UT-Austin Report: Students Aren’t Meant to Be Safe From Dangerous Harms

Here’s the big story:

UT-Austin released a report… that concluded there was ‘no racist intent’ behind the song, even as the song was written in a racist setting.

I totally get where that report is coming from. This is like UT-Austin saying its culinary school had no intent to poison its students when the food was prepared in a poisonous setting.

Being unconcerned about safety doesn’t prove intent to be unsafe, it’s a proof that safety wasn’t intended.

So the school is saying when its students are unsafe and harmed, that’s because the school didn’t intend to keep them safe and unharmed.

The key point is when UT-Austin fails to show it has anti-racist intent today, it has no intent for the abolition of racism, it is admitting to being racist.

However, if we find that no student is expected to get poisoned from their dining halls (or even from other students), then why should we be expected to put up with dangerous racism at all? That’s inconsistent and illogical.

Study may explain how racial discrimination raises the risks of disease among African Americans…

And now for a little history about UT-Austin’s “racist setting“:

…Littlefield has long been known as one of UT’s earliest and most prolific donors, and all around campus, you can still see his influence: a cafe and residence hall are named after him, and two of the campus’s most prominent landmarks are the Littlefield Home and Littlefield Fountain. In their letter, student athletes are calling for his name to be removed from Littlefield Hall because, as Gordon teaches, Littlefield was a slave owner who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Late in his life, Littlefield poured money into making UT more Southern-centric and commissioned Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini to design statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, as well as his namesake fountain. The fountain’s inscription, which was removed in 2016, described how Confederates were “not dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule [and] builded [sic] from the ruins of a devastating war a greater South.” Interestingly, when he was completing the project, Coppini recommended to Littlefield that the monuments should honor Americans fighting in World War I. When Littlefield refused, Coppini replied: “As time goes by, they will look to the Civil War as a blot on the pages of American history, and the Littlefield Mem­orial will be resented as keeping up the hatred between the Northern and Southern states.”

Nothing says “don’t eat here” like a cafe named after someone who was really into slavery and mass atrocity crimes. Even Indonesia had to give up attempts to mix genocide with meals.

A “greater South” obviously was Littlefield’s way of saying he was continuing Civil War by other means, as President Grant very openly warned American soldiers.

To be clear, when UT-Austin’s big donor poured his money from slavery into commemorations of discredited and defeated domestic terrorists who killed Americans, he was asked at that time to also at least honor some American soldiers.

He refused. His superstition, ambition and ignorance was on full display.

Such a failure of patriotism, refusing to honor American soldiers, was made even worse by instead erecting giant monuments to slavery that celebrate rape, torture and killing of Americans… it is clear that safety for UT-Austin students was never intended.

If they can’t commit to something so basic as anti-racism, then surely they aren’t capable of things like food safety either. Anyone caught poisoning others on campus now surely would be excused for lack of intent, and being just a natural outcome in such a poisonous setting.

Again, the key point is when UT-Austin fails to show anti-racist intent today, no abolition of racism, they are being racist.

Court Rules Email HyperLinks Are Not Attachments

The Southern District Court ruled in Nichols et al. v. Noom, Inc., no. 20-cv-3677 (Mar. 11, 2021) that, given lack of an exportable target, a hyperlink fails to become an attachment, and thus a producing party does not have to deliver anything more.

While the Court appreciates that hyperlinked internal documents could be akin to attachments, this is not necessarily so. When a person creates a document or email with attachments, the person is providing the attachment as a necessary part of the communication. When a person creates a document or email with a hyperlink, the hyperlinked document/information may or may not be necessary to the communication.

“Active Measures” and the 2016 Presidential Election

Recently I’ve seen some people are still commenting on social media “what does Russia have to do with 2016” so I just send them a critically-acclaimed 2018 documentary.

…key weapons of political warfare: propaganda, cyber attacks and recruiting agents of influence…

Financial fraud wouldn’t be enough alone to bind together villains of this story (after all, they could end up competing with each other), and so allegedly they’re in conspiracy to grab power to abuse women and children (which intelligence agencies refer to more commonly as “undermine confidence in democracy”).

Though retiring Russian president Boris Yeltsin mistakenly believed that his successor would fight against totalitarianism while ensuring the freedom of the press, it wasn’t long before Putin proved eager to indulge the nostalgia of the populace, guiding it backward through history toward a revived Soviet nationalism. The parallels between Putin’s regressive crusade and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra are expanded upon in Bryan’s film, as is their shared contempt for [women].

