Franklin Graham — Persona Non Grata

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Franklin Graham, Idiot of te Week Nov 2016

A little over a year ago, I awarded my coveted Idiot of the Week award to Mr. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, and a most deserving recipient of my idiot award.  Today, I find that he is trying to spread his brand of idiocy, or narrow-minded “Christianity”, if it can be so-called, to our friends across the pond, and they, frankly do not want him!

US evangelical preacher should be banned from entering UK, critics say – The Guardian, 07 December 2017

MPs call for Franklin Graham to be banned from UK ahead of Blackpool visit – Premier, 08 December 2017

For those who may not know who Franklin Graham is, a quick recap.  He is a televangelist who is controversial for his far-right, bigoted ideology.  He has spoken brutally against Islam referring to it as “a very evil and wicked religion”, and has claimed that Barack Obama was “born a Muslim” (not true, but so what if it was?) and had allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government at the highest levels during his presidency. He has taken on the LGBT community, saying that the mythological ‘Satan’ is behind same-sex marriage. In every possible way, he is a bigot extraordinaire.  He is, not surprisingly, a big supporter of Donald Trump. Of Trump’s election, he says …

“While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country.”

So, with such outlandishly bigoted views, is it any wonder that the Brits don’t want him in the UK?  I think not, for I don’t want him in the U.S., either, but he seems to play well in the south, so as long as he stays in the south, and off my radar, I can simply ignore him.

Graham is scheduled to speak at the Lancashire Festival of Hope at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in September 2018, but the protests began nearly a year ahead of the event.

A number of Members of Parliament, including a government minister, have urged the home secretary to consider refusing UK entry to Franklin Graham, with some suggesting his comments contravene British laws on hate speech. An online petition  has, as of this writing, garnered 6,150 signatures.

Blackpool MP, Gorden Marsden has called on the home secretary to consider refusing Graham entry, and said the evangelist may have broken UK legislation on hate speech. “I think frankly the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing and not probably in my view a very Christian thing.”

Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, said, “His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,”

Two opponents of Graham’s visit, the Blackpool vicars Andrew Sage and Tracy Charnock, have written an open letter to the bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, calling on him to distance himself from the US evangelist. They say they are nervous about the damage the proposed visit will do to interfaith relations.

Nina Parker, the pastor of Liberty church in Blackpool and the organizer of the petition, said: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.”

Just as our friends on the other side of the pond, for the most part do not wish to welcome Donald Trump for a state visit next year, nor do they wish Franklin Graham to visit, bringing his message of hate, fear, and every phobia known to mankind.  Personally, I don’t blame them … I don’t want either of them, either!  And if he were sensible, Franklin Graham would cancel his visit, but … well, I just said if

Two Former Presidents … Voices of Reason

When your ‘enemies’ say things about you, say that you are no good, a liar and a cheat, and call you names, you rather expect it and most of us simply laugh it off.  I have acquired many new monikers during the last 28 months, since that day in June 2015 when I fell off a stool laughing because Donald Trump actually had the gall to throw his hat into the ring of presidential contenders.  But those new names don’t phase me, for they are people who disagree with me and have declared me their enemy.  A few threats have set my teeth on edge, but those are few and far between.  But when your allies and friends start calling you names and saying things about you, then perhaps it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions.

The GOP is not exactly a tight-knit, cohesive organization these days, and more and more we are hearing members of Congress and other party officials speak out against Donald Trump.  The latest in this series was former President George W. Bush who yesterday gave an unexpected and rather eloquent speech at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute in New York. If he had said no more than a handful of words, it would have spoken volumes, simply because he is a fellow republican and a former president.

Like Senator John McCain’s speech on Monday evening, Bush did not specifically mention Trump, but his meaning was obvious to all with half a mind.  I will not replicate the entire speech, but merely a few of the most relevant snippets.

  • And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

  • Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

  • We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. (Think, “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Liddle” Bob Corker, “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up,” to name but a few)

  • We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

  • Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

  • According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

  • This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

  • We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

The ones in bold are the ones I find the most relevant, especially the last two.  You can read the entire transcript if you wish.

And, though much lower keyed, President Obama also made some statements this week, while stumping for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia:

  • What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries. Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!

