john a. powell

Us vs. them: the sinister techniques of ‘Othering’ – and how to avoid them

john a. powell writes for and Ian Haney López quoted in The Guardian, Nov. 8, 2017

The opposite of Othering is not “saming”, it is belonging. And belonging does not insist that we are all the same. It means we recognise and celebrate our differences, in a society where “we the people” includes all the people.

In the United States, politicians used to engage in what scholar Ian Haney-Lopez calls “dog whistles” – they could make references to Others but only in a coded way; never saying “those Mexicans” or “those Muslims”, for example.

Should “harmful speech” be punished in the U.S.?

Erwin Chemerinsky and john a. powell quoted by California Magazine, Nov. 6, 2017

“Would we be better off if the campus had the power to prevent the speakers that they find offensive from being there?” Chemerinsky says. “We might think that’s our ideal, but I still worry that’s what would have kept students from protesting segregation, or from protesting the Vietnam War. When you give the government the power to censor the speech that we find offensive, it’s going to be used against us.”

“We are moral beings, and we have to think about things in a much deeper way than just what the court said,” powell said. “Some things injure other people, and both the concept of liberty and equality doesn’t allow us to injure other people with impunity.”

UC Berkeley faculty members clash on free speech, controversial speakers

john a. powell and Erwin Chemerinsky quoted by The Daily Californian, Sept. 8, 2017

“I don’t think (free speech) is a defining issue in the country. I think the defining issue in the country is white supremacy,” powell said during the panel. “We are fighting a civil war, and the South is winning.”

“The only way to make sure we’re protecting our speech for tomorrow is to protect the speech we don’t like today,” Chemerinsky said during the panel.

Can President Trump unify the country despite a reluctance to denounce hate groups?

john a. powell interviewed by The Washington Post, Can He Do That? podcast, Aug. 18, 2017

“Trump is not engaging in dog-whistle politics. Trump is no longer subtle. … Trump doesn’t seem to be concerned about moderate whites. He’s going full steam ahead. One of the things a lot of research has shown is that a lot of whites, including some moderate whites, are increasingly concerned about the country not being majority white. So there’s this anxiety that Trump is playing into, as well.”

Positive economic report may not translate into ballot box impact

john a. powell quoted by San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 13, 2016

“Trump feeds off of people feeling bad, feeling angry. Then he says, ‘I can save you,’” Powell said. “Much of their effort — by Republicans and Trump — is that they need to say that things are bad. Their campaign is one of deep anxiety and polarization, that the country is going to hell in a handbasket.”

The America we must become

john a. powell writes for The Huffington Post, Politics Blog, June 14, 2016

This attack is a deep injury to us all. While we grieve intensely and recognize unwaveringly that this is a hate crime against the LGBTQ community, we must also recognize that this is an attack on all of us. We are connected not only by our values, but by our shared humanity, so when you attack someone else, you are attacking all of us.

Humboldt County takes aim at racism

john a. powell quoted by Mad River Union, May 19, 2016

As powell put it, when “we are consciously aware of the [other] person, our stereotypes and beliefs about the person surface in our conscious mind but our emotional reaction has already occurred” before we know it. This happens even among people who are not prejudiced, he emphasized.

Scalia’s blind spot

john a. powell writes for HuffPost Politics, March 4, 2016

Justice Scalia’s full-throated embrace of originalism had a convenient blind spot. He ignored the fact that there were, at least, two different Constitutions.