Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The many problems with NYT's 1619 Project



lyin with biden

Above is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Mookie's Mixed Messages," "Cher's Ridin' With Biden" and "Lyin' With Biden."  They all went up Sunday.

The New York Times' 1619 Project has been a problem from the start.  Eric London (WSWS) reports:

A fact-checker for the 1619 Project has revealed that the New York Times ignored her objection to the Project’s claim that the American Revolution was a counterrevolution waged to defend slavery.
In the article, published Friday on Politico, (“I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me”), Professor Leslie M. Harris of Northwestern University explains that weeks before the August publication of the Project, she was approached by a Times research editor to verify historical statements, among them the following:
One critical reason that the colonists declared their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery in the colonies, which had produced tremendous wealth. At the time there were growing calls to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire, which would have badly damaged the economies of colonies in both North and South.
Harris wrote that she “vigorously disputed the claim,” writing in Politico that, “although slavery was certainly an issue in the American Revolution, the protection of slavery was not one of the main reasons the 13 Colonies went to war.” Harris also disputed a second tenet of the Project—its implication that during the colonial period slavery was the same as it was in 1860, at the time of the southern secession that led to the Civil War. This position underlies the Project’s claim that slavery was, from beginning in 1619, a fully formed expression of white racism. Both errors appeared in spite of Harris’s “vigorous” objections, which included providing “references to specific examples.” The Northwestern historian, an expert in antebellum slavery, “never heard back … about how the information would be used.”
Harris begins her article by describing how she learned that her objections were disregarded—when she appeared on Georgia Public Radio together with Nikole Hannah-Jones. Harris said she “listened in stunned silence as” the lead essayist and 1619 Project figurehead “repeated an idea that I had vigorously argued against with her fact-checker: that the patriots fought the American Revolution in large part to preserve slavery in North America.”
Harris provides a summation of the historical evidence, exposing the claim regarding 1619 Project’s claim that the American Revolution was a slaveholders’ revolt. She writes: 
[S]lavery in the colonies faced no immediate threat from Great Britain, so colonists wouldn’t have needed to secede to protect it. It’s true that in 1772, the famous Somerset case ended slavery in England and Wales, but it had no impact on Britain’s Caribbean colonies, where the vast majority of black people enslaved by the British labored and died, or in the North American Colonies. It took 60 more years for the British government to finally end slavery in its Caribbean colonies … Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American Colonies. Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation, a British military strategy designed to unsettle the Southern Colonies by inviting enslaved people to flee to British lines, propelled hundreds of enslaved people off plantations and turned some Southerners to the patriot side. It also led most of the 13 Colonies to arm and employ free and enslaved black people, with the promise of freedom to those who served in their armies
Harris’s revelation that the Times disregarded her is all the more damning because, in the remainder of her article, she solidarizes herself with the Project, and expresses concern that its recklessness with facts will discredit it.
It seems to not have occurred to Harris that the Project’s thesis—that “anti-black racism” residing in a “national DNA” is an immutable, supra-historical force—necessitates the falsification of history, and not only of the origins of slavery in the Atlantic World and the Revolution, but of the entire course of American and world history. The falsification continues in Hannah-Jones tendentious selection of quotations from Lincoln and in her writing out—in spite of claims about putting black Americans at “the very center” of a new history—figures such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and A. Phillip Randolph; as well as the abolitionist, civil rights, and labor movements, the Harlem Renaissance, and so much more.
Harris’s revelations discredits Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein’s dismissive January 4 reply to five eminent historians who objected to the Project’s claim that the colonists launched the American Revolution to defend slavery. Silverstein claimed that “during the fact-checking process, our researchers carefully reviewed all the articles in the issue with subject-area experts.” Silverstein concealed the fact that a Times fact-checker had raised serious objections to one of the Project’s principal claims.

WSWS has been investigating and reporting on NYT's project for months now.  Here are links to other pieces:

Tom Mackaman interviewed on 1619 Project by history podcast

18 February 2020

John Fea interviewed Mackaman on his podcast “The Way of Improvement Leads Home.”

