Govt explores case for new public broadcaster

Govt explores case for new public broadcaster

The Government will explore the case for a new public broadcaster cobbled together from the existing two, Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand, Marc Daalder reports

The Government will complete a business case examining the possibility of creating “a new public media entity as an independent multiple-platform, multi-media operation,” Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi has announced.

Final decisions about Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand won’t be made until the case has been reviewed by Cabinet. Faafoi said he expected to receive the report, which will be written by consultancy firm PwC, around the middle of 2020.

The announcement comes as Three, the country’s private, free-to-air broadcaster, has begged for the Government to rein in TVNZ. TVNZ competes commercially with Three but has not had to pay dividends this year. MediaWorks has put Three up for sale but intends to keep hold of its profitable radio division.

There are also worries that, if it cannot find a buyer, MediaWorks will simply shut down Three.

NZME and Stuff, which between them own the vast majority of the country’s newspapers and the other half of New Zealand’s for-profit radio stations, have also been encouraged to merge by New Zealand First. The first attempted “StuffMe” merger was canned by the Commerce Commission over concerns about media diversity.

Faafoi referenced the fraught media environment in his announcement on Friday.

“It’s well known that New Zealand’s media sector, both public and private, is facing unprecedented challenges with competition from the likes of Google and Facebook, declining revenue shares, and changes in when and how audiences access their information and entertainment,” he said.

“The Government must ensure New Zealanders have a strong independent public media service for decades to come, which means ensuring public media assets are fit for the future and able to thrive amid the changing media landscape.”

Faafoi said that NZ On Air, which funnels some Government money to commercial and non-commercial media outlets alike, will continue to operate. It was not immediately clear whether Faafoi planned to boost funding to NZ on Air. New Zealand has the second-lowest per capita public subsidy for public broadcasters in the world, at about $20 per person. Only the United States, which funds public broadcasters to the tune of $3.50 per person, is lower.

Newsroom will update this article as more information becomes available.

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Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa

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Social media giant, Facebook has appointed Derya Matraş as its Regional Director for the Africa, Middle East and Turkey.

This new appointment comes quite early in 2020 and according to Facebook, Derya will be charged with leading the platform to serve Facebook’s businesses and communities in the region.

@Facebook Middle East has just appointed their new Regional Director, Derya Matras. https://t.co/WYYL0Gjh8E

— CommunicateOnline (@CommunicateME)

This is because the regions, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, are an important market for Facebook and it is important that the company’s impact on the region increases.

The fast-growing Middle East, Africa and Turkey region is an important market for Facebook. Derya’s wealth of experience in emerging markets and her pioneering spirit will help us further drive impact and value in this uniquely diverse region, while maintaining our mission of bringing people together and building communities.

Derya holds a BsC in Electronics Engineering from Bogazici University, Instanbul, Turkey as well as an MBA from Columbia Business School. Prior to this recent appointment, Derya was the Country Director for Facebook in Turkey charged with the role of driving growth for brands, agencies and the digital ecosystem.

Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa, Middle East and Turkey
Derya Matraş, the New Regional Director for Facebook

Before Facebook, she has worked in executive roles at various companies. One of them is McKinsey and Company where she served as an management consultant. She was also vice president of the largest media conglomerate in Turkey, Dogan Media Group.

She’s expected to bring her wealth of experience to her new role as Regional Director where she will lead the company’s charge to grow its economic and social impact across the regions.

Speaking on her appointment, Derya Matraş reiterated Facebook’s commitment to supporting the millions of businesses in the region that rely on its services.

“As a woman leader, I am very proud to be appointed to this region where diversity is of crucial importance, and I am looking forward to continuing to drive our significant economic and social value contribution,” she says.

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BUK Emerges Top in Global Digital Challenge, Gets Facebook Honorable Mention – PRNigeria News

BUK Emerges Top in Global Digital Challenge, Gets Facebook Honorable Mention

Bayero University Kano (BUK) has emerged top four among world Universities in the just concluded Fall 2019 Peer-to-Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge.

The University emerged runner up after Masaryk University — (Czech Republic) – FakeScape, Middle East Technical University — (Turkey) – Kiz Basina, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (Philippines) – I AM MINDANAO, thereby defeating Haigazian University Lebenon, Lithuania Christian College International University, ABTI American University of Nigeria (AUN) and Lagos State University Nigeria, most of whom were defending champions.

This season, the top three teams will be presenting their campaigns at the end of March 2020 in Brussels, Belgium to a panel of senior leaders, policymakers and guests.

In an email to participating teams, the Programs Project Manager, Paige M. Blair stated that, “The variety, insight, and creativity of the campaigns this term were beyond impressive and made judging quite difficult. All schools are commended for the innovative ways they positively impacted their local communities.”

