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China’s model village of ethnic unity shows cracks in facade

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HOTAN UNITY NEW VILLAGE, China (AP) — In this corner of China’s far west, rows of identical white concrete houses with red metal roofs rise abruptly above the sand dunes of the harsh Taklamakan Desert. A Chinese flag flutters above the settlement, and a billboard at the entrance says, “Welcome to the Hotan Unity New Village.”

This is a Communist Party showcase for its efforts to tame Xinjiang province, the heartland of China’s often restive Uighur Muslim minority and an unforgiving terrain. The free or low-cost houses are assigned alternately to Uighurs and Han Chinese, who work side-by-side in greenhouses and send their children to school together. It is the future the party envisions for Xinjiang after a massive security crackdown that has sent by some estimates more than a million Muslims to internment camps, and many of their children to orphanages.

But a closer look at what the party calls “ethnic unity” reveals what isn’t there: mosques for Muslim worshippers, or traditional Uighur brick homes, often adorned with pointed arches and carved decorations. In their place are colorful murals of what authorities consider to be scenes of unity, such as a Uighur man and his family holding a Chinese flag.

In the village’s new public square, Uighur children banter with Han Chinese children in fluent Mandarin, the language of the Han majority, rather than in their native tongue. Young Uighur women wear Western clothing without the headscarves that are part of traditional Muslim dress.

While these are voluntary settlements with economic benefits, experts and Uighur activists believe they are part of an aggressive government campaign to erode the identities of the Central Asian groups who called the region home long before waves of Han migrants arrived in recent decades.

″‘Ethnic unity’ is a euphemism for taming, breaking the Uighur people,” says Joanne Smith Finley, an expert in Uighur identity at Newcastle University in the U.K. “This is putting flowery bright wallpaper over a damp wall, a rotting wall.”

Construction of the village began in 2014 with a planned investment of 1.7 billion yuan ($247 million). The goal was to build 5,000 homes and 10,000 greenhouses, according to local reports, to turn a large swath of desert into farmland and create a shared prosperity among Uighurs and Han Chinese.

Around the same time, the Communist Party came forth with a new strategy focused on ethnic mingling. Subsequently, at least one county offered financial incentives for Uighur-Han intermarriages, while others have launched programs encouraging Uighur families to move into Han Chinese residential areas.

China is building several such mixed settlements in Xinjiang. A similar village is under construction as a tourist attraction near Kuqa, around 600 kilometers (372 miles) from Hotan. A concrete yurt known as the “solidarity farmhouse” already has been completed, and a giant sculpture of a pomegranate is prominently placed at the center of the village to symbolize unity.

In Hotan, there are signs that the government’s experiment is making inroads. Uighur farmers toil alongside Han Chinese to farm crops in what was once barren desert land, and both groups live in modern houses equipped with gas, electricity and water. A billboard displays a picture of President Xi Jinping and a group of Uighur elders joining hands and, according to the caption, “linking hearts.”

Yet there are also signs of enduring mistrust. As elsewhere in Xinjiang, high walls around homes are topped with barbed wire, and police officers stand guard from behind fences at the entrance of the village. Adults don’t mix socially — at night, a group of Han Chinese dance in the square while the Uighur residents chat among themselves on the sidelines.

A Uighur farmer who moved to the village last September says authorities provided him with free housing and utilities, two greenhouses, a small orchard with grapevines and a barn with sheep, chickens, and pigeons. But the crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang has made it risky for ordinary Muslims to discuss their religious practices, and when speaking to reporters in front of government observers, he insists he was never a Muslim. Another Uighur farmer in his early seventies, Muzitohtahon, says he is no longer a Muslim.

Uighur and Han villagers do seem united by at least one factor — their desire to escape poverty. Rural areas in Xinjiang, including Hotan, rank among the poorest in China, with many families lacking even the most basic utilities and food. The financial incentives are also a key draw for Han Chinese from other impoverished regions of China.

Last May, 58-year-old Xiao Erying, who is Han Chinese, moved to this village from her hometown in the southern province of Hunan, over 4,000 kilometers away. “It is better than our hometown,” she says, as she rakes sheep, chicken and cow manure inside her greenhouse.

For 60,000 yuan ($8,700), her family bought a two-bedroom home with a small orchard and two greenhouses. The two grandchildren she lives with are given free tuition, school lunches, and even a free set of clothes. Xiao admits she doesn’t speak Uighur and cannot communicate with her Uighur neighbors, but she says the layout encourages interaction.

In a greenhouse a few dozen meters away, Uighur Abudu Mijiti has just begun planting chili with his wife. He moved to the village three years ago to make a more stable living. Two of his three children go to the local school and are fluent in Chinese, he says, as a government minder looks on.

“For us, it’s good, it helps learning our national language,” he says. “And because our next-door neighbor is Chinese, as we go in and out, it helps improve ethnic unity.”

On the surface, the picture presented at the Hotan Unity New Village reflects the government’s vision of an “idealized place,” says David O’Brien, an expert at the University of Nottingham.

“Every single part of it is the official narrative,” O’Brien says. “The narrative is, water will flow to the desert. The narrative is, if you come here great opportunity awaits you. The narrative that people will be secular, they will learn Mandarin.”

Yet the settlement remains only partly inhabited. The city says there are 534 households in the compound, but most of the houses are empty. A drive through reveals rows of empty greenhouses and house after house with a sign that says “sealed off” patched onto padlocked or chained gates.

Under the sweltering desert sun, one Han Chinese farmer tending to her plot of Chinese chives complains that water is scarce and her previous batch of chives had to be thrown out. Even when the crops work out, the chives sell for less than one yuan (14 cents) per kilogram.