On the eve of the Academy Awards ceremony

New York Times’ Wesley Morris complains that eight of the films nominated for Best Picture “are about white people”

By David Walsh, 8 February 2020

Morris, the ideological product of decades of selfish identity politics, espouses a thoroughly racialist interpretation of history and culture. He seemingly cannot perceive anything else aside from race.

A reply to the American Historical Review’s defense of the 1619 Project

By David North and Tom Mackaman, 31 January 2020

The disrespect expressed by editor Alex Lichtenstein toward leading historians reveals the extent to which racialist mythology, which has provided the “theoretical” foundation of middle-class identity politics, has been accepted, and even embraced, by a substantial section of the academic community as a legitimate basis for the teaching of American history.

My Response to Alex Lichtenstein Regarding the 1619 Project

By Victoria Bynum, 31 January 2020

Bynum, one of the many academics who have raised fundamental criticisms of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, wrote this letter to the editor of the American Historical Review in reply to his defense of the project published online last week.

Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for social equality

By Tom Mackaman and Niles Niemuth, 23 January 2020

King’s conception of a mass democratic movement for civil rights based on the unified action of all the oppressed sections of the population is being replaced with an essentially racialist narrative that presents all of American history in terms of a struggle between whites and blacks.

Google suppressing World Socialist Web Site content in its search results for the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Kevin Reed, 20 January 2020

The popular, authoritative and original content published by the World Socialist Web Site on the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project is being manually suppressed by Google in search results.

“The saddest part of this is that the response of the Times is simply to defend their project”

An interview with historian Clayborne Carson on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 15 January 2020

Professor Carson is professor of history at Stanford University and director of its Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. He is the author and editor of numerous books on King and the civil rights movement.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project promoted in schools across the US

By Genevieve Leigh, 10 January 2020

Despite its historical errors and omissions, major efforts are underway to establish the 1619 Project as the official narrative of American history at schools and major academic institutions.

“A preposterous and one-dimensional reading of the American past”

Oxford historian Richard Carwardine on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 31 December 2019

The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke with leading Lincoln biographer Richard Carwardine about the Times’ 1619 Project

The 1619 Project and the falsification of history: An analysis of the New York Times’ reply to five historians

By David North and Eric London, 28 December 2019

New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein, reviving discredited racialist distortions of the American Revolution and Civil War, refuses to correct historical errors in the 1619 Project.

“We all want justice, but not at the expense of truth”

Historian Gordon Wood responds to the New York Times’ defense of the 1619 Project

24 December 2019

The Times refused a request to correct what five leading historians described as “factual errors” which evinced “a displacement of historical understanding by ideology.” This is Professor Wood’s response.

“It’s a much more complicated story than reducing it down to slavery being the engine of capitalism”

An interview with historian Dolores Janiewski on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Peters and John Braddock, 23 December 2019

Professor Janiewski is a lecturer in American history at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand with a focus on the post-Civil War reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement and anti-communist witch hunts.

Historian Victoria Bynum replies to the New York Times

A historian’s critique of the 1619 Project

By Victoria Bynum, 22 December 2019

Historian Victoria Bynum, author of Free State of Jones and distinguished emerita professor of history at Texas State University, wrote the following reply to the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

“Reinventing the past to suit the purposes of the present”

An interview with political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr. on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 20 December 2019

The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke with Professor Reed at his University of Pennsylvania office.

The New York Times’ “1619 Project”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, Shell Oil and mass killings in Africa

By Trévon Austin and Bill Van Auken, 18 December 2019

Hannah-Jones, the principal spokesperson for the “1619 Project,” appeared on a platform sponsored by Shell Oil, which is implicated in massive crimes against the human rights of the Ogoni people in Nigeria.

“I don’t believe this stuff about ‘intrinsic differences’ between people”

Workers respond to New York Times’ 1619 Project’s claim of an unbridgeable racial divide in US

By our reporters, 17 December 2019

In contrast to the Times’ dystopian portrayal of American society as riven by different races with unbridgeable differences, workers who spoke to the World Socialist Web Site expressed a broad striving for unity.

Perspectives for the coming revolution in America: Race, class and the fight for socialism

By Joseph Kishore, 2 December 2019

This is an edited version of a report delivered by Socialist Equality Party National Secretary Joseph Kishore to meetings in Michigan and California on the New York Times’ “1619 Project.”