The FBI referred to Russian interference rather dryly:

On July 13, 2018, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned an indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their alleged roles in interfering with the 2016 United States (U.S.) elections.

And here is the movie trailer for easy reference:

Is the Betsy Ross Flag Racist?

I was really excited to watch this video about Chinook “electronic warfare” until I clicked on play and a giant Betsy Ross flag showed up as the backdrop.

There are some places this American flag featuring a 13-star circle (colloquially known as the Betsy Ross) would seem appropriate. This isn’t one of them.

The Betsy Ross wasn’t the first flag of America, it wasn’t the only flag (there were hundreds of interpretations of “constellation” of white stars in the Flag Act of 1777), but it was nonetheless a flag commissioned just before the 1780s.

What was a hot topic of the 1780s? Slavery (or more precisely, passively allowing racism to continue).

…I’m certain that few of the people involved in these situations actively dislike black people – or think lowly of them. Instead, they’re just people acting normally in a system that promotes and protects Eurocentric power by denying, and at best bracketing, the humanity of Africans and Afro-descendant people. In this world, you don’t have to be a racist to be racist; it’s racist to just passively allow racism to continue.

Pennsylvania’s Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery of 1780 set forth truly revolutionary concepts like proposing an end to racism — all children born in the state would be free persons regardless of race or their parents’ race.

In other words, a 1780s flag might make sense in a video about life in the 1780s. Think about a display of all the flags in American history (updated 27 times so far), all side by side that also has one from that time period displayed.

It would be a flag among all the American flags, symbolizing one less-than-ideal chapter of the past. Kind of like saying “here’s an old flag that we no longer fly, it’s from a time of slavery and we use it to show how far we’ve come since then”. It is a flag to symbolize mistakes made, with other flags to show direction and progress since that time.

For another example, think about a history video, with some historians discussing context around the flag, or in a museum about what life was like in 1780s.

Ample opportunity would be given to explain how this flag is from long ago, a time that nobody would want to go back towards because… slavery, not to mention misogyny and a host of other things. Again, was it the only flag? No. Was it the primary flag? No.

This flag really isn’t really supposed to speak for itself because it raises many important questions that really shouldn’t be left open and unanswered.

When used on its own with no context, just a substitution for the present American flag, it tends to beg whether someone is thinking “forget all the Amendements, never mind all the changes, let’s go backwards to white nationalism of the 1780s”.

Or more literally, the Betsy Ross flag typically serves as a warning to Black people they are “neither welcome nor seen as equal”.

To be fair, hate groups tend not to rely on Betsy Ross alone to signal everything they want to say. Nazis and KKK in other words wave this flag along with their other flags, although that might be changing lately.

Here’s how the Betsy Ross used to show up in domestic terrorism meetups:

Source: Twitter
Source: Brad Warthen

An entire video from 2007 shows how the Betsy Ross is appropriated. Again it clearly isn’t sufficient on its own, they have to surround it with other hate flags to make their point.

There’s an important subtext here, which is that in 2007 Nazis were still very much attached to displaying the swastika and costuming to look like Hitler.

It seems absurd today, but back then it was still a Nazi thing to dress like a reenactment of 1938 Germany.

After 2016 the American Nazis were very much opposed to wearing a swastika (they literally banned it themselves after claiming for decades any bans on swastikas would be immoral). Nazis realized they could just fly Trump flags instead.

Here’s what their meetups look like now, and again a Betsy Ross isn’t on its own:

Source: Twitter

Trump plus Betsy Ross = KKK/Nazi (this shouldn’t be news to anyone literate in basic American history).

And on that note, here’s how the Betsy Ross shows up in various domestic terrorism recruitment fliers:

Source: NY
Source: Illinois
Source: Washington

For what it’s worth, the person who took credit for one of these campaigns was found dead after warning he was threatened by others in his group for “not being racist enough”.

That reminds me of how some experts maintain that the Betsy Ross isn’t racist enough yet for them to register it alone as a symbol of hate. Those kind of comments might have been a basis for the KKK to kill their own man.

So what does flying a Betsy Ross represent?

All of this being said, the bottom line is still a Betsy Ross flag probably didn’t come from Betsy Ross, and it absolutely did come from a time when America didn’t consider Black people human and it basically operated as a white police state.

That’s pretty bad on its own.

If there were any real proof the Betsy Ross flag came from Betsy Ross, we might also have to ask whether her design was meant to represent her values of the time (she eloped and intermarried and suffered from American misogyny, in a story not unlike Hutchinson).