BUK’s campaign was themed “HeartUmight,” and it focused on ethnic based hate speeches as a bane on our collective unity and source of other divisive tendencies with a view to inspiring at risk youths and the silent majority into countering such narratives online.

As runner up to the finalists, BUK’s HeartUmight got a honorable mention from Facebook and a $500 Facebook Ad Credit to continue scaling their work online.

Speaking, the Faculty Coordinator of the program, Dr. Nura Ibrahim, who is also the Head of the Department of Information and Media Studies said, “We are glad we made impact and got recognized for the impact we made. Our long term aims were clearly mapped out from the outset and our vision is to create an online inclusive society where culture and diversity is unified.”

Also speaking, Dr. Muhammad Danja the Staff Adviser for the campaign and also a lecturer with the Department expressed enthusiasm about future of the campaign. “As a build up on our previous effort, we were able to look inwards and design ba campaign that will make impact, stand firm and scale up in line with the overall goal of the challenge, that was why we were able to defeat Haigazian and ABTI American University who were actually defending champions this term so I am optimistic we shall emerge finalist in our next outing.”

On his part, the team lead, Muhammad Dahiru Lawal a 300Level Student of the Department of Information and Media Studies explains that, “In planning our strategy for the Campaign, we discovered that apart from religious based hate speeches, ethnic based hate speech are basically the most dominant in our online trails as indicated by our research, hence we decided to design a campaign that is unifying.”

He further said that, “we had hoped to make the finalist but at least we made a difference by winning in our own way. This is not the end of the road.”
Facebook Global Digital Challenge, is geared towards making a social impact on internet behaviour especially as it involves posts and comments considered violent, debasing and inflammatory by the receiving party.

The P2P Challenge is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners (EVP).

As at the end of the Fall 2018 term, the P2P Challenge has been implemented over 695 times at over 400 universities in 75 countries and 40 U.S. states. P2P has generated over 200 million combined online and offline impressions since its inception in spring 2015.

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

astronaut

Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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New Zealand restaurant trolls Israel Folau with LGBT donation | QNews

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Israel Folau has unknowingly donated to an LGBTIQ youth charity thanks to an Auckland restaurant.

Vegan restaurant Gorilla Kitchen wrote on their Facebook page that Folau and his wife Maria dined with them earlier this month.

After Folau’s new anti-gay sermon last week, the restaurant said they had decided to donate the couple’s payment to a New Zealand LGBTIQ charity.

“We are proud to say that Israel Folau and his wife Maria Folau have inadvertently shown their support to Rainbow Youth,” they wrote.

“We don’t turn anyone away at Gorilla Kitchen, because we love everyone, not just animals. So when Israel and Maria came in again a couple of weeks ago we happily served them, hydrated them and fed them.

“What they didn’t realise was their money spent at Gorilla Kitchen was going to be donated to Rainbow Youth.

“[It’s] an organisation that embraces diversity and offers support for our young and vulnerable rainbow community.

“Glad to see they are not #notashamed for supporting such a great cause.”

Israel Folau under fire for new anti-gay sermon

Last weekend, Israel Folau claimed the Australian bushfires is God’s punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion.

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are okay in society, going against the laws of what God says,” he told his Sydney church.

“You have changed the law and changed the ordinance of these things. Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time.

“God is speaking to you guys, Australia. You need to repent and you need to take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God.”

Even staunch supporter Alan Jones and Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Folau for the “appallingly insensitive” comments.

However Queensland MP Bob Katter defended Folau, comparing him to disgraced Cardinal George Pell in a jaw-dropping statement.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Senate Proposes Death Sentence For Hate Speech

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The Senate has gone tough on promoters of hate speech in Nigeria as it yesterday passed into the second reading a bill seeking death by hanging or life jail for anyone who runs foul of the proposed law.

When passed into law, the offenders would be prosecuted under the “Act to provide for the prohibition of hate speeches and for other related matters in Nigeria.“

Although the bill passed the first reading at yesterday’s plenary in the National Assembly, the opposition lawmakers, who kicked against it, said that it was targeted at gagging social media interactions.

Depending on the gravity of the offence, the sponsor of the bill, Senate deputy chief whip, Sabi Abdullahi, appealed to the upper legislative chamber to approve death by hanging for offenders.

Last year, a similar bill, seeking the establishment of the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches, sponsored by the same lawmaker  passed the first reading on the floor of the Senate.

The 8th Senate had in 2017 attempted to pass the bill without success when the same Senator Abdullahi, as spokesman of the Red Chamber, introduced it.

Abdullahi, who represents Niger North Senatorial District, who sponsored the bill last year, proposed death penalty, life jail, and five years’ imprisonment depending on the degree of the hate speech and an option of a N10 million fine for offenders.

It stipulated that any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that result in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction.

The bill, which was reintroduced yesterday by Abdullahi, is not different from that of last year.