“When the Declaration says that all men are created equal, that is no myth”

An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 28 November 2019

Gordon Wood is professor emeritus at Brown University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, as well as Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815.

Audio recording refutes Hannah-Jones’ claim that she was falsely quoted by the World Socialist Web Site

By Eric London, 27 November 2019

The World Socialist Web Site publishes the audio of Hannah-Jones’ remarks.

1619 Project director speaks at New York University

Nikole Hannah-Jones, race theory and the Holocaust

By Eric London and David North, 26 November 2019

There was not a single statement made by Hannah-Jones at NYU on historical issues that withstands serious examination.

IYSSE holds meeting on “Race, Class, and the fight for Socialism” at New York University

By Owen Mullan and Sandy English, 21 November 2019

The meeting was addressed by socialist scholar Tom Mackaman who responded to the historical falsifications put forward by the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 18 November 2019

The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to James Oakes, Distinguished Professor of History and Graduate School Humanities Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

“Opposition to slavery has also been an important theme in American history”

An interview with historian James McPherson on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 14 November 2019

The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

The “Irrepressible Conflict:” Slavery, the Civil War and America’s Second Revolution

By Eric London, 9 November 2019

The following is the second in a series of three lectures delivered in response to the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which presents a falsified, racialist interpretation of American history.

Slavery and the American Revolution: A Response to the New York Times 1619 Project

By Tom Mackaman, 1 November 2019

This is the text of the lecture delivered by Tom Mackaman at the University of Michigan on October 22, 2019 as part of a series on the New York Times' "Project 1619."

An interview with the author of The Free State of Jones

Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project

By Eric London, 30 October 2019

Bynum is an expert on the attitude of Southern white yeomen farmers and the poor toward slavery.

SEP and IYSSE meeting series in the United States

Race, Class and the Fight for Socialism: Perspectives for the Coming Revolution in America

11 October 2019

This meeting series will refute the historical falsifications advanced in the New York Times “1619 Project,” explain their underlying political motivations and present the strategy for socialist revolution in America today.

“1619” and the myth of white unity under slavery

Book review: Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South by Keri Leigh Merritt

By Eric London, 9 September 2019

Merritt’s research refutes the New York Times’ Project 1619 claim that poor whites benefited from slavery.

The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history

By Niles Niemuth, Tom Mackaman and David North, 6 September 2019

The 1619 Project, launched by the New York Times, presents racism and racial conflict as the essential feature and driving force of American history.

The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history—Part Two

By Niles Niemuth, Tom Mackaman and David North, 4 September 2019

The 1619 Project, launched by the New York Times, presents racism and racial conflict as the essential feature and driving force of American history.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history

By Niles Niemuth, Tom Mackaman and David North, 3 September 2019

The 1619 Project, launched by the New York Times, presents racism and racial conflict as the essential feature and driving force of American history.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:

Monday, March 9, 2020.  More questionable behavior from Joe Biden -- and his brother James -- and his son Hunter, as protests continue in Iraq and the country still has not found a new prime minister.

I suppose not all of Joe Biden's media supporters are stupid.  Some are just liars. What do you think?  Mitchell Blatt of THE NATIONAL INTEREST -- stupid or liar:

Mehdi Hasan, contributor and host for The Intercept and Al Jazeera English, compared Biden to Hillary last year because he voted for the Iraq War (before opposing the Surge) and he wrote the successful crime bill and assault weapons ban that Sanders voted for. 

Blatt does know that Hillary opposed the surge also, right?  Joe Biden is a far worse candidate than Hillary was in 2016.  You have to distort reality to pretend otherwise.

Ben Schreckinger (POLITICO) notes one of Joe's problems that so many are ignoring, his brother:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided a health care business linked to Joe Biden’s brother in late January, seizing boxes of documents.

The raid of an Americore Health hospital represented a deepening of the legal morass surrounding James Biden’s recent venture into healthcare investing at a time when questions about the business dealings of Joe Biden’s relatives, and their alleged connection to the former vice president’s public service, continue to dog his presidential campaign.
In the weeks since the raid, two small medical firms that did business with James Biden have claimed in civil court proceedings to have obtained evidence that he may have fraudulently transferred funds from Americore “outside of the ordinary course of business,” and a former Americore executive has told POLITICO that James Biden had over half a million dollars transferred to him from the firm as a personal loan that has not yet been repaid. 