Still not great.

It’s like asking the question whether America is racist. The answer is obviously yes, especially at the time of ill-gotten gains under this flag, as Brookings wrote:

When a person critiques America for the racism that is deeply embedded in our social institutions, some feel they are being personally attacked. This is because deep down they realize that they benefit from unearned assets associated with whiteness.

Discussing whether a flag of 1776 America is racist is like someone asking if the “America First” platform of 1915 was racist, or for that matter like asking whether a 1938 flag of Germany was anti-semitic.

Kind of obvious, no?

Washington could have freed his slaves. He did not. Washington could have demanded “all men created equal” was written as all people. He did not.

Heck, Washington could have spent more than six months at a time in Philadelphia and thus agree to the terms of the 1780 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. He did not!

In fact it seems the opposite; while flying his 13 stars and bars flag, Washington is said to have knowingly and repeatedly violated the state’s law (as well as its 1788 Amendment) by constantly rotating his slaves so he could keep them.

Let’s be honest. The American Revolution almost certainly extended and expanded slavery, and repressed women, far more than if Britain had maintained control of its colonies. In the War of 1812 America started enlisting Black freemen to fight against the British and then afterwards taking away the guns and freedoms of the victorious Black veterans (a racist theme that would repeat again in 1899 after the Spanish American War, in 1918 after WWI and so on).

America of 1776 thus can not be separated from the act of forming a new framework of tyranny, especially in Georgia (where British abolition of slavery in 1735 was violently reversed by immigrants who restarted slavery and said it was impossible for white people to live in America without Blacks doing all their work for them). This story was repeated in Texas as well.

That’s right, I just said 1735. America’s Revolutionary war was fought by whites who fully intended to extend slavery, and who were setting the stage for an even bloodier Civil War a century later on the same principles of tyranny.

Britain (as well as France), to put it simply, had been debating release of slaves in the late 1700s and then freed them. Yet during that same time in America was doubling down on slavery and violent white militias were killing anyone who even dared report on mistreatment of Blacks or speak of abolition.

To be fair, France — like America — decided to restart slavery after it had been abolished.

“The decision to reestablish slavery isn’t just a stain on Napoleon’s legacy, it’s a crime,” Louis-Georges Tin, campaigner and honorary president of the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), told DW. Napoleon’s decision in 1802 to reinstate slavery not only betrayed the ideals of the French Revolution, it also condemned an estimated 300,000 people into a life of bondage for several more years, before France definitively abolished slavery in 1848.

Even more to the point, America after 1808 decided to build a whole new slavery economy based on the state-sanctioned rape of Black women by any white man available… Black children were forcibly birthed (roots of the anti-abortion movement) so they could be bought and sold in the millions! It wasn’t about cotton.

Thus if you’re showing a Betsy Ross flag without some clear reason and some context to be displaying the militant symbol of a white police state that ruthlessly trafficked humans and murdered the press to silence speech, what are you even doing?

On its own it begs the important question whether you have a Confederate battle flag in your pocket, or a 14/88 tattoo somewhere. What’s your context for the 13 stars instead of 50?

I mean to put it another way, even Nazis and KKK bring context whenever they fly it. The Betsy Ross amplifies such messaging for obvious reasons despite being unable to carry a hate tune on its own. This flag both leads people to Andrew Jackson, as well as Barack Obama, but on its own it’s an open question.

It’s kind of obvious why hate groups like such a flag. When they fly it on its own it’s like a subtle invitation to normalize and talk up white nationalism without revealing their full regalia. Psssst, hey kids do you like Washington? Yeah? How about Andrew Jackson or Woodrow Wilson?

In dissolving the 1776 Commission on his first day in office, President Biden helped end one source of misinformation about our past, a reminder that, as we work to restore democracy, we will need to restore honest inquiry and accurate history as well.

It’s an encoded signal to recruit for extremism. Much like flying the various flags of Germany — the revision you choose to fly reveals a lot.

If America had always had one flag this would be an entirely different story, yet this flag is tied only to a particular time of systemic racism and oppression by whites.

This Day in History 1970: Ohio National Guard Kills Kent State University Students

On this day in 1970 four students were killed during an assault on Kent State University campus by Ohio National Guard carrying M1 rifles with bayonets attached:

Source: Kent State University’s 2021 Virtual Commemoration of May 4, 1970.

…three shot in the chest and one in the head… with some injured by bayonets…

  • Allison Krause
  • Jeffrey Miller
  • Sandra Scheuer
  • William Schroeder

In total over a dozen people were shot by the National Guard in the back and side, including innocent bystanders walking away or standing elsewhere. All unarmed, all far away.

