Rights and Liberties This Week: Fleeing To Canada

Perhaps we were all hoping Canada would be our last resort when things got bad here. The Pakistani Daily News confirms that hundreds of Pakistani immigrants in the U.S., frightened by the mass arrests in Los Angeles of Iranian immigrants and other new Homeland Security restrictions, have been attempting to cross over into Canada as political refugees seeking asylum. Don’t get any ideas, though, Canada and the U.S. have signed what they call a "Smart Border" agreement where any immigrant seeking to cross Canada from the U.S. will automatically be turned back and subject to the U.S.’s stricter border controls.

And those seeking to flee have even more reason to be afraid. A new ruling this week from a federal appeals court decided that the government can properly detain an American-born man captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan without an attorney and legally declare him an enemy combatant. I suppose the government could argue that it is giving equal access to torture and detention, especially for non-white citizens.

Yes, it’s a wonder we’re not all running off to Canada before the "Smart Border" rules take effect this spring. Especially citizens of color. A new University of Maryland study released this week proves what many have suspected. Maryland, it appears, cares a great deal more about the deaths of white people, particularly when killed by black people, than it does about the deaths of blacks. All thirteen people on death row in Maryland are there for the killing of white people, while similar crimes against African-Americans, under similar circumstances, are given lesser convictions.

The study adds to growing evidence (and here is our small weekly ray of hope) that the death penalty is so flawed as to be indefensible. The Death Penalty Information Center year end report 2002, recently released, is optimistic. This is the year, they say, when the death penalty became even more isolated. It lists some key decisions, as well as the exoneration of the nation’s 100th death row inmate, as reasons to be hopeful. We shall see. We are all for, and always looking for, reasons for hope.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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