The purpose of the Jan. 30 raid of an Ellwood City, Pa., hospital remains unclear, and there is no indication it was related to the actions of Biden’s younger brother, who has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Its owner, Americore, has faced legal problems and allegations of mismanagement that are unrelated to James Biden.
But recent filings in ongoing legal proceedings, along with new accounts provided to POLITICO by former Americore executives and others, point to potential pitfalls for the former vice president, painting the fullest picture to date of James Biden’s healthcare dealings and the ways in which they allegedly related to his powerful older brother. In 2017 and 2018, James Biden was embarking on a foray into healthcare investing, telling potential partners, including at Americore, that his last name could open doors and that Joe Biden was excited about the public policy implications of their business models, according to court filings and interviews with former business contacts of James’s. 

"As a Biden."  Remember how Joe says people should trust him "as a Biden"?  That whole family is trash and thieves. -- like Deadbeat Dad Hunter Biden.  Ariel Zilber  and Cheyenne Roundtree (DAILY MAIL) note:

  • Hunter Biden, 50, could once again be in hot water with Arkansas court 
  • Lunden Alexis Roberts, 28, says Biden missed deadlines to submit paperwork 
  • Roberts gave birth to a child from Biden after meeting in a Washington strip club 
  • Last week, a judge denied Biden's request to delay child support deposition
  • Roberts is seeking Biden's tax returns and source-of-income documents
  • Biden is living in Los Angeles with his new bride, Melissa Cohen Biden 

Elizabeth Rosner (PAGE SIX, NY POST) explains:

Biden’s baby momma filed a motion in Independence County Circuit Court in Arkansas on Friday asking the judge in their child support case to hold the former vice president’s son in contempt due to his habitual defiance of court orders.
Ex-stripper, Lunden Alexis Roberts, 28, alleges Biden, 50, missed the March 1 deadline to submit discovery materials, including his source of income for the past over five years, an unredacted copy of his tax returns from 2017 and 2018, his phone number, address and the address of his 32-year-old wife, Melissa Cohen Biden.
Biden “has no respect for this court’s orders, the legal process in this state, or the needs of his child support,” wrote Roberts’ attorney, Clint Lancaster.
He also allegedly didn’t hand in a list of companies he owns and other financial documents.
The former vice president’s son has missed multiple deadlines and has skipped two court hearings.
Judge Holly Meyers previously said she would dismiss previous contempt motions related “to the failure to produce documents of answer discovery” if Biden provided the information to Roberts by March 1.

Biden denied fathering the child, but the court determined last month that he was the father of the toddler, identified as Baby Doe.

Patrick Knox (THE SUN) covers the story hereGiancarlo Sopo (THE BLAZE) zooms in on this reality:

  Dead-beat Biden?
The mother of Hunter Biden's Arkansas son has filed a motion asking the state to hold him in contempt of court after the son of the former vice president failed to turn over documents detailing the nature of his finances in a child support law suit. Hunter Biden — who is renting a $12,000 per month 2000-square-foot house in Beverly Hills where he has been seen driving around a Porsche Panamera — has previously said he has no source of income.

Paul Bois (DAILY WIRE) reminds:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has largely ducked the controversy regarding his grandchild and even expressed hostility to a reporter who dared ask him about it.
“Do you have a comment on this report and court filing out of Arkansas that your son Hunter just made you a grandfather?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Biden previously.
“No, that’s a private matter, I have no comment,” Biden responded. “But only you would ask that. You’re a good man. You’re a good man. Classy.”

No, Joe, it's not a private matter, it's a legal matter and that's why it's in court currently.  It's a legal matter and like all legal cases in the United States, those are public cases.  Add to the fact that you're running for the presidency and claiming to be a friend of families and of mothers but not only is your son refusing to take responsibility for his child, so are you.  You and your wife have raked in over $15 million in approximately three years.  You could step up and do what's right for your grandchild.  You're as pathetic as your Deadbeat son.