Source: Kent State University’s 2021 Virtual Commemoration of May 4, 1970.

Who gave the order to shoot?

Source: Pulitzer

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young wrote their iconic song “Ohio” immediately upon seeing the photographs in the news.

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’… Four Dead in Ohio… soldiers are cutting us down

That single was out on the street in 10 days… The message was very simple… [America was] killing our own children in support of secret mass slaughter in Cambodia…

Kent State University 2021 Virtual Commemoration:

Stanford Racism Precipitated “National Policy of Exclusion” and Internment Camps

I’ve written before how Stanford pushed virulent racism as Governor of California (1862–1863).

Local racism was bad on its own. Yet here’s an example of how it also fed directly into American federal policy:

In May 1912, President Woodrow Wilson wrote to a California backer: “In the matter of Chinese and Japanese coolie immigration I stand for the national policy of exclusion (or restricted immigration)…We cannot make a homogeneous population out of people who do not blend with the Caucasian race…Oriental coolieism will give us another race problem to solve, and surely we have had our lesson.”

The President of the US was in violent agreement, doubling-down on a particular Californian manifestation of racism that had bloomed under Stanford’s high-profile hatred of Asians.

On May 3, 1913, California enacted the Alien Land Law, barring Asian immigrants from owning land. California tightened the law further in 1920 and 1923, barring the leasing of land and land ownership by American-born children of Asian immigrant parents or by corporations controlled by Asian immigrants. These laws were supported by the California press, as well as the Hollywood Association, Japanese and Korean (later Asiatic) Exclusion League and the Anti-Jap Laundry League (both founded by labor unions).

What’s that you say?

How does this anti-Asian action in 1913 and the later overt white nationalism of America link back to Stanford?

The Atlantic paints the picture for us in the years following Stanford’s infamous “white nationalist” speech as Governor:

With help from the journalist Knute Berger, I’ve uncovered more than a dozen attacks attributed to the Klan in California from 1868 to 1870, as well as a smaller number in Utah and Oregon. That figure is minuscule compared with what the former Confederate states endured in these years. Nonetheless, each of these western attacks left victims and sowed terror. And collectively, they challenge common assumptions about America’s long history of white-supremacist violence.

Indeed, Stanford seems front-and-center to bolstering the anti-Asian hate groups and domestic terrorism that became normalized in California.

Spurred by popular Sinophobia, California lawmakers campaigned against the two signal measures of the Reconstruction era, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. […] They falsely claimed that the Fifteenth Amendment would extend the vote to all Chinese, when in fact Asian immigrants were barred from citizenship and suffrage. […] California became the lone free state to reject both amendments outright.

Let’s look back at the 1860s language of Stanford again, just to be clear.

California Governor Leland Stanford, then CEO of the Central Pacific Railroad, had harsh words about the Chinese… “To my mind it is clear, that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Asia, with her numberless millions, sends to our shores the dregs of her population.”

“Anti-coolie clubs” were organized immediately following Stanford’s speech in 1862, brewing hate and exclusion leading directly into a Klan violence explosion of 1867.

Stanford’s racist platform became increasingly violent over just 5 years.

This climate of hate then elevated from California into a national partisan issue.

Source “Asian America Chinese and Japanese in the United States Since 1850”, Roger Daniels, 1988, p 36

Do you see how Stanford was into railroads and agriculture, both heavily dependent on Chinese immigration, yet he also was a leader in denying Asian Americans any prosperity from their hard work for him?

Economics cartoon published by “The Wasp” magazine of San Francisco, illustrating local racism as self-interested hypocrisy, 1878

That hypocrisy was a form of racist servitude, similar to how Blacks technically were emancipated yet actively denied freedoms or rights. This matters a lot in American history because we see California’s “leaders” from its start — particularly Stanford who personally profited from hate — building racism into their foundations of political power.

11th Senatorial District is San Francisco, where “Workingmen’s Party” and “Anti-Coolie” hate groups sprung up under Stanford’s 1862 white insecurity platform.

It’s a legacy of Stanford that thus leads President Wilson even before WWI to say he is aiming for a national policy of exclusion, which by 1915 became known as the “America First” platform to revive the KKK (more lynchings of blacks under Wilson in 1915 than all the years of the prior decade combined).

This is all rarely ever discussed. Comment below if you disagree. I mean it far more likely to hear people discuss America’s disgraceful internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. These internment camps seem for most Americans to be the most recognizable frame of reference, any time anti-Asian history becomes a discussion topic.

Source: Foreign Policy (Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images). Left: A Japanese-American woman holds her sleeping daughter as they prepare to leave their home for an internment camp in 1942. Right: Japanese-Americans interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center at the Santa Anita racetrack near Los Angeles in 1942.

It turns out these anti-Asian concentration camps were a logical conclusion of Stanford’s high-profile 1862 platform as well; a result of America failing to fight back against a peculiar Californian manifestations of violent racism.

Any rational person for example might seek for explanations why Japanese could be so callously pushed into camps by America, yet Germans and Italians were not.

Or perhaps more significantly, people should ask why German Nazi soldiers captured and held as prisoners of war were literally treated as “allies” and helpful hands around the American farmland… while at the same time loyal and patriotic Japanese-Americans were taken off their farms and put into concentration camps.

The answer to this completely different treatment is simple: Stanford (or really the racism that Stanford practiced and encouraged as CEO, Governor and US Senator).

An infamously ruthless and immoral business man had promoted anti-Asian hate movements in the West from his seat in local government all the way to national policy.

Stanford in the 1860s inscrutably linked Californian white-insecurity issues to federal policy, as a means of enabling self-interested white businessmen to steal land from Asian Americans.

Source: “Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians”, Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, 2012, pg 35

Internment of the Japanese thus was lobbied by California businessmen into federal government, and NOT the other way around as is often told incorrectly.

It was a repeat of tragic history, a long time strategy, where Californian industry set out to abuse segments of workers, deny prosperity and steal land/assets because of racism.

From a competitive standpoint you can imagine the glee of white property owners who get to seize assets of their Asian American neighbors.

On the other hand, when Black Americans were relocated into vacant Japanese American homes in San Francisco (to work in the Navy yards and help with WWII war efforts) there allegedly was a lot of unease and discomfort, which led these Black Americans to move up/out and build their own houses instead (not to mention they were targeted by “Urban Renewal” forcing them out).

Kind of amazing to think about just how few Asian Americans had achieved property rights and prosperity against ruthlessly racist government-sanctioned attacks, yet there remained no tolerance and ongoing threats to force the numbers to zero.

The federal government in WWII fell into this trap, enabling false “fear” of the entirely self-interested California racist tycoons.

However, WWII also saw something different unfold. The federal government slowly turned itself around on California policy and by 1945 started to shake off some of Wilson and Stanford’s troubled legacy of racism (thanks to Roosevelt).

A Japanese American may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German, or an Italian-American is Italian, or of any other national background. All of these people, including the Japanese Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built.

We have no common race in this country, but we have an ideal to which all of us are loyal: we cannot progress if we look down upon any group of people amongst us because of race or religion.

In 1948 the federal government was in opposition to California racism. However significant damage to America had been done nonetheless by those going along with Stanford instead of standing against him.

Stanford’s long legacy of hate, exclusion and internment camps (not to mention genocide) thus present essential reading that helps illuminate America’s long struggle to move aware from horrific consequences of systemic racism.

At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves in all seriousness, why is Stanford still a name people today want to associate themselves with?


Update: In comparison to Stanford’s overt racism and fear-mongering of the 1860s, consider at that exact time Lincoln’s 1864 “Act to Encourage Immigration“.

Indeed, Lincoln wasn’t a man ahead of his time, he was highly logical and empathetic, unlike the extremely regressive racism and xenophobia of Stanford.

The U.S. is at its best when it welcomes talent from around the world and gives people the tools to succeed and thrive here.

The Talented and Beautiful “Night Witches” of WWII

See what I did with the title of this blog post?

Yevdokia Bershanskaya (588 NBAP commander) and the crew of Yevdokia Nosal and Nina Ulyanenko 1942. Source: The Dispatch, Feb 2020, Vol 45 No 2, p 17

In the famous Pulitzer-prize winning book “The Guns of August“, the author applies some colorful language to illustrate WWI and Imperial Germany.

Barbara Tuchman framed the German march, for example, like mindless predator ants:

(page 251) The German march through Belgium, like the march of predator ants who periodically emerge from the South American jungle to carve a swatch of death across the land, was cutting its way across field, road, village, and town, like the ants unstopped by rivers or any obstacle.

Germans of 1914 clearly get portrayed by Tuchman as thoughtless insects (instead of bumbling militant strategists and dirty spies with no sense of morality). This doesn’t denigrate being German, but rather shows how people acting in a particular way is toxic (e.g. invading neutral countries to execute civilians, which obviously was a choice).

