Sheriff Hall Was Scheduled to Speak to Yet Another White Supremacist Organization

(Assuming my post at Pith ever makes it up, consider this a companion piece that would flesh out what I’ve learned in the hours since my Pith post was written).

So, Kyle Swenson is reporting that Sheriff Hall was scheduled to speak at a conference held by the Center for Immigration Studies, which has more than just a “long history of association with the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR).” It was, in fact, dreamed up by FAIR founded John Tanton in order to give FAIR a way to mainstream its ideas by putting them under a glossy coat of academic language. Saying it has a “long history of association with FAIR” would be like saying I have a long history of association with the Butcher. They are siblings, working together, to promote the vision of Tanton, who, coincidentally, Hall may have heard of, since his group gave most of the money to Crafton’s “English Only” campaign.  (It would be interesting to know if that’s how Hall came to Tanton’s attention.)

This marks the second time that Hall was scheduled to speak to white supremacist groups (the first being his lovely trip to the CCC). This time the national douchebags he was scheduled to speak with put out a press release, so local immigrant rights activists were able to alert him to CIS’s ties to FAIR and “English Only,” since, apparently, no one in Hall’s office can Google this shit for themselves, and he pulled out of the event.

But let’s bear in mind that, if he had not been called on it, our sheriff was ready to fly to Washington D.C. and speak about 287(g)  on a panel in which he was the only non-CIS participant (Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies, and Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies, were scheduled to be the other two panelists and Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies was to moderate). His participation gave that panel legitimacy and a hook that would have brought the media. And he would have been sitting there talking about the wonders of 287(g) while Camarota and Vaughan were prepared to speak about how studies may show that there’s less criminal behavior among immigrants than there is the general population, but really, immigrants (of all stripes) “have relatively high rates of criminality.” (Quote directly from the press release touting Hall’s appearance.)

That’s right. Not just the illegal immigrants, but ALL immigrants must be studied for their “high rates of criminality.”

That old stereotype set off NO warning bells in the Sheriff’s office?

This is exactly how CIS is designed to work–to mainstream noxious ideas.

If you said, “Oh, well, you know most of those immigrants are just criminals who shouldn’t even be here. And why can’t they learn to speak English?” people would know you for the bigot that you are.  But if you have FAIR spouting this crap to the group receptive to it and then you also give money to Eric Crafton to spout one part that seems reasonable to many people–“Let’s make everyone speak English”–and CIS to put a polish on your beliefs about immigrants and criminality by framing it as an academic discussion with tales from the frontlines provided by the Davidson County Sheriff.

Much like Crafton was a way of laundering these ideas from their noxious roots, so was Hall.

How does this keep happening? How many times does a man “accidentally” wind up on the speakers’ lists for bigotted douchebags?

Sheriff Hall is not a stupid man.

So, I find it hard to believe that he’s just easily played by white supremacists.

He owes the city an explanation for why he would give legitimacy with his participation to these kinds of groups.

Is someone in his office not doing her job? Is the council that oversees the 287(g) program not empowered to actually tell Hall when he’s doing something wonky? Does he not get how appealing 287(g) is to racists?

Or is it something more?

Really, how many times can a man get on the speaking schedule of racist anti-immigrant groups before it’s not an accident?

Edited to add: The Pith post is posted.

Odin in Drag? Frigg in Her Rightful Place? Freyja Taking the High Seat for a Stroll?


Looking at this figurine, recently pulled out of the ground at Lejre, puts me in mind of Ruth Hill, who, when she’s talking about the way race was understood by people living in Spanish America during the Bourbon period, repeatedly stresses the importance of remembering that we look back on the past through the lens of 19th century ideas about race, and that, before the 19th century, we cannot take for granted that things were as codified and clear as they came to be–that the lines between races were more fluid than we might expect when looking at a racist culture. (In other words, part of being “racist” for us is that there are clear definitions of races and seemingly easy ways to tell one race from another, even if those demarcations have to be constantly monitored. It’s hard for us to comprehend that a culture could be racist without those clear definitions, but before the 19th century, cultures were still racist and yet it would be a mistake to assume that they defined race the way that we do. But it’s a mistake scholars often make and it’s one that has real problematic implications for their scholarship.)

Looking at this figure, I can’t help but wonder how much of a problem our ideas about how men and women behave and how sexist cultures behave are going to be to interpreting this figurine. Can we look at the product of an ancient sexist culture and be sure that we are accounting for our own biases about what would be acceptable in a sexist culture? I don’t know. But it’s interesting to think about.

So, here’s the deal. This very small figurine was pulled out of the ground recently and has immediately caused a lot of excitement and controversy. It dates back about a thousand years, right at the end of the pagan Viking era. The figure is sitting on a throne (or a high seat) and the top of the throne seems to be in the shape of two dogs or, perhaps, wolves (though, owning a dog and looking at it, it’s possible that the back of the chair is not these animals, but that these animals have crammed themselves between the back of the chair and the sitter). The sitter is also flanked by two birds, possibly ravens.

Well, of course, scholars see a person, sitting in a lavish chair, surrounded by two maybe ravens and two maybe wolves and they think “Odin.” Especially when one considers the face up close and sees that one of the eyes looks damaged, much like Odin himself only had one eye (well, he has two, they’re just both not in his head).

But then, other scholars point out, “Hey, look, the person is wearing a long dress, with a cape and necklaces draped across the chest and that’s how women dressed! That is a woman!”

So, if we accept the interpretation that it is indeed Odin’s high seat, then the possibilities for who the woman could be are pretty limited. Some have argued for Freyja, since she is so closely associated with the famous brisingaman, which is thought by most scholars to be a necklace, and the figure has such a prominent necklace. There’s nothing in the stories we’ve been handed down that would suggest that Freyja was allowed to sit in Odin’s seat, if indeed it is Odin’s seat.

Frigg, however, we know from the lore, sat in Odin’s seat when he wasn’t in it.

So, case settled, right? Here’s Frigg.


Odin dressed like a woman on occasion.

Some folks are already raising a fuss that, if you can’t trust that a figure in women’s clothing is a woman, you’re basically opening the door to interpreting all the cool stuff we’ve found from the Viking-era folks as being men dressed as women and thus everything we know about women is thrown into question.

I don’t think this is the case, though.  We know Odin dressed as a woman and did women’s magic. It’s not hard to imagine that he might be portrayed in art as a woman. I also think that it’s not hard to imagine that an artist would have considered this problem–“I want to show Odin dressed as a woman. My artistic medium is about two centimeters on each side. How do I make sure that people will know that it’s him? Oh, I’ll stick his stuff in there with him.” In other words, we can take our cues from the context the artist gives us. If a figurine appears to represent a woman and there’s nothing else with it to call that interpretation into question, why not assume it’s a woman?  But if the artist has left clues that the person on the throne is just who you would expect to be on that throne, why disregard those clues, just because he’s in a dress, a practice he’s known to have taken up from time to time?

Is our insistence on strict gender norms about making sense of the Viking world or about enforcing our understanding of our own?

Bone-Chilling Acts of Babyness

Oh my god. Seriously, people, there needs to be a warning on Nate Rau’s article about the state of our parks, because the urge to go stick about 17 people in our city in corners until they can stop acting like enormous babies will completely overwhelm you. It’s literally all I can do to not get in my car right now, drive down there, and get my mom on the phone and have her ground these fuckers.

As you know our parks are under assault on all sides. You have Councilmember Coleman mounting some kind of gay-panic offensive on the rural parks (I debated about whether to raise this point, but god damn it, I’m going to. A.) Deeply closeted conservative Christian men who go to the rural Antioch parks to hook up because you think no one will know–WE ALL DO!  Everyone in town knows what you’re up to, when you are sitting in your car alone on a beautiful day at a beautiful park, nervously scanning all the other cars who come into the parking lot. You’re fooling NOBODY except yourselves. Come out and hook up with folks in actual beds, in your own homes, if you want to. Shoot, even in parks, if you can get away with it. But it will be your choice, your marvelous, wonderful, freeing choice to have sex indoors if you want! Also, some of you are leaving your underwear in the parks. That’s littering. Also, when you grow up and join the gay community, please consider replacing your underpants when the elastic around the legs starts to give out. Your lovers will appreciate it. And B.) Assholes (and I’m going to include Coleman in this), if you go to the park and a man from your church nervously flirts with you, your masculinity is not under assault. You are under no real threat. And you don’t need a gun to ward him off. Just say “No, thanks.” or “Does your wife know you’re here?” or “Back off, asshole.” Seriously, could you imagine if women pulled guns on every man who made unwelcome advances towards us? It’s no way to live life and it’s no way to run a park.)

And now you have the acts of babyness outlined in Rau’s article–“My feelings are hurt.” “Oh, you sent us an email, but you didn’t send us an email outlining the importance of the email you sent us.” “Um, okay, so we told you to keep this stuff open, but it’s totally your fault for listening to us.” “But my reputation! Boo hoo hoo.”

FOCUS, people.

The goal is to keep the parks open with the level of service the community needs and to keep people who had no say over this whole mess employed.

The goal is not to make sure that blame lands squarely on who deserves it most.

The fact that this has descended into finger-pointing and blame-passing and pissing and moaning and laying off people who couldn’t help but get caught up in your middle-school levels of drama  instead of focusing on the needs of the community shows that something is completely fucked in this administration.

Get your acts together.