It also seeks the establishment of a commission to enforce the law across Nigeria.

The objective of the bill, according to him, is to ensure the “elimination” of all forms of hate speeches against persons or ethnic groups as well as advising the federal government on the matter.

The proposed law defines hate speeches as comments that insult people for their religion, ethnic, linguistic affiliation, racial contempt among others.

Abdullahi said: “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and /or directs the performance of, any material, written and/or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” he said.

For offences such as harassment on the basis of ethnicity, racial contempt, the bill proposes not less than five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.

According to him, “a person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of: (a) violating that other person’s dignity; or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment shall be guilty of the offence of hate speech.”

He said that a “conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1)(a) or (b) of this Section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.

“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than N10 million, or to both.“

Among the functions of the hate speech commission are discouraging persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches; promoting tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life, and encouraging full participation by all ethnic communities in social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities.

But senators elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have said that they would resist any proposed law in the National Assembly that infringes on the rights of Nigerians.

The lawmakers stated that once any bill threatens the fundamental rights of Nigerians as guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), they would kick against it.

Through the Senate minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, the PDP lawmakers told visiting members of Leadership and Accountability Initiative that the right thing would be done on the controversial bill.

Abaribe said that there were already laws that deal with the issues the proposed law seeks to achieve. He, however, urged Nigerians to respect the rights of others while expressing their views.

He said: “There is no speed for this bill to be passed. The first reading of a bill is automatic. We can’t make a comment on what is still at the first stage.

“What I can assure you is that this Senate can’t be a party to removing the rights of Nigerians under any form. Section 39 of the Constitution talks about our freedom as citizens. The 9th Senate will not abridge your rights.

“I don’t think Nigerians who fought and paid the supreme price to entrench this democracy will easily give it away and make us go back to the dark days. Be rest assured that when we get to that point, we will stand for the people. Every bill that passes here must pass through the rigours to ensure that it protects the rights of over 200 million Nigerians.

“We have a plethora of laws that can be used to drive the question of a free society. While the social media can be good, it can also be bad. I am a victim of the social media.

“As much as there is freedom, yours stops where another person’s starts. We urge Nigerians not to propagate falsehood or fake news. Our job is to guarantee the freedoms and rights of both sides,” he said.

The leader of the group, Nwaruruahu Shield, had earlier argued that there were already existing laws and irrelevant to promote a new anti-social media restrictions.

He said: “It is imperative to note that there are existing provisions in the Nigerian constitution which define in plain terms about defamation: A defamation matter is defined in Section 373 of the Criminal Code as a matter likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule or likely to damage any person in his profession or trade by injury to his reputation.

“Seeing that Nigeria has more than enough laws such as the Cybercrimes 2015 Act and other existing laws, it has become obvious that what the sponsor(s) (covertly and overtly) of this bill seek to do is to gag the social media and dictate to us what we can say and what not,” he said

Last week, the Senate proposed a “Bill for protection from internet falsehood and manipulations 2019,” which stipulates a three-year jail term for anyone involved in the abuse of social media. It has an option of fine of N150,000 or both.

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Senate again proposes death by hanging for hate speech

Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate on Tuesday once again proposed death by hanging for anybody found guilty of hate speech in the country.

This followed the first reading of a Bill to set up an agency to prohibit hate speech in the country.

The Bill titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019” is being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate who is also the Senator representing Niger North, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

It could be recalled that the Senate had last week introduced legislation to regulate the social media and also to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term or N150,000 option of fine or both.

The social media regulation Bill titled: “Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” was sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, recently vowed that the Federal Government is poised to regulate the Social Media.

It could be recalled that Senator Abdullahi had sponsored the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but the toxic Bill which attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians never returned for second reading in the upper before the eight-session of the National Assembly elapsed

The Bill had prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

It also sought the establishment of an Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches.

The Bill as presented to the Eight Senate had proposed that the commission would enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The Bill had also proposed that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” committed an offence.

It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.

However, a cursory look at the new Bill showed that it is not different from the way it was presented in the Eight Senate by the same sponsor.

The Bill retained a provision that any offender found guilty under the Act when passed would die by hanging.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” the Bill said.

On Hate Speech the Bill provides that “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

Read Also: Senate appeals to FG to ban importation of textile for five years

“In this section, ethnic hatred means hatred against a group if person’s from any ethical group indigenous today Nigeria.

On discrimination against persons, the Bill also provides that: “For the purpose of this act, a person who discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds the person without any lawful justification treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or would treat other person from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity a person put another person at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons from other nationality of Nigeria.

“A person also discriminates against another person if, in any circumstances relevant for the purposes referred to in subsection (1) (b), he applies to that person of any provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of the same race, ethnic or national origins as that other.”

On harassment on the basis of ethnicity, the Bill further provides that “A person (who) subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of: a) Violating that other person’s dignity or b) Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as saying that effect.

