This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Being Hostile to Immigrants Has Everything To Do With Race and Class

I’ve spent more than two decades living in one of the most diverse cities on the planet, and I am a naturalized US citizen. As a result, I think I know pretty well what the word “immigrant” means.

There are quite a few British people living in New York City (to the point where there was an effort last year, albeit unsuccessful, to designate a certain Manhattan neighborhood as “Little Britain”). Many of them are, legally speaking, resident aliens. Some of them are even (again, legally speaking) illegal aliens. And yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who refers to Brits as “immigrants”. Instead, they are known as “expatriates” or “expats”. Read more…

A Liberal Responds to a Conservative’s “Divorce Agreement for America”

There is a pretty awful, but amusing piece of writing being sent around in chain e-mails and praised to high heaven on various conservative boards and blogs. Appearing with minor variations, it purports to be a “Divorce Agreement” for dividing the United States between conservatives and liberals. It is supposedly written by one “John J. Wall”, who may or may not be a real person and may or may not be studying law in what may or may not be an accredited U.S. law school. I’ve heard of it before, but having received it in an e-mail this weekend past, I thought I’d write a response. Read more…

A Letter From Russia


On May 19, 2008/9, Roman Suslov, a twenty-one-year-old conscript, left his native city of Omsk to join his unit in Bikin, a small town on the border with China, in the province of Khabarovskiy Krai. At the crowded train station, he said his good-byes to his mother, his fiance Oksana and his infant son.

For the first three days after his departure, Roman sent Oksana upbeat text messages, but when she phoned him on the morning of the fourth, he muttered that he was in fear for his life.

“They will murder me or cut me,” he said through the crackle of his dying cell phone battery.

“Who?” she asked.

“My lieutenant,” he replied — and then his phone went dead.

A few hours later, Roman called Oksana from a different cell phone, one he was able to get from a friend. He told her that he had been segregated from the other men for some reason. He was also being denied food and water, and guards escorted him whenever he went to the bathroom. The call ended abruptly, and when Oksana dialed back the number, the owner of the cell phone picked up.

“I don’t understand what’s going on,” he whispered. “We are all frightened.”

The next day, an officer from the Bikin base called Roman Suslov’s mother and tersely informed her that her son had hanged himself in a public restroom. Read more…

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