Greg Re (FOX NEWS) reminds:

Campaigning late last year, Biden has also lashed out at voters -- even appearing to call one man "fat" for bringing up issues with his son's possible corruption and questioning his fitness for office.
“You’re a damn liar, man," Biden said. “Let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test. ... No one has said my son has done anything wrong."

As noted last night, Joe's stumbling, fumbling, disoriented St Louis speech Saturday is getting attention.  Over on the right-wing, Brandon Darby Tweets:

This isn’t going to work out well and I really do feel that people who love him should intervene and stop this.

Replying to 

This is an edited clip to push an agenda. It is taken out of context.

    1. 3 more replies
    1. New conversation
  • Replying to 

    Until the MSM starts reporting these episodes, he will continue to be the nominee. It truly feels like elder abuse from his handlers.

    1. 2 more replies

  • https://t.co/lZhGPLH938

    KSRO notes, "Twitter has labeled the edited video 'manipulated media,' using a new policy it started last week."  At the start of the year, Katelyn Burns (VOX) noted another video of Joe that was questionable and why it mattered:

    On its own, the fact that it was so easily believed that Biden would repeat alt-right talking points portends a potentially serious image problem for his campaign. There is plenty for Biden critics to find fault with, without resorting to sharing out-of-context video clips. The portion of the speech from which the clip was pulled is a frequent Biden riff on the stump, and some of his related comments drew heavy criticism toward Biden’s campaign in March last year. He said then he regretted his role in the Anita Hill hearings during the confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, though he stopped short of apologizing to her.

    Related, Caitlin Yilak (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports:

    A former adviser to President Bill Clinton said he’s concerned about 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s mental acuity.

    Dick Morris, who was Clinton’s political adviser and later campaign manager, argued that the former vice president’s memory lapses make President Trump’s reelection more likely.
    “I don’t think that Biden has much of a chance of defeating Trump. I think that Biden is a very fragile candidate,” Morris told radio show host John Catsimatidis on Sunday. “He has risen from the dead, but the ashes still remain. I think he’s incredibly vulnerable on the Hunter Biden issue. I think his gaffes raise serious questions about his mental ability.”

    Biden, 77, has often mixed up details in the stories he tells on the campaign trail, bringing scrutiny about his ability to be an effective counterpuncher to Trump. 

    COUNTERPUNCH?  John Stauber has an article published there this morning where he offers his prediction of how things will unfold -- including that the DNC convention will be called off.  In other Joe Biden news, Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:

    Former Vice President Biden is the personification of the decrepit and right-wing character of the Democratic Party. In the past 10 days alone, Biden has declared himself a candidate for the US Senate, rather than president, confused his wife and his sister as they stood on either side of him, called himself an “Obiden Bama Democrat,” and declared that 150 million Americans died in gun violence over the past decade. This is not just a matter of Biden’s declining mental state: it is the Democratic Party, not just its presidential frontrunner, that is verging on political senility.
    It is evident that the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, as well as the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee, aims to run the 2020 campaign on the exact model of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016: portraying Trump as personally unqualified to be president and as a Russian stooge, while opposing any significant social reform and delivering constant reassurances to the ruling financial aristocracy that a restored Democratic administration will follow in the footsteps of Obama, showering trillions on Wall Street and doing the bidding of the military-intelligence apparatus.
    One could ask of the nine ex-candidates who have now endorsed Biden, why they were candidates in the first place? Why did they bother to run against the former vice president, clearly the preferred candidate of the party establishment? None of them voices any significant political differences with Biden. All of them hail the right-wing political record of the Obama-Biden administration, even though that administration produced the social and economic devastation that made possible the election of Donald Trump.
    Even more revolting, if that is possible, is the embrace of Biden by the black Democratic politicians. The former senator from Delaware is identified with some of the most repugnant episodes in the history of race relations in America: the abusive treatment of Anita Hill, when she testified against the nomination of Clarence Thomas, before Biden’s Judiciary Committee; an alliance with segregationist James Eastland on school integration in the early 1970s, highlighted at a debate by Kamala Harris, eight months before she endorsed Biden; and the passage of a series of “law-and-order” bills that disproportionately jailed hundreds of thousands of African Americans, all of them pushed through the Senate by Biden.
    How did a politician who boasted of his close relationships with Eastland and Strom Thurmond become the beneficiary of a virtual racial bloc vote by African Americans in the Southern states? Because African American Democratic Party leaders, including Representative James Clyburn in South Carolina and hundreds of others, represent one of the most right-wing and politically corrupt sections of the party.
    The thinking of this layer was summed up in a column Saturday in the Washington Post by Colbert King, a former State Department official and local banker, a prominent member of the African American elite in the nation’s capital, who wrote in outrage, “America’s black billionaires have no place in a Bernie Sanders world.”

