“Say What???” Headlines …

Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re jaw-dropping, sometimes they make you say “WTF?” else just shake your head. You know the ones I’m talking about … those headlines that you just have to click on and read at least the first paragraph of the story.  A couple of them caught my eye yesterday and … I just had to read the story.


PGA Championship Servers Hacked and Files Locked

Wha … wait … doesn’t PGA stand for Professional Golfers’ Association?  Isn’t golf that game that presidents seem to like so much, for it requires little skill or thought … they just hit a defenseless little ball repeatedly until it cries “Uncle!” and drops into a hole, hoping not to be pummeled any more?  So, how does one hack golf???  (Apologies to any of my friends who happen to be golfers)

trump-golf

So THAT’s where all those Big Macs went!

Turns out that the PGA Championship started yesterday and runs through Sunday.  Who knew?  Who cared?  Apparently the files containing marketing materials such as banners and logos were attacked using ransomware and are locked until the PGA pays the ransom.  Funny, though, that the hackers failed to specify how much ransom they wanted.

Golfweek reported that the hackers sent an email address and offered to decrypt two files to prove they could unlock them. “We exclusively have decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public.” The hackers also warned that any attempts to crack the encryption could cause the loss of the data in question.

golferNo word on whether the PGA plans to try to figure out how much money the hackers want and pay the ransom or not.  If they’re smart, they likely have a backup copy somewhere, and hey – it’s banners and logos for a golf game, not state secrets!


US Drink-Drive Suspect Tells Police She’s ‘Clean, White Girl’

Lauren CutshawI knew as soon as I saw the headline that this one was going to make me angry.  33-year-old Lauren Cutshaw had been drinking when she breezed through a four-way stop in Bluffton, South Carolina.  Although she claimed to have drank only two glasses of wine, her blood test proved the lie, for it came back 0.18 percent – well over the legal limit in every state.  She also had marijuana in her car.  But none of that bothers me as much as what she said to the officer who arrested her.

“I’m a pretty girl, please, don’t make me go.” 

Later, at the precinct, police officer Baker Odom wrote in his report, Cutshaw went further. She said she was also a “thoroughbred” and “white, clean girl.”

“You’re a cop, you should know what that means based on the people that come in this room.”

She could have killed somebody, and yet she should be forgiven because she is a white, arrogant b**ch?  I say, “Book ‘er, Dano!”


Jeff Sessions Wants to Keep Working with This Hate group, So He Told Them They Aren’t a Hate Group

Say what??? The group is called Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and it is, indeed, a hate group.  Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has identified ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The group has defended wedding vendors challenging nondiscrimination laws, parents and schools that want to reject transgender students, and businesses that want the right to refuse to even employ LGBTQ people. They have even repeatedly advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality. Nonetheless, Sessions empathizes with and supports this group.

adf logoSessions addressed the ADF on Wednesday. He assured them that he does not believe they are a hate group for constantly advocating for discrimination against LGBTQ people. He told the group that people of faith are facing “a bigoted ideology which is founded on animus towards people of faith.” I repeat … Say What???

In a letter to Sessions, SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote:

“If the ADF had its way, gay people would be back in the closet for fear of going to jail. It’s inappropriate for the nation’s top law enforcement officer to lend the prestige of his office to this group. And it’s ironic to suggest that the rights of ADF sympathizers are under attack when the ADF is doing everything in its power to deny the equal protection of the laws to the LGBT community.”

It seems to me that the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ are misunderstood by our illustrious Attorney General, not to mention the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  Apparently Sessions intends his newly created and highly controversial “Religious Liberty Taskforce” to work closely with ADF.  Are you frightened yet?  I am.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford Promises ‘A Buck a Beer’

A bit of background … in June, Ontario elected a populist Premier, Doug Ford, who in many ways is a Trump clone, albeit he is more well-spoken (he can actually make whole sentences out of words!!!) and not as outwardly disgusting.  But his platforms are the same, and already he has been busily cutting back on education, environmental regulations, and social services, while cutting taxes on the wealthy.  Another one who failed Econ 101!  But this article is less about his platform as a whole, and more about one ‘promise’ he is keeping to his followers:  cheaper beer!

doug ford

Why do all the ‘populists’ have to be overweight and have weird hair?