  • You can’t take this election or any election for granted. I don’t know if you all noticed that.

For two former presidents to speak out against the policies, actions and behaviours of the sitting president is … unprecedented (pun intended – needed to lighten things up a bit).  That they are doing so speaks loudly that they are concerned for the fate of our democracy and the path that the nation is on.  I concur and I appreciate them using their large, yet elegant and respectful voices to make these points.

Greetings

A few days ago, in response to my post about the 8-year-old bi-racial boy who had nearly been lynched by a group of teens, I received a comment from a man named Tim, who recently started a blog to enhance awareness and to encourage people to stand up against racism of all forms. I checked out his blog, and was very impressed with what I saw there. Tim was born in China and moved to Australia as a young child, where he has been the victim of racism on a frequent basis. Today I would like to share his blog with my readers, for I believe it has value for us all. Thank you all for taking a moment to check out this blog, and thank you, Tim, for allowing me to share your work!

Rise up against Public Racism

Whether you are a friend from Facebook, a social activist or just someone passing by … greetings! 🙂

Firstly thank you for all your support on this particular issue – especially a big thanks to those who have been following and commenting on the posts. Your contribution means a lot – not only in bringing encouragements but also feedbacks that has helped me to think further about how to tackle the social problem.

Now I think it’s time to share a little bit about who I am and why I decided to start this campaign in the first place.

I’m a student born in China and moved to Sydney during primary school. Since a few years back, my family and I are proud to be called Australian citizens. Even till now however, I’ve been called out by strangers for my skin colour and appearance on a close to monthly basis…

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Before The War Came

Some time ago … I believe it was early in 2016, I discovered a blogger from India by the name of Anam, writing as Love Read Dream. Anam is very young (17-18) but wise beyond her years. She is at times funny, other times pensive, but she writes as well as any I have read. A few days ago I read a poem she wrote titled Before the War Came, and I was so touched by her words that I wanted to share it with my readers. Please allow me to introduce this beautiful young lady and her touching words. Thank you, Anam, for this hauntingly beautiful poem, and for your permission to share it with my friends.

Fade Into Oblivion

hiraeth(n.)  
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the grief, the yearning for the lost spaces of your past.

“Go back to where you came from!”
I wish I could.
But my home is burning.
And I’m aching for the beautiful place my home once was.
There is a name for this feeling.
Hiraeth. It’s Welsh.
A foreign word for a foreign person.
“You are Dirty!” “Immigrants!” “Job stealers!””Refugees!”
My blood is tainted by my foreignness.
Maybe that’s the dirt you’re talking about.
I wish I had an answer for you.
But I’m drowning in nostalgia.
My dreams are invaded by images of my home.
The way my home has been invaded by war.
In this state of daydreaming,
I’m sorry if I accidentally bump into you
I’m sorry if that makes you jump out of your skin

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GOP Guilty For Rise And Triumph of President Donald J. Trump

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that my biggest pet peeve is bigotry in any form. I have written about Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many more, and each one brings tears as I write, wrenches my heart, and sometimes causes me to despise much of mankind. My writer-blogger-friend Gronda has the courage to put the monkey on the proper back, to place the blame for the increase in racially-based hate crimes right where it belongs. Please, if you read no other post today, read Gronda’s top-notch piece. Many, many thanks, Gronda!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of trayvon martinAfter 30 years of being a registered republican I, as an older Italian American became an independent voter in 2016, because I felt that the republican party had lost its soul, its moral compass, the knowledge of what is right and wrong, a sense of decency and decorum. And too many, FOR TOO MANY YEARS, in my former party have been party to catering to the alt-right and all hate groups.

In my case, I had been awoken to a strain of racism that had permeated the republican party to where I could no longer remain. It started with the Trayvon Martin case. There were too many in my former party (2012-2013) who were propping George Zimmerman as a hero when any sensible person could see he was a bum. Then there was the demonizing of Trayvon Martin as a pot smoking thug when he was just a kid walking…

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Behind Closed Doors …

It is not unusual for the Attorney General to speak at events and to various groups around the country.  Not unusual at all.  However, when the Attorney General speaks to a designated hate group that “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally” 1, then it is highly unusual. And when the event is closed to the press, no venue information is published, and the Department of Justice refuses to explain why Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions is speaking to this group, Alliance Defending Freedom, then there is a problem.