“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both.”

On Offence of ethnic or racial contempt, the Bill provides that “Any person who knowingly utters words to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both.”

On Discrimination by way of victimization, the Bill provides that “A person victimizes another if in any circumstance relevant for the purpose of this Act, the person does any act that is injurious to the wellbeing and esteem of another person by U eating the person to less favorably than, in those circumstances, such person treats or would treat other persons, and does so by reason that the person victimized has:

“(a) Made a complaint under this Act; (b) Otherwise done anything under or by reference to this, (c) Given evidence or information in connection with proceedings brought by any person against any other person under this Act; or (d) By reason that the person who has violated the provision(s) of this Act knows that the persons victimized intend to do any of those things, or suspects that the person victimised has done or intend to do, any of them.

“A person who subjects or threatens to subject another person to any detriment because the other person, or a person associated with the other person: (i) has made a complaint against any person; (ii) has brought any other proceedings under this Act against any person; (iii) has given evidence or information, or produced a document, in connection with any proceedings under this Act; (iv) has otherwise done anything in accordance with this Act in relation to any person;

“(v) has contravened a provision of Pan III, unless the allegation is false and was not made in good faith; (vi) has refused to do anything in accordance the allegation is false and was made in good faith;

“(b) fails to comply with a notice by the Commission under section 57; (c) hinders or obstructs a Commissioner, member of staff of the Commission 01′ the Secretaly in the exercise of powers or the performance of functions under this Act;

“(d) uses insulting language towards a Commissioner, member of staff of the Commission or the Secretaty when the member Commissioner, Member of staff 01′ Secretaty is exercising powers or performing functions under this Act; or

“(e) gives any information 01‘ makes any statement to the Commission, the Secretary or a person acting on behalf of the Commission or the Secretary in exercise of powers or the performance of functions under this Act which the person knows is false or misleading in any material particular, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of two million naira or to imprisonment for a term not less than twelve months or both.”

On Offences by body of persons, the Bill said that “In the case of an offence under this Act committed by a body of persons” (a) where the body of persons is a body corporate, cvcry director, trustee and officer of that body corporate shall also be deemed to be guilty ofthal offence; and

“(b) where the body of persons is a firm, every partner of that firm shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence”

The objectives and functions of the proposed commission on Hate Speech, according to the Bill includes to facilitate and promote a harmonious peaceful co-existence within the people of all ethnic groups indigenous to Nigeria and more importantly to achieve this objective by ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

It added that without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the Commission shall:

“Promote the elimination of all forms of hate speeches against any person(s) or ethnic group indigenous to Nigeria.

“Discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches.

“Promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities;

“Plan, supervise, co-ordinate and promote educational and training programs to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities and racial groups;

“Promote respect for religions, cultural, linguistic and other fonns of diversity in a plural society;

“Promote equal access and enjoyment by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups to public or other services and facilities provided by the Govemment;

“Promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and enhance ethnic and racial harmony and peace;

“Investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendation to the Attorney-General, the Human Rights Commission or any other relevant authority on the remedial measures to be taken where such complaints are valid.”

The Commission shall also: “Investigate on its own accord or on request from any institution, office, or person any issue affecting ethnic and racial relations;

“Identify and analyze factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic communities, particularly barriers to the participation of any ethnic community in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavours, and recommend to the Government and any other relevant public or private body how these factors should be overcome;

“Determine strategic priorities in all the socio -economic political and development policies of the Government impacting on ethnic relations and advise on their implementation;

“Recommend to the Govemment criteria for deciding whether any public office or officer has committed acts of discrimination on the ground of ethnicity or race;

“Monitor and review all legislation and all administrative acts relating to or having implication for ethnic or race relations and, from time to time, prepare and submit to the Government proposals for revision of such legislation and administrative acts;

“Initiate, lobby for and advocate for policy, legal or administrative reforms on issues affecting ethnic relations;

“Monitor and make recommendations to the government and other relevant public and private sector bodies on factors inhibiting the development and harmonious relations between ethnic groups and on barriers to the participation of all ethnic groups in the social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political life of the people;

“Undertake research and studies and make recommendations to the Government on any issue relating to ethnic affairs including whether ethnic relations are improving;

“Make recommendations to the Govemment on any issue relating to ethnic affairs including whether ethnic relations are improving;

“Monitor and report annually to the Nation Assembly the status and success of implementation of its recommendations;

“Issue notices directing person, persons or institutions involve in actions or conduct amounting to violations on the basis of ethnicity or race to stop such actions or conduct within a given period; and

“Do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of its functions.”

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Who Is Alexandra Grant? – Meet Keanu Reeves’ Artist Girlfriend

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For the first time in over a decade, Keanu Reeves made a major red carpet debut with a date. Reeves took Alexandra Grant to the LACMA Art + Film Gala on November 2. They walked the red carpet holding hands, sparking romance rumors. Neither Reeves nor his rep have confirmed whether or not the actor is dating Grant yet.

Stefanie KeenanGetty Images

Grant isn’t a new presence in Reeves’ life though; she’s been there for years. And this isn’t the first time he held her hand on a red carpet either this year.

Here, what to know about Reeves’ rumored new girlfriend.

Reeves and Grant have been friends since at least 2011.

Their first project together was published then. Grant illustrated Reeves’ book Ode to Happiness.

Grant is a 46-year-old artist who has worked with Reeves on multiple projects.

People notes that Grant illustrated two books that Reeves wrote: his 2011 book Ode to Happiness and his 2016 book Shadows. They also founded a publishing company together, X Artists’ Books in 2017.

According to the company’s site, “XAB is a small publisher of thoughtful, high-quality, artist-centered books that fit within and between genres. Our books are works of art; portals to imagined worlds; treasured companions; the fabric of a community. We love the same things about our books as we do about our friends: generosity, open-heartedness, intelligence, mystery, style. They bring sustenance and shift realities. They may occasionally break your heart.”

Grant and Reeves have gone to multiple red carpet events this year.

In June, the two attended Saint Laurent’s fashion show together, and they held hands(!!):

Neilson BarnardGetty Images

In May, they attended the MOCA Benefit:

Rachel LunaGetty Images

The two made their event debut as friends in 2016.

Reeves and Grant were first photographed together at the UNAIDS Galaat Design Miami/Basel in Switzerland.

David M. BenettGetty Images

Reeves and Grant were photographed out on a possible dinner date in October.

According to People, the two were photographed at Giorgio Baldi last month. They “arrived together in Reeve’s Porsche and spent three hours inside the restaurant conversing and sharing a meal.” They left together.

Grant can officiate weddings.

As People pointed out, the artist shared photos of her Instagram showing herself presiding over her friend’s ceremony in Brooklyn.

A post shared by Alexandra Grant (@grantalexandra) on

A post shared by Alexandra Grant (@grantalexandra) on

Grant is based in Los Angeles but has lived in four different countries.

On her artist site’s bio, Grant wrote that her living abroad in Mexico, France, and Spain in her childhood and adolescence has strongly inspired her language-based work. Per her bio, “Some of the basic questions that fuel her practice are: How do the languages we speak and the images we see form how we think and exchange ideas? How can artists and writers work to create and influence culture in an increasingly technology-driven world?”

She told LA Weekly in May, of why she lives in that city, “I grew up in part in Mexico City, Washington, DC, and Paris, moving between languages and cultures. Los Angeles felt like home from the moment I first arrived in 1995, especially the diversity of people, idioms, foods, and plants (like jacaranda and bougainvillea). There’s an incredible work ethic here—many people are creative and entrepreneurial. Having friends who are working hard practicing their crafts—whether it’s set design, publishing, or acting—is very inspiring.”

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THE DEATH OF ‘ALAGBA’

Government could do more to protect wildlife

The death recently of a famous tortoise, named ‘Alagba’, at the palace of the traditional ruler in Ogbomosho, Osun State, has elicited reactions from across the world. Said to have outlived several kings in the town, and very popular as a pet, it is no surprise that many feel a sense of loss.

However, the death of ‘Alagba’ has raised concerns among conservationists who believe these reptiles are almost extinct in the wild in Nigeria due to the activities of traditional institutions, particularly monarchs, native doctors, sorcerers and, of course, rich people who keep tortoise illegally as pets.

Ordinarily, the tortoise is highly vulnerable, particularly because it cannot take flight from danger, so people simply pick them from forest floors. While there are several species in Nigeria, the ‘Alagba’ specie is ‘centrochelys sulcata’. It is commonly called Desert Spurred Tortoise, according to Edem A. Eniang, Professor of Wildlife Resources Management, Herpetology and Biodiversity Conservation Department of Forestry and Natural Environmental Management, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. This specie of tortoise used to exist in Nigeria, and was originally found around Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Kano States. But the few of them in the country today are in captivity and because these species are almost locally extinct in Nigeria, what is seen in most places is trafficked into the country from Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and other West African countries.

Sadly, habitat destruction and fragmentation are among the biggest threats to their survival. Moreover, there is also heavy internal market within Nigeria that is fed by hunters who forage for tortoises in the thick forests of the southern parts of the country. This internal trade is also fuelled by an understanding that the tortoise has become more or less a status symbol collector’s item for the monarchs and the rich in the country. This is completely bizarre and puts Nigeria in a negative light in the comity of nations. Also, people in some communities eat the flesh as a delicacy. Interestingly, the exact number of tortoises in existence, in the wild or in captivity, in Nigeria is unknown because no one has done such research.