From the BBC website …

As leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Mr. Ford ran a populist campaign last spring, promising to cut taxes, freeze spending, and slash the cost of things like electricity and beer. Specifically, he swore to reduce the minimum cost of beer from C$1.25 (¢96, 74p) a beer to just C$1.  Now that he’s in power, he says that “buck-a-beer” will be implemented 27 August. “The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here. We’re bringing back buck-a-beer to Ontario,” he announced to applause at a brewery in Picton, Ontario, on Tuesday.

While his proposal may be popular with some, others were less pleased:

“I don’t need a #BuckABeer, I need my fellow Canadians to have a #BasicIncome and to be proud to live in a nation that considers food security, and poverty more important than cheap beer.”

“Instead of a dollar a beer, how about dollar a day insulin supplies, dollar an hour day care, dollar an hour tuition, dollar a book, dollar a public transit ride.”

Well, I guess if he makes the beer cheap enough, he can keep them mostly inebriated and they won’t have their wits about them enough to figure out how he’s making a mucky mess of the province just as his role model Trump is of the U.S.


I’m sure I can find more, but that’s enough to give you some things to ponder this happy Friday!  Have a great day, my friends!

Roy Moore’s Clone?

Last December when former judge Roy Moore was defeated in his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate, many applauded and said it was a sign that Alabamans were finally awake, that there was a turnaround in the south, the nation.  Though I applauded Moore’s loss, I wasn’t so sure it was a sign of change, since Moore only lost to Doug Jones by a narrow margin, 1.7% or only 22,819 votes. Moore, an accused pedophile, a disgraced judge who had twice been thrown off the judicial bench for failing to uphold the law, and a homophobic bigot, should have been defeated by a landslide, if there were truly a change of heart among Alabama voters.  I did not then, and still do not see Moore’s loss as a sign of a blue wave, or that Alabamans have changed their way of thinking.

As evidence, a former top aide to Moore, Tom Parker, an associate justice on the Alabama Supreme Court since 2004, has been nominated by the Alabama GOP to become Alabama’s the next chief justice.  Parker is very nearly a clone of Roy Moore.

tom parker-2Like Moore, Parker holds a deep animus against the LGBT community, and he believes that his judicial decisions should be driven by his conservative religious beliefs. Parker once compared a federal judge, who ruled against the now-defunct ban on gay members of the military serving openly, to Al-Qaeda. He also wrote a judicial opinion claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision permitting same-sex couples to marry “conclusively demonstrates that the rule of law is dead.”

Take a look at Parker’s campaign ad …

In one case in 2016, referring to the Supreme Court decision supporting same-sex marriage, Parker said …

“But in regard to the Obergefell decision, where it’s clear that they jumped outside of all the precedents in order to impose their will on this country, that yes, resisting that decision could maybe start a revival of what we need in this country to return to our founding principles.”

But homophobia isn’t his only fatal flaw.  In 2004, Parker was photographed handing out Confederate flags at a funeral.  Take a look at the photo …Parker et al

See the two men on either side of him?  They are Leonard Wilson, a board member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, which describes black people as a “retrograde species of humanity”; and Mike Whorton, a leader with the League of the South, which advocates for the secession of Southern states.

Parker was pleased when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) criticized him based on the company he keeps, saying he “must be doing the right things” if the organization was upset at him. He said the SPLC was “the most liberal, politically correct law firm in the country, and they have fought virtually every attempt in our state to acknowledge God, who is the source of our rights.”  Ever hear of separation of church and state, Mr. Parker?

The SPLC also filed a complaint against Parker in 2015 after he went on a radio show as a sitting judge to advocate that state courts resist the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

Parker’s 2016 Supreme Court campaign was supported by another ally and neo-Confederate, Michael Peroutka, who travels the country preaching about merging the Bible, the Constitution and Confederate values.