    King denounced the suggestion that black CEOs and billionaires are “greedy, corrupt threats to America’s working families or the cause of economic disparities and human misery.” Voicing the fears of his class, he continued, “I know there are those out there who buy the notion that America consists of a small class of privileged, rapacious super-rich lording over throngs of oppressed, capitalist-exploited workers. You can see it in poll numbers showing th

    In Iraq, the issue of a prime minister remains.  Mohammed Allawi announced he would no longer seek the nomination because he lacked the support of members of the Parliament.  You may remember that cult leader Moqtada al-SAdr, who fled to Iran, had insisted that Allawi would be confirmed and had stated he would cause trouble if Allawi wasn't confirmed.




    Moqtada is yet again the joke of Iraq.  Since fleeing to Iran, Moqtada has issued orders that the protests must be segregated by gender.  The reaction in Iraq?  Women and men ignored him.  The same way members of Parliament ignored his threat regarding Allawi.  He had called for an end to the protests.  The protesters ignored him and they continue.

    Moqtada had some power before he was seen as a tool of Iran.  Iraqis don't hate Iran.  They're neighbors, they share a border.  But no one likes it when another country interferes with their own.  Moqtada is seen as a joke and as someone who has betrayed Iraq.  He's got a lot of ground to cover if he wants to be seen as anything other than a cult leader.

    He's now calling for protests in the streets.  He apparently missed the fact that no one stopped protesting when he asked them to.  The protests continued.

    Women wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of , chant slogans as they protest during the in ,

    became the trusted voice from , Iraq, for many of the world’s broadcasters after an outbreak of anti-government protests in 2019.

    The "Power of Truth" is the theme of our latest review:

    AP reports, "Protesters gathered in the centre of Baghdad on Sunday to demand more help from the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They called on Iraq's ministry of health to provide further supplies of facemasks and gloves for members of the public."  Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) notes, "In Baghdad, security and militia forces killed two protesters near Khulani Square. Also, 20 protesters were wounded."  Last Thursday, Amnesty International issued the following:

    On 1 October 2019, mass protests broke out in Baghdad and several southern Iraqi cities over corruption and failed government policies, and they continue today. Throughout this crisis, Amnesty International has documented security forces using excessive and, in some cases, lethal force to disperse protesters. The consistent question I receive from journalists and researchers concerns the weapons used by the security forces against the demonstrators. There have been a variety of novel weapons employed, nearly all of which are inappropriate as policing tools.
    From the attacks with head-splitting tear gas grenades that started last October, to the air rifles that prompted the #StopHuntingUs hashtag on Twitter, our Iraq research team and the Crisis Evidence Lab have spent a lot of time monitoring the evolution of the security forces’ armament. In this post, I go through the variety of weapons being used against protesters in Iraq.

    Grenade Launchers

    Security forces are firing two different sized grenades, requiring them to use two different launchers. The smaller, lighter grenades, which are standard 37mm or 38mm tear gas canisters found all over the world, are fired by the NARG 38, manufactured by the Chinese company Norinco.
    Security forces with a NARG 38 and molotov cocktail. Image via ALi Dab Dab on Twitter.
    The heavier and more dangerous 40mm grenades, which we have reported on extensively, are launched via the Serbian RBGP M08. This makes sense, as many of the problematic grenades are Serbian M99s.
    Still from video at 1:08, depicting security forces with RBGP M08 launchers, via @LawkGhafuri

    Witness accounts indicate why the grenades have caused so many injuries. Partly it is the weight of the grenades — at 250g they are up to 10 times heavier than standard canisters — but equally troubling is how they are used.
    “Sometimes they fire it in an arc – into the air and it lands,” said one protester in Baghdad last October. “Sometimes they fire it straight at the protesters like an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. They fire five to six after one another within 30 seconds.”

