Watch what you tweet. When it comes to taking a joke, the feds make progressive college-kids look like George Carlin. Two recent stories highlight how aggressively Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI are policing speech on social media, seeing "threats" and "terrorism" in statements clearly not intended as such. (Sound familiar, woodchipper fans?) In the first, ICE opened an investigation into Brooklyn comedian Jake Flores because of his Twitter jokes about Cinco de Mayo, cultural appropriation, and ICE agents.
On May 5, Flores started by questioning chattering-class priorities. "It would be cool if we talked about cultural appropriation after we ABOLISH ICE," Flores tweeted. "One of these things is a problem that we can actually solve that people are frankly not doing much about, and one of these is an unsolvable symptom of culture that we've built an industry around endlessly analyzing fueled by scolding, guilt, and clicks."
These tweets were followed up by Flores laying out a modest proposal for how Cinco de Mayo should work:
White people are allowed to culturally appropriate on the condition that you help to destroy ICE. You kill 1 ICE agent and you get to wear a sombrero. 2 kills and you can wear a pancho.
3rd kill you can draw a mustache on your face in sharpie. 5 kills and you can do skull paint. It goes on and on like this up to 100…
After you kill 100 ICE agents you area allowed to be full on racist and no one can give you sh-t about it. Drive a lowrider, call people wetbacks, get a weird tattoo of a chola that's also a clown for some reason. No one can stop you. You earned it.
The next day, Homeland Security allegedly showed up at Flores' apartment door.
Lmao Homeland Security just busted down my door over a joke
— Jake Flores (@feraljokes) May 6, 2018
ICE Press Secretary Jennifer Elzea has at least confirmed that the agency opened an investigation into Flores after reading his tweets (no word from Elzea on the alleged apartment visit). "The kind of language expressed…even in an allegedly joking manner, is reckless and irresponsible," she tells Splinter News. "It potentially puts at risk those who have taken an oath to uphold the law and protect public safety."
Meanwhile, The Guardian offers up an all-too-similar story. Rakem Balogun of Texas fell under FBI surveillance for making Facebook posts that didn't sit right with the bureau. In December of last year, agents raided Balogun's house and arrested him; they kept him in jail for five months (with no bail allowed). But the "case [against Balogun] fell apart," notes New York:
Eventually, the Feds resigned themselves to busting the man for illegally owning a firearm; a judge found that charge to be bogus. He was freed; but while the government had kept him locked up for the crime of expressing an affection for guns—and opinions the deep state didn't like—he lost his car, job, home, and the opportunity to witness the first year of his newborn's life.
Polarization in "Real America" pales in comparison to tribalism among elites. "In our current culture, it's precisely the elites who seem to be driving tribal identity and thought," writes Andrew Sullivan in his latest New York magazine column. Sullivan points to a new book from Lilliana Mason detailing how "the more highly educated also tend to be more strongly identified among political lines."
"Our elite debate," suggests Sullivan, "has become far less focused on individual issues as such, and the complicated variety of positions, left, right and center, any thinking individual can take. It has become rather an elaborate and sophisticated version of 'Which side are you on?'"
It's a bad breeding ground for libertarianism. In such a "deeply tribal" atmosphere, writes Sullivan, "the individual is always subordinate to the group" and "the 'I' is allowed only when licensed by the 'we.'" Read the whole thing here.
Make China Great Again?
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
- Israeli troops killed at least 37 Palestinian civilians and wounded several dozen others who were peacefully protesting near the Gaza border Monday. Along with general occupation complaints, the Palestinian protesters were upset over today's U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem.
- A white police officer at a Wisconsin mall was caught on camera punching a black teenager in the face. His department said the video shows "only a small segment of the interaction between the suspect and the officer," who was called by mall security about the teen and four others causing a "disturbance."
- Kansas cops can no longer have sex with people in their custody and claim it's consensual.
- Seattle leaders are scheduled to consider a controversial "jobs tax" today. (Read J.D. Tuccille for more on this nonsensical proposal.)
- Financial institutions "are increasingly wary" of doing business with recreational marijuana shops, "so it's especially important for Congress to…pass a federal solution that will allow banks to handle funds from what is now largely a cash business," says the Boston Globe editorial board.
- In New York City, "black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years," according to a New York Times analysis. "Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people."
- The average gasoline price in America are expected to soon reach $3 per gallon again.
- How Trump may have "dealt religious freedom a blow with his new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative."
- "My colleague Mike Allen, who has spent nearly 20 years covering the White House, says we learn more about what's going on inside the Trump White House in a week than we did in a year of the George W. Bush presidency," writes Jonathan Swan. It prompted him to start asking White House leakers why they do what they do—and how they ensure they don't get caught. One leaker told Swan, "To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers' idioms and use that in my background quotes."