If we think that Roy Moore’s defeat last December was  indicative of a future wave of voters against racism, against bigotry … think again, for Parker won the primary against incumbent Lyn Stuart …parker ballotpedia

Granted it isn’t a huge margin, but the fact that he won, the fact that he had 241,000+ votes, speaks volumes.

Defining Freedom …

Have you noticed that some words seem to have taken on a different meaning in the past few years than they once had?  Take, for example, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).  It sounds like a decent organization, right?  Let’s break it down a bit …

Alliance:  a union or association formed for mutual benefit

Defending:  protecting from harm or danger

Freedom:  the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

So, by those definitions, what we have here is a group of people protecting the rights of others to act, speak and think as they wish without being harmed.  What’s not to like, eh?

Well, let me tell you what’s not to like about this group.  The group is actually one of the largest anti-LGBT organizations in the nation.  Just WHOSE freedom are they defending?  They are not defending my freedom, nor yours, and for sure not any of my friends who are gay or trans!

Founded in 1993, the group’s stated mission is …

“To advocate for religious freedom to uphold justice and preserve the right of people to freely live out their faith.”

Now can anybody explain how John Doe being gay infringes on the “right of people to freely live out their faith”?  There is no justification for this … none at all!!!

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) …

“Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion.”

State-sanctioned sterilization?  Denial of goods and services?  Destroy society?  What planet do these people come from?  This is among the craziest things I have heard, short of what comes from the likes of Alex Jones or Sean Hannity!

What brought this group onto my radar today is that Amazon has removed them from its AmazonSmile program.  For those who are not familiar with the program, it gives a small percentage from the purchase price of eligible products to a customer’s chosen charity.  I signed on to it when the program first started, and chose St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  It is a good program, and Amazon did the right thing, for it should not be sullied by allowing hate groups to solicit funds in this manner. As of February, Amazon had donated more than $80 billion to various charities.  ADF is not in any way a legitimate charity!

ADF, of course, is livid and threatening legal action.  But, as one person said, “Funny how the same people who think that they shouldn’t have to sell cakes to same sex couples seem to want to force a private business to give them money directly. Last I checked, Amazon will still sell stuff to ADF.”

ADF is the very type of organization that will gain more power under the executive order signed by Donald Trump on Thursday (more to come on that later).  But let me go on record here as saying that this is a hate group, pure and simple, that is attempting to take rights away from others, rather than to defend rights.  It would be far more appropriately named the Alliance Persecuting Others.  They have been involved in many legal battles against the anything they disagreed with, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

I end where I began … has the definition of the word ‘freedom’ changed that much in the past few years?  Kellyanne warned us some 15 months ago that there would be an ‘alternative’ vocabulary under Donald Trump.  It appears she was right. Members of any religious group have the right to their own beliefs, certainly.  If members of one group or another choose to believe that marriage is only legitimate if it involves two people of opposing genders, that is their right.  Nobody … not one single person or law … is forcing anybody to become gay!!!  But the line is drawn when those members of said religion impose their will on others.  Be religious, marry someone of the opposite gender, attend whatever church you wish … nobody cares!  But do not attempt to force your beliefs, your will, on others.  Defending ‘freedom’???  No, not by any definition. They are in the business of persecution and hate, plain and simple.  They are robbing others of their freedom.  They are, indeed, a hate group and there are more and more of them crossing my radar.  America:  The United States of Hate.

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) 

Fellow Countrymen … CEASE AND DESIST!

I am known for being an ardent defender of the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press.  I am also known, however, for being against bigotry in all its many forms.  Today, I am torn between those two.  In life, my friends, everything is not black-and-white, but there are many grey areas … and today’s post is about one of those grey areas.

Freedom of speech, as it has many times been interpreted by the Supreme Court, the highest law of the land, includes the right to protest.  That is as it should be.  But yesterday, Americans in 30 cities across the nation shamed themselves and all of the United States by abusing that right, for they were not protesting bad government, they were not protesting the rise in price of celery.  No, they were protesting against all members of one of the world’s major religions, Islam.  To anyone who joined in, supports or applauds these protests:  WHAT IN THE SAM HELL ARE YOU THINKING????

