Why Do They Hate Us, 2.0?

Yesterday I received an email request from a journalist, who wrote:

Professor Moore:

A colleague of yours suggested that I reach out to you. I am working on a story about a new push by the Department of Justice to expand its work from focusing on law enforcement to moving into the greater community as a means of addressing the problem of Americans who turn to terrorism.

The idea is that DOJ will work various community partners to get at the root of Americans motivated to go overseas to train with the intent of engaging in acts of terrorism upon returning to the United States.

The gist is:

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Justice Department will launch a new series of pilot programs in cities across the country to bring together community representatives, public safety officials and religious leaders to counter violent extremism. The new programs will be run in partnership with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

“Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism,” Attorney General said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately.”

The full release about the program is here: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/September/14-ag-980.html

I was hoping you might have a few minutes to talk today about what make might someone who grew up in this country contemplate doing harm to it as a terrorist [my emphasis].

Thank you in advance for your time. I am filing my story today and would be grateful for just 10 minutes.

I sighed.  I furrowed my brow.  I chose not to respond to the loaded question (the bit in bold).  “When did you stop beating your wife?,” indeed.

I recalled a meeting, several years ago, when I was paid a consultant fee to serve as a subject matter expert (SME) to a research outfit that had taken over a US Dept of Homeland Security project that a defense contractor had bungled.  They wanted advice on how to resuscitate the research project.  The topic of the project was “How can we identify non-violent dissidents who will later become violent?”  I spent the day trying to explain, along with some colleagues from other universities who were also consulting as SMEs, why the program was ill conceived, but how it could be fruitfully reconceived.  They did not listen to us, and partnered with other SMEs who told them what they wanted to hear.

I have no reason to believe that particular research project informs DoJ’s new pilot program, but it might.  Like so much of counter–terror policy, this makes for good politics and poor policy (e.g., see here, here, and here for research papers).  To blow off a bit of steam, I forwarded the email to a friend, and wrote the following:

Hi, this DoJ initiative is just depressing. I can’t think of a sound bite to offer, much less one that would help counter the spin of Holder.  Sigh…

My friend replied:

The doj initiative might as well be called “why to they hate us, 2.0″

@WilHMoo

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Referees, Robustness & Valid Inference in Poli-Sci

Over at Relations International Brandon Valeriano reveals his coming dotage grouses about the growing tendency of articles to contain dozens of “robustness check” specifications, casting blame at referees and editors.  I tweeted a link to the post, and several folks responded, producing some interesting exchanges that I think should be shared.

Tweet1

Tweet2

Tweet3

Several hours later Ethan Bueno de Mesquita saw the post as useful grist for commentary:

EBdM1

EBdM2 EBdM3 EBdM4

Zach Jones, Brendan Nyhan, and Carlisle Rainey each engaged Ethan, producing the following exchange:

Num1 Num2 Num3 Num4 Num5 Num6 Num7

@WilHMoo 

 

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Referees, Robustness & Valid Inference in Poli-Sci

Over at Relations International Brandon Valeriano reveals his coming dotage grouses about the growing tendency of articles to contain dozens of “robustness check” specifications, casting blame at referees and editors.  I tweeted a link to the post, and several folks responded, producing some interesting exchanges that I think should be shared.

Tweet1

Tweet2

Tweet3

Several hours later Ethan Bueno de Mesquita saw the post as useful grist for commentary:

EBdM1

EBdM2 EBdM3 EBdM4

Zach Jones, Brendan Nyhan, and Carlisle Rainey each engaged Ethan, producing the following exchange:

Num1 Num2 Num3 Num4 Num5 Num6 Num7

@WilHMoo 

 

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Could I Shoplift my way to Suicide by Cop?

I am a 52 year old, white, male professor. And I am guessing that if I did what Kajieme Powell, a 25 year old black male wearing a hoodie, did on Tuesday, I would have difficulty getting St Louis (or any other) police to shoot to kill the way they shot and killed Powell.

Let me be clear about a few things. First, I do not know that Powell was trying to commit suicide by cop.  My own viewing of the cell phone video of the shooting suggests that he may have been doing so.  But none of us are in a position to make that determination.  Second, I cannot tell from the video available whether Powell was “brandishing a knife” as police have claimed, but I can say that it sure does not look that way to me. 

PowellShot

WARNING: video depicts man shot to death

The video above[1] has audio and shows the police arrive at roughly 1:16, and the police fire at roughly 1:40.  Powell is clearly shouting “Shoot me! Shoot me now!” and walking toward the police, who have drawn their guns, pointed them at him and shouted at him to get on the ground.  And he clearly disobeys, and walks toward them, again, with his hands down.  The police then fire five or six shots (one cop, both? I cannot tell) and Powell crumples to the ground and dies.

The video below is from two security cameras (has no audio) and contains footage shot prior to what was recorded above.  Powell walks into a convenience store, selects a beverage from the cooler, and appears to walk out of the store without paying.  He then walks back into the store a few minutes later, grabs some sort of a snack, and clearly walks out without paying.  Shortly thereafter a man walks out of the store and begins gesturing in Powell’s direction (who is off camera).  The cell phone video appears to begin not long afterward, though that is difficult to establish.

Powell, selecting a snack

Powell, selecting a snack

We will presumably learn what the officers who arrived on the scene were told when they received the call that led them to drive up and confront Powell.  They may well have been told that he was armed.  But I don’t care.  

I am tempted, as an experiment, to go purchase a kevlar vest, do some shoplifting at a local convenience store, and then shout at the cops who arrive.  I am not rash enough, however, to purchase a second vest and recruit a 25 year old African American male to do so at a similar store, nearby.  After all, I’d never get the approval of the Human Subjects Research committee.   

