Opinion

Dispensable human rights

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The decision to revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship shows the government’s contempt for human rights. Brian Richardson slams a decision that makes no concession to the impulsive nature of young people.

Home secretary Sajid Javid’s response to the discovery of 19-year-old Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp last month was swift, predictable and utterly reprehensible.

At the first available opportunity he rushed into the House of Commons and declared in characteristically pompous tones that:

Still sticking with Trump

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John Newsinger brings his analysis of the Christian right in the US up to the present day, with a look at why they have backed Donald Trump’s administration to the hilt and will likely continue to do so.

In August 2017 white supremacists and neo-Nazis paraded in Charlottesville, killing one protester, Heather Heyer, and seriously injuring a number of others in the process. When Trump refused to condemn them, his various business advisory boards collapsed as the CEOs of leading companies resigned in protest.

There were no resignations from his spiritual advisory board. The leaders of the Christian right, Trump’s evangelical courtiers, stuck by the man they played such an important part in installing in the White House.

From Stonewall to Trump

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Fifty years on from the Stonewall riots, the picture for LGBT+ people is very different, yet there can be no complacency in a time when the far right is attempting to weaponise our struggle, writes Bethan Turner.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. These six nights of violent demonstrations in New York’s Greenwich Village transformed the struggle for LGBT+ liberation, from a collection of mainly small and conservative lobbying groups, to a vibrant and radical movement that called for revolution as the way to win sexual liberation.

The gains of this movement were undeniable. By the end of the 1970s homosexuality was decriminalised in most US states and in 1973 homosexuality was removed from the American Phycological Association list of psychiatric disorders.

Dressing for the revolution

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From the gilets jaunes to the sans-culottes, clothing might not be the central question when considering radical movements, but there is more to it than you might expect, writes Rena Niamh Smith.

When I titled a recent talk on the politics of fashion “What will you Wear to the Revolution?”, some queried if a consideration of what we wear may be beneath the serious politics of the Marxist tradition.

Yet if the revolution were to happen tomorrow, we know exactly what we would wear. The once anonymous hi-vis vest has proved such an electrifying feature of the French anti-establishment protests, that their sale was banned in Egypt, site of serious revolution in recent memory.

The twilight of empires

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Commemorations marking the end of the First World War have made little mention of the suffering endured by people in Eastern Europe. Steve Guy looks at the history in order to redress the picture.

Last November the remembrance ceremonies on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending the First World War focussed, understandably, on the campaign on the Western Front. There has been very little mention of the events in the east, even after the recent independence celebrations in Poland, with the participation of the Polish Nazis, or the latest confrontation between Russia and the Ukraine.

God, greed, and homophobia

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The Christian right in the US has been a bulwark of reaction for decades. John Newsinger discusses its integration in the New Conservative agenda championed by former president Ronald Reagan.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, the Christian right in the US had been content to act as cheerleaders for US capitalism against atheistic Communism abroad. This began to change in the 1960s and 1970s when social and political change threatened all they held dear.

The first great challenge was the Civil Rights Movement. It is ironic that the Christian right condemned the involvement of the likes of Martin Luther King in political campaigning on the grounds that the clergy should keep out of politics.

A whiff of change in the air

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Rena Niamh Smith continues her series of columns with a hopeful look at how the desire for a better world is feeding into the fashion world — but a more fundamental shift will be required for lasting change.

Flick through any fashion magazine and you get a taste for the current mood of change in fashion. Features on gender fluidity, the renaissance of slogan tee shirts, models of size and colour, shopping guides to the growing sustainable market suggest a brighter future led by Gen Z. Even the trend for baby pink has been linked to renewed interest in feminism.

Donald Trump’s model agency, founded in 1999, quickly went out of business following his election as the industry dropped connections to the odious mogul-turned-president.

Workers Party must share blame in Brazil

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In the discussion of Jair Bolsonaro’s election victory in Brazil, the role of the Workers’ Party (PT) in its own downfall is worthy of deeper analysis. The left has tended to shy away from this, focusing on the brutality of the right, but not looking hard enough at the conduct of both Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff in office. This is a common problem in describing the experience of the Pink Tide governments, not only in Brazil but also in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and other countries.

White House of horrors

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Yet another book about the chaotic nature of Donald Trump’s administration, Fear by Bob Woodward, came this autumn. Lewis Nielsen looks at what it tells us about the opposition to the chaos.

It’s easy to get tired of the scandals emanating from the White House after two years of seemingly constant coverage of Trump breaking establishment norms. The hiring and firing of staff, links with the Russians, the late night tweeting — we have heard it all before. Nevertheless Bob Woodward’s book Fear is an interesting addition to the chorus of voices revealing the chaos of Trump.

In God we entrust money

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Today’s religious support for the US regime is not new but was conciously created. John Newsinger talks about political evangelist Billy Graham and what has been called the Spiritual-Industrial Complex.

The Christian right played a vital role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency in November 2016. Evangelical Christians made up a third of electorate and four out of every five of them voted for Trump.

And, so far at least, they have remained loyal to the man they consider to be God’s Chosen. Understanding the strategic position they occupy in US politics today is vital.

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