The protests were not large, and in some cities, the counter-protests organized by Civil Rights groups were actually better-attended. However, the principle remains the same.  Islam is a religion of peace and love.  There are some terrorist groups that commit horrific crimes in the name of Islam.  Christianity teaches peace and love.  There are some groups of Christians who commit horrific crimes in the name of Christianity.  What is the difference?  There is none, but can you imagine the reaction of the masses if anti-Christian groups staged protests against Christians?

Sharia-protest-2

Brigitte Gabriel, founder of Act for America – a hate group

The rallies were organized by Act for America, which claims to be protesting about human rights violations but has been deemed an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Act for America calls itself “the NRA of national security”.  Need I say more? The founder of the organization is one Brigitte Gabriel who claims to be “one of the leading terrorism experts in the world”, yet the sum total of her educational background seems to be a one-year business administration degree from the YWCA. Seriously????? I must, then, be a real expert, for I have taken two semester-long courses in terrorism as a part of my (unfinished) quest for a Ph.D. in International Relations!

Gabriel has said that “the Arab world was characterized by ‘evil’ and ‘barbarism’”, and a snippet from the group’s website reads …

“Throughout its existence, ACT has stayed true to its mission by working to advance anti-Muslim legislation at the local and federal level while flooding the American public with wild hate speech demonizing Muslims … The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arabic world, is a difference between civilization and barbarism. It’s a difference between goodness and evil. And this is what we’re witnessing in the Arabic world — they have no soul, they are dead-set on killing and destruction.”

Remember last July, during Trump’s phobic election campaign, when he belittled Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a slain Muslim soldier who had strongly denounced Mr. Trump during the Democratic National Convention?  Well, Ms. Gabriel had this to say about it …

“A practicing Muslim cannot, with good conscience, hold the Constitution and say that he abides by the Constitution and lives by the Constitution, because according to Sharia law — which every devout Muslim follows — the Constitution is a man-made law and it cannot be followed.”

An ignorant statement by an ignorant woman.

Sharia-protest-3.jpg

March AGAINST Human Rights

Act for America counts among its supporters a number of high-profile political figures. New York Congressman Peter King, in particular, has taken part in the “Act for America Show” on YouTube, and Senator Ted Cruz has spoken at their annual Legislative Briefing in Washington D.C. Former national security adviser Mike Flynn has been a member of the group’s Board of Advisors, and Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson is scheduled to speak at AfA’s annual conference in October 2017. In March 2017, Gabriel was invited to the White House for a meeting with a member of the Trump administration’s “legislative staff.” Why am I not surprised?

Sharia-protest-4

Counter-Protesters

People … we do NOT need this. These types of rallies do nothing but promote fear and hatred under the guise of free speech. If we wish to keep our nearly unlimited right to free speech, arguably the most important right we have in this country, then we must protect and cherish it, we must use if for good rather than evil, and we must not use it to propagate fear and hatred, to personify evil.  We must use it wisely and responsibly, and that is not what those involved with yesterday’s rallies did.  They shamed themselves, though they are too stupid to realize it, and they shamed our nation.

I do not want the government, nor the police, to take away our right to speak freely, nor do I want them to take away our right to protest, to hold rallies and marches.  But that is what will happen if we do not police ourselves.  We must unite against hate and bigotry, for both are dividing this nation, causing splits that may take decades to heal. If citizens of this country continue to act as wild boar hogs, then eventually we will all be treated as such.   Think about it.

Little Noted, Below-the-Fold Items

I need a short break from my series on Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords, in fact I need a short break from Trump altogether. So I go in search of some non-political news about which to opine.  And I come across this:  A weekend of racial violence in Trump’s America.  Sigh.  I ask myself:  Where does it end?  Does it ever end?  And the voice that replies to me says, “no, it never ends … the names and faces change, but it is always there … always has been, always will be.” And I take a deep breath … let it out in a sigh … feel the tears welling in my failing eyes, and then I open a blank document and begin writing, for that is the only way I know to deal with it all.