 

 

 

@WilHMoo

[1] The video was released by the St Louis Police Department and this version of it is hosted by St Louis tv station KWMU on their YouTube page.

 

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Add Yorkshire Accents to the List

I have long known that I can struggle with Irish, Scottish and Welsh accents.  Add Yorkshire to the list.

Yesterday my daughter assigned me the task of making sure that her groom and groomsmen arrived to the wedding on time.  So I was hanging about as they finished getting ready, and had a good 15 minutes to listen to the lads chatter with one another.  I’d say I got about 3/5ths of the words.  I was mostly able to follow the gist, but not always.

LukeRing

And, of course, being a fly on the wall among a bunch of groomsmen, who have been mates since they were wee lads, as they cut up and needle one another is a helluva lot of fun.  At one point I turned to my brother, who I had deputized for the task and kicks a proper Chicago accent, and asked whether he could follow what was being said.  He smiled broadly, shook his head from side to side, and said “Not really.”

That evening, when the best man (pictured above, accepting the ring) from Luke’s nephew and sister, have his speech, the yanks in attendance were pretty well lost.  That said, I absolutely adore the way that Luke says my daughter’s name: Kevy (which I will not try to spell phonetically–you’ll have to use your imagination!).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Yorkshire accent, check out Eve Miller being interviewed by her dad:

MillenEve

 

Below is a quick tour of the accents of the British Isles by dialect coach Andrew Jack, or you can check out samples of 71 different accents from the BBC.

Accents

@WilHMoo

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Untenured? Set up a Google Scholar Profile

Do you have a Google Scholar Profile?  If you are a tenure-track academic, you should.  Google offers help setting one up, or you can find other advice herehere and here.

Why do you want one?  Here is Eva Lansoght at PhD Talk:

 if you haven’t set up your profile – go there and do so immediately. Having an author profile is as important as having your articles showing up in a search on Google Scholar.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “I don’t have many citations to my work, and I don’t want to show the whole world that.”

Hmmmm.  How can I put this gently?  The problem with such thinking is your internal dialogue, not the Google Scholar Profile.  If you have a CV online, then you want a Google Scholar Profile.  It collects all of your publications in one place, and it has hyperlinks!  If your plan to getting tenure is built upon the idea of minimizing access to your work, then may I recommend that you develop a new plan?  If you wish to maximize access to your work, then please setup a Google Scholar Profile.

Finally, there is this to consider.  When you go up for tenure your university is going to contact a bunch of people and ask them to take a couple of days work from their schedule and devote it to assessing the quality and quantity of your work, and its contribution to the field.  Many of us who get stuck with that thankless task (and note, you plan, after earning tenure, to become one of those people) want to use your Google Scholar Profile to assist us.  It provides ready access to your publications–with hyperlinks!–in one location.  And it also provides us with info about who has cited your work.  Put plainly, many of us expect you to have one, and as my advisor, Ted Gurr, reminds us in Why Men Rebel, when one’s capabilities fall short of one’s expectations, one tends to become frustrated, and aggression is an innately satisfying response to frustration.  So I ask you: do you want your tenure letter writers to be frustrated?  I didn’t think so.

Do it!

@WilHMoo

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When Apartheid had a Softer Edge (Jan, 1953)

In his autobiography, Let My People GoAlbert Lithuli, then president of the African National Congress, writes about his first “pass law” arrest.  It was January, 1953.  The exchange is not only humorous, it also sheds some light on the progression of Apartheid, as well as local v national political bargaining (the cop is local, the superintendent is a bureaucrat who works for the national government). Lithuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

I learned the hard way about the regulation requiring us to have permits for a stay of seventy-two hours in any one place… Almost to the minute of the expiry of my seventy-two hours, a policeman called to say that the Location Superintendent wanted to see me…

At the Location Office I was steered in the presence of the superintendent.

Policeman: “Is this the man you want?”

Superintendent: “Yes.  That’s him.  Have you got permission to be in this location?”

Self: “Permission?  I don’t know.  I’m a guest of the local Congress branch.  They made all the arrangements.”

Superintendent: “What!  Aren’t you aware of the regulations?  You can’t be here for over seventy-two hours.”

Policeman (in a discouraging voice): “Well, man, what now?  Are you going to charge him or not?”

Superintendent: “Yes!”

Policeman: “Are you really going to charge him?”

Superintendent (nettled): “Yes, of course I am.  I’m charging him.”

The policeman went off to the telephone.  When he came back he said to the superintendent, “Well, if you’re actually going to charge him, I suppose we ought to take him to the Charge Office.

At the Charge Office I stood around for an hour while the police and superintendent conferred in the near distance.  In the end they seemed to reach some agreement.

“Tell me,” he asked, “what were your plans?”

“I intended to spend an extra day here to suit our branch in Bethlehem.  I was leaving tomorrow,” I replied.

“Can you leave today?”

“If necessary.”

“The superintendent is charging you.  You can’t go back into the location.  Which do you prefer, to wait for your case to come up or to pay an Admission of Guilt?”

“I prefer not to wait around.  It would interfere with my programme,” I said.

“Admission of Guilt, five pounds,” he replied.

The next contentious issue was my luggage.  I said to the superintendent, “I want to go back to get my things.”

“You’re not going back into my location,” he said.

“Well, how do I collect my baggage?”

“Somebody can get them for you.”

“Who can?” I asked.

“Man,” interrupted the police officer testily, speaking to the superintendent, you’ve got to let him go back just to get his things.”

From chapter 14, “Bans,” pp. 143-44.

Twenty-four years later Steve Biko would have a very different experience.

BikoBody

@WilHMoo

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