    Air Rifles

    In January 2020, images emerged of security forces deploying a new weapon: air rifles, most commonly used in Europe and the Middle East for hunting birds and small game.
    These weapons use compressed air, rather than black powder or other burning propellant, to launch a small pointed pellet at the target. While they are unlikely to kill a person, they cause very painful wounds requiring surgery and are totally inappropriate for police use.


    Standard police shotguns can fire a variety of ammunition. Some varieties, like rubber bullets, are acceptable for use in very specific circumstances. But birdshot, which has recently been deployed, should never be used.
    Like the pellets in air rifles, birdshot is also used in hunting. However, instead of a single projectile, a cartridge of birdshot contains dozens of bb sized (3mm diameter) balls, that cause distinctive, and potentially deadly, injuries in a spray pattern. Birdshot wounds near vital organs in the face and torso are particularly dangerous.


    Even more unusually, Iraqi security forces have been seen with slingshots, which they use to launch heavy ball bearings and marbles. Again, this is completely inappropriate police use of force.
    Security forces using slingshots, image via ALi Dab Dab


    Often, security forces stationed on bridges and overpasses would shoot down upon protesters from a distance. However, when the forces reached individual protesters, they often beat them.
    In January, one protester told us: “I witnessed many cases where the security forces were dragging people on the ground and beating them. Some were underage, 14 or 15 years old tops. When the beaten protesters would return to the main area of protests, they would have marks of batons and sticks on their bodies.” 
    Amnesty International also reviewed photographic evidence of serious wounds across the back of one protester, consistent with beatings that could amount to torture.


    Although a variety of less-lethal weapons are used by security forces (some appropriate but many not), many gunmen are also armed with a variety of Kalashnikov-style rifles. These weapons are often used in conjunction with tear gas grenades and other weapons.
    According to a protester, “security forces were using the following strategy: they would first use live ammo to disperse protesters, and they would be shot directly at protesters, then, in the commotion of protesters running away, they would use tear gas. And they would shoot the canisters directly at the protesters.”
    Security forces holding an AK-style rifle. Image courtesy AliDabDab on Twitter
    Some specific units have other firearms, however, which can be individually identified. For example, the “Shock Forces” of Basra are armed with Croatian VHS-K2s, which were acquired during the fighting against the armed group calling itself the Islamic State: 
    Croatian VHS-K2, via HS Produkt
    This unit, in particular, has been known to commit human rights violations. In January, a protester told us: “In Basra, the oppression is extreme, more than any other governorate. Shock forces use live ammo and tear gas on us all the time even for blocking roads. They even use animal hunting gear.”


    A reminder to journalists and activists: if you do collect spent cartridge casings, please photograph the “headstamp” on the flat bottom portion of the cartridge, as it allows investigators to track the provenance of the ammunition.
    The headstamp of a 7.62x39mm cartridge, manufactured by the Novosibirsk Plant in Russia in 1984. Photographed by an Amnesty International investigator in Tripoli, Libya, in August 2019.

    Flouting International Obligations

    According to UN guidelines, security forces should refrain from the use of firearms unless there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury and there is no suitable alternative available. It is clear both from eyewitness testimonies and our analysis that this restraint is lacking in myriad instances in Iraq’s policing of protests since October. Protesters have a right to expect that the security forces protect – not arbitrarily kill and maim – them. The Iraqi authorities must urgently rein in the security forces, remove those responsible for serious violations and initiate thorough, independent investigations aimed at bringing accountability and redress for victims and their families.

    CORRECTION: this article was updated on 6 March 2020, to include a new image of security forces carrying AK-style rifles. The original image published was from was from previous protests, it was exchanged with one from the current violence.

    Kat's "Kat's Korner: Judy does JUDY" went up Sunday as did Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Mookie's Mixed Messages," "Cher's Ridin' With Biden" and "Lyin' With Biden." The following sites updated: