest and most vulnerable among us must not be withheld any longer.

The post Hope for Critically Ill Covid-19 Patients Within Reach appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Humanizing the People Police Kill

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On the day Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, local law enforcement in my hometown killed my nephew’s father. His name was Jose Flores.

When my local paper “reported” on Jose’s death, it was more a regurgitation of a police report than journalism. There were no interviews with Jose’s family, who were on the scene when police used tear gas and “less lethal munitions” to kill him.

Jose could have been taken into custody. Instead, police transported his lifeless body to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Reporters regularly rely on police reports as primary sources when covering police killings. That’s irresponsible to say the least. Examples of lies and omissions in police reports are ubiquitous, as several high-profile recent killings have made clear.

Before the video of his killing went viral, police in Minneapolis reported simply that George Floyd “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” They failed to mention the cause of that distress was a knee on the back of his neck.

When Mario Gonzalez was killed by police in Alameda, California, the police report said he too experienced a “medical emergency” during an altercation with officers. Body camera footage later revealed Mario’s “medical emergency” was caused by officers placing a knee on his back and an elbow on his neck, resulting in him losing consciousness and eventually dying.

When 7th grader Adam Toledo was killed by police in Chicago, Cook County prosecutor James Murphy claimed Toledo had a gun in his hand when officer Eric Stillman killed him. Video evidence showed Adam’s hands were empty and raised above his head when he was shot.

Sadly, it’s par for the course for police reports to frame officers in a favorable light — and the people they kill in a negative one.

In Jose’s case, the news coverage quotes heavily from the police report and paints him as someone who perhaps deserved to die — noting, for example, that he was “known to the police department from several prior contacts and arrests involving violent offenses.”

Was Jose a saint? Of course not. None of us are. But he was a son, a brother, and a father. Compounding the tragic nature of his death is that his third child is due in just two months.

Jose, like George, Mario, and Adam, was many things, including a human being who deserved help in a moment of crisis. His death could have been avoided if police acted rationally. Instead, they rushed the situation to its lethal conclusion.

Despite being under more scrutiny than ever, U.S. police killings in 2021 are actually right on pace to meet their annual average of 1,100.

When police kill people, true justice is unachievable, and even accountability is rare. The arrest rate for police who fatally shoot people is just 1 percent, with the conviction rate being even lower.

Like others who were needlessly killed by police, Jose should still be here today. He should be alive to see his child born this summer, or to watch his son’s little league game this week. Because police relied on violence as a first resort, he is gone forever.

Jose would give the shirt off his back and the shoes off his feet to someone who needed them more than he did.

That’s how I’ll remember Jose.

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Feats of Klee

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…an ordering of images
a search for the hidden sense
an illumination of visions in the mind –
such is, to me, his art.

– Antonin Artaud, “A Painter of the Mind,” (1923)

The Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee created more masterpieces in the closing years of his life than most artists do in their primes. Diagnosed with “scleroderma,” which is today called “sclerosis,” his resolve hardened along with myriad symptoms of his disease, and he raged against the dying of his artistic light. Near the end he had trouble lifting his arms, trouble walking, bronchitis, arthritis, as if his struggle to speak the language of pure perception as an artist intensified the closer his fatal disease brought him to vision’s closure.

In their new biographical survey, Paul Klee: Life and Work (Hatje Cantz, € 48.00), Christine Hopfengart and Michael Baumgartner liken Klee’s productivity to Picasso’s late flourish. “Klee’s creative intensity was wrung from his illness, and represented the tangible result of his persistent will to live,” they write. “Like Picasso, whose artistic activity increased in a final surge, Klee too worked ceaselessly against the clock, and his drive to visually express himself grew steadily until shortly before his death.” He wouldn’t let the blank canvas have its way with him.

From 1937 to 1940, when he died, Klee created hundreds of works — mixed media paintings, watercolors, drawings — gradually increasing, after a year away from work to deal with newly diagnosed illness, from 489 works in 1937 to 1253 works in 1939. While most of these works were drawings, the “impressive” lot included, “Revolution of the Viaduct,” thought to be a middle finger salute to Hitler and his miens; “Harmonized Region,” a black and white interweaving of shades reminiscent of his early fugal period; “Conch-Still Life II,” a delightful rendering of his surrealist pseudo-symbolism; and, his final expressionist painting,”Death and Fire.”

Paul Klee is in many ways a typical survey of the artist, the authors scrupulously careful to avoid the pitfall of veering off into culture wars or politics. These days, we might hold that against the writers, but I myself was happy enough just to keep it a straightforward narrative of a man’s life as an artist and eschew the distractions. The result is a deliberate focus on Klee’s artistic development — one which is quite interesting in the richness of his choices growing up, as well as the unusual influences that helped him work his art.

One of the amazing things about Klee’s life, which the authors spend some time exploring and cross-referencing throughout the text, is the fact that he was a “skilled” violin who, along with his wife Lily, an excellent pianist, regularly played in chamber ensembles and sought out orchestral gatherings (his son, Felix, was also a skilled musician). This was such an important feature that Hopfengart and Baumgartner include in the volume a painting of Klee playing violin, painted by Alexandra Korsakoff, a Russian emigre friend. He wrote in his diary,

As time passes I become more and more afraid of my growing love of music. I don’t understand myself. I play solo sonatas by Bach: next to them what is Böcklin? It makes me smile. [p.14]

Felix remarks that his parents would sometimes “play chamber music all day long, as if truly obsessed.”

Musical lines and Bach’s fugues (especially) would later be incorporated into his visual art in ways that led to his unique take with images. Early in his career, when Klee was experimenting with etching on glass treated topside with ink and underside with a white coat of paint, he would scratch out line drawings, playing white against black in new ways. For example, quoting again from his diary, the authors point to this ‘play’ in one of his etchings:

One more thing may be said about The Comedian: the mask represents art, and behind it hides man. The lines of the mask are roads to the analysis of the work of art. The duality of the world of art and that of man is organic, as in one of Johann Sebastian’s [Bach] compositions. [p.172]

There’s almost a synesthetic sense at work here that rivets the viewer to this line-whispering that is part of the dialectic between Bach and Klee.

Of course, as Hopfengart and Baumgartner point out, Klee was not the only artist looking, around the fin de siecle, for a unifying concept to tie all art altogether. More than one artist — to this day — has been influenced by the rapturous complexities of Bach’s fugues. Here. the writers tell us,

He incorporated an increasing number of musical terms, such as “tonality,” “polyphony,” “harmony,” or “rhythm,” into his artistic vocabulary, and he created works with titles that reference concepts of music theory, such as “Fugue in Red.”

An interesting reciprocal interpretation of Klee’s work can be heard to excellent effect in “Fugue in Red” from Paul Klee: Painted Songs.

Early on, Klee conjures up some similarities to the life of Vincent Van Gogh, in a couple of ways. As indicated, he had another avocation had he chosen to pursue it — musician, Van Gogh started out wanting to be a couple of other things rather than a painter — writer, and then, when that became impossible, an evangelizing minister, and, after his passion for it was rebuked, he settled for being an artist, selling one measly painting in his lifetime. (See my review of a recent Van Gogh biography.)

The other thing they had in common was a visionary sense of color, each ‘evolved’ the palette in unique ways. Van Gogh moved in a transformative moment in his personal and artistic journey from a black and white world toward an Ezekiel-like glimpse into the sometimes phantasmagorical wheel of color to which we’ve become accustomed in Van Gogh’s work. Klee experimented his entire life with transformative ways of presenting color, whether in his expressionism, surrealism, or cubism. In his Preface to Paul Klee: The Thinking Eye: The Notebooks, critic Giulio Carlo Argan compares Klee to DaVinci:

The writings which compose Pauk Klee’s theory of form production and pictorsi form have the same importance and the same meaning for modern art as had Leonardo’s writings which composed his theory of painting for renaissance art. [p.11]

And again, one recalls the importance of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, Theo, which have proved so enlightening to his understanding of his work and experiments in color.

For Klee, as for many artists who followed him, art is not merely representational, it is existential and goes to the core of being. Again, Argan points out,

Since art brings into being, albeit only through what is termed the visible, a cosmic awareness of reality, there is no moment or aspect of being which can be considered foreign or irrelevant to the experience which is acquired in artistic creation. [p.11]

Klee fully embraced this relationship with Being. His work deconstructs, re-aligns, does stuff that Picasso succeeds with in his cubist dimensions but brings what he knows from music and its mathematical roots.

The left-handed Klee (an orientation often “corrected”) was encouraged to remain that way by his grandmother, with whom he lived for a while as a toddler, and who was the first to see his lefty childish doodles as potential gifts from God in the making. Klee had an arch view of the world even then, drawing clocks with all the numbers scrunched up on one side or stick figures that had attitude. Maybe the best example of his twistful thinking during the early years was his “Girl with Doll” (1905) [below] whose energy erupts from below (look at the pretty mountain, Mama, then BOOM it’s a volcano Yeow). In this reverse-glass drawing, the authors tell us, “Klee shows children not as ideals of bourgeois propriety but as small untamed beasts.” Damn, reminds me of what one of the Google execs said to Julian Assange when they visited under house arrest at the beginning of his now 10-year ordeal at the hands of the State.

Paul Klee, “Girl with a Doll” (1905).

Klee’s musical training and instincts drew him to Bach’s fugues and the sense of cascading being, frames of reference pouring out of itself, like clones slightly varied, or replicants, or viruses. The “Fugue in Red” above is one example among many that depict this sense of released energy, if you can only crack the surface with a good whack of reverse engineering logic and perception. His work with concentricity and flow, color and shade, led probably quite naturally to what he came to refer to as “perspectival distortions.” Even before we’ve looked at an example of Klee’s work in this area, most of us can “see” such distortion when we look at an image that has color separation corrected by wearing 3D glasses. Maybe that’s what Klee expects with his watercolor, “Dream City” (1921), a synthesizing gaze from the viewer.

Paul Klee, “Dream City” (1921).

Klee’s play with lines and mechanics and expressionism and surrealism seem to come together in his famous early avant garde watercolor, “The Twittering Machine” (1922). One thinks Duchamps, Picasso, mechanical design. The work comes from his period at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Looking to support a wife, Lily, and the time and space required to pursue his art, Klee accepted an offer to teach at the Bauhaus. Though he worried that teaching would take time away from his real work, he longed, as artists do, for the economic and domestic stability that would make his pursuit sustainable (many an English teacher has gone into the profession believing it would buy them time to be a writer, LOL). It worked out well for Klee though, as it helped him delve into theory, which went into his teaching and resulted in the aforementioned ‘genius’ notebook, The Thinking Eye.

Paul Klee, “The Twittering Machine” (1922).

And Klee took the teaching seriously, even if it wasn’t his first passion. The authors tells us that

Characteristic of Klee’s teaching was its grounding within a cosmic, holistic system and its connection to considerations of worldview, science, and philosophy. Also typical was the fact that Klee was never dogmatic, but instead sought to foster independent judgment on the part of the students.

That’s probably the first thing anyone would say about Klee’s work: “There’a a wholesomemness under that surreality that wants to jump from the pot onto your sipping spoon. Soupçon!” Ja?

But, what’s more, the authors invite us to believe that students were wont to see Klee as almost a Zen master, at time, in his standing deliveries:

One of his lessons was entitled “Drawing from Leaves after Nature with Consideration of the Articulating Energies of the Veins.” Klee’s students consistently described his teaching as factual and thorough, but also as “a work of art in itself.”

Damn. You wouldn’t want to know what my English students said, although one girl, who consistently stood too close (think Sting), did say, “Maybe you should stick with writing.” (Gulp) One imagines that he was tuned in to his charges, ala “Girl with a Doll” (see above).

The authors interest us in hor d’oeuvres of Klee’s life in Dessau after the Bauhaus was virtually shut down by an unfriendly incoming government that chose to seriously reduce its funding. In Dessau, Klee got close to fellow artist Wassily Kandinsky, though, we’re told the two maintained a distance addressing each other as “Sie” instead of “Du.” Though we’re told that Lily was not happy in Dessau, Klee’s reputation did begin to flourish and his work became more recognizable and saleable. Through an important art dealer, Alfred Flechtman, he saw his work exhibited in Paris, and America as part of The Blue Four (Paul Klee,

Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, and Wassily Kandinsky). Later, he formed The Paul Klee Society, which further enhanced his value to the public.

Out of this Dessau period came a notable movement toward abstract symbolism and a kind of mysticism of order. In a step backward (to go forward again, of course) he returns to the incandescence and resonance of his fugal years by imbuing subjects in experimental colors or blends. This quality is perhaps best depicted in his famous painting “The Goldfish” (1925). As the authors describe it,

As if illuminated from within, the depicted subjects emit a phosphorescent glow against a deep black background that sometimes oscillates into red or blue. Space and time seem suspended in the iridescent colors of this twilight realm.

Strangely, the painting reminds me of a David Attenborough episode on the Sahara featuring the blind Golden Catfish in sluices beneath the sand.

Paul Klee, “The Goldfish” (1925).

In 1929, Klee received an offer from the Düsseldorf Academy — by way of postcard — inviting him to apply for a position there. A postcard! And it was most welcome. He gladly moved there from Dessau. For the first time a while he breathed the fine air of higher culture again, after years among the well-meaning provincials. Now, in Düsseldorf, “He was thrilled by the high quality of opera on offer, and there were many performances that he went to see several times so he could give careful consideration to their interpretations.” Jesus, he was happy. And, the authors tell us, he mingled with the better class of locals “As a member of the crème de la crème of the Düsseldorf cultural scene.”

If he found more intensity in Dessau than elsewhere, in the Big D he found broadmindedness even where he least expected it. He writes in his diary,

Even if everyone isn’t a genius in Düsseldorf as they are in Dessau, one senses the atmosphere of artistic saturation and feels at home. Even the conservative minds have an intense interest in progress; some of them are more honest than the modernists and that’s why some are interesting.

Klee was in full swing in Düsseldorf, comfortable and settled, and so was Lily. (He also found his son Felix a theatre gig there.) Oh Happy days!

But then the Nazis came and blew out the candles on the fuckin’ culture cake. Hitler and his posse started pointing fingers (you and you and you, kommen Sie hier jetzt und schmoochen meinen Ring). Oh, Klee was empört:

Klee detested Hitler—but his disapproval resulted not just from political opposition but also, and most of all, from his condescension, as artist and intellectual, toward primitive demagoguery and populist lust for power.

And the hatred for art not Aryan (all because they rejected his still life of “roses” in art school, und jetzt die pout und still lives everywhere, and there in the bunker he just couldn’t pull the trigger of his Goethe gun) was soon directed at Paul Klee and Jews in general and his “degenerate art” was put on display in exhibition inviting disdain and streams of pee-pee from pouting Nazis. Among his works they found Piss-Christ repulsive were “Around the Fish” and “his print ‘The Saint of the Inner Light,’ (1921), was juxtaposed with a painting by a mental patient and ridiculed as the expression of psychological decay.”

Paul Klee, “Around the Fish” (1926).

Finally, with mounting pressure from the Nazis in his life and work, Klee felt that he had to leave Germany as they moved inevitably toward a movement that would result in World War II. He fled his Vaterland and returned to his Mutterland, Suisse, and settled in Bern. In his final years after he became seriously ill, Pablo Picasso stopped in to see him. The authors tell us that though not disagreeable to each other during the visit, they weren’t mutual admirers some critics have painted them as. The authors write,

the two artists… had little to say to each other, and their encounter was marked by respect, but also by a certain reserve. Klee admired the audacity of Picasso’s radical distortions and large-scale compositions, but maintained a critical distance toward his drama and Mediterranean pathos.

Probably Picasso influenced Klee more than the other way around.

One of the fun side trips that develops out of reading Hopfengart and Baumgartner’s Paul Klee is the allusion his notebooks and their value, but also, within those notebooks are the collection of his poems known as Some Poems, widely available for free (here) and at Archive.Org. That Antonin Artaud, author of The Theatre and Its Double and creator of the Theatre of Cruelty, is included here with his paen to Klee as a kind of Introduction to the poems is suggestive of the French and German avant garde circles Klee was welcome in. As with the musical renditions of Klee’s work, these poems add extra “lines” of value to an appreciation of his work. Here’s an excerpt from “Individuality”:

Enter an ancestor, prophetic;
enter a hero, brutal
a rake, alcoholic, to argue
with a learned professor.
A lyrical beauty, rolling her eyes
heavenward, a case
of chronic infatuation enter a heavy father,
to take care of that,
enter a liberal uncle – to arbitrate….
Aunt Chatterbox gossiping in a comer.
Chambermaid Lewdie, giggling.
And I, watching it all,
astonishment in my eyes.
Poised, in my left hand
a sharpened pencil.

This is a wonderful example of the artist’s reposed distancing from the objet ‘d’art that human commerce can seem to “thinking eye.”

Paul Klee: Life and Works is a clear, straightforward account of an artist’s life and development. It’s journalistic rather academic or overly analytical and allows the reader ample mental space to move the pieces around at his or her own pace and way, in keeping with the theme of individuality at work. Politics is underplayed, Klee’s art is the prize we eye. It is, as you’d expect from an art book, chock full of images of his work, and is a good reference to anyone planning attending an exhibit or looking further into Klee’s work. I highly recommend the volume to both historians and other cultural wonks and dalliancers.

 

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Senators of the Lost Cause

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This is what you shall do. . .stand up for the stupid and crazy…

Walt Whitman,  Preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass 

A number of readers wondered whether, following my recent piece on The Triplets in the House of Representatives, I was being unfair to the United States Senate, a body that includes at least two people deserving recognition as much as the triplets in the House.  I can only acknowledge my oversight with a mea culpa  and make amends by directing the readers’ attention to two Senators who, with each utterance, warm the cockles of the trumpian heart and the hearts of all who love and miss the trump.

The two Senators are Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Great minds can differ on which of the two men is the dumbest man in the Senate.  NBC’s Joe Scarborough bestowed the label on Josh, calling him the dumbest guy in the Senate, but I prefer to bestow that honor on Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson.  Ron does not have the academic credentials of Josh. Josh attended Stanford, and Yale law school.  The lack of those credentials does not, however,   deprive him of the right to being first, not second, in the  competition.

Ron has served in the Senate since 2010.  During that time ample opportunities for him to show his stupidity have presented themselves, and he has rarely failed to take advantage of them.  In 2021, however, he has taken positions that in the opinion of this writer give him an insurmountable lead over Josh Hawley.  Among his most memorable demonstrations were his comments on the rioters who stormed the United States Capitol as Ron and his colleague took refuge in a safe space in the Capitol building. Ron said of his time being sequestered in a safe space in the Capitol that:  “I never felt threatenened  I didn’t foresee this.  They made up their own standards in terms of incitement.  The first question was ‘Was this predictable? Was it foreseeable? And the answer was no, it wasn’t.  I don’t know any Trump supporters  who would do that.”  In an interview in March he said of the rioters that:  “I know those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.” He went on to say that had the rioters been members of the Black Lives Matter crowd he would have been more concerned for his safety.  He did not explain why he joined his colleagues in being taken to a refuge where they were protected from the people showing their love for the country by storming its capitol nor has he explained why more than 400 of them have been criminally indicted for trying to prove their love of country.

Ron’s observations about the good intentions of the rioters by themselves, would perhaps not earn him the distinction I have granted him.  It is also his expertise on the Covid-19 vaccine. He has repeatedly downplayed the need for people to get vaccinated against the virus.  In an interview with Vicky McKenna on April 23 he explained that if a person had the vaccine he or she didn’t need to worry about whether anyone else got the vaccine.  As he explained: “So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not.  I mean, what is it to you? . . . . So why this big push to make sure everybody gets vaccinated?”  The more than 570,000 American who have died could explain why taking the vaccine is important. Anthony Fauci responded to Johnson’s comments saying they were nonsense.  He said we have very effective vaccines and it makes no sense to take the Johnson position that if he’s been vaccinated no one else needs to take the vaccine.

Johnson’s competitor is Josh Hawley. Josh is better credentialed than Ron. Josh received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Yale Law School.  Both of his degrees have served him in poor stead proving, as a president of Harvard once said, the mere fact that you graduate from a great university does not mean you are an educated person.  On December 30, 2020, Josh  announced by means of a trump like tweet, that he would refuse to certify the vote that Joe Biden had been elected president.  “I cannot vote to certify the Electoral College results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.” Not content to express his unwillingness to certify the electoral college results, as the rioters gathered on January 6 preparing to launch their attack on the Capitol, Josh walked by them pumping his fist in the air in a gesture of support.  What happened next is history.

Commenting on Josh’s tweets and conduct, John Danforth, a former Missouri Senator said:  “Supporting Josh Hawley. . . was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.  He has consciously appealed to the worst. He has attempted to drive us apart and he has undermined public belief in our democracy.  And that’s great damage.”  Senator Danforth got that right. Josh Hawley is a national disgrace. So is Ron Johnson.  The nut jobs in the House of Representatives have not upstaged the ones in the Senate.  The electorate has made sure there are enough to go around.

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The Hamptons: Where Wealth and Poverty Clash

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It’s tough being rich. For one thing, you have to be on constant alert to keep commoners from encroaching on your turf and upsetting your sense of proper social order.

Consider the angst of the swells who summer in the Hamptons, an ultra-tony seaside enclave of New York City’s old-wealth families and Wall Street elites on the eastern tip of Long Island. For generations they’ve used local ordinances to keep us riffraff out of their exclusive communities.

But now they find themselves besieged.

A small reservation of some 1,600 members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation has also been in the Hamptons for generations.

In fact, it’s the rich white residents, whose Anglo predecessors first descended on Shinnecock lands in 1640, who are the invaders. Today, the indigenous people struggle with poverty, gazing across a small bay at the huge summer mansions of their Gatsby-esque invaders.

To lift their own economy, the tribe intends to build a modest, tribal-run casino on their reservation. Oh, the horror, shriek the Hamptonites!

The reservation is the Shinnecock people’s sovereign land, free from the Hampton elite’s zoning laws, so the rich and mighty are reduced to begging the Native people to just go away. “A lot of us are bleeding heart liberals and sympathetic to the oppressed,” exclaimed one local homeowner quoted by the New York Times, “But it’s not the right location.”

It never is, is it?

This is a struggle of elitist aesthetics versus human necessities. Casino revenue could help tribal families with such expenses as rent, food, utilities, and car payments. It “could change the quality of life here overnight,” says the tribal chief.

But who cares? A few of the snobbiest of Hampton blue bloods haughtily warn they will move out if the Shinnecock Casino comes in.

Hmmm, sounds like a good trade to me.

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Response to Ann Garrison Article on Pacifica

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A response to Ann Garrison’s piece from April 15, 2021: Pacifica Radio: Let’s Talk About the Debt

Regarding democracy at Pacifica, Ann Garrison wrote: “In early June, listener subscribers and staff of the Pacifica Radio Network, which includes five nonprofit metropolitan stations, KPFA-Berkeley, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFT-Houston, WBAI-New York City, WPFW-Washington D.C., and over 200 smaller affiliate stations across the U.S., will receive ballots to vote on yet another new set of bylaws that would largely do away with its democratic governance structure. “

The New Day Pacifica bylaws do not do away with democratic governance. The new bylaws have 15 Directors on the Board: 4 officers are directly elected by the full membership, and are accountable to the members; 8 stakeholders (5 stations’ listeners, the paid staff, the unpaid staff and the affiliates) have their representative Directors directly elected by the respective constituencies; and 3 at-large Directors are elected by the 12 elected Directors to bring experience and expertise that the elected Board members might not have but the Board needs. The New Day Pacifica bylaws actually have more direct democracy than the current bylaws.

Some complain that the New Day Pacifica bylaws do not give proportional representation to paid and unpaid staff. The current bylaws do not have proportional representation, for example the number of representatives from stations do not reflect the number of members at different stations. It is not possible to have proportional representation without increasing the Board to an unmanageable size.

Regarding programming at Pacifica, Ann Garrison wrote: “My other reasons for opposing these bylaws is that they are fundamentally undemocratic and that they will lop off Pacifica programmers’ anti-imperialist wing. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Pacifica was a radical, antiwar, anti-imperialist network, perhaps most admired when WBAI sent the first American reporter to broadcast from North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today, however, much of Pacifica has—like the rest of what now passes for the left—given way to identity politics, Democratic Party politics, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and even national security state narratives.”

“The network still has an anti-imperialist wing and I’m on it, but the list of Pacifica staff endorsers makes me think that our days will be numbered if the New Day Pacifica bylaws proposal passes. There are certainly a few outspoken anti-imperialists among the staff endorsers, but the most prominent and far greater number represent the direction the network has taken since its heyday in the 1960s and early ’70s, before the national security state created NPR to counter its radical narratives. Many Pacifica programmers wouldn’t sound out of place on NPR, and some have moved on to NPR employment.”

The New Day Pacifica bylaws have the same provisions for the power and duties of the Board as the current bylaws.

The programming at Pacifica is determined by the staff at the each station as laid out by Lew Hill in ‘The Theory of Listener-Sponsored Radio’: “On the one hand, these happen to be subjects of primary interest to people working at KPFA. On the other hand, they happen also to represent the articulate interests of well-defined minorities in the audience of the San Francisco Bay Area. The correspondence is not accidental. A constant exchange between the staff and the audience enriches the schedule with fresh judgment and new ideas, materials, and issues. Thus members of the staff work out their own ideas and, if you like, categorical imperatives, with some of the undistracted certitude one feels in deciding what he will have for dinner, subject to the menu. Listener sponsorship makes possible this extremely productive balance of interests and initiatives.”

Pacifica was an anti-war anti-imperialist network during of the Vietnam War. The young people were engaged because the men faced the draft. Now the issues have expanded to include global warming, income inequality, etc. The challenge for the network is to engage the young people in the same way it did in the 60’s and the 70’s.

Regarding governance at Pacifica, Ann Garrison wrote: “Although New Day Pacifica implies that it will somehow save the network from looming debt, it has never put forward a plan to do so. Since this group also supported the brief, failed takeover of WBAI in October 2019, it’s difficult not to imagine that their secret plan is to sell WBAI’s license, or perhaps to turn WBAI and maybe other stations, into repeater stations playing a bland potpourri they call “Pacifica Across America,” as they did after briefly taking over WBAI in 2019. I wrote about that failed takeover in “Solidarity Never? The Battle for WBAI.”

“Or do they hope to take the kind of corporate underwriting that is rewarded with thank yous, aka advertising, at the top of the hour on NPR? If neither of those is their plan, or part of it, then what is? It’s magical thinking to imagine that creating a top down, anti-democratic structure with their new bylaws would increase subscriber income and reverse the declining number of paying subscribers.”

First, New Day Pacifica never implied that it will save the network from looming debt, and second, New Day Pacifica has nothing to do with takeover of WBAI in October of 2019. The takeover of WBAI in 2019 and the failure of the Board to come up with a debt repayment plan over the last three years, until the lender finally offered to extend the loan, are all the result of current Boards’ inability to address the financial issues that confront the network.

Auditors, Regalia and Associated observed: “As auditors, we strongly recommend an end to the infighting and unproductive arguments which we have witnessed by listening to and reading Board minutes.”

The New Day Pacifica bylaws keep Pacifica’s democratic governance, but with less room for paralyzing dysfunction and more room for governance.

Voting for the New Day Pacifica Bylaws is an important step to ensure the future of listener sponsored Pacifica.

To be fully informed, people can read the provisions of the proposed Bylaws and supporting documentations at:

https://newdaypacifica.org/

The post Response to Ann Garrison Article on Pacifica appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Lady Day and the Feds

Counterpunch Articles -

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is a powerful biopic streaming on Hulu now. Academy Award nominee Andra Day nails the times and troubles of the famous blues singer known as Lady Day, as she battles racial capitalism during the Jim Crow era.

Lee Daniels, whose body of work includes Precious (2009), directs The United States Vs. Billie Holiday.  If you watched the former film, you know that he pulls no punches. In the current film under review, Daniels grabs viewers with his unflinching depictions of the anti-blackness that Holiday experienced, and in part, facilitated her drug addiction. Some scribes have criticized Daniels on the latter score. I do not, and this is why.

Daniels socially contextualizes Holiday’s addiction to heroin. He does this via flashbacks and characters’ dialogue. I think that approach works. Some critics disagree.

To say that Holiday’s life of 44 years was no crystal staircase is the year’s understatement. The harm she experienced in childhood and later left her traumatized and susceptible to illegal drug use.  Uncle Sam’s response is repression, attacking Holiday through her heroin addiction.

Andra Day’s portrayal of Holiday conveys her pain and suffering, but also the wit and wisdom of the singer, well. Like the black singer Ma Rainey, Lady Day struggled to receive just compensation for her artistry, which legions of fans loved. The scenes of Holiday singing such songs as All of Me are memorable for that reason. Andra Day’s terrific voice soars.

Trevante Rhodes, who I first saw play the main character Chiron as an adult in Moonlight (2016),is one of the characters in Daniels’ film who complements Holiday. Rhodes plays Jimmy Fletcher, an African American government agent who entraps Lady Day and comes full circle to adore her. Fletcher works in a racially segregated office within the Federal Department of Narcotics, a testament to the color line of that time.

COINTELPRO, the federal government program to disrupt and destroy radical political groups such as The American Indian Movement and The Black Panther Party in the 1960s, has a history. We get a slice of that in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, a testament to Daniels’ political consciousness whereby class and color intersect.

In brief, Uncle Sam seeks to end Holiday’s career as a popular singer because she performs Strange Fruit, the anti-lynching ballad that Abel Meeropol, son of the executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, wrote. Holiday’s then-husband and others prodded her to cease and desist singing Strange Fruit.

As the lead government agent aiming to muffle her artistic voice of dissent, Harry J. Anslinger is a proxy for Uncle Sam’s anti-black drug policies. The aim is to stifle the fledgling civil rights movement. Such punitive policies are systemic. They range from cooptation to repression.

Johan Hari’s 2015 book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs is the basis for Daniels’ The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. The and now, the Drug War, U.S.-style, is an excuse to persecute and prosecute African Americans. Daniels shows how Uncle Sam harmed one of the greatest singers of the 20thcentury, a relevant tendency that connects to the ongoing police killings of unarmed black and brown Americans.

The post Lady Day and the Feds appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Gone But Not Forgotten…by Pop

Counterpunch Articles -

Miley Cyrus in “Party in the USA” (Courtesy of YouTube).

Unlike the days following Osama bin Laden’s death on May 2nd, 2011, the tenth anniversary of his killing passed without hoopla in the American Homeland. A decade on from death of America’s arch enemy, no jubilant drones danced in patriotic formation above the National Mall; there was no SEAL Team 6 reenactment at the freshly reopened Disneyland; no Director’s cut (John Brennan’s not Kathryn Bigelow’s) of Zero Dark Thirty dropped on NetFlix or on the Hindu Kush.

In 2011 then-Vice President Biden advised Obama against the mission because he was nervous about potential failure. This past Sunday the now-President folded his statement about the anniversary into the larger message: the killing of bin Laden symbolized the “success” of the American adventure Afghanistan and was adduced again by the current Commander-in-Chief to legitimize his declaration of American victory and the withdrawal of the troops: “Al Qaeda is greatly degraded,” intoned Biden. Mission Accomplished!

Far more greatly degraded than Al Qaeda, which has been issuing ominous threats since Biden announced the American military departure from Afghanistan, is presidential rhetoric.

Biden needed more bounce for the tenth anniversary of the killing. He should have invited Miley Cyrus to the White House for a dance party.

 

Back in 2011 Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” became the celebratory anthem of bin Laden’s demise. The song had been released in 2009 and gone mega-platinum that year, the singer just sixteen years old. The day after the nighttime raid on the Al Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan, Cyrus’s hit was taken up by the tank-topped zeitgeist, the YouTube video racking up millions of new hits. Legions of viewers put up their jubilant posts on the site, bigoted slurs cavorting with sexually prurient outpourings. America had voted with its virtual feet and made “Party in the USA” bin Laden’s funeral song, the lighter-than-air digital body of pop culture dancing triumphantly on the arch-terrorist’s watery grave.

In contrast to the burkas of Muslim women, the “Party in the USA video” gave the world American teenage girlhood on full display: abundant decolletage and miles of leggy real estate running from her cowboy boots to the fringes of her Daisy Dukes. Repurposed for weaponization against the Muslim world when the video went viral, Cyrus’s flowing auburn hair did more to cover up her wares than did her outfit. If the Nashville-born singer still wore her “purity ring,” it was is lost among her bangles.

Already in 2011 the openly-bisexual, strapon-wielding Cyrus’s chastity cred—which she cannily used at the outset of her career to market her rampant sexuality—was more frayed than her Daisy Dukes. “Inappropriate” photos had been recently snatched from her computer by a hacker, whom I assumed had been paid by the singer’s own publicists.

Before marijuana became legit and legal, it also clouded her reputation. Not since Bill Clinton claimed not to have inhaled had marijuana use been denied with such breathtaking absurdity. The bong seen to be operated by the eighteen-year-old and spread across the internet was filled, her people claimed, not with the devil’s weed, but with fragrant salvia (though one strain of the large salvia family is said to have psychedelic potential).

As the present pandemic has reminded us, viruses mutate. The “Party in the USA” video enjoyed another outbreak after Biden’s electoral victory back in November of last year. It shot up the iTunes and Spotify charts, and young folks danced to the tune in Times Square on election night.

Cyrus’s hit has become a leitmotiv for the cycles and continuities of American foreign policy. A decade after bin Laden’s assassination it’s almost worth revisiting the moving, sounding image that America presents to itself and to the world.

Cyrus’ video is a vacuous mix of nostalgia and sex, one that projects the American Dream through Vaseline-smeared lens. The setting is a made-up drive-in spread out in the tall brown grass and among the live oaks of the seemingly unspoiled California hills. The dress of the singer and her cohort is Dukes of Hazard chic: the teen-set from the Bible Belt is out for a good time in the bright light of day.

The heavy-petting of Fifties drive-in outings required darkness to descend before things heated up. Not so In Cyrus’s video. Hetero couples cuddle on the hoods of vintage America muscle cars, while the singer grapples with a retro chrome microphone and her scantily clad gal pals dance—“Moving my hips like yeah” as the song’s lyric put it—in the back of a classic Ford pick-up and alongside a Mustang.  It’s the stuff pure male fantasy: babes and cars.

The narrative set out by “Party in the USA” is the autobiography of a star being born: girl lands in Los Angeles, takes a taxis directly from LAX past the Hollywood sign and to a dance club. The jaded partiers scrutinize her entrance: “Everybody’s lookin’ at me now / Like who’s that chick, that’s rockin’ kicks? / She gotta be from out of town.”

The Cyrus of the song claims to be nervous, though she doesn’t look it. “It’s definitely not a Nashville party,” she observes, and this gets her to “feelin’ kinda home sick.”  But then the DJ drops “her favorite Britney tune,” and her nervousness vanishes.

With Cyrus repeating the phrase “and a Britney song was on,” the video gazes up as a humongous American flag unfurls down the face of the drive-in screen, not white, but golden. Even if the streets are no longer paved with gold in America, at least a rural drive screen can be.

Suddenly, Cyrus is in front of the screen doing that thing with her hips she’s so proud of while fondling her microphone. The voice has been put through post-production pokings and proddings more dehumanizing than a TSA search.

The message of “Party in the USA” is that the American Dream comes not from hard work, but by being discovered on the dance floor. The advertisement of sexual availability is the quickest road to success, one to be raced down in a Camaro with big fat racing stripes.

Cyrus’s video vaulted to the top of the charts for the bin Laden Death Festivities because of the vastness of its flag and the skimpiness of the singer’s outfit. But it was not just the patriotic symbols of American flag, American femininity, and American free-range automotive beef grazing the California grassland that stirred the national pride and its lusts. No Islamic terrorist was going to curtail American freedom to sell a teenage sex symbol, especially when that symbol was on offer in front of the red-white-and-blue.

As the Afghan war “ends” and the video closes in on a billion hits, Party in the USA reveals even more starkly than ever its true identity as a bizarre, hyper-sexualized, pathological ode otodefeat. Bottom of Form

 

The post Gone But Not Forgotten…by Pop appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Philosophical Drinking Song

Counterpunch Articles -

Philosophical Drinking Song

Explications of Spinoza
Go so well with a mimosa.
Contemplations more Platonic
Are enhanced by gin and tonic.
Empiricism à la Hume
Is best when Scotch is in the room.
Manifestos about Dada
Demand a cool piña colada.
While perusing Zarathustra
A swig of rum is sure to boost ya.
C. Wright Mill’s “The Power Elite”
Is heightened by a whiskey neat.
The theology of Buber and Barth
Calls for hot toddies, sipped near the hearth.
What complements old Aristotle?
‘Most anything that’s in the bottle.
And when boning up on Comrade Trotsky
Have a beer and vodka shotsky.

The post Philosophical Drinking Song appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

How Washington Lost the Ultimate Drug War

AntiWar.com News -

Originally posted at TomDispatch. Shouldn’t we be amazed? After all, for almost 20 years, the U.S. military has been supporting, equipping, training, and building up the Afghan military to the tune of more than $70 billion. The result: a corrupt mess of a force likely to prove incapable of successfully defending the U.S.-backed Afghan state … Continue reading "How Washington Lost the Ultimate Drug War"

The post How Washington Lost the Ultimate Drug War appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

Coups in Venezuela: The Long Legacy Continues

AntiWar.com News -

The President of Venezuela was removed from power with U.S. assistance due to his left leaning politics, his clashes with conservatives and his objections to American power and influence in Latin America. The coup leaders consulted with the United States for some time in preparation for the coup. When the leader of the coup declared … Continue reading "Coups in Venezuela: The Long Legacy Continues"

The post Coups in Venezuela: The Long Legacy Continues appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

As NATO Summit Approaches: Will Biden Keep US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey?

AntiWar.com News -

A piece was published in Turkey’s Hürriyet on May 5 by its editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin analyzing the prospects of the Biden administration removing American nuclear bombs from Turkey. It has been estimated that the Pentagon maintains 50 B61 tactical nuclear weapons at the Incirlik Air Base in the country among an estimated 350 of those … Continue reading "As NATO Summit Approaches: Will Biden Keep US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey?"

The post As NATO Summit Approaches: Will Biden Keep US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey? appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

“I Longed for That Hug”: A Mother Reunites With Her Sons Four Years After Being Separated at the Border

Mother Jones Magazine -

The last time Keldy Mabel Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga hugged her sons Erik and Mino, they were 13 and 15 years old and seemed “so little” to her. Tuesday night, she reunited with them in Philadelphia, almost four years after being separated at the border by the Trump administration. Now, her sons towered over her. 

“I was overwhelmed with happiness and could feel all the love my sons have for me,” she told me Thursday. “I longed for that hug and for that moment to be with my children again.” 

The family’s story was first reported by the New Yorker‘s Jonathan Blitzer on Wednesday; he had spent three years speaking with Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga and joined a film crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for the reunion Tuesday night. When I spoke with Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga, she’d been reunited with her family for just a day and a half and was still understandably emotional. 

Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga was separated from Erik and Mino in El Paso back in September 2017, as the Trump administration implemented what was then a pilot program but which would become an official family separation policy at the US-Mexico border.

“The separation caused much pain and so much suffering,” Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga said. “That moment of being separated broke our hearts and it marked our lives forever.” 

“That moment of being separated broke our hearts and it marked our lives forever.” 

The family fled Honduras “after losing close family members to violence and facing direct threats to their lives,” according to Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, the El Paso-based nonprofit representing her. After reaching the border, Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga sought asylum in the United States but instead was taken away from her children. The teenage boys were held first by US Customs and Border Protection, then sent to a shelter, and ultimately were released to their aunt who was already living in the United States. Meanwhile, their mom was jailed in an immigration detention facility in El Paso for two years. She was then deported back to Honduras in 2019, to the place she fled to protect her life and the lives of her sons. 

It didn’t take long for Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga to make the trek back to the US border again, never losing hope that one day she’d find a way to be with her two sons again. She was then stuck in Cuidad Juárez while Las Americas staff “tried every possible legal avenue” to get her reunited with her children. 

Then, just a week after taking office, Biden signed an executive order forming a task force to reunify migrant families separated by the Trump administration under its “zero tolerance” policy between January 2017 and January 2021. In that time, the Trump administration separated more than 5,500 families at the border and more than 1,000 of them remain separated today. On Sunday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the administration would start to reunite some of those families in the United States this week. Also on Sunday, Michelle Brané, a longtime advocate for migrant women and children who now serves as the executive director of the administration’s reunification task force, said that separated parents will enter the United States via humanitarian parole, though the task force is looking at ways to provide parents with longer-term statuses in the country. Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga was one of those first four parents brought through the special permit, which will give them work authorization and protection from deportation for the next three years.

As she and her sons held each other and sobbed, she kept thinking to herself, “Is it true? Is this really happening?” 

“Tuesday night, for the first time in three and a half years, two children were able to get a kiss goodnight from their mother after the U.S. government ripped them apart from the most important person in their lives,” said the mother’s attorney Linda Corchado, director of Legal Services at Las Americas, in a press release. “Children flee persecution every day around the world, and our country is capable of honoring our asylum laws and respecting the dignity of families. On Tuesday, we saw the power of a mother’s love. Let this be the example for the change we fight for every single day.”

But still, so many more families are not as lucky, at least not yet. As my colleague Noah Lanard wrote Monday, organizations like Al Otro Lado, an immigrant advocacy group based in California and Baja California, have criticized Biden’s slow progress, arguing the administration did little to bring the parents and children back together in the last few months. The American Civil Liberties Union was one of the first to sue to stop the family separation policy in 2018 and it continues to negotiate with the Biden administration. Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, has said that all families who remain separated must be reunified, and the US government must provide trauma-related medical care, offer a path to permanent legal status, and ensure that family separations “never occur in the future.” 

But, at least for now, there is some relief for Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga and her family. As she told me, “Throughout those years I often went to sleep imagining that I would hug my kids again, and that moment has come true.” She added that as she and her sons held each other and sobbed Tuesday, she kept thinking to herself, “Is it true? Is this really happening?” 

“I still kept thinking back to how it was even possible that they were taken from me, and that this ever happened to us.” 

Member Recap: May 6, 2021

National Lawyer's Guild -

 

Welcome to the Member Recap, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

Upcoming Webinars, Publications, and Announcements Help Us #DropTheCharges Against BLM Protesters!

So far, we’ve received 2,500 signatures on our national petition demanding that the Biden administration drop the federal charges against the 350+ protesters who participated in last year’s uprising for Black lives. Help us reach our goal of 5,000 by May 25, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. SIGN and SHARE the letter at bit.ly/DropTheChargesBLM and/or signal boost any of the following posts: FacebookTwitter / Instagram

We’re also collecting organizational endorsements, with 45 groups signed on so far!  If your organization would like to endorse, please complete the form here.

May 7, 5:30 PST: NLG-SF Santa Rita Jail Hotline Training

NLG San Francisco‘s Santa Rita Hotline will be hosting a training for hotline workers this Friday, May 7th at 5:30pm. If you have questions or are interested in joining, please contact: srjhotline@nlgsf.org.

If you can’t make it but would like to volunteer with the hotline, you can fill out their interest form online.

May 13: Endangered Species and Border Walls

Join NLG-NYC, along with scientists, lawyers, and politicians for a discussion on whether impenetrable, man-made border walls harm endangered species and accelerate extinction. You can take a look at the full list of speakers at their EventBrite page online.

Register here! The event will take place May 13, 2021, from 12 PM – 1:30 PM EST.

National Immigration Project (NIP-NLG)’s 2021 Annual Pre-AILA Crimes & Immigration Seminar

NIP-NLG is hosting a two-day seminar series all about immigration, including sessions on: “Winning Effective Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants,” Crimes of Violence After United States v. Borden,” and “Immigration Implications of Diversion Programs.” There is a registration fee, and all information can be found on their site.

Currently, 7.75 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit hours are pending with the Virginia State Bar, the State Bar of California, the State Bar of Texas, and the Washington State Bar.

 

 

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Palestine Subcommittee Submits Memo to Biden Administration Laying Out Legal Basis for Immediate Reversal of Trump Policies on Palestine/Israel

A recent memo from the Palestine Subcommittee of the NLG Interntional Committee: “Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee submitted a memorandum to the Biden administration laying out the legal basis for immediate reversal of the Trump administration’s policies on Palestine/Israel and further actions necessary to bring the United States in compliance with international law.”

Book Review: Trying Times by NLG & NPAP’s Terry Gilbert

Reviewed by David Gespass, NLG past president and member of NLG-Alabama: “Really, the importance of Terry’s book and the critical lesson it teaches, is that when you litigate in US courts and you are fighting for true justice, you are in enemy territory.”

International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Report

Last week, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the US released their 188-page report, on how racist police violence against Black people in the US amounts to crimes against humanity and other violations of international law.

Read the full report at inquirycommission.org/report and watch last week’s press conference here, which includes Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd; Collette Flanagan of Mothers Against Police Brutality; and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, as well as members of the international commission and its steering committee.

NLG In The News 5/4/21 | The Guardian | ‘We’re terrorized’: LA sheriffs frequently harass families of people they kill, says report

“Los Angeles sheriff deputies frequently harass the families of people they have killed, including taunting them at vigils, parking outside their homes and following them and pulling them over for no reason, according to a new report from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).”

5/3/21 | Common Dreams | National Lawyers Guild Urges Biden to Align US Israel-Palestine Policy With International Law

“The memo (pdf), authored by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee, notes that after four years of “bullish and detrimental” U.S. policy on Palestine and Israel under the Trump administration, “the health, human rights, and humanitarian situation for Palestinians—both in Palestine and in the refugee camps of surrounding countries—is dire.”

5/1/21 | Microsoft News | Biden immigration moves under scrutiny from left and right

“It’s actually astonishing the Biden administration kept [Title 42] in place and are using it to expel people seeking refuge without even allowing them to pursue their claims,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.”

4/28/21 | Patch Somerville Bans Tear Gas, Limits Police Use Of Other Projectiles

“The Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild called the ordinance an “important and historic piece of legislation” that places Somerville at the “forefront of the movement to de-militarize America’s urban police forces.”

4/27/21 | The Guardian | Police killings of Black Americans amount to crimes against humanity, international inquiry finds

Read this in-depth piece on the International Commission of Inquiry’s findings on how racist police violence against Black people in the US amounts to crimes against humanity and other violations of international law.

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

 

Have something you want to see in the next Member Recap? To submit events, news, or other updates for consideration for the Recap, please email charlie@nlg.org! The post Member Recap: May 6, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Some Thoughts on Eric Clapton and Classic Rock Nostalgia

Mother Jones Magazine -

If you grew up listening to your local classic rock radio station, there are probably a few facts about Eric Clapton that have been engrained in your head.

He taught himself to play guitar as a teenager and became the engineer of classic rock hits including “Layla” and “Crossroads.” He’s been a member of more rock groups than you can shake a stick at: the Yardbirds, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, Blind Faith, and the Plastic Ono Band, to name a few. His four-year-old son died after falling from a high-rise window, inspiring the song “Tears in Heaven.”

There are two crucial facts that I didn’t know about Clapton until very recently. One is that “Crossroads” was not an original song but a cover of Delta blues musician Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues,” first recorded in 1936. The other is that, in 1976, Clapton went on a drunken, racist diatribe at a concert, hurling racial slurs about immigrants and arguing that England should be a white country. No one knows Clapton’s precise language, because there are no known recordings of the outburst, but numerous witnesses have recounted the incident, which spurred the “Rock Against Racism” punk movement.

Clapton profited off of the work of a Black blues singer whom he revered and who had died about 30 years prior. And he held the belief that Black people and white people ought to be segregated—at least enough to drunkenly rant about it on stage one night. 

These two facts cannot be disconnected. I listened to Robert Johnson’s recordings for the first time earlier this year. I found them to be a revelation. In them, I heard the seed of much of the music I’d always known: Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones (whom I naively assumed had written “Love in Vain”), and, of course, Eric Clapton. Greil Marcus summarizes this sense of discovery in his 1975 book Mystery Train:

After hearing Johnson’s music for the first time—listening to that blasted and somehow friendly voice, the shivery guitar, hearing a score of lines that fit as easily and memorably into each day as Dylan’s had—I could listen to nothing else for months. Johnson’s music changed the way the world looked to me.

Appreciating Clapton’s art requires a certain ignorance of its origins. Clapton’s version of “I Shot the Sheriff,” for example, found more commercial success than Bob Marley’s original. But the lines “Sheriff John Brown always hated me / For what, I don’t know” undeniably carry less weight coming from a white man’s mouth.

Clapton recorded an entire studio album of Johnson’s songs, but, in the world of classic rock radio stations, Johnson is less an artist to be loved and enjoyed than a secret. I think that my ignorance about one of Clapton’s greatest influences reflects a broader cultural willingness to forget racism in favor of loving the music. But in pasting over the complexity, you lose out on the actual history.

Saturday is the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth. Listen to his “Cross Road Blues” here.

USAID admits to Venezuela regime change fraud

The GrayZone -

Red Lines host Anya Parampil explores a new report issued by USAID’s Office of the Inspector General which admits the agency’s policy on Venezuela was driven by the State Department and National Security Council’s push for regime change. The report specifically investigated USAID’s attempt to use the US military to force aid through Venezuela’s border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. Anya highlights the most interesting findings in the audit, including that USAID failed to put proper fraud controls in […]

The post USAID admits to Venezuela regime change fraud appeared first on The Grayzone.

They Went Back to India to Care for Parents Dying of COVID-19. Now, They’re Stranded.

Mother Jones Magazine -

In early April, Ashu Mahajan and his wife, Neha, got the bad news: Ashu’s father in India was sick with COVID-19. For days, Ashu and Neha kept tabs on him from New Jersey, but when he took a turn for the worse, Ashu decided to fly to India to see him one last time.

Nearly two weeks ago, Ashu arrived in India, and rushed to his father’s bedside to say goodbye. His father passed away a few days later. Ashu was consumed by grief, yet he was also eager to get back to Neha and their nine- and 15-year-old daughters in the United States. But there’s a problem: He can’t. President Biden’s ban on travel from India began Tuesday night, so Ashu is effectively stranded.

Even before Ashu left, Neha said she knew in her heart that her husband may have bought a one way ticket to India.

“We both knew that this can get really, really bad for us,” she said. “Immigrant workers here in the United States of America, we’re all going through this dilemma—to take care of our sick parents in India, or to stay here just to make sure that our visa stamping doesn’t expire, so that we don’t lose what we’ve built with all the hard work that we’ve done.”

Technically, Ashu should be able to come home. President Biden’s travel ban, instituted amid skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 in India, isn’t supposed to include US citizens, permanent residents, international students on visas, or Indians on non-immigrant work visas such as H-1B who have children born in the United States.

Ashu and Neha Mahajan with their two daughters in New Jersey

Neha and Ashu Mahajan

Ashu is in that last category, but a bureaucratic hurdle stands in his way: H-1B workers, whenever they leave the United States, have to get their visas stamped at a US consulate in their home country before they can return. But right now, all the consulates in India are closed because of the pandemic. “I heard about the travel exemption, but it doesn’t do anything for us,” said Neha, who is an advocate for skilled visa workers and an outreach manager at a law firm.

What about those who need to get a visa stamped but cannot get it as the consulates are closed? DOS should restart visa stamping within US like they did till 2004. Makes no sense to make someone travel to to get a visa when he is living in for 10+ years.

— Anirban Das (@anirb_das) May 5, 2021

Neha and Ashu aren’t the only ones whose family has been separated by the travel ban. While it’s hard to estimate the actual number of Indian H-1B visa holders stuck in India, my reporting turned up dozens of stories. Earlier this week, I joined a Telegram group on Indian visa holders with 20,000 members and asked how many were in this situation. More than 200 people replied to my message on the same day, though Indian advocates say the number is likely to be in the higher hundreds or thousands.

On Telegram, the heart-wrenching stories just kept coming: a father separated from his toddler son. Children on dependent visas of H-1B holders unable to get their visas stamped and return to school. Pregnant women who couldn’t get their visa on time and had to deliver in India in the middle of a pandemic. A fiancé who flew for his wedding and is stuck. Many left the United States to take care of sick parents during the pandemic. My phone is continuously pinging with replies such as these (responses very lightly edited for clarity):

“Both me and my husband are stuck here. My husband is going to lose his job with a reputed employer as they don’t allow working from India.”

“My wife and US born kid are stuck. Cannot get stamping.”

“We’ve been stuck in India for the last six months. I got my visa stamped, but my son who is not a citizen and is on a dependent visa had his appointment cancelled. He’s very upset and depressed.”

“I traveled while pregnant as my mom and dad were both diagnosed with COVID and were admitted to hospital. My son needs an H4 visa which he can’t get because the consulates are closed. Husband is also here and can’t work remotely for very long. Our future has become uncertain.”

“I am stuck in India and two-year-old son and wife are alone in San Francisco.”

“We came since my father passed away, but our appointments were canceled last week We can travel with a US born kid, but how can we travel without a valid visa? My elder son studies there and his education has also gone for a toss.”

“We are stuck in India because of stamping and our company can’t hold the job for long…we could lose our jobs. We have mortgages.”

According to a 2020 report from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are around 500,000 workers on H-1B visas in the United States Most of them work in the technology sector, though there are also many doctors, pharmacists, consultants, and marketing professionals. Around 70 percent of these visas are held by Indians.

“We are stuck in India because of stamping and our company can’t hold the job for long…we could lose our jobs. We have mortgages.”

Because of a Trump administration policy, many H-1B workers were already in India before the ban went into effect. In 2020, during the last year of his presidency, Trump ordered a temporary suspension on all new H-1B visas. For many months last year, US consulates in India were also closed due to the pandemic. Both of these things together made it difficult for H-1B visa holders to travel back and forth to India.

The Trump-era ban expired at the end of March, and the situation was supposed to improve. The Covid situation in India improved for a little bit earlier this year, and consulates opened for a short while and resumed processing visas, but with this new travel ban and an escalating pandemic, those who have been stuck since last year have no way of getting back anytime soon.

Another complicating factor is the absurdly long waitlist for green cards: over to 50 years, according to estimates from the CATO institute. Every year, thousands of H-1B holders qualify for green cards, yet there’s a cap on how many green cards can be issued to each nationality. As of May 2018, nearly 600,000 workers and their families were waiting for employment-based green cards. More than 90 percent are Indians, who receive about 10,000 employment-based green cards a year. Meanwhile, they have to rely on visa renewals and stamping of the visa at consulates at regular intervals.

“Without a green card, there is always an invisible sword hanging over my head,” said Neha, who has been stuck in the green card backlog since 2012.

Immigration advocates believe the travel ban isn’t worth the stress it’s causing families. Cyrus Mehta, a New York based attorney who specializes in immigration law, said that the ban isn’t very useful in stopping the spread of the virus since citizens, permanent residents, and others are still allowed to travel. But the ban disproportionately affects those who are working on temporary visas such as the H-1B visa.

“Representing H1B visa holders, I know what they’ve gone through,” he said. “Each time they go to India, there’s a ban imposed on them. In the Trump administration, they were subject to bans. Then they wait patiently. They’ve now scheduled a visa appointment. And their appointment for later this week has been cancelled because of this latest COVID ban on India. So they’ve got a double whammy.”

Mehta suggests stricter controls and protocols such as rigorous testing, quarantining, and vaccination requirements as a better approach to controlling the spread of the virus.

Neha has a full-time job, two kids and is recovering from surgery. For the past few weeks, Neha has spent all her free time calling consulates, politicians and speaking with journalists to find a way to get her husband back into the country.

“I haven’t slept a wink,” she said. “I am not a religious person, but these days I am praying to god everyday.”

In Media Framing, Trans Kids Are Problems to Be Solved—Not People With Rights

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting -

 

As states continue to pass laws that dehumanize and endanger transgender kids, the country’s most influential newspapers have not met the challenge of covering the issue. Across the country, 36 states have introduced or passed 127 bills that discriminate against trans kids, including barring trans kids from playing on the sports team that corresponds with their gender, and criminalizing or impeding providing gender-affirming healthcare for them.

The right-wing movement behind these bills has tried to frame the story as a political debate over science and protecting the vulnerable—in the case of the sports bills, the vulnerable cisgender girls who would supposedly be harmed by competing with and against transgender girls; in the case of the bills prohibiting gender-affirming healthcare, the vulnerable trans children who might make the “wrong” decisions about their bodies.

The emphasis in this Washington Post profile (3/16/21) was on Chloe Clark and not on the lawmakers who deny her right to exist.

Instead of centering trans voices in coverage of these bills that target them, journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post have tended to cover the story as primarily one of political debate, with real-life impacts sequestered into human interest stories in which the political news is secondary, or relegated to a paragraph or two buried under piles of politicians, scientists and transphobes debating whether trans people should be denied basic rights.

For instance, the Washington Post  ran a front-page feature (3/16/21) that profiled a transgender teen who “had spoken out on her own behalf, even as conservative legislators in Missouri waged a fight to criminalize treatments for trans kids like her.” Despite the headline’s framing (“A Transgender Girl Struggles to Find Her Voice as Lawmakers Attack Her Right to Exist”), the piece was primarily a human interest piece—a sensitive, empathetic profile that  included only a few brief references to the anti-trans campaign and its impact on her life.

Meanwhile, the Post‘s most in-depth and prominent article centered on the anti-trans campaign came in its sports section (4/15/21), under the headline, “The Fight for the Future of Transgender Athletes.” Who gets to set the framework for that fight in the article? Not the people at its center. Reporter Will Hobson writes that “the issue of transgender athletes has become the most vexing, emotionally charged debate in global sports.”

A Washington Post sports feature (4/15/21) explored what advocates called a “science-based compromise between two extremes: right-wing politicians seeking wholesale bans of transgender athletes and transgender activists who argue for full inclusion.”

Look at how Hobson defines “the issue of transgender athletes”: not as an issue confronting transgender athletes, who are under attack in more than half of the states in this country, but one posed by them. Hobson implies that what’s most important in this story is that it’s “vexing,” not to trans people, but to those who are forced to deal with their existence. Under that definition of the problem—the same one used by the right-wing activists doing the attacking, and based primarily on interviews with cisgender “experts”—Hobson’s piece concludes that there simply may be no fair solution.

“It may prove impossible for schools and sports organizations to craft policies that are both fair to all female athletes and fully inclusive of transgender girls and women,” he writes. In other words, inclusion of trans girls may be fundamentally unfair to cis girls.

In effect, this cedes the framework to the right, setting the issue up as a debate, rather than a story about trans people’s (and, more specifically, trans kids’) right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.

It’s an approach to coverage entirely in line with that concerning another battle over bodily autonomy in this country: abortion. (Not coincidentally, right-wing legislators have also introduced an unprecedented number of state-level abortion restrictions this year.) As Janine Jackson (FAIR.org, 1/29/16) has argued, reproductive rights are typically presented as political controversies or pawns in the “culture war,” rather than as issues of women’s health, tilting the playing field from the outset in favor of the right. In both cases, those not targeted by the policies—men in the case of reproductive rights, and in the case of trans rights, cisgender people—get most of the quotes and most of the bylines.

For trans people, the outnumbering tends to be even worse. While there are countless outstanding trans journalists, very few have been hired by major news outlets, where their perspectives and access to the trans community would go a long way to providing more fair coverage. And trans sources continue to be outnumbered by cisgender sources in nearly every story about trans issues, too often reserved for adding “color” to a story rather than treated as experts. As the Trans Journalist Association advises:

When reporting a story about trans issues, trans people should be interviewed and quoted as experts, not just subjects. Trans people are the experts on trans lives and experiences.

Of 17 sources quoted in Hobson’s Post piece, three were identified as current or former transgender athletes. One was not interviewed, only briefly quoted. At least three cisgender former athletes were also quoted, plus a dizzying array of experts: endocrinologists, a cultural anthropologist, lawyers and a psychiatrist.

The New York Times (8/18/20) referred to inclusion of trans girls in athletics as “decid[ing]to split high school athletes by gender identity.”

The New York Times ran a remarkably similar story (8/18/20) highlighting the supposed intractability of the sports issue under the headline, “Who Should Compete in Women’s Sports? There Are ‘Two Almost Irreconcilable Positions.’” It’s telling that the source quoted in the headline—cisgender geneticist Eric Vilain—was previously published on the Times op-ed page (6/18/12) on the issue of gender testing for sports, and began his argument by claiming that we live “in times of extreme political correctness infiltrating almost every societal topic.”

Vilain, once an ally to intersex activists, has also been sharply criticized by both intersex and transgender advocates for his influential stances on genital surgery for intersex babies (acceptable in some circumstances) and testosterone limits for women competing in the Olympics (he helped set them). Why does this scientist with a chip on his shoulder about political correctness, and views hostile to those of the trans and intersex community, get to frame the subject of how trans kids get to participate in sports?

Just like the Post, the Times found the question of trans participation “vexing,” presenting trans people as objects rather than subjects in the matter. Fifteen sources were quoted; four were trans athletes, but none appeared to have actually been interviewed by the Times. (The paper reprinted public statements or quotes from other news outlets.)

Further down in the lengthy piece, a section header was given over to another cisgender scientist playing he said/she said: “‘One group prioritizes inclusion. Another group says we want fairness and safety.’” Though “safety” was mentioned four times in the article as some sort of reason to bar participation, nowhere did it explain how trans kids pose any safety threat to other kids. In fact, the central safety issue in the context of trans kids in sports is the danger to trans kids as a result of being stigmatized, harassed and excluded—which the article failed to mention.

If you dig deeper to discern what exactly the vexing problem is that transgender athletes supposedly pose to others, it appears that many are worried that, because testosterone can confer some physiological advantages on individuals in terms of things like height and muscle mass, it therefore creates an unfair advantage to those with more of it.

But, just like sex, testosterone is not binary; everyone’s body produces testosterone, and while most men produce far more than women, some women produce more testosterone than some men. Rather than accept this human variety just as we accept that all top athletes are exceptional in some—often genetic—way, some world sports organizations have insisted that female athletes whose bodies happen to produce high levels of testosterone medically lower their testosterone levels, regardless of whether it is medically indicated (Wired, 5/11/19).

If “transgender girls are at the center of America’s culture wars,” they’re not at the center of this Washington Post piece (1/29/21); only one trans girl is quoted, in the article’s very last paragraph.

An earlier prominent Post piece (1/29/21)—”Transgender Girls Are at the Center of America’s Culture Wars, Yet Again”—similarly failed to put those girls at the center of its reporting. The piece featured 11 sources, only one of which was identified as a trans athlete. She was the very last source in the article. More Republican politicians were given space to opine than trans people, giving a platform for transphobic and sexist comments, such as this quote from Tennessee state Rep. Bruce Griffey, whose stake in this matter is that his cisgender daughter plays high school golf: “What if one of the boys is not doing well, so he pretends to be transgender to win?” Or South Dakota Rep. Fred Deutsch: “This is not a hate bill. It’s about biology. It’s science. You can’t change your sex.”

The Post‘s reporting isn’t always quite so cringeworthy. A more recent piece (4/24/21) about the Arkansas law banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children focused on the families with trans kids impacted by the law, giving them more space than supporters of the bill—though still, no trans people themselves were quoted.

The only front-page New York Times article (3/29/21) this year about the current trans bill battle, “Why Transgender Girls Are Suddenly the GOP’s Culture-War Focus,” was similar. The subhead re-emphasized the headline’s framing of the issue as “a culture clash”—a craven choice of terms for what is in fact a targeted political attack on the humanity of a group that currently makes up 1–2% of the population. The piece quoted or paraphrased seven individuals or groups; none were trans athletes, and only one—ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio—was identified as transgender, period.

The paper has only covered this year’s legislative campaign four times in print. Notably, two of the pieces have been interviews: one with transgender Virginia state representative Danica Roem (4/17/21), and the other with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (4/8/21), who signed into law bills barring trans girls from playing girls’ sports and allowing doctors to refuse to treat trans patients, then vetoed a bill that would prohibit gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids. (That veto was later overridden by the GOP-dominated legislature, enacting the country’s most extreme anti-trans law so far.)

Though they carried different bylines, it’s hard not to see the two interviews as an editorial attempt at balance—in which a trans lawmaker is balanced by a slightly-less-horrifically-transphobic-than-his-colleagues lawmaker. Trans kids—and the rest of the papers’ readers—deserve much better.

 

Doctor, Lawyer, Insurrectionist: The Radicalization of Simone Gold

Mother Jones Magazine -

When rioters broke into the US Capitol on January 6, chants of “Fuck the police!” “USA!” or “Treason!” echoed in the marble halls. When Dr. Simone Gold got inside the rotunda, she stepped over a velvet rope and announced to anyone who would listen, “I am a Stanford-educated attorney!”

Thus she distinguished herself among the motley crew of Proud Boys, MAGA types, and the QAnon shaman who paraded through the Capitol to overturn the 2020 presidential election, an event that left five people dead. Not only is Gold a Stanford-educated lawyer, she’s also a board-certified emergency room physician. Neither qualification prevented the FBI from coming to her Beverly Hills house on January 18 and arresting her. Nor did it make a federal grand jury think twice in early February before indicting her on five criminal counts, including entering a restricted building and obstructing an official proceeding.

The arrest marked the end of one chapter in her Icarian trajectory into right-wing fame. Before April 2020, Gold had been just another over-achieving Beverly Hills doctor. But with the arrival of the pandemic, she donned her white lab coat to protest lockdowns and promote President Donald Trump’s favorite unproven COVID treatment, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. It seems that’s all it took to find an enthusiastic audience among the MAGA faithful, putting her on a glide path to a certain kind of right-wing stardom. Conservatives who love to bash educated, liberal elites as out of touch quickly embraced Gold and gleefully touted her impressive credentials to support their attacks on public health measures designed to combat the pandemic. She sailed into their well-funded ecosystem, snagging speaking gigs, appearances on cable talk shows, and robust opportunities to fundraise.

Simone Gold, with John Strand (left) uses a bullhorn to address protesters in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Within days of her first media hit, she had teamed up with tea party groups working with the Trump reelection campaign to demand that governors reopen the economy. Fox News put her on national TV to publicly denounce lockdowns and mask mandates as overblown responses to a disease she insisted wasn’t fatal to most people. In July, her new right-wing friends ushered her to meetings with members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence. The sudden fame seems to have propelled her right up the steps and into the Capitol on January 6.

Her arrest highlights the role of conservative media in fomenting an insurrection, but Gold’s personal experience also illustrates what experts on extremism have long known: Education is no defense against radicalization. “If you think of who is susceptible of extremist ideology, people tend to think it’s people who don’t have much education,” says Don Haider-Markel, a University of Kansas political science professor who has studied extremism and radicalization. “That’s not the case at all. It tends to be more middle class and upper class. Those who have spent more time educating themselves tend to think they know better than other people.”

“If you think of who is susceptible of extremist ideology, people tend to think it’s people who don’t have much education, that’s not the case at all.”

In fact, much like the tea partiers of the Obama era, the Capitol insurrectionists were by and large an aging, middle-class mob. Researchers at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago have dug into the demographic profiles of hundreds of people charged with crimes related to the Capitol incursion. They’ve found that about 30 percent of the arrested rioters are white-collar professionals like Gold. Only about 13 percent were affiliated with traditional far-right militias or extremist groups like the Proud Boys, and only 7 percent were unemployed.

Even so, Gold still stands out from that well-heeled crowd, and not just because she’s a woman. (Women make up only about 15 percent of the Capitol defendants.) Of the more than 420 defendants the Chicago researchers studied, she is one of only two lawyers and the only doctor. That’s why it’s hard not to look at Gold’s CV and wonder: How does someone go from medical school to Stanford Law School to an FBI wanted poster?

Gold’s resume doesn’t scream budding far-right revolutionary as much as it reflects unusual precocity and ambition. Raised in a wealthy section of Long Island, New York, Gold, 55, likes to say that she trained as a physician at her father’s knee. Reuben Tizes, her father, was a doctor, a medical school professor, and even served as the Orange County, New York, health commissioner in the early 1970s. Her mother, Carol Tizes, was an elementary school teacher.

After graduating from the City College of New York at 19, she claims she was the youngest person in her graduating class at the Chicago Medical School in 1989. She obtained a California medical license in 1990 but then enrolled in Stanford Law School, graduating in 1993. “That was my idea of rebellion,” she told a religious broadcaster in August, explaining that her father had wanted all his children to be doctors. (They are.) Her legal prowess didn’t stand out much in Palo Alto, however. I reached out to a host of her Stanford Law classmates, but none of those who responded could recall much about Gold aside from her red hair.

Stanford Law School class photo

The intervening decades between law school and her indictment were unconventional only in the ambition of her professional endeavors. In January 1997, she was admitted to the New York bar and then completed a residency in emergency medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. That same year, according to her LinkedIn profile, she served as a congressional fellow in DC and wrote speeches for the late Vermont senator James Jeffords, who famously left the Republican Party to become an Independent in 2001. (Susan Boardman Russ, who served as Jeffords’ chief of staff for 25 years before retiring in 2004, does not remember Gold.)

Over the past three decades, Gold has practiced emergency medicine at various hospitals in the LA area, but the lure of Washington seems to have endured. According to her LinkedIn page, in 2009, she worked in DC as an assistant to Michael Oren, then Israel’s ambassador to the US, who credited her in print for stories she helped him research for the Wall Street Journal and New Republic. Oren told Mother Jones that he had no memory of her working for him, nor did anyone on his staff.

In Los Angeles, Gold married businessman Larry Gold and had two children. Active in the Los Angeles Jewish community, she and her husband once provided a glowing testimonial for a local mohel for the bris he performed for their son. A 2003 Jewish Journal article featured Gold and her then two-year-old son in a story about “Shalom Time” at a local bookstore. She and her husband donated thousands of dollars to their children’s private, conservative Jewish day school in Beverly Hills, where Gold volunteered on the PTA, managing the shabbat swap one year.

But by 2010, Gold had filed for divorce. Los Angeles County court records suggest that her relationship with her ex-husband was somewhat contentious. In 2017, a judge ordered them to attend mediation over child custody and visitation issues. (Larry Gold declined to comment for this story other than to say that he was “shocked” to learn about his ex-wife’s participation in the events at the Capitol.)

“As a C-Suite Physician, Dr. Gold works the same way as a highly effective Fortune 100 CEO…all with an eye toward fixing her client’s exact problem.”

In her October 2020 book I Do Not Consent: My Fight Against Medical Cancel Culture Gold writes, “I have always worked with the poor and underserved,” treating ER patients in places like Inglewood, California, which she describes as a “low-income, gang-ridden majority-minority city that provided the setting for the tough 1991 drama Boyz N the Hood.” She does not, however, include any mention of her services as a pricey “concierge physician,” which she advertised on her now-defunct personal website: “As a C-Suite Physician, Dr. Gold works the same way as a highly effective Fortune 100 CEO…all with an eye toward fixing her client’s exact problem.” Gold charged $5,000 for an initial appointment and between $25,000 and $50,000 for ongoing consultations.

The concierge medical practice is just one of several business enterprises she attempted to launch over the years—including MedicaLife, a short-lived lifestyle magazine for doctors that launched in 2006 and folded in 2008. (“Confessions of a Hospital Fundraiser,” teased one cover mockup.) In 2017, Gold started a company called Gold Healthcare Solutions that advertises assistance to hospitals facing government audits. Until recently, the company website listed as CEO the venture capitalist Howard Sherman, who’s married to the actress Sela Ward and who ran in the Mississippi Democratic primary for the US Senate in 2018.

When I asked Sherman about his role at the company, he replied in an email: “I have ZERO relationship with Dr. Simone Gold’s company. I work in the medical device world and at one time she approached me with an idea she had that I vetted with some of my contacts. I was not able to achieve the kind of interest she wanted so we stopped talking about the project.” His name and photo were subsequently removed from the company website.

Lots of people flame out in business, get divorced, and don’t end up storming the Capitol. But Haider-Markel says that those who do become radicalized are searching for broader meaning in their lives or a sense of identity. “Oftentimes there is a precipitating event. They lose a partner. They have a financial crisis,” he says. “They develop some grievance around that and connect that to a broader social movement.” If Gold was looking for a mid-life reboot, the heady mix of the pandemic, President Trump, and right-wing media provided the perfect catalyst.