Alliance Defending Freedom is the very group defending the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, whereby a Colorado baker, citing religious objections to homosexuality, refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.  Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  Initially, the courts ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop, and they have followed the ladder of appeals all the way to the highest court in the land.

Jeff Sessions, throughout his 20 years in Congress, has consistently voted against LGBT rights.  In June 2006 he voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In December 2010 he voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In November 2013 he voted against taking up a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people. And twice, in June 2000 and June 2002, he voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2014, a year after the Supreme Court struck down part of the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act, Sessions co-sponsored a bill that would allow the state definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition.

The Human Rights Campaign keeps an annual scorecard of how lawmakers fare on LGBTQ issues. Sessions’ score, year after year: zero. And now he is the head of the Department of Justice. And last night at 5:30 p.m., he spoke to Alliance Defending Freedom in a secretive, closed door meeting at the group’s Summit on Religious Liberty.

I am not alone in my concerns.  The Democratic National Committee issued the following statement via email:

“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups. The Alliance Defending Freedom actively helped draft discriminatory legislation, worked to preserve laws criminalizing same-sex relations, and attacked the separation of church and state. ADF has been previously designated a hate group and Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings in to question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”

Since being sworn in as Attorney General in February, Sessions has already taken an anti-LGBT stance when he, along with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, chose to rescind the Obama-era guidelines protecting the civil rights of transgender students, a move that was praised by Alliance Defending Freedom.

There is no information available regarding Sessions’ speech last night, so all any of us can do is speculate.  If Sessions planned to speak on, say, the way the DOJ works, or constitutional law in general, then why the cloak of secrecy?  Alliance for Freedom is typically quite outspoken and welcomes coverage of their events, so … why is this different?  The lack of transparency, coupled with the purpose of Alliance and the documented bigotry of Sessions has thrown up red flags and set off alarm bells for me.

Sessions’ bigotry goes far back, as I have mentioned before, to the racist comments that denied him a federal judgeship during the Reagan era.  How a man with so many prejudices became the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the nation is beyond comprehension, but in the current administration, perhaps not surprising.  However, to carry his personal prejudices into the job he has been given is a slap in the face to the Constitution, it is a slap in the face to the department he oversees, and it is a slap in the face to every single U.S. citizen.

I fail to understand how Alliance Defending Freedom is defending freedom.  This seems to me an oxymoron.  If a baker bakes a cake for a gay couple, how does that take away the baker’s freedom?  It does not.  He is simply baking a cake.  He may not agree with homosexuality, it may be against his religion, but the couple buying the cake are not hurting him in any way.  He is just baking a cake, the thing that he has chosen to do with his life.  If he refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple, or a black man, or a Muslim woman, then he, the baker, is a bigot, and there is no room in this nation, in this world, for bigotry, which is simply another word for unjustified hate.

Eventually I imagine we will find out more about Sessions’ speech last night, and I am willing to bet that most of us, those who value every human being, not just those who are white, straight, Christians, will not be pleased with what we learn. There was no reason for the lack of transparency here, as it is certainly not a matter of national security.  One can only assume that Mr. Sessions intends to operate beneath a cloak of secrecy so that We The People, who pay his salary, cannot know what our own government is doing to us. It is true that you are judged by the company you keep, and Mr. Sessions has chosen some nasty company to keep.

1 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) 

Just Another Day … 04 July 2017

On Tuesday, 4 July, the nation will celebrate the anniversary of publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.

A bit of history: The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

adams-jefferson

Jefferson & Adams

A bit of trivia: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

Today, most families celebrate the holiday pretty much as described by John Adams, with parades, picnics, and at the end of the day, fireworks.

To be sure, there are still plenty of good things about this nation.  There are a multitude of “good people doing good things”, as I point out every Wednesday.  And there are many, many people who are fighting every day for truth, justice, and equal rights for all.  We have beautiful lakes, mountains and forests. And as of this writing, we are relatively free from oppression, we have a relatively free press and freedom to speak our minds, else I would not be writing this blog.  However …

This year, I must admit that I have no joy over the holiday.  Always in the past, I have felt proud of what had been accomplished in our nation in just two centuries, was proud to be a citizen of the United States.  No country is perfect, and I understood the flaws of our government and our citizenry, but still … it was a pretty damn good country.  Today, however, I am not all that proud of this nation.  I am ashamed and disgusted.  I have even wondered if perhaps we would have been better off to have remained a colony of the crown.

Much of my shame, of course, comes from what has become of the office of the president.  Even though we have had some less-than-noble men sitting in the Oval Office before, it has never been as thoroughly defiled as it has been over the past five months.  The policies and ideologies of the current administration are in direct contrast to those put forth by the framers of the Constitution, who began that document with the words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

To celebrate 241 years, even as our citizens are being deprived of adequate, affordable health care, are being deprived of clean air and water, deprived of a solid education for their children, seems wrong.  Our African-American citizens are often being abused, targeted by the very officers of the law who should be protecting them, and are not given justice for any of it.  Our tax dollars go to buy guns, tanks and bombs, not to provide basic necessities for our poor and elderly.  So no, I find no pride in my heart for the government of this nation. At its head is a ‘man’ who is vulgar, crass, and respects no one. It is comprised of rich, corrupt men who care not a whit for the citizens … not a whit.

But my shame and disappointment goes much deeper than just the people in the White House and Congress, for they shall pass through quickly enough (we hope) and be replaced with other, hopefully more conscionable politicians.  The deepest part of my shame is with my fellow citizens.

I am ashamed that a large portion of this country believe that they are superior to others because of the colour of their skin.  I am ashamed that many have chosen to hate and even murder others because they do not share the same religion.  I am ashamed of those who cannot accept that a person may fall in love with another of the same gender.  I am ashamed that people are more willing to fight to carry lethal weapons than they are to fight for their children.  I am ashamed that people have reverted to the racism of the past without learning from the lessons of history.  I am ashamed of the people who would turn away refugees from the Middle East and send them to an almost certain death.  I am ashamed when I hear people promoting violence against their fellow humans at rallies and protests, that some still have not learned the art of ‘peaceful’ protest.  I am ashamed that so many are willing to sacrifice our very planet out of ignorance.  I am ashamed that so many refuse to learn facts, but rather accept as fact whatever they are told. I am ashamed of those who use their religion as a shield, but judge people by the colour of their skin and refuse to offer assistance to those in need.

Most of all, I am saddened by the vileness and hate I read about every day.  Certainly it is natural that we are not all going to agree on everything, that there will be debates and disputes, but today in this nation, there is pure, ugly hate.  The person who is supposed to be a leader incites violence, tells people to punch others and he will cover their legal fees.  A man recently elected to Congress beat up a reporter who was just doing his job the night before he was elected.

For me, all of this makes it very difficult to celebrate a day that should be about being proud of our nation, for I am not at all proud right now.  In my household, Tuesday will be just another day.  There will be no grill-out, no parades, no fireworks.  I shall write, my daughter will study, and Miss Goose will no doubt draw.  And we will be content in our own skins, but I think none of us will be particularly proud of what our nation has become.  I find no reason for a celebration this July fourth.  For me, it is just another day.

lady liberty cries

American Civil War Redux

The new American Civil War is not about slavery, but it contains undertones of racism.  It is not neatly divided along an imaginary line such as the Mason-Dixon line, but the divide is a much finer line, splitting homes, schools, families, and workplaces.  As was the case in the 1860s, there is no middle ground.  There are no soldiers in uniforms carrying guns, yet, but there are the media, both mainstream and social.  I have dubbed this war ‘The Great Divide’, and not since the civil rights era has this nation been so ideologically divided.

Trump’s dilemma, of which he is seemingly unaware, is how to unite the people of this nation.  Trump claims that he did not create the divide, and in that he is right.  America has always had a political divide; one that was probably at its smallest in the years immediately following World War II, when the nation came together in relief and the beginnings of a new prosperity.  But since the origination of the so-called Tea Party movement in 2009, the divide has been growing exponentially.  Ostensibly, the movement is in opposition to excessive taxation and government intervention in the private sector while supporting stronger immigration controls.  But beneath the surface, there are undertones of bigotry.  The beginning of the movement can be traced back to 19 February 2009, less than a month after the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president.

With the divisiveness generated by the dissatisfaction of those associated with the Tea Party movement, the gap between right and left, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, began to widen.  The right swung farther to the right and the left pushed back by going farther to the left.  By the end of President Obama’s first term in 2013, there was no longer any noticeable middle ground, no moderates who might have been able to help bridge the gap.

During President Obama’s second term, the gap continued to widen, with Republicans in Congress determined to throw up barricades to any and all of the President’s policies, even those they agreed with in theory.  The term, A House Divided, came to be the reality of the U.S. government, with Congress accomplishing less and less each year, and the President barely able to direct any meaningful domestic policy.

Enter the 2016 election and one narcissistic, demagogue candidate whose only hope to win the election was to “divide and conquer”.  So no, Donald Trump did not cause the divide, however he widened the gap by a very large margin.  He ranted, lied, cheated and stole, figuring either that he would clean up the mess later, or that it would eventually take care of itself.  But guess what?  Since taking office, he has only added to the gap, without the slightest attempt to bring the two sides together.  Now, nearly one-third of the way through 2017, there is more hatred, more disruptiveness, more bigotry, and more divisiveness than at any time in the last 50 years.

Which brings me back to my original point:  Donald Trump has many problems facing him, however perhaps the biggest one is the society that he helped split into two radically differing sectors.  Yet, instead of attempting to be more moderate, to take into consideration the needs and ideologies of both sides, he is as a bulldozer, plowing his way through any who do not agree with him.  Those in his camp applaud, while those outside the camp only get angrier and feel more and more marginalized.

A president needs to be much more than a politician.  He must also be a statesman and a diplomat, for he answers to ALL the people, not just those of his party, not just those who voted for him, and not just those who nod their heads in agreement every time he opens his mouth.  He represents We The People, every single man, woman and child living in this nation, and if he forgets that, he is doomed to failure.  Donald Trump has not forgotten that … he just never understood it to begin with.

We have seen much destruction and devastation within our country in the past three months, and if Trump persists in his goals to build a wall, to deport refugees, to ban immigrants, to defund environmental protections, to defund public schools, to destroy the ACA, and to strip civil rights from minorities, there will indeed be a civil war in this nation.  Where President Obama worked toward creating transparency in government, Trump has pulled the curtains shut tightly.  Where President Obama sought inclusiveness for all, Trump’s policies are clearly exclusionary.

Thus far, the only thing that has halted major outbreaks of violence throughout the nation is the expectation by those of us on the left that the investigations into the Russian connections of Trump and his gang will ultimately result in charges of treason, and Trump will be impeached.  In the event that those investigations are somehow stifled, or go by the wayside without satisfactory results, there will be an internal war in the United States.  There will be riots such as have not been seen in 50 years, families will be split asunder, and people will die.

I gave this much thought before writing this post, and searched my own soul, asking myself if I was being an alarmist.  The end result, after weeks of thought, is that no, I am not an alarmist.  I am, just as I have always been, a realist.  I talk to people on both sides of the invisible fence, and I know that both are spoiling for a fight. And the Great Divide goes well beyond politics, beyond even ideology … it goes to the core of who we are.

At this point, there are no simple solutions, no panaceas, and it will require more than our elected representatives can do to fix the problem. It will require that each of us, no matter which side of the partisan aisle we support, find it in our hearts to remember our humanitarianism, to be flexible, to be willing to meet the other halfway.  However, Trump and Congress must be the drivers of any possible solution. If they fail to understand the magnitude of the problem, if they ignore the problem and further divide the nation, if they discount We The People, they have only themselves to blame for being short-sighted.  They will pay the price at the polls next year, but we will pay in the streets this year.  Think about it.

This Is How It Starts …

Dahlonega, Georgia, USA, home of 84-year-old Roberta Green-Garrett.  Sweet little ol’ southern lady?  Not a chance.  More like a bigoted, racist, hateful rich white-supremacist.  Roberta owns two buildings, which she rents out to antique dealers, several hundred units of student housing, and a Holiday Inn Express. She is seeking permission to build a new hotel, but has thus far been unsuccessful.  She lives in a brick mansion with four white columns on a hill overlooking the town, and spends winters in Florida.  She also nearly caused the town of Dahlonega to be ripped apart last month.

Dahlonega is a quiet little southern town, a former gold mining town an hour north of Atlanta, known for its redbrick square lined with antique shops and wine tasting rooms. It did not have the reputation for racial violence that many other north Georgia counties did.  Until one day in the middle of last month when residents awakened to a large sign sporting a cartoonish drawing of a white-sheeted person raising a hand, and the words “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall”. In addition, there was a Confederate battle flag at one corner of the building and a red flag with a white cross and the letters KKK at the other.

kkk-sign.jpg

The building the sign was attached to was owned by none other than Ms. Green-Garrett.  Though she obviously did not place the sign herself, she did, by her own admission, give permission for KKK members to put the sign up.  Her only comment was that she had allowed the banner to go up and might try to put it up again.

The sign brought out the town’s best and its’ worst.  Rednecks in pickup trucks drove through town, revving their engines and circling the square, with Confederate battle flags and ‘Make America Great Again’ flags flying. One man, Chester Doles, a former leader in the Klan and a white-separatist group called the National Alliance who had gone to prison on federal weapons charges, stopped to take pictures of the sign before it was removed, saying how “glorious” it was to see such a sign in the light of day.

But on the other side of the coin, there are a lot of good, conscionable people in Dahlonega, and they came out in droves to protest not only the sign, but that such a sentiment could take center stage in their otherwise peaceful town.

kkk-protestors.jpg

People honked horns in support. A local fiddler came. A member of the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls came and everybody sang “This Land Is Your Land.”  “The only comment I’ll make is that the KKK does not represent the values of this town,” one of the men said.

One woman claimed that the whole episode constituted an ‘agenda’ to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump.  She knew all of this, she said, because she had gone online and discovered a website for a group with locations across the country — including in Dahlonega — that was made up of “former congressional staffers working for the previous administration. They are supporting the impeachment. They support open borders. They are supporting Obamacare. They are promoting disruption at town halls — I call it bullying — and they have a potential for violence.”  

Things have returned to normal in the month since the sign went up.  Ms. Green-Garrett applied for a permit to restore the sign as a permanent fixture on her building, then withdrew the application two days later.  The town issued an official statement saying that “Dahlonega is a welcoming community for people of diverse backgrounds” and that “recent episodes are not indicative of a change in our character or philosophy.”

Even though things have returned to normal, one resident said it feels that this was the beginning of something, rather than the end.  Reverend Webb, pastor of a local church, said the episode was not simply about the banner. To him, it was about a banner that had appeared after an election in which the new president had said certain things that had appealed to white nationalists and other hatemongers, whether he intended to or not, opening the door to events that could spiral out of control. “The atmosphere he’s created in America today has caused people to think they have some kind of power again. I thought that before, and I still do.”

What happened in Dahlonega is happening all over the nation, it just stands out more here because it is a small town.  If the same sign had been placed on a building in Chicago, Atlanta or Houston, we likely would not have heard about it.  It is, truly, a sign of the times … an ugly sign.  This is, and will be, the legacy of Donald Trump.

After The Fall

This has been an especially toxic, divisive election year. I have thought a lot about … what next. I am 99% confident that our next president will be Hillary Clinton, but I have to wonder … will that be the end of the hate speech that is so prevalent today? It is hard to imagine that Trump will simply slink back into his dark cave and never be heard from again (though one can always hope). Blogger-friend Hugh wrote an excellent post on just this topic, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I ask you to take a minute and read his post, drop in and leave a comment … or two!

hughcurtler

Robert Reich recalls a phone conversation he had with a friend who predicts a Clinton victory in November — and a majority of Democrats in the Senate (though not the House). The conversation then picks up as follows:

And what about all the people who’ll be voting for Trump?”

“What about them?” he asked, cautiously.

“After Trump loses, they’ll still be out there, right?”

“Of course.”

“And they’ll be madder than hell, poisoned with Trump’s venom. They’ll be a ready-made constituency for the next demagogue.”

“Bob?” he asked.

“What?”

“Remind me never to phone you again.”

“Sorry,” I said.

Indeed. There’s the rub. What about those crawly things Trump has enticed out from under the rocks he has been kicking over for the past few months, “poisoned with Trump’s venom”? That’s something we all need to ponder. Given that many of them are the “second amendment people” that the Trumpet encouraged to…

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