To be fair, the latest science says South American ants are in fact intelligent and even altruistic (use tools, share information, and at great risk to their own lives will help other ants).

I bring this use of language up because recently I wrote about anti-fascist women aviators of the 1930s and I ran across a strange phrase used by Germans that has been adopted by everyone else afterwards.

While researching mostly untold stories of black women aviators in America (who were barred from flying due to systemic American racism and sexism) I ran into an obscure story out of the Soviet Union that carried a peculiar German innuendo.

Here’s a 2013 obituary in the New York Times about “Night Witches” (Nacht Hexen in German, Nochnyye ved’my in Russian):

The Nazis called them “Night Witches” because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick.

The Soviet women who piloted those planes, onetime crop dusters, took it as a compliment. In 30,000 missions over four years, they dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders, ultimately helping to chase them back to Berlin. Any German pilot who downed a “witch” was awarded an Iron Cross.

These young heroines, all volunteers and most in their teens and early 20s, became legends of World War II but are now largely forgotten. Flying only in the dark, they had no parachutes, guns, radios or radar, only maps and compasses. If hit by tracer bullets, their planes would burn like sheets of paper.

Their uniforms were hand-me-downs from male pilots. Their faces froze in the open cockpits. Each night, the 40 or so two-woman crews flew 8 or more missions — sometimes as many as 18.

“Almost every time we had to sail through a wall of enemy fire,” Nadezhda Popova, one of the first volunteers — who herself flew 852 missions — said in an interview for David Stahel’s book “Operation Typhoon: Hitler’s March on Moscow, October 1941,” published this year.

I don’t buy the explanation that the “whooshing noise” sounded anything like a broomstick, let alone a fictional one (after all, there’s no actual witch’s broomstick).

Nazis, like many people, loved to come up with catchy derogatory names for people they hated.

Black American pilots (men only, as I already mentioned, even though women were training them to fly) were called “Luft Gangster“.

In many ways, retired Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, USAF (Ret) was fighting a fierce battle before, during and after his days as a Tuskegee fighter pilot (Red Tail) in World War II. Jefferson, 92, was shot down during a mission and spent nine months in Stalag Luft III, a Nazi P.O.W. camp and location of ‘The Great Escape.’ When liberated by Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army, Lt. Col. Jefferson unknowingly became an eye witness to the atrocities at the Nazi Concentration Camp…..Dachau. It’s a fascinating account of bravery, perseverance and character. When he wasn’t fighting for his country, Jefferson was battling racism in his country.

Think about black men pilots being called “Luft Gangster” for a minute. American women were such good pilots they trained the men for combat, yet were not allowed themselves to fly in combat… so it was only Soviet women in the air to get labeled witches.

The NYT brings up another example of how Nazis not only called women pilots witches, but tried to spread rumors such as potions giving women special powers.

At 15, Ms. Popova joined a flying club, of which there were as many as 150 in the Soviet Union. More than one-quarter of the pilots trained in the clubs were women. After graduating from pilot school, she became a flight instructor. […] Ms. Popova became adept at her unit’s tactics. Planes flew in formations of three. Two would go in as decoys to attract searchlights, then separate in opposite directions and twist wildly to avoid the antiaircraft guns. The third would sneak to the target through the darkness. They would then switch places until each of the three had dropped the single bomb carried beneath each wing. The pilots’ skill prompted the Germans to spread rumors that the Russian women were given special injections and pills to “give us a feline’s perfect vision at night,” Ms. Popova told Mr. Axell. “This, of course, was nonsense.”

It was a cynical method to denigrate the women generally, while also denying their skills.

Conversely, a book review from 1982 in Military Review makes the important point that all credit goes to the women, as there were no men to credit.

Source: Military Review, October 1982

And here’s a 1985 article in Soviet Life (an official diplomatic publication of the USSR embassy in America) that hilariously says “Night Witches” became a phrase because their women flew at night, completely ignoring implications of the witch part.

Source: Soviet Life, 1985

These women gave different explanations for the name, when interviewed directly.

Here’s one account:

Nobody knows the exact date when they started calling us night witches. […] We were bombing the German positions nearly every night, and none of us was ever shot down, so the Germans began saying these are night witches, because it seemed impossible to kill us or shoot us down.

That seems a bit of a stretch, given other women talk about watching their colleagues get shot down — even the expression on their face.