“Not even enough for food,” she grumbles. “You cannot feed yourself just working on greenhouses.”

In the absence of government minders, the woman goes on.

“Ordinary people are not able to eat meat. The officials can, but not the ordinary people,” says the woman, who declines to give her name out of fear of retaliation.

As dusk approaches and temperatures fall, residents slowly make their way out onto the streets to enjoy the evening breeze. On the Uighur side of the street, a young Uighur woman rests on an electric bike after a day’s work, looking at her cell phone.

Asked what she thinks of unity, she looks up.

“Unity?” she asks. Silently and slowly, she shakes her head, and returns to her phone.

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Culture and Religion

Dean Cain’s label of San Francisco’s new incarceration language is spot on

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Dean Cains label of San Franciscos new incarceration language is spot on

Actor Dean Cain is one of the few outspoken conservatives in Hollywood. The star of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman has taken plenty of heat for voicing support for President Trump and for calling out his progressive peers as they rant unhinged.

One of his latest critiques of leftism was in response to San Francisco’s plan to change official words that pertain to convicted felons and juvenile delinquents. In pure Bay Area-style, the city is planning on sanitizing certain phrases so as to not “further victimize” criminals.

Once we catch our breath after laughing at the way these progressives see criminals, reality sets in about how asinine – and potentially dangerous – it is to cater to the criminal aspects of society at the expense of law abiding citizens.

Here are some of the details of the proposal:

San Francisco to do away with terms like ‘convict’, will instead call them ‘formerly incarcerated person’

They recently passed a resolution containing “person first” language guidelines that all agencies and departments are urged to used.

For example, an offender will now be called a “formerly incarcerated person”, “justice-involved person”, or “returning resident.”

A juvenile delinquent will go by “young person with justice system involvement” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.”

How did San Francisco leaders find time to address this non-issue when homelessness has reached crisis-levels and their city is literally covered in human feces? Have voters become so engulfed in tribal allegiance that they can’t see the absurdity in front of their faces?

Cain’s reaction was short and perfect.

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the nation of Oceania had adopted the official language of Newspeak, “a controlled language of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, meant to limit the freedom of thought.” It’s both a partial precursor to and a necessity of socialism because freedom of thought allows deviations from authoritarian control. Whether the leaders of San Francisco know it or not, they’re building a version of Oceania right now.

As long as Americans stand by and elect leaders who are more interested in not offending criminals than solving the massive problems faced by law abiding American citizens, this lunacy will continue. San Francisco is dying.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Omar, Tlaib silent after Nadler rebuke

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Omar Tlaib silenced after Nadler rebuke

Representative Jerry Nadler is one of the bad guys. He’s leading the charge to keep the House of Representatives focused on one thing: Taking down President Trump. But even bad guys do good things sometimes. His singular moment of clarity came yesterday when he rebuked Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of “The Squad” fame for sharing an anti-Semitic cartoon on Twitter.

To keep things in perspective, this isn’t Nadler doing the right thing for the right reasons. His interest is in making sure focus remains on the President and he views his freshmen cohorts as distractions. And even in rebuking them, he did so by first insulting the President with a lie.

The President’s comments about American Jews being disloyal to Israel if they vote Democrat is not an anti-Semitic trope. In fact, it’s not a trope at all, but since it’s a word that’s often associated with anti-Semitism, Nadler felt the need to invoke it.

As for the cartoon Nadler referred to, it came from a nefarious source:

But the real news here isn’t that Nadler went after his own teammates. It’s that the didn’t respond. It’s obvious they’re aware of the rebuke, but both have focused on playing nice on Twitter and have not addressed Nadler at all, at least not in public. This is a departure from their modus operandi as they’re known for striking back at criticism regardless of the source. Invariably, they play the race card and characterize anyone who criticizes them as bigots attacking “women of color.”

Nadler is an older straight white male, which is to say he’s a prime target for the wrath of “The Squad.” Are they suddenly playing nice or are they biding their time? Perhaps they don’t want to draw attention to the rebuke. Whatever their reasoning for not hitting Nadler back, their silence is conspicuous.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were wrong to share the anti-Semitic trope and Nadler was right to rebuke them. But don’t cheer Nadler’s action too hard. His only concerns are how their bigotry reflects on his party and keeping attention on President Trump.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Elizabeth Pipko: Democrats ‘supported one anti-Semitic comment after another’

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Elizabeth Pipko Democrats supported one anti-Semitic comment after another

Racism is real in America and there’s a push to attach it to President Trump. Anti-Semitism is among the hot topics being discussed by legacy media, especially after the President went after Jews living in America who vote Democrat.

Despite the left’s cries to make the GOP, President Trump, and all of his supporters seem like racists, the truth is starting to come out. Much of this is at the hands of “The Squad,” who ironically attempt to use the race card at every turn. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley have gone so far as to call others racist while demonstrating their own bigotry in the same sentences.

Jewish activist Elizabeth Pipko was part of a panel of Fox Nation discussing the recent press by Democrats to reverse the anti-Semitism narrative back onto President Trump. As their party seems to be pulling further and further away from supporting Israel while attaching to the much larger worldwide Muslim population, it’s becoming increasingly clear they are at a crossroads. Today, most Jews are Democrats, but as the party embraces anti-Semitism as their new normal, how long can that support continue?

As Pipko pointed out, politicians must either condemn or support a stance. Silence is viewed as acceptance, and as Democratic lawmakers are conspicuously silent on “The Squad’s” anti-Semitism, we must take this as their measure of supporting it.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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