The moment that “changed my life completely,” she told a California KGET TV reporter in January, took place in April 2020. She had been treating COVID patients in Los Angeles emergency rooms with President Donald Trump’s favorite unproven COVID cure, hydroxychloroquine, just a few weeks after the president had announced that the FDA would be fast-tracking emergency use authorization for the drug for COVID treatment. Trump called it “a game changer,” despite warnings from the FDA that the anti-malaria drug may cause heart rhythm problems in some people. 

Gold was enthusiastic about the drug’s treatment possibilities. In her book, she describes how, after extensive research, she had used hydroxychloroquine to cure a woman suffering from mild COVID. “I had expected to get kudos,” she writes. “Instead I was met with hostility.” The hospital medical director challenged her independence and dressed her down for prescribing a drug that wasn’t indicated for outpatients. Gold argued she had science to back her up, and cited the drug’s long safety profile. Unpersuaded, the medical director threatened to fire her if she ever prescribed the drug to an outpatient again. 

For most of her life, Gold doesn’t seem to have been politically active. She donated $1,000 to the campaign of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in 2019, but before that, the only other federal candidate to whom she gave money was a Democrat—California Rep. Raul Ruiz—in 2011. “I have never considered myself a political person. I’ve supported both parties at various times in my life,” she says in her book. “I’d fall in the middle of any partisan test. I don’t believe in the right-left distinction…That’s the trouble with being in the middle of the road. Sometimes you get run over.”

“That’s the trouble with being in the middle of the road. Sometimes you get run over.”

But after the hospital threatened to fire her over her prescribing practices, Gold picked a lane. On April 14, she called Dennis Prager’s radio show. Prager has been broadcasting in LA since 1982, but he has become an important though underappreciated part of the modern right-wing infrastructure thanks to his online Prager University. Popular with young people and the alt-right, Prager U publishes five-minute tutorials on everything from climate change to economics. The videos are designed to promote “Judeo-Christian values.” (A sampling: “The Dangers of Islam” and “Just Say Merry Christmas.”)

Identifying herself as an ER doctor, Gold described her success at treating patients with hydroxychloroquine and voiced dismay that medicine was becoming so politicized that a perfectly safe drug could not be dispensed by doctors without controversy. “The science has taken a backseat to the hatred of the president,” Prager commiserated.

A week later, Gold made a series of Twitter videos, a platform that she had rarely before used, to share her experience “practicing emergency medicine in this era of the COVID-19 crisis.” Standing in her white lab coat in front of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center—a hospital she didn’t work at—Gold panned the camera over the quiet grounds. “It’s really quite empty. The emergency department volume is down,” she says. “The patient census is down.” 

Gold wasn’t entirely wrong about the hospital census but her causality was off. Hospitals all over the country, including in California at that time, were relatively empty because elective surgeries were canceled and fear of the virus kept people out of the ER. Doctors and nurses would soon be laid off. In her book she describes how her own hospital hours were cut by 30 percent. She doesn’t say how much this may have hurt her bottom line, but in June, her medical practice received more than $150,000 in federal bailout loans, suggesting the lockdowns caused a personal budget deficit large enough to turn many a doctor into an activist.

None of her videos garnered more than 12,000 views but they hit a certain zeitgeist, as conservatives and conspiracy theorists alike pushed the idea that virus cases were overblown and some people in the government were using COVID to take away individual freedom and undermine President Trump. Three weeks earlier, Fox News radio host Todd Starnes had gone to a Brooklyn hospital and made a video claiming that the emergency room was empty. “I’m afraid that the mainstream media has been overblowing the coverage here,” he narrated. “There’s been a lot of fear mongering going on.” With help from a QAnon enthusiast, the video spawned the hashtag #filmyourhospital and prompted a host of right-wing figures like failed California congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero to rush to their nearest hospitals to make their own “empty hospital” videos weeks before Gold did.

Even in such a climate, Gold’s white coat stood out, and she managed to catch the attention of one particularly influential audience member: Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. One of the largest of the original tea party groups that arose to oppose President Barack Obama, Tea Party Patriots encompasses a trio of nonprofit groups funded by wealthy conservatives and conservative foundations like Donors Trust. A Tea Party Patriots super-PAC also raised $1.2 million to help reelect Trump in 2020.

Martin was dialed into the Trump White House—so much so that she would later join Trump’s Georgia legal team to help overturn the 2020 presidential election, even though she’s not a lawyer. Early in the pandemic, she was working with a newly formed Save Our Country Coalition to help oppose lockdowns and defend Trump’s handling of the pandemic, along with powerful conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council. She is also the executive committee secretary of the Council for National Policy, a secretive but powerful religious-right organization that was working with the Trump reelection campaign to find doctors to help burnish the president’s approval ratings.

Gold was just the sort of surrogate they had been looking for. “I reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I’m working on this effort and I’d like to talk to doctors,’ and we started emailing and talking, and as things have developed and she watched the virus, things have evolved,” Martin later explained to Yahoo News. The pair met in April, and Gold asked Martin to deliver a letter she’d written to Trump, calling the lockdowns a “mass casualty event,” which she’d been urging other doctors to sign. More than 400 had.

With lightning speed, Martin put Gold on the ready-made conservative media grievance circuit. On May 19, Tea Party Patriots hosted a conference call with conservative media luminaries, including Fox News’ Ed Henry and Breitbart News, featuring Gold and a handful of other doctors who had signed Gold’s letter to Trump. On the call, Gold described the hidden victims of the lockdowns, including a woman she’d treated who’d fallen and broken her hip and shoulder while trying to color her own hair because she couldn’t go to a salon. “I just feel that’s there’s a very big disconnect between what the average American thinks is going on and what’s actually going on,” Gold said.

The call sent Gold on a grand round of media hits with all of the biggest names in the MAGA firmament—former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, Glenn Beck, Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk—and ultimately with some of the major stars of Fox News. In early July, Fox host Laura Ingraham had Gold on her show to promote her favorite drug as an over-the-counter COVID cure. “This is like a medical cancel culture applied to this particular medication,” Ingraham said sympathetically, conflating some cherished conservative points of fury.

“Shouldn’t you as a practicing physician with a medical degree be allowed to express your views on science as you practice it without being censored?”

It’s probably hard to overstate just how much of a role conservative media played in nudging Gold towards insurrection. University of Maryland psychology professor Arie W. Kruglanski is a co-author of the book The Three Pillars of Radicalization. In his research on extremist networks across the globe, he identified three crucial factors in political radicalization: a need to feel significant, a narrative to follow, and a network that supports and validates that narrative. “It’s difficult to become very glamorous or glorious as an emergency room doctor,” Kruglanski told me. Gold’s splash into right-wing media, he says, probably fulfilled all three of the pillars. “This is sort of an overnight stardom. She has the narrative, and she now has the network that supports her.”

Gold really hit the big time in July. After brainstorming with Martin, Gold helped Tea Party Patriots convene an “America’s Frontline Doctors” summit in DC, an event that resembled the “white coat” protests Martin had organized back in the tea party heyday to oppose the Affordable Care Act. The two-day summit garnered almost no media attention until the very end, when Gold and about a dozen white-coated physicians appeared on the steps of the Supreme Court to talk about “medical cancel culture” and spent nearly 45 minutes making misleading claims suggesting that COVID can be prevented and cured with, no surprise here, hydroxychloroquine. Most of them had never treated a COVID patient; ophthalmologists were overrepresented in the group. And one was really out there: Stella Immanuel, a Houston doctor who believes that some gynecological problems are caused by having sex with demons. “You don’t need masks. There is a cure,” she said. “Nobody needs to get sick.”

President Trump and his son Don Jr. retweeted a video of the event and it went viral, receiving more than 16 million views in a matter of hours before Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter took it down for spreading misinformation. Twitter even blocked Don Jr. from using his account for most of the day.

Simone Gold’s summer media splash included big names: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Ed Henry, plus Turning Points USA founder Charlie Kirk, Glenn Beck, and conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager.

Gold has claimed that the California hospital she worked for promptly fired her for appearing in the video, and says she hasn’t practiced medicine since. But the episode provided her with instant celebrity as a victim of Big Tech censorship, a credential even more beloved by conservative media than her white coat and fancy law degree. The next day, Gold accompanied Martin to meet with Vice President Mike Pence to press for emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and talk censorship. The day after that, she appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, one of the most watched prime-time cable news shows, with more than 3 million regular viewers.

On the show, Carlson expressed outrage that Gold’s hospital had fired her. “Shouldn’t you as a practicing physician with a medical degree be allowed to express your views on science as you practice it without being censored?” he asked.

Gold agreed and then seized the opportunity to make her case for hydroxychloroquine to Carlson’s millions of viewers. “Look, I majored in Russian History. I don’t know anything about hydroxychloroquine,” he told her in response. “I do know about the way the country is supposed to work, and physicians should be allowed to explain their experiences, their clinical experiences, treating patients and you’re not allowed to because Joe Biden getting elected is more important, and that’s scary.”

In a sign of how far down the far-right rabbit hole she’d already gone by then, Gold told Carlson that because of “some negative things” people had said since the video aired, she had retained attorney and conspiracy theorist L. Lin Wood to put “to rest anything people want to say that’s defamatory.” Wood would later join with Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani to file a host of baseless lawsuits to try to overturn the presidential election.

By early fall, it was clear that Gold’s original analysis of the pandemic was mostly wrong. The virus spiked across the country and researchers declared hydroxychloroquine useless for treating COVID. Even Trump didn’t take it when he got sick. As her prospects in medicine dimmed, Gold seems to have become too toxic even for Fox News, which hasn’t had her on the air since July. She had turned America’s Frontline Doctors into a more traditional nonprofit organization, complete with website, spokesperson, and white papers decrying various alleged flip-flops by Anthony Fauci. But in her quest for publicity, Gold had to dive even deeper into the far-right fever swamp.

For the next few months, Gold gave interviews to or public speeches with QAnon conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, B-list talk show luminaries, and a few politicians, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a “stop the steal” movement promoter affiliated with far-right militia groups that were part of the Capitol riots. She even went on the Patriot Radio show hosted by Matt Shea, a former Washington State legislator who has been involved in a number of armed federal standoffs, including the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 led by Ammon Bundy. Associated with Christian nationalists, Shea has written a manifesto calling for a fundamentalist holy war, in which non-Christian males would be killed if they didn’t submit to Biblical law.

The Jewish doctor chatted happily with him about vitamins and the value of exercise in preventing COVID. “Before I was called a quack and a fraud, people used to clap for me for working out there on the front lines,” Gold lamented, before encouraging people to give up masks and to freely gather for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

But Gold found her most loyal audience among evangelical Christian prosperity preachers, many of whom had refused to close their church doors during the lockdowns and were vaccine skeptics. After big tech companies pulled down the doctors’ video in July, it was rebroadcast by Daystar, the second-largest Christian TV network in the country. Since then, Gold has made at least six different appearances on the network founded by televangelists Marcus and Joni Lamb—and those visits have paid off.

In mid-August, when she headlined the Lambs’ program “Ministry Now,” along with the anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr, Marcus Lamb made a surprise announcement: He was issuing a $10,000 matching challenge from Daystar for donations on Gold’s behalf. “I know that you lost your job and now it may be that God has placed something else in your heart to where you’re gonna make a stand,” Joni Lamb told Gold. “It’s going to take money to do that.” In October, Gold returned to chat with the ladies of “Joni Table Talk,” Daystar’s televangelical version of “The View.” Over coffee with the hosts, Gold thanked “the whole Daystar family for being so generous,” and talked about the small donations from viewers she’d received. “It really adds up,” she said gratefully. “It gave me some breathing room to keep fighting for advocacy.”

“I know that you lost your job and now it may be that God has placed something else in your heart to where you’re gonna make a stand. It’s going to take money to do that.”

Evangelical churches were especially receptive to Gold’s anti-vaccine advocacy, which she pivoted to as hydroxychloroquine faded as a right-wing cause célèbre. Three days before the Capitol riot, Gold appeared at a religious revival event in Tampa, Florida, billed as an “open air mass healing and miracle service,” run by Rodney Howard-Browne. A conspiracy theorist, Howard-Browne has appeared on Alex Jones’ far-right site InfoWars and has called the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, a “false flag” operation. He was arrested in March for holding religious services in violation of a stay at home order. Gold took the stage before a room full of people without masks and gave an hour-long speech, where she decried the evils of the “experimental biological agent,” better known as the COVID vaccine. She said it’s being tested on minority communities that have been prioritized for vaccines, which she dubbed “pure racism.”

“They are making an overt and covert attempt to push this heavily on Blacks and browns,” she warned. “If you take the vaccine, you’re signing up to be in a pharmacovigilance tracking system.”

For most of 2020, the formerly apolitical Dr. Gold was able to separate her personal crusade for “health freedom” from the presidential election that provided the backdrop to the fight over lockdowns and hydroxychloroquine. She rarely touched on the subject in public other than to suggest that “Orange Man bad” and not science drove opposition to the anti-malaria drug. But whether Gold realized it or not, the battle over the drug was less about health care policy and more of a proxy war over Trump and the future of democracy.

Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in November was a blow to Gold’s cause, as polls showed voters resoundingly rejected his handling of the pandemic, which embraced much of what Gold advocated. It also put her on a collision course with the “stop the steal” movement that metastasized after the presidential election, as her tea party and evangelical benefactors quickly backed Trump’s effort to brand the election as illegitimate and overturn the results. Gold’s Stanford law degree suggests she is smart enough to know a big lie when she sees one, but “stop the steal” was where the action was, not to mention the speaking gigs and fundraising ops she now relied on for her livelihood since her medical career cratered. Once she started down the MAGA path, there was no turning back.

When Trump supporters first converged in DC on November 14 at the “Million MAGA march” to contest the election results, Gold was right there with them, along with other Trump die-hards like Mike Lindell, the MyPillow guy who helped bankroll the march; Sebastian Gorka, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, the Georgia congresswoman who’d expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. “You do not give up your inalienable rights just because there’s an epidemic,” Gold shouted from the Supreme Court steps, warning that the government was using an “age-old tactic” to seize power by scaring people with a disease that she said causes mostly mild illness. “Do not live in fear. Be joyful, be happy, go forward!”

The event was advertised on the neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, and drew hordes of militia outfits and white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys and Nick Fuentes’ Groypers. The rally descended into violence; 21 people were arrested on assault and gun charges, and one person was stabbed.

That didn’t stop Gold from coming back to DC to speak with many of the same people at the January 5 “stop the steal” rally at Freedom Plaza—the warmup to the main event at the Capitol, organized by Ali Alexander, a convicted felon and conspiracy theorist. Speakers represented a parade of far-right figures ranging from anti-abortion activists to former Trump adviser Roger Stone. Standing under an umbrella held by a man in a “Baby Lives Matter” shirt, Gold said to the crowd, “I’m here to ask you a personal question: Why are you here?…I believe the reason you are here is the same reason I am choosing to be here. Because we all have recognized a blatant assault on the rule of law… We are sick and tired of being lied to.”

Kruglanski isn’t surprised that Gold would move from promoting a bogus COVID cure to joining with people who thought the election had been stolen. “In many cases the radical groups first shower you with love without you even accepting their ideology,” he explains. “But once you are accepted by the group, to maintain your good standing in that community you’ve got to accept their narrative.”

The next day Gold was scheduled to speak again at the “Wild Protest” organized by Alexander near the White House, along with Tea Party Patriots’ Jenny Beth Martin and Brandon Straka, founder of the Walkaway Campaign that urges Democrats to quit the party. (Straka was also later arrested for entering the Capitol.) But the speeches were inexplicably canceled, and instead, protesters heeded Trump’s call to march on the Capitol while Congress and the vice president were certifying the results of the 2020 election. Gold joined them.

She was accompanied by John Strand—an international underwear model who serves as the communications director for America’s Frontline Doctors. Strand, 38, had been part of regular Beverly Hills “freedom protests” against the lockdowns over the summer and now lives with Gold. On the steps of the Capitol, he tweeted, “I am incredibly proud to be a patriot today, to stand up tall in defense of liberty & the Constitution, to support Trump & #MAGAforever, & to send the message: WE ARE NEVER CONCEDING A STOLEN ELECTION.”

Lawyers generally know that after engaging in a potentially criminal act, it’s best to stop talking publicly about it. But Gold apparently couldn’t resist the siren call of an interview with the Washington Post. In a January 12 story, Gold admitted to being inside the Capitol on January 6. “I can certainly speak to the place that I was, and it most emphatically was not a riot,” she said, explaining dubiously that she thought it was legal to go inside. “Where I was, was incredibly peaceful.”

Simone Gold (top left), on the FBI poster that became fodder for internet sleuths, who quickly ID her and posted videos like these online.  

“Peaceful” is not a word the FBI used in court filings to describe where Gold was that day. According to an FBI agent, Gold and Strand were photographed “in a large crowd attempting to push past multiple officers blocking the entrance to the Capitol, which had visibly broken windows at the time. One of the officers, who had been pinned near the doors to the Capitol, appears to be pulled down by someone in the crowd and lands near where Strand and Gold were standing.” Videos and still photos also show the pair pressed up against the door to the House chamber where law enforcement was trying to block them. Gold told the Post that she worried that those photos and videos would impact her ability to advocate the America’s Frontline Doctors. “I do regret being there,” Gold admitted.

Her regret is understandable. For days, an image of her standing in the Capitol Rotunda with a bullhorn appeared on an FBI wanted poster seeking help identifying people who participated in the insurrection. Five days after her interview with KGET, FBI agents went to her Beverly Hills house and arrested her and Strand. A DC federal grand jury indicted her on February 5. By then, L. Lin Wood was facing disbarment efforts in Georgia, where authorities have demanded a mental health evaluation after he called for Vice President Mike Pence to be executed. He was thus unavailable to defend Gold.

So why did she do it? It’s impossible to know what combination of impulse, exhilaration, and conviction led Gold to follow a mob into the US Capitol. She did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, but there are a few likely dynamics at work. Let’s start with her own reflections on what happened, which were surprisingly uncomplicated: “When you’re crossing the street and the light turns green, you go,” she said in an interview with KGET. Shaking her head somewhat ruefully, she added that she came up with the “genius” idea to give the speech she had planned to deliver at the canceled rally. “I…I just wanted to,” she stammered. “Someone had a bullhorn. I asked to use it. Those of us who were there believe the election is completely fraudulent. We just kind of wanted to be heard.”

“Someone had a bullhorn. I asked to use it.”

Several months before her arrest, she foreshadowed her new militancy. “Not everyone can, or should, turn to political activism. I fully understand those who point out the negative consequences this approach can have for one’s career and personal life,” she wrote in her book. “Going along with the crowd in times of fear and uncertainty present their own pitfalls, as we have seen. In Judaism we often ask ourselves, ‘What does God expect of me in this situation?’ It’s this emphasis on action that is essential to the Jewish faith. Trust in God, believe in yourself, and courageous conduct will follow.”

It is always perilous to engage in psychoanalyzing a relatively public figure, even one who seems to be having a midlife crisis in plain sight. And yet, Haider-Markel says that while most people don’t react to personal existential crisis by storming the Capitol, it might not be that surprising that Gold did. Many people who’ve spent a long time investing in their own education and status tend to socialize with others—like, say, in the PTA of an exclusive Beverly Hills private school—who have the same or similar credentials. In these circles, they discover that the very qualities that once made them special, all those degrees and awards they worked so hard to attain, are just the ticket to admission. Where will their prestigious resume still stand out?

Simone Gold poses as a hostage for a video she made framing her as victim of government persecution. With co-defendant John Strand (left) and former professional boxer and current Nevada cannabis lawyer Joey Gilbert, a member of the “legal eagle dream team” at Gold’s America’s Frontline Doctors. 

Few paths to fame are as reliable as switching sides. Conservatives claiming to represent “we the people” love to dump on professional expertise and fancy pedigrees in latte liberals—just listen to Fox’s Tucker Carlson repeatedly mock MSNBC host Joy Reid for having gone to Harvard. But when someone with fancy degrees and professional credentials abandons their over-educated tribe and converts, the right-wing superstructure will shower them with love—and money.

Others in right-wing politics share similar credentials as Gold’s—think Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard Law), or Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (Stanford, Yale Law), both of whom worked to overturn the election of President Joe Biden. But as senators, Cruz and Hawley are still very much part of the establishment. Their extremism is checked by their need to fundraise and get reelected.

Experts say that far-right radicalism of the sort on display on January 6 and elsewhere over the past year has strong parallels not in Cruz’s “defund the IRS” agenda but in Islamic radicalism, which studies have shown is full of doctors, engineers, and other professionals, even in the United States. In 2017, the Chicago Project on Security and Threats studied more than 100 people in the US, mostly American citizens, who’d been prosecuted for perpetrating a domestic attack on behalf of ISIS or going to fight for the Islamic State in Syria. They discovered that, like the Capitol rioters, two-thirds of the defendants had a college education.

Kruglanski notes, too, that many of the leaders of the neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, which left one woman dead and scores injured, were college educated, including Richard Spencer, who has a BA from the University of Virginia, a masters from the University of Chicago, and spent two years working on a PhD in modern European intellectual history at Duke University before leaving to “pursue a life of thought-crime.”

“You do not have to be poor and left behind to embrace these theories,” Kruglanski told me.

When it comes to real extremism, as opposed to political grandstanding, Gold much more resembles Stewart Rhodes than Ted Cruz. Rhodes is the founder of the Oath Keepers, the far-right militia group of which about a dozen members have been charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot. Rhodes was there that day, too, but unlike Gold, he was smart enough to stay out of the building. If he had gone in, he could have joined her in the rotunda and announced, “I am a Yale-educated attorney.”

Gold’s initial regret about her actions at the Capitol has given way to defiance as she returned to the lecture circuit, where she has reframed herself as a victim, and her prosecution as an assault on free speech. On their podcast recently, she told sympathetic Newsmax hosts Diamond and Silk that she looks forward to making her case to a jury. The vaccine rollout has also provided fresh opportunities for spreading misinformation in her ongoing crusade against “medical discrimination” through America’s Frontline Doctors.

Evangelical groups have continued to shower her with Biblical hospitality. At the end of March, Gold took her anti-vaccine schtick to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, a hotbed of far-right extremism, where she spoke at the “Steeling the Mind” conference put on by Compass International, a Christian ministry founded by Bill Perkins. Perkins is part of the “young earth” creationist movement, ties reflected in the conference lineup, where Gold’s fellow speakers explored such topics as whether “When God created the earth in six, 24-hour days, was that 7-day creation week God’s template for 7,000 years of humans on earth?”

The evangelical anti-vaccine circuit has put Gold back in close quarters with people who helped set the stage for the siege at the Capitol. In mid-April, Gold appeared at a two-day “health and freedom” conference in Oklahoma at the Rhema Bible College that ended with a mask-burning ceremony. There, she took the stage along with many others who’d been involved in the “stop the steal” efforts after the election, including Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and L. Lin Wood.

In her speech, Gold announced that her America’s Frontline Doctors was setting up a legal task force to help people fight pandemic-related restrictions and vaccine passports. The audience cheered when she introduced her “legal eagle dream team” member Leigh Dundas. A Scientologist, an anti-vaccine activist, and far-right agitator from Orange County, California, Dundas also happened to be at the Capitol on January 6. She can be seen in videos not far from the QAnon shaman, yelling “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” at the police. After getting tear gassed outside, she went back to a nearby stage where she implored people to “stand the hell up! Because you are far better off fighting on your feet and being prepared to die on your feet than living a life on your damned knees. Fight on.”

Like any good victim of cancel culture, Gold is also fundraising. For weeks after her arrest, the America’s Frontline Doctors website featured a popup box that said, “Dr. Gold and her Communications Director were arrested by the FBI in an extremely aggressive manner. They need your support. This fight is not just for them, but for you. Clearly this political persecution of a law-abiding emergency physician is designed to threaten and intimidate any American who dares to exercise their 1st Amendment rights. The legal pressures mounting against Dr. Gold require your urgent and generous donations to withstand such aggressive assaults from the ruthless enemies of free speech.”

As of May 5, she’d raked in $392,000.
 
Top image credit: Mother Jones illustration; Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia; Getty

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