The story began, of course, with the man on a train in Portland who murdered two and wounded a third after shouting racial epithets and threatening a young Muslim woman and her friend, of which I already wrote.

Kramer

Jimmy Kramer

About eight hours after the Portland attack and 150 miles north, Jimmy Kramer, a member of the Quinault Indian Nation, was celebrating his 20th birthday with a group of roughly 10 friends by a river in Washington state. The gathering of teens and young adults, many of them Native American, was interrupted after they sang happy birthday to him and were gathered by a campfire. A white man in his 30s drove his pickup truck toward the group and eventually, intentionally ran over Kramer, who later died from his injuries. The Quinault Nation said in a statement that the driver was “screaming racial slurs”. The driver also reportedly made “war whoops” meant to mock Native Americans and that he told them: “You guys don’t belong here.” WHOA WHOA WHOA there … hold on just a damn minute!  If anybody in this scenario doesn’t “belong”, isn’t it the white dude and the man and two women who were with him, of European ancestry whose ancestors came here centuries after the Native Americans??? Hasn’t this guy ever read a history book?  Was he a 2nd grade dropout??? His name has not yet been released, so I cannot find any information on him just yet.

The next day came the racially motivated stabbing of an unidentified young African-American man in Clearlake, California by one Anthony Hammond, which led to an hours-long standoff with police.  Thankfully the young victim is expected to recover from his wounds, and Hammond is being held on $1 million bond.

Hammond

Anthony Hammond, racist

But that wasn’t the end … not by a long shot.  A day later, violent threats and physical confrontations broke out at the Texas state capitol after a Republican lawmaker, Matt Rinaldi, said he called federal immigration authorities on undocumented protesters. A shoving match with Democratic lawmakers reportedly followed, and Rinaldi was later accused of telling one of them he would “put a bullet in your head”.

rinalsi

Matt Rinaldi

And then there were the nooses.  This past Wednesday, someone with no apparent love in his heart for African-Americans, left a noose in the segregation galleries of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.  It was the second noose that was found within the past week, the first having been found hanging from a tree near the Hirshhorn Museum, only a mile away from where the second was found.  In mid-May, two 19-year-old men were arrested and charged in connection with a noose found hanging in front of a middle school in Crofton, Maryland.  And in early May, nooses were found at the Port of Oakland in California.  Ryan Lenz, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said, “We’ve never had reports like this ever.”  He went on to say that hate incidents — including bomb threats to religious institutions, racist graffiti and white nationalist flyers — have spiked in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. Nooses, for those readers in other countries who may not be aware, represent the days not so long ago, when black people were often lynched for such simple crimes as not saying “sir” when addressing a white man.  It is a symbol of pure hate, of pure evil.

Some say it is hard to separate the latest racial violence from the rhetoric of Trump who has bragged about sexual assault, joked about attacking his opponents and protesters and made racially prejudiced remarks about Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, indigenous people and other minorities. I cannot agree.  Though I have often blamed Trump and his rhetoric for the rise of hate crimes, after much thought, I blame people.  Look, I heard Trump’s rhetoric also, as did most every adult in this country.  But it did not make me hate people based on any superficial criteria.  It did not make me think this country should be “whites-only” or revert to the days of segregation.  It did not turn me into a hater.  It did not make me arrogant or give me a sense of entitlement.  And the majority of the people in this country would not dream of committing any acts of atrocity against a person because of their race, ethnicity, skin colour or religion.  So … if we all heard the same bullshit come out of Trump’s mouth, and most of us did not feel the need to emulate his hate, then does it not stand to reason that the people who are committing these atrocities had that hate in their heart all along?

Now granted, what Trump’s rhetoric DID do was to enable those haters, to give them the sense that it is now acceptable because, “hey, the prez himself has done it”, but one cannot wholly blame Trump, for each of us has a mind.  Some work better than others, and Hugh would argue that not everybody has a conscience, but I believe in the cases I have just written about, every person understands that it is wrong.  It is wrong to hate, but if you do hate, if you feel that your race, your religion, or your gender is superior to others, you can still control your actions.  It is wrong to hate, but what is more wrong is to act on that hate and hurt another human being.  The people of this nation need to learn that and quickly. And yet … and yet, some won’t.

