The War Party

Even from the convoluted depths of Lewis Carroll's fertile imagination—where down is up and wrong is right—the Alice in Wonderland author could not have conjured up a scene as bizarre as George W's $40 million inaugural extravaganza.

Lavish balls, sumptuous gourmet meals, copious champagne brunches, indulgent corporate-sponsored receptions in posh private clubs—a cornucopia of excess for the privileged and connected, dancing in a swirl of political self-congratulation (and in anticipation of political rewards-to-come for those elites who picked up the $40-million tab). All this unseemly splurging while— 7,000 miles away in Iraq—the loved ones of Americans who are neither privileged nor connected are mired in the deadly mayhem of George W's disastrous war.

One inaugural visual summed up the moral divide between those few so gaily dancing the war away in Washington and those many trapped so miserably in the brutal reality of Iraq. It was the recurring scene of stretch Hummer limousines ferrying the resplendent Gucci crowd from one gaudy gathering to the next—while soldiers driving real Humvees have been denied the protective armor that could save their lives. Indeed, $40 million could buy quite a bit of armor.

In 1945, when our troops were in another raging war, Franklin Roosevelt rightly insisted on modesty and austerity for his inaugural, even noting in his formal address that it was appropriate "that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief." But in the Wonderland of BushWorld, modesty is no virtue, and hubris is to be celebrated—so party down, y'all!

There were even special inaugural blowouts for the twentysomethings, including George's own war-age daughters, who loudly proclaim their support for daddy's war—but not so much that they would join it. In BushWorld, the elites declare war... other people do the fighting and dying.

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.

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