Here’s another:

The Germans liked to sleep at night, and they were very angry with the planes. They spread the rumor throughout the army that these were neither women nor men but night witches. When our army advanced again, the civilians said to us that we were very attractive and that the Germans had told them that we were very ugly night witches!

I totally buy that version of events, given again the fact that it comes directly as a 1st person account of being denigrated by Nazis. Their impact was legendary, even though their story rarely has been told.

Also note that an element of surprise ironically came from the Polikarpov Po-2 being so slow it couldn’t fly faster than 94 mph even without bombs. Made of plywood and canvas, with no radios, they flew invisibly through all the German radar, infrared and radio locators.

The “whoosh” of women flying over in simple and silent planes to drop bombs on heads of German men, must have infuriated the infamously drug-addled and technology-obsessed, lazy misogynist Nazis.

Each crew flew as many as eight to 18 missions a night. They flew more than 23,000 sorties during the war, and many pilots had flown over 800 missions by war’s end. It is reported that they released more than 20,000 tons of bombs on Nazi targets. These women undoubtedly contributed significantly to the Red Army and helped to clinch a victory over German forces.

Source: Internet search for “The women who dropped 20,000 tons of bombs on Nazis”

Eighteen missions a night? Talk about pilot combat survival rates. And while 23,000 sorties is high, a rough back-of-napkin estimate of 20,000 tons of bombs dropped suggests that still would have taken nearly 7,000 B-17 flights (a high-visibility plane with a chance of survival at less than 50 percent).

Many pilots having over 800 missions is kind of a big indicator of skill not to mention superiority over German targets. Maybe it was just Nazis stumbling out of bed late and missing their targets that created a “whoosh” sound — all net, no score.

Again, there were no Soviet men to credit with the records; no explanation other than loyalty, skill and talent of women.

See now what I did with the title of this blog post?

Begs the question again of why American women, especially black women, were denied the opportunity to fly at all let alone in war and in combat missions.

It also reminds me very much of tactics used by the Trump family to denigrate and try to obscure women they dislike with name-calling.

‘Horseface, ‘crazy,’ ‘low IQ’: Trump’s history of insulting women… known for giving many of his opponents negative nicknames, men as well as women, but his use of this tactic with women often denigrates their appearance or abilities.

I’m sure the Trump family would ask something like “are you calling us Nazis” if they read this blog. While YES would be an appropriate answer (as I’ve written here before), I also would be tempted to ask them in response “would you prefer I say you march like a South American ant”?


Update May 5th, 2021: Joy Reid explains how one of the two major political parties in America doesn’t show any concern for women being raped and trafficked, but suddenly is up in arms and tries to shut down women who show any signs of talent or skill.

“Pearl Harbor Was a Bolt Out of the Blue” Unlike Cyber Attacks

In this new podcast (around the 11 minute mark), former NSA Director and Cyber Command chief Admiral Mike Rogers says cyber Pearl Harbor is wrong as a framework today because we’ve been watching cyber attacks continuously for 20 years and nothing anymore seems new, whereas…

Pearl Harbor was a bolt out of the blue that totally surprised us…

It only sounds weird to me because we’ve been watching cyber attacks for 40 years. Rogers says 2000 was when he and Navy came into it, yet Air Force history goes back much longer.

Speaking of Air Force history, I’ve written here before about the radar station that detected Pearl Harbor attacks but was ignored.

Rogers also says we are not an authoritarian state and don’t want to become one.

That follows an earlier awkward moment (just before the 4 minute mark) when Jeff Stein says Russia is a police-state and America is not.

These are fine projections of what America should be going forward but it’s a hard position to hold historically given how America has been effectively a white police state suppressing blacks since at least the 1830s if not earlier (Nixon even labeled his white police state platform of mass incarceration his “war on drugs”).

That being said, my favorite part of this is when Rogers points out the ransomware is both proof of failure in security while also that nation-state threats are not necessarily the most pressing issue. Organized crime and non-state gangs (e.g. white nationalists) seem to get a pass from big tech despite causing outsized harms.

And my actual least favorite part is when the second half of the podcast reveals CIA attempts to eradicate chemical weapons in Syria ended instead in widespread use. That’s not exactly how they tell the story (it comes with a lot of positive spin, believe it or not) yet that’s what comes through. On top of that the podcast ends by describing encrypted communications as a crap-shoot of recent technology nobody really trusts.

Edible Wrappers Are Centuries Old. Why Are They Now Disruptive?

In 1846 a chef in Paris created a disruptive edible paper portrait of a visiting Egyptian dignitary, perched on top of a pyramid of pulled sugar steps:

On the top of the [sugar] pyramid was a portrait painted in food dyes on sugar paste, of the Pasha’s venerated father Ibrahim. As the Pasha picked it up to examine it more closely he saw that embedded in the filigree icing frame of the portrait was a tiny, but perfect, portrait of himself.

Pretty innovative, considering edible wafer paper already had been around for hundreds of years before that.

In another disruptive example about 50 years later, a London chef started a “fad” of edible paper, including a dinner menu.

It appears an ingenious chef conceived the idea of making an edible menu card, and, after many experiments, he produced one composed of the sugar tissue paper which is used on the bottom of macaroons, and which is, of course, edible.

Edible wrappers have been so common, so easy to make and use, we might take them for granted and forget they even exist.

Here’s a sentence I found on a site that sells very large boxes of edible wrappers at super low cost, right next to their DIY recipe:

Wafer paper is a single most affordable product in edible printing industry, everyone uses it, from big box bakeries to stay at home moms.

Surely that was supposed to say stay at home parents. Or are they trying to imply stay at home dads can’t afford or use edible wrappers?

Anyway here is some “big disruption” news, in stark contrast to all this ancient history of edible wrappers:

‘A disruptive solution to pollution’: introducing edible packaging.

Indeed. Someone has just introduced something very familiar.

We’re told an inexpensive and common thing, centuries old, is about to start disrupting.

Combining her engineering background with her passion for a ‘cradle to cradle’ lifecycle, Lamp has launched a new company, Traceless, to commercialise the idea.

Lamp? She didn’t want to name her new company something like Illuminated? Also “cradle to cradle” sounds like it’s going exactly nowhere. Like saying from point A to point A. Are we there yet?

And I would be more impressed if she was marketing her idea as a way to deliver one-time written passwords (OTWP), or send ephemeral messages, which obviously you eat after reading.

One can only imagine if she had an history background. Would she still have gone commercial? I suspect no historian would be framing something centuries old as her new idea.

Traditional nougat wrapped in traditional traceless edible packaging anyone?

How Facebook Avoids Consequences for Crimes

Yet ANOTHER bone-head security screw-up at Facebook.

Source: BuzzFeedNews

And in that article you will find this sentence:

‘The authors never intended to publish this as a final document to the whole company, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

NEVER INTENDED.

Intended to publish? Does it matter what they intended to publish?

After this internal report went public (exposing how white nationalist violence was being facilitated) the Facebook decision to deny their internal staff access to the report is giant head-in-sand move.

Imagine the U.S. government responding to Watergate by saying they never intended to have evidence of crimes seen by the whole country.

And it also reminded me of a very old story.

That faulty “never intended” excuse is literally out of the origin story of Facebook when Zuckerberg was rightfully accused of gross privacy violations (exposing how white male abuse of minority women was being facilitated).

Comments on the e-mail lists of both Fuerza Latina and the Association of Harvard Black Women blasted the site.

“I heard from a friend and I was kind of outraged. I thought people should be aware,” said Fuerza Latina President Leyla R. Bravo ’05, who forwarded the link over her group’s list-serve.

Zuckerberg said that he was aware of the shortcomings of his site, and that he had not intended it to be seen by such a large number of students.

HAD NOT INTENDED.

Intended to be seen? Does it matter what he intended to be seen?

Zuckerberg was aware of the problems and did it anyway because… didn’t intend for his crimes to be seen by people who would hold him accountable.

The Stanford athlete didn’t intend to be seen raping a girl, although he was aware of the shortcomings of his actions. The Nazis didn’t intend for their communications to be seen by such a large number of people, although they were aware of the shortcomings of genocide.

It’s like a full admission that he does crimes because he doesn’t expect to get caught, and when he’s caught he just says he didn’t expect to get caught, and then moves on.

With that in mind, the Facebook internal report reveals that “Stop the Steal” was generating speech that was 30% hate and 40% violent insurrection, yet allegedly staff couldn’t decide if that meant they should do something about it. Look at the percentages on the left versus the norms on the right.

The platform graded their own response to imminent danger to democracy as lazy and piecemeal.

…very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or whether it was protected free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy…

Coordinated or uncoordinated, afraid and confused or not, violent hate speech doesn’t often get framed as needing… empathy.

I mean 40% violent speech laced with hate for America flows through their system and Facebook is like oh, look dangerous white nationalism, maybe this time the usual “afraid and confused” Nazis will win and Facebook can take credit for “helping” Nazis during their time of need?

the poetry of information security