The major problems of tortoise conservation in Nigeria include habitat degradation (through uncontrolled logging, agricultural projects, industrial plantations, highway and urban development, and exploitation for fuelwood), over-hunting and poaching. Steps taken so far to protect wildlife include the creation of one National Park and 18 Game Reserves, enactment of wildlife laws, signing of international treaties, and manpower development. These measures have however failed to produce the desired effect owing largely to public apathy, low level of funding, inadequate game laws and weak enforcement of existing legal provisions. Several laws protect the tortoise, like other wildlife species, in Nigeria and these are: The Endangered Species’ Act; Convention on Biological Diversity; NESREA Act; National Park Service Act; Convention on migratory species; several states environmental protection laws and edicts.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is the strongest global law protecting endangered animals, tortoises inclusive. All protect different endangered tortoises in Nigeria. The federal government should intervene more positively in favour of conservation by creating more national parks and assume joint responsibility with the states government for formulating wildlife laws. Also, communities where tortoise exists must play a prominent role in their conservation.

Meanwhile, there is a controversy around the exact age of ‘Alagba’ which was believed to have lived 344 years before its death. This claim can be fact-checked by scientists if the carcass is well-embalmed. Conservationists say the carapace (shell) can help indicate the age of the tortoise by the number of concentric rings, much like the cross-section of a tree. If it is not too late, scientists should be brought in to confirm the real age of the late ‘Alagba’.

The post THE DEATH OF ‘ALAGBA’ appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.

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“Make America Great Again”: Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?

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It’s a global village now.

The term “global village” was invented when the global reality was much less apparent. Today, I can read the The New York Times in real time in Oslo and Ottawa and Osaka just as easily as in the city of its publication. CNN brings the world to a global audience of viewers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I have digital subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and a Norwegian newspaper, and I sometimes read German or British newspapers online. This makes me an exception: newspapers and magazines compete for a shrinking audience. Visual news, by contrast, like CNN or Fox, is ubiquitous. We cannot avoid them even if we try.

And the subject — in print or on the television screen? There is more than one, but the main subject is President Donald J. Trump. He is the new chief in the global village; he attracts an audience; he keeps it up, tweet after tireless tweet. For the last four years, in outlets like CNN or Fox, there has not been one twenty-four-hour news cycle that failed to mention candidate Trump and later President Trump. Indeed, for the last four years, there has hardly been a twenty-four-hour news cycle when he was not the main subject.

I do not plan to engage this subject broadly. My focus will be narrow, announced in the headline. “Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?”

Why do I ask the question, why do I pose it as a matter of survival, and why do I ask it now? 

I have wondered about the impact of the political climate on the church on many occasions. A broad approach to my question would not be a waste of time, thinking particularly about the connection between the Sabbath and care for the world or the social conscience of the seventh day.[1] Here, my focus will be narrow; it will have one issue only. While some issues can be discussed dispassionately as matters belonging to gray zones, my concern cannot be discussed dispassionately, and it does not belong to a zone where there are varying shades of gray. Some things are black or white. This is one of those things.

On October 10, 2019, the President of the United States of America traveled to Minneapolis to give a speech. The stands were filled with people, twenty thousand in all. Many were dressed in the colors signifying support for the president’s aspiration to “Make America Great Again.” The president’s speech lasted one hour and thirty minutes. About one hour into the speech, the president turned to talk about the Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the immigration and refugee resettlement programs that brought many Somalis to Minnesota.[2]

Donald Trump: (54:16)
So in desperate attempt to attack our movement. Nancy and Chuck, two beauties, have given control of the Democrat party entirely over to the radical left, including Minnesota’s own representative Ilhan Omar. I know you people. I know you people. I know the people of Minnesota, and I want to tell you, and I also, at the same time, it’s both a question and a statement, how’d the hell did that ever happen? How did it happen? How did it happen? Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.

Donald Trump: (01:21:05)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Great people. Thank you. What a group. I think your very weak mayor made a mistake when he took them on. As you know, for many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers. I promised you that as president, I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy, and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration controls.

Donald Trump: (01:22:13)
And I’ve done that. Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85%, and as you know, maybe especially in Minnesota, I kept another promise. I issued an executive action, making clear that no refugees will be resettled in any city or any state without the express written consent of that city or that state. So speak to your mayor. You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that’s what you have the right to do right now.

Donald Trump: (01:23:12)
If Democrats were ever to seize power, they would open the floodgates to unvetted, uncontrolled migration at levels you have never seen before. Do you think you have it bad now? You would never have seen anything like what they want to do. But in the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first, and that has not been done in Minnesota.

What is the problem? The president is speaking about foreign-born generally non-White people who are already in the country, many of them by now American citizens, including Ilhan Omar. The speech was given in her district, in the same area where some fifty thousand Somali refugees are settled. They came there, the refugees have said, because they were well received and felt safe. And now? The President of the United States of America tracks them down in their neighborhood. He vilified one of them by name, twisting things she has said in the most negative manner. He accused her for minimizing the September 11 tragedy, charged to her “a history of launching virulent anti-Semitic screeds” before delving into her marital history. At the mention of “Somalis,” the president’s mostly white crowd broke out in boos — “in effect jeering their neighbors,” as one person present put it.

In better days, Ilhan Omar would be proof that America is a great country, the greatest there is. How she, a Somali-born refugee found a home in the United States, how she got an education, how she overcame obstacles to make herself into a person who exemplifies the best there is of diversity and opportunity in the U.S. In the president’s world, however, Omar is repeatedly thrashed. She has become one of the members of Congress targeted by the Trump-inspired chant, “Send her back!”

Let us leave Omar out, if need be, for the conversation to proceed without allowing allegations about her to distract us. Let us not leave out the other more than fifty thousand refugees of Somali descent now living in Minnesota. The president had a special line for the mayor of Minneapolis, saying that he showed weakness when he took the refugees in. (33:57) “Minneapolis, Minneapolis, you’ve got a rotten man. You’ve got to change your mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor.” And now the Somali refugees, who fled one of the most broken countries in the world. They are there, in Minnesota, on October 10 the target of a viscerally hostile speech by the president of their new homeland.

Others are there, too. I am now referring to the people in the stands. Let the president do the vilification of the Somalis by himself. It is not necessary to become his accomplice in disparaging a vulnerable group. It is not necessary to attend the rally. It is not necessary to cheer.

This is where the question of survival comes in. Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America survive this storm? Eighty percent of evangelical Christians support this man and his policies. Fifty percent of Catholic white males are said to support him. How high is the percentage among Seventh-day Adventists? Were Adventists in the audience in Minneapolis? Did Adventists cheer the part of the speech that singled out the refugees? One journal, secular, of course, had a fitting headline afterwards. “Trump’s Minneapolis Rally Was a Demonstration of the Moral Suicide Pact He’s Made with His Supporters.”[3] The author, Jack Holmes, the political editor of Esquire magazine, does not want to be in on the moral suicide pact. 

This is a virulently racist tirade aimed at ginning up the worst instincts of the people in the crowd. It is not a coincidence Trump chose to come here, or to target a refugee community that is black and Muslim. This is how he thinks he can win reelection: by continuing to pull his base of support towards more vitriolic expressions of this vision of America as a country for and by white people; by scaring other constituencies away from speaking out; by using the Republican Party’s machinations to stop inconvenient voters from voting; by smearing his opponents as Just As Bad As Him, They Just Pretend to Be Prim and Proper; by soliciting foreign meddling that will benefit him in exchange for favors when he is reelected.

“I know you people. I know you people,” the president said as he began the part about the refugees. What does he know about them? Does he seek to unleash some hidden, inner hostility that resonates with his sentiment, knowing that it is there? What does he know? One of Adolf Hitler’s critics in the German Reichstag said before voices like his fell silent — before the Reichstag went into a twelve-year de facto hibernation — that Hitler had an uncanny ability to spot and stir to life a person’s “inner swine.” Surely, the talk about the Somali refugees in Minnesota, in public, before a cheering audience, some of whom are next-door neighbors to the Somalis, could be an example of inner swines cut loose from moral restraint.

Moral Suicide

In what sense does this qualify as moral suicide, a term that is well chosen? I will offer three reasons.

First is the biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the refugee has special status as an object of God’s protection. Who will not be inspired and humbled by a walk-through of some of these texts? Their thrust is not only an obligation to treat refugees and immigrants with respect. It goes deeper than that. Believers are called to see themselves in the other person — to remember that we are in the same boat: what they are, we used to be. This should be easy to do for people in Minnesota. The ancestors of many in that state were not refugees but economic migrants from Scandinavia and Germany, but they came as aliens.

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21).

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 23:9).

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien (Lev. 19:33).

Does it count as oppression when the president of your adopted country seeks you out in your back yard, there to call your mayor “a rotten person” for letting you in, there to make you be his foil for a vision of America that uses disdain for you to inspire them to be his supporters? Does it count as oppression when the speaker clearly intends to outsource to his audience to change the terms of the alien’s existence?

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:34).

You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance (Num. 15:16).

What is most impressive in these texts is the insistent, unprecedented, vociferous call to remember. Historical amnesia is a dangerous and ever-present risk. To counter the risk, Deuteronomy inscribes the memory of past oppression as a constituent of the believer’s present identity.

Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today (Deut. 15:15). 

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes (Deut. 16:12).

You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land (Deut. 23:7).

Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (Deut. 24:18).

There they are, the Edomites and the Egyptians. They are there, in the text, but they are here, too, in the neighborhood. Just look on the map to see how little has changed even though the world has expanded. Lucky ones, are they not, to have a verbal footprint left for them in the Bible, the people who are now coming from where the Edomites used to live (Syria, Iraq, Palestine) or from Egypt (close enough to Somalia to count).

It was part of the liturgy of these believers to rehearse their story over and over in assembly, to say the following out loud:

You shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous” (Deut. 26:5).

The wandering Aramean, of course, is Abraham. In the New Testament, he is the role model for believers in Jesus (Rom. 4:16). In one New Testament iteration, Abraham never ceases to be an itinerant. For such a person and for such an itinerant faith-identity, understanding and empathy for those on the outside will only be stronger.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8-10).

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).

For anyone working with refugees and seeing their plight first-hand, it helps to ponder such a faith identity. To be a migrant or a resident alien, as a believer, is not a stage left behind, a distant chapter to remember. It is a stage — even a state — of present existence.

Second, we have a historical reason not to be part of the moral collapse playing out with respect to refugees and resident aliens. Now as then, at issue is not refugee status only. It is also minority status, ethnic, racial, or religious. Two immense historical realities obligate and inform us, the history of slavery and the Holocaust. Fifteen million Africans were brought to the New World against their will (not all of them to the US); six million Jews were gassed and cremated in the Nazi era. Might it be possible to see in the face of the Somalis seeking entrance the face of Africans who were forced to come against their will? Now they come willingly, in a state of need. Is this a time to shut the doors — or ever to shut them? Is there not still an unpaid debt from us to them, “us” the enslavers of European descent and “them” the enslaved?

And the Holocaust? It was “Not Long Ago, Not Far Away,” as an exhibit now on display in New York puts it. What happened had a toxic rhetorical antecedent. I am not suggesting that something on that scale is in the making today. But I am saying that there is a family resemblance at the level of rhetoric. I do not envision that today’s rhetoric will become tomorrow’s genocide. But yesterday’s genocide makes today’s rhetoric indecent, dangerous, and unconscionable even if it is only rhetoric. For a Somali minority in the US to be disparaged by the nation’s president with a crowd of mostly white Americans cheering him on is immoral because of what happened “Not Far Away, Not Long Ago.” We cannot go near it again; we cannot cheer except to put our souls in the gravest peril. Think of it this way, too: he speaks that way not to show us what he is like but because he thinks he knows what we are like.

I find sobering support for the unfinished work history teaches us to do in the recent book by the philosopher I admire the most. Susan Neiman says that “I began life as a white girl in the segregated South, and I am likely to end it as a Jewish woman in Berlin.”[4] Her remarkable geographic, intellectual, and professional journey is as compelling as her message: the need for Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung, as they say it in German: the need for “working-off-the-past.” The spectacle in Minneapolis and other spectacles like it result, in Neiman’s story, “from America’s failure to confront its own history.”[5]

Third, we have a special Seventh-day Adventist reason not to condone, participate in, or in any way engage in the conduct on display in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019. This has to do with our history and self-understanding. Early Adventists saw themselves called to proclaim a message of everlasting good news or, as I propose to translate it, “an eternally valid message” (Rev. 14:6). The target audience is broadly specified in Revelation. The message is to be proclaimed “to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6). There are no favorites here, no national or ethnic or tribal preference. The first angel in Revelation takes the stage with an equal opportunity proposition with respect to “those who live on the earth.”

When Adventist pioneers contemplated the scope of this commission, they took comfort in how they saw Providence at work in the American experience. Human beings from “every nation and tribe and language and people” had come to the United States! The mission could be accomplished here, in the New World, because God had raised up a nation of migrants and immigrants, of refugees and fortune seekers, in the New World. It would not be necessary to go to them. God had brought them to us; God brought them here.

This vision has since undergone a much-needed correction. They did not all come here; it was necessary to go there to be faithful to the commission. But the early perception should not be abandoned without a trace. Seventh-day Adventists have a special reason to be welcoming to people from other nations and tribes. Not so long ago it was a settled Adventist conviction that God had brought them here as an element in God’s eschatological vision for the nations. God — not simply destitution or need or hope or opportunity.

It is a global village now. We are all in on this. “Immigrants and refugees are welcome in Minneapolis,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after the president’s visit. I am glad he did. According to the transcript, verbatim, people chanted, “Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years” even though the visitors had told them that they have “a rotten mayor.”

Moses wasn’t there, but he gave a different speech to his migrant congregation before they took possession of the Promised Land. Then, too, there was a big crowd. Then, too, there was a pact. It was not a moral suicide pact but a moral pact meant to bring security to the most vulnerable. “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice,” said Moses.

And the people, back then, what did they say?

“All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:19)

Notes & References:

Sigve K. Tonstad is Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Loma Linda University.

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