Faux Walter Reed Background "Was as Close as McCain Got to Veterans Issues" at RNC

On Thursday night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) formally accepted his party’s nomination for president at the Republican National Convention. During his speech, a mysterious image of a building appeared on the screen behind him, which TalkingPointsMemo identified as Walter Reed Middle School, in North Hollywood, CA. (The school did not grant permission to use its image.) Some suspect McCain had intended to show a photo of Walter Reed Medical Center; the McCain campaign has offered conflicting explanations for the bizarre use of the photo.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Countdown last night, Paul Riekhoff, director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, slammed McCain for completely ignoring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans during his speech, saying the mistaken background was “about as close as Sen. McCain got to veterans issues”:

RIECKHOFF: I think honestly that backdrop, whether it was Walter Reed medical center or Walter Reed middle school — that’s about as close as Sen. McCain got to veterans issues last night. He didn’t mention the word veteran once during his entire speech, didn’t talk about post-traumatic stress disorder, didn’t talk about veterans funding. I think he really forgot where he came from last night.
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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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