The Man Who Likes To Lose …

Arthur Jones is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois’ 3rd congressional district  Arthur Jones has run for a variety of political offices dating back to 1976 when he ran for mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lost.  He has run for Congress no less than five times … and lost every time.  And now he is running for Congress in a largely democratic district on the south side of Chicago.  Why is Arthur Jones such a loser?  Let’s take a look at Arthur.

  • On his website Jones describes the Confederate flag as “a symbol of White pride and White resistance. It is the flag of a White counter revolution.”

  • In 2008, Jones was listed as the leader of an Illinois chapter of the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Worker’s Party.

  • He now leads a group called America First Committee, whose membership is open only to “white American citizens of European, non-Jewish descent.”

  • He denies that the Holocaust ever happened, calling it “the biggest, blackest lie in history … nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews.”

Already you can see why Mr. Jones cannot win an election, right?  So how did he get on the ballot for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?  Simple, no other republican wants to run in that district, for it is seen as that of a sacrificial lamb, so heavily democrat is the district. On Thursday morning he did a six-minute interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota:

Jones tried to enter the race in 2016, but the GOP challenged signatures on Jones’ petitions and successfully got him booted from the ballot. Not so this year, as the petitions passed muster, thus it is a certainty that Jones will win the March 20th primary.

In addition to his hatred of Jews, Jones hates every other group that is not white, Christian and straight.  Jones does not support interracial marriage or integration in public schools. He is against immigration and wants to pass laws to make English the official language, saying, “… any two-legged vagabond from any Third-world, non-white, or non-Christian country is given preference whether they arrived legally or illegally. Either, learn America’s language, our culture, and respect our laws or get out of our country!”

Can you guess his stand on LGBT rights?

“The Homosexual/Lesbian/Bi-sexual/Transgender movement is a blatant assault on the Christian based foundation of this country. They seek to uproot, and overthrow all the moral teachings of the Christian religion on which all of our laws are based. THEY MUST BE STOPPED NOW.”

A visit to his website left me feeling ill, with images like these …

art jones poster 3art jones poster 1aft jones poster 2

His ‘platform’ also includes what he refers to as “The Neighborhood Amendment”, which claims liberals want ““Racial, Religious, and Sexual Diversity” in every neighborhood and school in America.”  His proposal would enable people to vote on whether or not to allow “others” to move in to the neighborhood.  Perhaps he never heard of the Fair Housing Act?

It is understandable that no other republican candidate wishes to waste the time and money to run a campaign for a sure-to-lose seat.  But now, the party is left with Jones, another pimple on their butt.  The good news is that there is no way this man will be going to the Capitol unless it is as a visitor with a tour group.  The bad news, however, is that anybody with his mentality can even exist in this, the 21st century.  It makes me both angry and sad to think that somebody so bigoted, so narrow-minded, can garner even a handful of supporters.

Even the GOP doesn’t support Jones …

  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, also a Republican, said: “There is no room for neo-Nazis in American politics. I condemn this man in the strongest possible terms.”

  • Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said, “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the Third Congressional District.”

And yet … there is no doubt that he will get some votes.  He will not win, but there are some who will applaud his ideas, his bigotry, his racial hatred, and they will vote for him.

The Argument Between Me, Myself & I …

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” – Frederick Douglass


“One of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting.” – Salman Rushdie


“You would argue with a fence post!”, my mother used to say.  She was right … I loved nothing more than a good debate.  While other kids were whining, pouting or throwing a temper tantrum, I was on my feet, logically arguing, making my points which just seemed to pop into my head unbidden.  I often wore my parents or teachers down and when they couldn’t come up with a better argument, I got the cookie, extra hour until bedtime or whatever prize I was arguing for.  Not much has changed … I still like a good argument, even if it is with my own self.  I was recently telling a friend that I argue with myself, and that sometimes three of me get in on the argument:  me, myself and I.  I have even been known to smack myself in the head from time to time.  Just last evening I was having quite a debate with myself (me was not feeling well and sat this one out) about Ohio State University and Richard Spencer.

The backstory in a nutshell …

“Officials at Ohio State University won’t allow noted white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus, citing safety concerns after several of his supporters opened fire on counter-protesters at the University of Florida.

In a letter from an attorney representing Ohio State sent on Friday, the lawyer noted the university was concerned that hosting Spencer would pose a “substantial risk to public safety, as well as material and substantial disruption to the work and discipline of the University.”

Now, the University of Florida is left with a $600,000 bill for the increased security — one that will ultimately trickle down to taxpayers — required for Spencer’s appearance on campus. Hundreds of police officers, as well as SWAT teams and snipers, mobilized at the school to help keep the peace.

Georgia State University student Cameron Padgett, currently organizing a speaking tour for Spencer on college campuses across the country, has already announced his intention to sue Ohio State for denying his request.

Padgett also sued Penn State University on Friday for making a similar decision earlier this year. Shortly after the violence in Charlottesville, Penn State’s president decided that Spencer was “not welcome on our campus” because his events posed “a major security risk to students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.

The University of Cincinnati, on the other hand, was also under threat of legal action from Padgett’s lawyer but decided it will allow Spencer to proceed with booking event space on its campus.” – ThinkProgress, 21 October 2017

And then …

“An associate of white nationalist Richard Spencer is suing Ohio State University after university officials refused to rent space for Spencer to speak on campus.” – The Hill, 22 October 2017

And now begins the debate.  On the one hand, as a humanitarian, a supporter of human and civil rights, I do not want to see Spencer in any public venue.  First, his message is one of hate, it is one of white supremacy, arrogance and intolerance. Second, whither goeth Richard Spencer, violence is sure to follow.  Violence that will likely leave people injured, perhaps some dead, and property damaged.  Third, the cost of providing security falls, ultimately, on the taxpayer and frankly I think we have better things to spend our money on.  That is the one hand that speaks from mainly the right side of my brain, the side that is more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

Then there is the other hand, the hand that spent nearly two years studying Constitutional Law, the hand that keeps a pocket copy of the United States Constitution by its bedside and another by its computer.  The hand that is attached to the voice that speaks loudly for the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, including freedom of speech.  This hand says that it is not up to the government or its institutions to restrain or curtail any free speech.  The aforementioned schools are public institutions, and therefore government entities, thus they fall under the 1st Amendment without question.  This hand speaks from the left side of my brain, the side that is more logical, analytical, and objective.

constitution-2Is there a middle ground, a compromise?  Surely safety concerns and cost to taxpayers for the benefit of a very few are legitimate concerns?  But let’s be honest … the reality is that most college administrations do not want Richard Spencer and his ilk anywhere near their campuses because of his message.  It is the message that offends and insults.  If the Pope wished to visit Ohio State University, the cost of security would be equally high, if not higher, yet the University would welcome Pope Francis with open arms.

Then we must also consider this:  I have always believed and supported the idea that a university is a marketplace of ideas, and as a marketplace of ideas, students should be exposed to all different viewpoints, even on subjects that might offend them or even with viewpoints they might find offensive or disagreeable. And isn’t it the case that what one person may find offensive, another person will not?  In the 1971 Supreme Court case Cohen v California, the court ruled in essence that one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric. How do we define what is offensive? What is disagreeable? Some people are going to love what he says and others won’t, and is not the government’s job to be in the business of drawing that line?

constitutionBut, given what happened in Florida last week, is it not reasonable to say that his message is incitement to violence?  The Supreme Court has made it clear that speech that is directed to inciting or producing imminent, lawless action and is likely to result in violence, can be censored before the violence actually happens. But all of those conditions must be satisfied. It must be provable that his intent is for his followers to commit violence against others.  Does he do this?  I suspect he walks a fine line, but typically stays within the law.

I end where I began, with one hand wanting him barred from speaking in any public venue, but with the other hand knowing that by law, by our Constitution, he has as much right to a public voice as do I. And now, dear friends, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

Why The Fuss?

Much ado has been stirred by the silent protest movement that began with Colin Kaepernick and his decision to ‘take a knee’ rather than stand for the national anthem in a pre-season game last year. Since then, other players have followed suit in this non-violent, silent form of protest … protest against the systemic racism that has become a part of our society, a part of our very government. I have been trying to form the words to write more in depth about this, but our friend Hugh has done such an excellent job expressing the same thoughts I wanted to convey, that I am sharing his post, rather than re-invent the wheel. Please read this one … it is so important. Thank you, Hugh, for your excellent writing and permission to share.

hughcurtler

As pretty much everyone knows by now — even our good friend Lisa in far-off Ecuador — growing numbers of NFL players are refusing stand for the national anthem before football games and this has caused a great uproar. The roar was barely heard until the President stuck his oar into the mess and decided to stir it up. Most recently he has threatened to eliminate all tax breaks for the NFL to hurt the owners where they live and force them to insist that their players behave themselves. This has brought about a quantum leap in protest, much of it directed to the President’s insensitive manner of addressing the issue.

In all this confusion the central issue has somehow been lost. The President himself fails to make the distinction, as I mentioned in a previous post, between protesting the flag and protesting racial injustice. The latter is the real…

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Do all lives really matter?

Once again I wish to share a post written by Brosephus. Today he asks the question, “how can we say all lives matter when discrimination is still rampant, particularly in law enforcement and the Justice Department? Please take a moment to read … he has done his homework and draws some spot-on conclusions. Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

When I initially began writing this post, my mind was focused on the justice system.  This week there were two death penalty cases in the news that set my brain cells ablaze in that special way that forces me to burn Google searches like they’re hot dogs on a grill.  These two cases were interesting in their own rights, but they also led me to reading up on disparities in how the death penalty is applied in America.

Just hours before he was supposed to be put to death, Marcellus Williams received a stay of execution from the governor of Missouri.  His stay was granted because there was new evidence involving DNA that could potentially exonerate Williams for the killing of Felicia Gayle in 2001.  The testing was unavailable then, but testing on material on the murder weapon excluded Williams as a possible contributor to the DNA.  It is not…

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The Diary Of A Former White Nationalist Who Was David Duke’s God-Son, Derek Black

The godson of former KKK grand poobah David Duke speaks out and our friend, Gronda, brings us his perspective. I need not introduce this post, for it speaks VERY POWERFULLY for itself. If you read no other post today, please read this one. Thank you, Gronda … this post gives us all hope that even those raised in the dark shadow of racism can open their eyes and turn a corner.

Gronda Morin

Derek Black, 27, was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he began to question the movement’s ideology. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Below is a post 2016 election New York Times article, featuring a former White supremacist, with a story which has ended up being very prescient to the Charlottesville, VA. events. This is where a white nationalists’ held rally turned violent, causing the death of a beautiful young lady and at least 19 injuries, during the weekend of August 12, 2017. Subsequently, to this tragic event the world watched in shock as the republican President Donald Trump argued that there was a moral equivalency between the White supremacist hate groups and those who opposed them.

This is how the 10/15/16 Washington Post article by Eli Saslow portrayed the former Whitenationalist, Derek Black:

“(2008)The room was filled in part by former heads of the Ku…

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The president America rightly deserves

Earlier today I came across this post by fellow-blogger Brosephus, and my hackles were immediately raised by the title alone. Shall we just say that Filosofa is a bit on edge these days? The first few bits of the post did nothing to calm me, and I was already preparing my commentary in response. I am glad, however, that I kept on reading. I am sharing this post, with permission from Brosephus, because it is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, and he makes some excellent points about what our nation is, how we came to this point, and what we need to do to make it a better nation. Please take a few minutes to read this fine post. Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

I had to take a vacation from writing this summer.  Work was a bit more hectic.  Life in general picked up a bit of speed.  But mostly, I grew sick and tired of President Trump’s ability to suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere and manage to be THE attention whores of all attention whores.  So, instead of posting daily “tributes” to Trump, I unplugged and refocused on my personal well being.  Silly me for thinking that would solve everything.

Love him, hate him, or indifferent towards him, Donald J. Trump IS the president that America rightly deserves now.  In the seven months that he has been in office, he has simultaneously energized and angered the masses.  He has worked hard to change the definition of what’s presidential in terms of actions and behavior.  His administration and governing position is the living, breathing definition of chaos.  And, in my honest…

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One Man’s Quest To Conquer Hate … One Person At A Time

This is the post that I originally wrote for this week’s Good People post, but then I had second thoughts. I had quite an internal debate with myself about whether or not this man actually fit the profile.  In past posts to the category, I have highlighted people who gave of their time or money to help people in a more direct sort of way than this person is doing. I have also tried to avoid conflict, controversy and politics in my ‘good people’ posts. This is where my debate came into play.  I nearly scuttled this post altogether, but it kept nagging at me, and an inner voice told me I needed to write it. Mr. Daryl Davis has not adopted special needs kids, he has not set up foundations to help feed the poor, he has not built homes for people in need. What he has done that qualifies him for the designation ‘good people’ is quite different than the norm, yet I find it timely, in light of recent events.  So, I let my instincts lead the way, and while I have not included him in the ‘good people’ category, I want to share with you what Mr. Davis has done and is doing. So, please allow me to introduce to you R&B and blues musician, author, actor and bandleader, Mr. Daryl Davis!

Daryl Davis is a talented blues pianist who has played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Percy Sledge and many others of Rock ‘n Roll, Jazz, Blues, and even Country music fame.  While it isn’t his music that is the focus of this post, it was music that opened the door for what he has done.  But first, let us go back just a bit to when Daryl was ten years old.

At age 10, Daryl joined a boy scout troop in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was the only black child in the troop, but that didn’t matter to the other kids, for they had not yet begun to see the world in terms of colour.  One day, young Daryl was proudly carrying the flag, with his troop, in a statewide parade to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere when the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles at him. His first thought was that perhaps the crowd did not like boy scouts.  But then he realized he was the only boy being targeted, and he soon found out that it was the colour of his skin that people did not like. This was Daryl’s introduction to racism, and it sparked a lifetime of curiosity about those attitudes, a curiosity that drove Daryl to do what he did, what he does.  And what, you ask, does he do?

The headline for the article in NPR reads:

How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes

For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided. Since Davis started talking with these members, he says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes.

How did it start?  I shall let Mr. Davis explain in his own words:

“I was playing music — it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?”

Well, now I’m getting curious. I’m trying to figure out, now how is it that in my 25 years on the face of this earth that I have sat down, literally, with thousands of white people, had a beverage, a meal, a conversation or anybody else, and this guy is 15 to 20 years older than me and he’s never sat down with a black guy before and had a drink. I said, “How is that? Why?” At first, he didn’t answer me and he had a friend sitting next to him and he elbowed him and said, “Tell him, tell him, tell him,” and he finally said, “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

I just burst out laughing because I really did not believe him. I thought he was pulling my leg. As I was laughing, he pulled out his wallet, flipped through his credit cards and pictures and produced his Klan card and handed it to me. Immediately, I stopped laughing. I recognized the logo on there, the Klan symbol and I realized this was for real, this guy wasn’t joking. And now I’m wondering, why am I sitting by a Klansman?

But he was very friendly, it was the music that brought us together. He wanted me to call him and let him know anytime I was to return to this bar with this band. The fact that a Klansman and black person could sit down at the same table and enjoy the same music, that was a seed planted. So what do you do when you plant a seed? You nourish it. That was the impetus for me to write a book. I decided to go around the country and sit down with Klan leaders and Klan members to find out: How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

That encounter happened in 1983, and since then Davis has made it his life’s mission to promote understanding, because as he says, “when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting”. What he does may not seem like much to some, but in my mind, he is doing his part to change the attitudes of the bigots and haters, one person at a time, using words, music and intellect rather than rocks, bottles and cars as weapons.  Think about it for a minute … what if every one of us who believe people should not be judged by the colour of their skin were able to sit down with just one member of a white supremacist group and, through open, honest dialog, help that person to understand that we are all a part of the human race?

Before you say what I know you are thinking, no, I am not wearing rose-coloured glasses, am not a Pollyanna.  I realize that the majority of bigots will not be swayed by conversation alone, but I DO think some will.  Often hate and bigotry are based on a lack of understanding, a fear of that which is different.  Mr. Davis has set out to show that people, all people, are really not so different when you get down to the basics. I DO applaud Mr. Davis for the courage to do what he has done, and continues to do.  His approach is the very antithesis of what we see coming out of our own federal government today.

I cannot include the entire interview with Mr. Davis here, but it is well worth the 7 minutes to listen.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/544861933/544891980

Conversely, you can read the interview transcript if you prefer.

My initial reason for thinking of Daryl Davis as a good person doing good things still stands … he is doing his part to remove hate from our society, one person at a time.  This is a man whose hand I would like to shake someday.

Where Were They???

In truth, I had no intention of writing again about Saturday’s horrific events for a few days yet.  I wanted to step back for a day or two … needed to step back for just a breather.  But, every news site I visit, international or domestic, Charlottesville IS the news.  And as I perused, almost against my will, page after page, two things drilled so heavily into my mind that … well, here I am again.

The first thing that is bothering me is, with all the violence, the hatred, the threats, injuries and deaths, why were so few of the white supremacists arrested?  Why are they not running their tin cups along the bars and dressed in prison orange tonight?  In addition to the driver of the car that crashed into a crowd of counter protestors, three of the white supremacists were arrested.  THREE!  Three whole people out of a crowd that numbered well into the hundreds, if not thousands!

James Alex Fields Jr., 20 years old, the driver of the car that plowed into the crowd, killing one and injuring 19 others, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.  In addition to Fields, the other three arrests were:

  • Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
  • Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault & battery.
  • James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Last month, the KKK held a rally in Charlottesville where 23 people were arrested.  There were no injuries or deaths related to that event, yet 23 people were arrested.  Compared to three this past weekend.  What the Sam Heck were the police doing???

According to an article in The Washington Post …

“Anger over how the police responded came from all directions and intensified after the death of a woman struck by a car that plowed into a group of counterprotesters. Experts said police appeared outnumbered, ill-prepared and inexperienced.

At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured. Complicating the dynamics was the fact that several dozen groups of armed militias — men in full camouflage toting assault-style weapons — were in the middle of the crowds.

Cornel West, the Princeton professor and writer who attended a morning church service at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville with a large group of clergy members, said “the police didn’t do anything in terms of protecting the people of the community, the clergy.””

Another report said that when violence first broke out, police stood on side streets behind barricades, but made no attempt to stop the melee. Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signor spoke out, justifiably, against Donald Trump for his inadequate, milquetoast response to the tragic events on Saturday.  I support Mayor Signer 100% in this.  But, I would like to see the mayor looking into the question of why men toting assault rifles in the middle of the city, threatening and browbeating others, and beating people with sticks and shields, were not arrested.  I expected to awaken on Sunday morning to the news that the jail in Charlottesville was filled to overflowing.  WHAT HAPPENED??? We have a right to know why those who threaten our very lives are not in jail!

Enter the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and its head, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions.  Sessions talked the talk: “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.” But will he walk the walk? I have doubts, as at this time, the investigation by the DOJ is limited to the homicide caused by James Fields.  A much broader investigation is needed, one that includes the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that caused the chaos of the weekend.

Granted it is early days yet, and the investigation could certainly be expanded in the coming days, but frankly I do not trust Mr. Sessions to do so, for it is a known fact that he, himself, was denied a judgeship during the Reagan administration based on his racist remarks and attitudes.

The other thing that struck me as I perused the news on Sunday was that the White House was busily making excuses for Trump’s lame, ineffectual response. Never before in my memory has a president and his entire administration been so out of tune with what the majority of the people in this country think, want and need.

The White House … and for the life of me, I wish they would stop with that, for I would like to know precisely who is saying what, and I am smart enough to realize that the White House itself cannot speak, so it was a person within the administration, but WHO???  The “White House” official defense was …

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

I don’t want to hear the “White House” defend, justify or explain Trump’s remarks.  I want to hear from Trump exactly what he meant.  I want to hear Trump come out and call a spade a bloody shovel, call this act by its rightful names:  terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.  I want to hear him say that he will do everything in his power to put down white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.  I don’t care what Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or some anonymous “White House spokesperson” has to say … I want it out of the horse’s mouth, and if the horse is too damn cowardly to speak out against the racists that put him into office, then I want an apology from him and I want him to admit that he is not capable of doing the job and step down.  Period.

Saturday’s events were horrific in and of themselves.  But they were compounded by a lack of law enforcement on the scene, and an almost uninterested response from the man who the white supremacists put into office last November. As I have said many times of late, I thought we were better than this.  Today, I realize that, while some of us ARE better than this, and it is unfair to judge all by the actions of a few … still, as a nation, the way we will be judged by other nations … we are not better than this.  Can we be someday?  I don’t know … that depends on the path the leadership and the people take.  I am encouraged by the voices, previously silent, that are speaking out against white supremacy, against hate.  But is it enough, when we do not have humanitarian and compassionate leadership?  I do not know.

The Bright Red Line

Fellow-blogger Erik Hare, writing as Barataria, has written a thoughtful, honest post about the lessons of history as they relate to last Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Please take a minute to read, as he has made his point far better than I could have. Thank you, Erik, for this post and permission to share.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

This weekend a line was crossed, a bright red line painted in the blood of over 400 thousand Americans who died to end the scourge of Nazism forever. Chanting “Blut und Broden”, or its easy translation, children with far more energy than sense attempted to define Americanism by what has been demonstrated and defined to be its exact opposite.

Like their apparent heroes, they are losers. But they having chosen the losing side of history for predictably bad reasons beyond a simple moral failure. Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.

As much power as there is in constant redefinition, there is also a need for constant vigilance. History is calling us today. Millions of ghosts are watching us waiting for us to make the right decision.

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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.