U.S. Ranks #1

Donald Trump claims we need him to “make America great again”.  Well, apparently nobody needs to “make America great again”, as we are already #1, numero uno, numéro un, Nummer Eins, رقم واحد, Nummer een, 一番, worldwide!

Top ten most racist countries in the world:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Australia
  4. Rwanda
  5. Japan
  6. Germany
  7. Israel
  8. Pakistan
  9. Russia
  10. India

 

Granted, ranking such as this are tricky and there are several different sets of rankings, however I looked at several that I would expect to be relatively reliable, and 3 out of 4 ranked the U.S. as the #1 racist country in the world, followed by the U.K. and Australia.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. SPLC defines hate groups as those that “… have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”  By this definition, SPLC has reported that there are 784 active hate groups operating within the United States.  The groups included:

72 separate Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups

142 Neo-Nazi groups

115 White nationalist groups

119 Racist skinhead groups

113 Black separatist groups

37 Neo-Confederate groups

21 Christian Identity groups

165 “General hate” groups (subdivided into anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, Holocaust denial, racist music, radical traditionalist Catholic, anti-Muslim, and “other”)

It seems to me that is an awful lot of hate going on in our nation.  Some of these groups are more lethal than others, some have never committed a racially motivated crime, but the fact that they exist is a sad enough statement about our country.

While one cannot blame the current crop of political candidates for the existence of 700+ hate groups, the fact is that the politicos and wanna-be’s are contributing to the environment of hate, and in some cases even encouraging it.  In Louisville, Kentucky last month, Matthew Heimbach, a 25-year-old white nationalist, shoved a young, black college student multiple times, screaming at her to leave. In North Carolina, several protestors attending Trump’s rally were escorted from the premises. While they were being led away by authorities, a white attendee sucker-punched a black protestor.  In Las Vegas, attendees can be heard screaming obscenities at a black protestor while he is being escorted from the premises. “Light the motherf***er on fire!”.  These are but a few examples of racist incidents that have occurred at Trump rallies.  Trump, rather than attempting to diffuse the hate, the racism, the violence, has encouraged it by telling his audience to “knock the crap out of ‘em” and offering to pay legal fees for anyone who does so.

It is not just Trump, either, although his racism and bigotry are more blatant than most.  At a recent event in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his endorsement of Clinton, she teased him about taking a long time in endorsing her, to which he replied “Sorry, I was running on CP (coloured people’s) time.”  Two thumbs down to Mayor de Blasio, but two thumbs up to actor Leslie Odom Jr. for standing up and saying “That’s not [funny], I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”  Ted Cruz: “It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.” (Former Senator Jesse Helms was against civil rights law and tried to block MLK Day from becoming an official U.S. holiday).  Again, these are mild compared to Trump’s acrimonious statements and the actions of his followers, but they bespeak of underlying bigotry, of intolerance based on nothing more than skin colour, or religion, or ethnicity.

Donald Trump claims that “The big problem this country has is being politically correct.” Ted Cruz and Ben Carson apparently agree with him.  I have to wonder if this is not a part of his allure.  With so many hate groups, so many in this nation apparently opposed to allowing people into this country who do not look, think, and speak like they do, does the racism of the political candidates hold appeal somehow?  Political correctness is defined by Merriam Webster as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”  The definition I think sums it up best is “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.”  In other words, quite simply put, a lack of rudeness. What, pray tell, is wrong with a bit of respect, a bit of decency toward our fellow human beings?

I do not understand bigotry of any sort.  I am not proud that our nation holds the number one spot of all 196 countries in the world.  It is not a record to be proud of, and I say “shame on you” to the public figures, candidates, and politicians who promote bigotry, either directly or indirectly.  Those people have the capability that most of us do not have, the capability to speak out against hatred, against bigotry in all of its many forms.  And many do, but the few who do not are to be rebuked, repudiated, for their failure to do their part in bringing cohesion to this nation.

A couple of links, in case you would like more information: