Oh Yes … Racism Is Alive And Well In America

Yesterday I read a statement by one of the terrorists who attacked Congress and the Capitol on January 6th that made me want to connect my fist to the man’s nose …

“This is not 1950. I’d say about 95, 96 percent of people are not the least bit racist.”

SAY WHAT????

John Hugo at ‘Straight Pride’ parade

The remark was made by a ‘man’ named John Hugo, president of a group called, believe it or not, Super Happy Fun America (SFHA) that bused some three hundred people to the Capitol on January 6th to create chaos, murder and mayhem, and first earned their claim to fame when they held a “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston in 2019.  I guess this is what they call “Super Happy Fun”, eh?  Let me tell you something, MR. HUGO … racism is alive and well in this nation … and YOU, sir, are part of the problem!

According to a PEW Research study … well, here … take a look for yourself …

Even without the Pew study, we can see with our own eyes that racism surely exists among the majority of people with pale skin in this country!  I’m talking about the sort of racism whereby pale people believe … truly believe in their warped minds … that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Case in point:  There is overwhelming proof that white people use more illegal drugs. Yet, the only way anyone can explain why Black people are arrested for possession at three times the rate of whites is the racist belief that there is a huge drug use problem in Black communities. Racism is the only way to explain why the largest policing project in world history revealed “Black drivers were searched about 1.5 to 2 times as often as white drivers, while they were less likely to be carrying drugs, guns, or other illegal contraband compared to their white peers.” It is necessary to believe that race is a “fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities” if one wants to understand why Black men receive prison sentences that are, on average, nearly 20 percent longer than white men who commit the same crimes.

I have a Black friend who has been incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, that nobody, not even the police, thought he committed, and now his sons are stopped on average once or twice a month for the crime of “Driving While Black”.  ‘Splain that one, Mr. Hugo!

It isn’t only Black people, it is Hispanics, Asians, and anybody who doesn’t have the physical traits of those pale people.  WHY???  WHY, people … can somebody please explain to me why those pale-skinned people think they are somehow superior???

The PEW study goes on to show that most (65%) white Americans believe it has become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views since Trump was elected president …

And while I really don’t like tying such things as racism to one political party or the other, the proof, as it were, is in the pudding that overall, Republicans are the ones who think Black people actually have too many r ights!

DAMMIT!!!  Could somebody give these nudniks a bit of education???  Eight-in-ten white Democrats – vs. 40% of white Republicans – say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on black people’s position in American society today. And when it comes to views about racial discrimination, 78% of white Democrats say the bigger problem is people not seeing it where it really does exist, while a similar share of white Republicans say people seeing racial discrimination where it really does not exist is the bigger problem.  Tell me again that the Republican Party hasn’t turned into the party of racism and bigotry … go ahead, tell me! 

All my life, since I was a small child, I have believed that someday racism and bigotry would end, that people would come to understand that the colour of a person’s skin, the homeland of his ancestors, do not change the fact that his heart and brain function just the same as anyone else’s and that there is nothing … NOTHING … that makes pale people superior.  All my life … nearly 70 years now … I believed that people would eventually wake up and smell the goddamn coffee.  Today, I no longer believe that.  I have seen the human species as it is and I understand, after all these years, that some people are simply never, ever, going to give up their illusions of superiority and will continue to pass those heinous beliefs on to their children and grandchildren.

It doesn’t mean I will stop fighting, though in truth I am tempted, for I see all too clearly that humans are not going to change, that stupidity and cruelty is ingrained and passed on through the genes.  But, what it does mean is that I have lost hope.  I have lost the belief that people are basically good.  I have stopped caring whether the human species survives or not.

The States Racing to Copy Georgia

Our friend TokyoSand reminds us that Georgia isn’t the only state that has passed a restrictive voting law this year.  Some 43 states are working on or have already passed voting laws that will strictly restrict voting by minorities, the poor, the elderly and the young.  In other words, they only want fat, old men to vote!  Read Tokyo’s post to learn which states are coming up on Georgia’s heels …


The States Racing to Copy Georgia

I’m happy that the media is covering the travesty that is the new Georgia law that restricts all kinds of voting rights for its citizens. But, that coverage is drowning out other, similarly important stories.

First and foremost, the media barely covered the Iowa governor signing a voter suppression bill a few weeks before the Georgia bill was signed. The Republicans in the state House and state Senate pushed their bill through, using the tired, old GOP talking point that it was all about “guarding against voter fraud,” even as they admitted that “Iowa has no history of election irregularities and that November’s election saw record turnout with no hint of problems in the state.”

Continue reading …The States Racing to Copy Georgia

One Very Ugly Man

There are, according to the NPR database, now 49 people affiliated with either the military or law enforcement who have been arrested for their role in the attack on the Capitol and Congress on January 6th.  The very people in whose hands we have placed our lives, played a role in an attempt to take away our lives.  For make no mistake, if their mission had been successful, I likely would not be writing this blog post today and we would almost certainly have a cruel, evil dictator at the helm in Washington.

No, I’m not over-dramatizing.  What did you think the former guy planned to do if his planned insurrection had succeeded, killing Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and throwing out our votes?  Did you think he would have been able to continue as a president, that Congress would simply overlook it all and that it would have been “business as usual”?  Think again.

One of those with military connections is this man …

Hale-Cusanelli

Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli was arrested on January 17th and charged with Civil Disorder; Aiding and Abetting; Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds; Impeding Ingress and Egress in a Restricted Building; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.

Hale-Cusanelli is a sergeant in the Army Reserve, serving in the 174th Infantry Brigade out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, according to the Army.  It was initially reported that he was discharged after his arrest and barred from Weapons Station Earle, where he works, but later information from Army Reserve Strategic Communications said that “leadership is reviewing the case and that administrative action has not been taken.”

According to The Washington Post

Arguing in a Friday filing that Hale-Cusanelli should remain in pretrial detention, the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. released parts of interviews with his co-workers at the Naval base. Several of the nearly four dozen Navy service members and contractors told Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents that Hale-Cusanelli was a white supremacist.

One Navy petty officer alleged that Hale-Cusanelli once said, “Hitler should have finished the job,” according to the filing.

A Navy seaman told investigators that he heard Hale-Cusanelli say that “babies born with any deformities or disabilities should be shot in the forehead” and that if he were a Nazi, “he would kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and he wouldn’t need to season them because the salt from their tears would make it flavorful enough,” prosecutors disclosed.

Another petty officer said Hale-Cusanelli referred to Black people in profane, dehumanizing terms, according to the document.

Multiple co-workers remembered seeing Hale-Cusanelli’s mustache shaved to look like the short mustache Hitler wore, including a supervisor who admonished him for it. Photos on his phone obtained by federal agents showed his hair cut in a way reminiscent of Hitler’s hair, including selfies taken at work. Other images on his phone portrayed Hitler saving White Americans from the Republican and Democratic parties and contained “statistics” to “bolster his assertions that the ‘white race’ was superior,” according to prosecutors.

At issue this week is whether he should be released from jail pending the conclusion of the investigation and a trial.  From my point of view, there is no question that he is a menace and should remain in jail, but his lawyer argues to the contrary, and even prosecutors have said that the interviews, as well as racist and offensive photos and cartoons found on Hale-Cusanelli’s phone, are not legal grounds to halt his release.  They do, however, argue for his continued imprisonment on the grounds that the ideology is a driving force behind his aspiration for a “civil war,” making him a danger to the community.

One of Hale-Cusanelli’s supervisors, Sergeant John Getz, told agents that Hale-Cusanelli would walk up to new people and ask, “‘You’re not Jewish, are you?’” with a demeanor that was “joking but not.” Getz said he knew Hale-Cusanelli was a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier, but that he did not mention it in the letter he submitted to the court because he was not personally offended by Hale-Cusanelli.  NOT PERSONALLY OFFENDED???  I’m personally offended and I’ve never met the guy!

This and many like him are the ones Senator Ron Johnson calls ‘patriots’.  They are anything but patriots … they are domestic terrorists and it’s time to call them such.  Why hasn’t he been dishonourably discharged from the Army Reserves and why is there even any consideration of letting him out of jail before his trial?

That there are even people like this in the world fills me with despair these days.  Life is short, the world is on the brink of a climate catastrophe, and people are willing to kill others because they consider themselves superior based on the colour of their skin.  WHY???  Imagine, if everyone worked together without hatred what we might accomplish in this world.  But instead, we waste time, money, energy and resources to make the world a less desirable place to be.  What a damn shame.

The Republican Party’s End Goal

This afternoon, the Senate actually managed to pass the pandemic relief bill, with no help from the Republicans.  Not a single Republican voted in support of the bill, which passed, 50-49, after an hours-long impasse over competing partisan proposals for the massive bill’s boost to weekly unemployment benefits for those affected by the pandemic.  This, it seems, is to be the state of affairs for the foreseeable future … Democrats vs Republicans, bills taking ten times longer to pass through Congress than they should, especially those that help real people, not tailor-made to make the wealthy wealthier.  What is the end goal of the Republican Party, I’ve often asked?

Dana Milbank, writing for The Washington Post, summarized the Republican’s end goal quite well.  Take a look …


Republicans aren’t fighting Democrats. They’re fighting democracy.

Dana MilbankBy Dana Milbank

MARCH 5, 2021

On the conservative Bulwark podcast this week, two admirable never-Trumpers marveled at what has become of the Republican Party since President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.

“I am a little amazed by the willingness to go just authoritarian, to really go anti-democratic,” Bulwark editor-at-large Bill Kristol said.

Columnist Mona Charen was likewise puzzled. “The attraction of authoritarianism, I don’t know, Bill,” she said. “I’m really at a loss.”

And I’m at a loss to understand their confusion. The Republican Party’s dalliance with authoritarianism can be explained in one word: race.

Trump’s overt racism turned the GOP into, essentially, a white-nationalist party, in which racial animus is the main motivator of Republican votes. But in an increasingly multicultural America, such people don’t form a majority. The only route to power for a white-nationalist party, then, is to become anti-democratic: to keep non-White people from voting and to discredit elections themselves. In short, democracy is working against Republicans — and so Republicans are working against democracy.

You don’t have to study demography to see that race is at the core of the GOP’s tilt toward the authoritarian. You need only look at what happened this week.

On Monday, the Georgia state House passed a bill brazenly attempting to deter Black voters. The bill proposed to scale back Sunday voting — taking direct aim at the longtime “Souls to the Polls” tradition in which Black voters cast their ballots after church on Sundays. The bill also would increase voter I.D. requirements — known to disenfranchise Black voters disproportionately — and even would make it illegal to serve food or drinks to voters waiting in long lines outside polling places; lines are typically longer at minority precincts.

Georgia Republicans clearly are hoping they can suppress enough Black votes to erase the Democrats’ narrow advantage that gave them both of the state’s Senate seats and Joe Biden its electoral votes. But Georgia is just one of the 43 states collectively contemplating 253 bills this year with provisions restricting voting access, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s majority signaled it would be open to more such voting restrictions. In oral arguments, the conservative justices indicated they would uphold two Arizona laws that would have the effect of disproportionately disqualifying the votes of non-White citizens. One law throws out ballots cast in the wrong precinct, a problem that affects minority voters twice as much as White voters because polling places move more frequently in minority neighborhoods. The other law bans the practice of ballot collection — derided by Republicans as ballot “harvesting” — which is disproportionately used by minority voters, in particular Arizona’s Native Americans on reservations.

Representing the Arizona Republican Party in Tuesday’s argument, lawyer Michael A. Carvin explained why the party supports laws tossing out ballots: “Politics is a zero-sum game.”

It was a stark if inadvertent admission that Republicans have abandoned the idea of appealing to new voters.

Then, on Wednesday, House Republicans mounted lockstep opposition to H.R.1, a bill by Democrats attempting to expand voting rights. The bill would, among other things, create automatic voter registration, set minimum standards for early voting and end the practice of partisan gerrymandering.

In the House debate, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), sounding like Trump, made unfounded claims of “voter fraud” and asserted that the law would mean “future voters could be dead or illegal immigrants or maybe even registered two to three times.”

“This,” McCarthy said, “is an unparalleled political power grab.”

So, in the twisted reasoning of this white-nationalist incarnation of the Republican Party, laws that make it easier for all citizens to vote are a power grab by Democrats.

The foundation of a white-nationalist GOP has been building for half a century, since Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy, through Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton. But Trump took fear of non-Whites and immigrants to a whole new level.

Researchers have repeatedly documented that racial resentment is the single most important factor motivating Republicans and Republican-leaning voters. They have also shown that White evangelical Christians, a huge part of the GOP base and Trump’s most reliable supporters, are highly motivated by appeals to white supremacy. By contrast, Democratic voters — White and non-White — are primarily driven by their favorable views toward a multiracial America.

President Biden’s victory reveals the obvious political problem with the Republican move toward white nationalism: When voters turn out in large numbers, Democrats win. And the odds will only get worse for Republicans as racial minorities become the majority and the young, overwhelmingly progressive on race, replace the old.

This is why Republicans aren’t really fighting Democrats. They’re fighting democracy.

Your Rights Are On The Chopping Block

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, that could determine what becomes of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The case could give state legislatures a green light to change voting laws, making it more difficult for some, notably non-whites and the poor, to vote.  Currently, some 43 states have more than 250 bills pending that would make it harder for Blacks, Hispanics, and the poor to vote in future elections.  The right to vote is the only thing, the single thing, that separates this nation from third-world dictatorships.  It is the only voice we have that carries any weight.  And now, they are trying to take that away from us.  Charles M. Blow’s column in Sunday’s Washington Post should be required reading for every Justice sitting on the Court today, and every lawmaker in Congress and state legislatures.


Voter Suppression Is Grand Larceny

We are watching another theft of power.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

Feb. 28, 2021

In 1890, Mississippi became one of the first states in the country to call a constitutional convention for the express purpose of writing white supremacy into the DNA of the state.

At the time, a majority of the registered voters in the state were Black men.

The lone Black delegate to the convention, Isaiah Montgomery, participated in openly suppressing the voting eligibility of most of those Black men, in the hope that this would reduce the terror, intimidation and hostility that white supremacists aimed at Black people.

The committee on which he sat went even further. As he said at the convention:

“As a further precaution to secure unquestioned white supremacy the committee have fixed an arbitrary appointment of the state, which fixes the legislative branch of the government at 130 members and the senatorial branch at 45 members.” The majority of the seats in both branches were “from white constituencies.”

Speaking to the Black people he was disenfranchising, Montgomery said:

“I wish to tell them that the sacrifice has been made to restore confidence, the great missing link between the two races, to restore honesty and purity to the ballot-box and to confer the great boon of political liberty upon the Commonwealth of Mississippi.”

That sacrifice backfired horribly, as states across the South followed the Mississippi example, suppressing the Black vote, and Jim Crow reigned.

That same sort of language is being used today to prevent people from voting, because when it comes to voter suppression, ignoble intentions are always draped in noble language. Those who seek to impede others from voting, in some cases to strip them of the right, often say that they are doing so to ensure the sanctity, integrity or purity of the vote.

However, when the truth is laid bare, the defilement against which they rail is the voting power of the racial minority, the young — in their eyes, naïve and liberally indoctrinated — and the dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.

In early February, a Brennan Center for Justice report detailed:

“Thus far this year, thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access. These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) slash voter registration opportunities; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges. These bills are an unmistakable response to the unfounded and dangerous lies about fraud that followed the 2020 election.”

On Feb. 24, the center updated its account to reveal that “as of February 19, 2021, state lawmakers have carried over, prefiled, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states.”

But it is the coded language that harkens to the post-Reconstruction era racism that strikes me.

In Georgia, which went for a Democrat for the first time since Bill Clinton in 1992 and just elected two Democratic senators — one Black and one Jewish — there have been a raft of proposed voter restrictions. As State Representative Barry Fleming, a Republican and chair of the newly formed Special Committee on Election Integrity, put it recently, according to The Washington Post, “Our due diligence in this legislature [is] to constantly update our laws to try to protect the sanctity of the vote.”

Kelly Loeffler, who lost her Senate bid in the state, has launched a voter organization because, as she said, “for too many in our state, the importance — and even the sanctity of their vote — is in question.” She continued, “That’s why we’re rolling up our sleeves to register conservative-leaning voters who have been overlooked, to regularly engage more communities, and to strengthen election integrity across our state.”

Senator Rick Scott and other Republicans on Feb. 25 introduced the Save Democracy Act in what they said was an effort to “restore confidence in our elections.”

Jessica Anderson of the conservative lobbying organization Heritage Action for America said of the legislation: “I applaud Senator Scott for putting forward common-sense, targeted reforms to help protect the integrity of our federal elections and the sanctity of the vote. The Save Democracy Act will protect against fraud and restore American’s confidence in our election systems while respecting the state’s sovereignty.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is pushing a slate of restrictive voter laws that would make it harder for Democrats to win in the state. On his website, the announcement read this way: “Today, Governor Ron DeSantis proposed new measures to safeguard the sanctity of Florida elections. The Governor’s announcement reaffirms his commitment to the integrity of every vote and the importance of transparency in Florida elections.”

They can use all manner of euphemism to make it sound honorable, but it is not. This is an electoral fleecing in plain sight, one targeting people of color. We are watching another of history’s racist robberies. It’s grand larceny and, as usual, what is being stolen is power.

Harry Belafonte Speaks — On The Election

I found it interesting that just yesterday, my music post was The Banana Boat Song, arguably the song that Harry Belafonte is best known for, and then shortly thereafter I came across the following OpEd in the New York Times written by none other than the man himself.

Belafonte, now 93 years of age, is a Jamaican-American singer/songwriter/actor is also known for his activism. He was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes, such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa.Belafonte-King

Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989, he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2014, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards.

I was moved by his OpEd and wanted to share it with you.


Harry Belafonte: Trump Is Standing in Our Way

If the president wins again, we have so much more to lose.

Belafonte-1By Harry Belafonte

Four years ago, when Donald Trump first ran for president, he urged Black people to support him, asking us, “What have you got to lose?”

Four years later, we know exactly what we had to lose. Our lives, as we died in disproportionate numbers from the pandemic he has let flourish among us. Our wealth, as we have suffered disproportionately from the worst economic drop America has seen in 90 years. Our safety, as this president has stood behind those police who kill us in the streets and by the armies of white supremacy who march by night and scheme in the light of day.

We have learned other things from this president, too. We have learned the names that we say now, over and over again, at each protest, so that no one will forget them. The names Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and Atatiana Jefferson and Stephon Clark and so many more. Such killings did not start with Mr. Trump, of course. But he wants us to forget them.

If we do, he has offered us a “Platinum Plan” for “Black Economic Empowerment.” The name is appropriate because Mr. Trump is a man who thinks always in terms of financial transactions and deals. A “Platinum Plan,” as if he is offering to upgrade our credit card status. The plan, which at two pages is derisively brief, offers us a hodgepodge of things that he thinks we would like. He will prosecute the Ku Klux Klan — and antifa activists — as terrorists. He will make Juneteenth a national holiday and lynching a national hate crime. He will create “peaceful” urban, Black neighborhoods, replete with school choice, increased homeownership and the “highest standards” of policing. He will begin “a national clemency project” designed to “right wrongful prosecutions” and “pardon individuals who have reformed.”

In his ignorance or his indifference, or perhaps in his contempt, Mr. Trump does not seem to understand the difference between promises made and promises kept. Another Republican president, Ulysses S. Grant, first suppressed the Klan 150 years ago (and notable by its absence is any Trump promise to suppress the right-wing “militias” of Michigan, the Proud Boys or any of the others). The United States — finally, belatedly — made lynching a federal crime in the civil rights era, almost 60 years ago. Peaceful neighborhoods with affordable homes, good schools, a police force interested in protecting its citizens instead of treating them as an occupied people; safety from domestic terrorists and mob violence, economic opportunity, the celebration of our heritage, and impartial and merciful treatment under the law — these are the rights that most white people in America have long taken for granted, not some sort of concession to be offered as if we were indeed another nation.

Too often, the victories we have won have proved to be ephemeral or incomplete, and our full acceptance as Americans has once again been denied. We have learned to trust only those who will stand with us against the worst storms, who have proved themselves to be our friends not out of electoral expediency but through our shared belief in the best principles of this country and our common humanity.

The polls suggest, we are told, that Mr. Trump has made some small inroads in our vote, that a higher percentage of young Black men will vote for him in 2020 than did in 2016. I have difficulty crediting this. But if it is so, I would urge my brothers to listen better. Not just to the false promises Mr. Trump makes to us, but also at what he says when he is “alone in the room” with his white supporters, promising them at his rallies that if he is re-elected, people of color will not invade their “beautiful suburbs” from our “disgusting cities.”

Mr. Trump is too late. We are everywhere in America. We are in the bone and the blood and the root of the country. We are not going anywhere, certainly not to some fantasy of a new “separate but equal” segregation, we in “our” cities, white people in “their” suburbs.

Perhaps the president is confused by how the Rev. Dr. King Martin Luther King Jr., in his greatest speech, referred to the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as a “promissory note to which every American is to fall heir.” Perhaps that gave Mr. Trump the idea that this was all about money. Surely, money — the household stake, the money with which to buy a home, secure a good education, start a family — was a vital goal of the movement then, just as the need for Black people to be made whole, after all the years of slavery and Jim Crow, is still a pressing need today.

But I was there with Dr. King that day, over a half-century ago, in the shadow of Lincoln’s statue, and what he spoke of was “the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” He quoted the most fundamental promise of the Declaration, that all of us have “certain unalienable Rights” — among them “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It seems strange that we must still agitate for these basic rights, or that Mr. Trump thinks he is being magnanimous when he offers them to us again as last-minute campaign promises — so long as we stay in our place. In the past, we have turned the wheel in great bursts of energy and faith, and in between, when we stood exhausted and bloodied, there was some sliding back. That is always how it is in a democracy and a people’s movement, but now is the time to move forward again.

Four years ago, faced with the prospect of a Trump presidency, I wrote that what old men know is how quickly things can change. Well, I am still old but I am also still here, at 93, and for all the bitter lessons we have learned from Mr. Trump’s term in office, I can tell you that the wheel is turning again. That we have never had so many white allies, willing to stand together for freedom, for honor, for a justice that will free us all in the end, even those who are now most fearful and seething with denial.

We have learned exactly how much we had to lose — a lesson that has been inflicted upon Black people again and again in our history — and we will not be bought off by the empty promises of the flimflam man.

What kind of animals have we become?

Every day in this country we see examples in the news of people who seem to be without values, lacking integrity, and we ask ourselves, “What is wrong with the people of this country???” Today, Larry asks that question in response to two truly jaw-dropping events in the past week. Are we becoming a nation of fools who have no values whatsoever? Thank you, Larry, for expressing what I think the majority of people are thinking … SIGH.

Something I Missed …

I wrote about Tuesday night’s debate yesterday afternoon, and I don’t want to seem to be beleaguering the topic, but there was something I missed … something crucial, I think.  Due to having only about 10% of my hearing, I rely heavily on closed-captioning, but in live events such as the debates, the captioning is by necessity a few seconds behind and sometimes more.  This is why I rarely watch such events.  I thought I picked up on the key parts of the debate, but I missed the part where Trump said, “Proud boys, stand back and stand by.”  This morning, it was quickly brought to my attention, and even republicans are condemning Trump for this blatantly racist call for potential violence.

I would like to share with you this morning, Nicholas Kristof’s take on the implications of Trump’s statement, as well as a couple other observations.  Please take a few moments to read … I think this is very important.


Trump Calls on Extremists to ‘Stand By’

Instead of condemning violent groups, the president marshals them.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

President Trump didn’t hurt Joe Biden in Tuesday’s debate, but he badly damaged our country.

Trump harmed the United States in three ways, reminding us that the biggest threat to America comes not from desperate migrants, not from “socialists” seeking universal health care and not from “anarchists” in the streets — but from the White House itself.

The first way in which Trump damaged the country was in his salute to violent extremists.

“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists?” Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated the debate, asked Trump. Trump initially dodged the question but finally asked petulantly, “Who do you want me to condemn?”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a militant group that is fervently pro-Trump.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump declared.

Stand by?

The Proud Boys, founded in 2016, are part of what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “a fascistic right-wing political bloc.” The Anti-Defamation League compares it to a gang. The Proud Boys’ founder once said, “I cannot recommend violence enough,” and its members have brandished guns, committed criminal assaults and engaged in rioting. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have banned Proud Boys.

While the Proud Boys deny that they are white nationalists and the founder is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for its descriptions of them, the group’s members identify as “Western chauvinist” and assert that “white men are not the problem.” They have longstanding links to racism, and a Proud Boy (since expelled) apparently was the organizer of the 2017 Charlottesville rally that drew neo-Nazis. An anti-Semitic podcast once estimated that if Proud Boys were pressed, “90 percent of them would tell you something along the lines of ‘Hitler was right. Gas the Jews.’”

The Proud Boys responded enthusiastically to Trump’s comments at Tuesday’s debate, celebrating them as “historic” and boasting that they were already bringing in new members.

“That’s my president,” declared the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, adding, “Standing by, sir.” Some added “stand by” to the group’s logo.

After addressing the Proud Boys on Tuesday night, Trump added: “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem … this is a left-wing problem.”

Look, violence is a right-wing problem and a left-wing problem. A careful study by the Center for Strategic & International Studies concluded that “right-wing extremists perpetrated two-thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019.”

Biden quite properly has deplored leftist violence, but to me the biggest take away from the debate was that the president of the United States refused to condemn white supremacists and instead called on modern brownshirts to “stand by.” Under intense pressure on Wednesday, Trump claimed that he did not know who the Proud Boys were and urged them to “stand down”; disavowals of extremism never seem quite so sincere when they’re made only after public outrage.

The second way in which Trump damaged our country was by seeding further doubts about the election. He served as a mouthpiece for Russian-style propaganda about the illegitimacy of American democracy and laid the groundwork for postelection upheaval and violence. Here’s what Trump said:

“As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster …. This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen …. It’s a rigged election.”

I’ve seen postelection violence explode abroad like a volcanic eruption. In 2008 in Kenya, covering such violence, I met a man whose wife and children had been burned to death and a 16-year-old boy who had been tortured with a machete. A dazed woman arrived at the bus station with the head of her husband, decapitated by a mob; after a similar ordeal, a man showed up with his severed penis in a sock. All this had been unimaginable until an election dispute polarized society and unleashed enraged mobs on rival groups.

Americans should stand together to disavow Trump’s words and ensure we don’t ever go a step down that road.

Ominously, Trump said: “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”

Trump refused to elaborate on what he meant. Was he calling on supporters to act as legal poll watchers? To disrupt voting? To engage in street violence? He was artfully ambiguous — but he managed both to undermine election integrity and increase the risk of mayhem.

That leads to the third way in which Trump wounded our nation: He made our country a laughingstock around the world. Trump claimed in 2016 that he would make Americans respected around the globe — but instead, we are pitied.

A Nigerian friend emailed me after the debate: “I regret to say that this is the most disgraceful public display by a leader of a developed country I have seen …. And this from the United States of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan …? Good God. Sorry, Nick.”

If Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Al Qaeda worked together, I don’t know that they could damage the United States as deeply — unraveling our social fabric, destroying our norms, devastating our global image — as Trump has. And we still have two more presidential debates.

The Violence Must Stop

Our friend Jeff has written a thoughtful post about the violence happening in Kenosha (and other places) Violence that is largely a result of Donald Trump pouring fuel on a smoldering fire. There is so much anger in this nation, that I don’t know how we stop the violence, but it plays right into Trump’s rhetoric, and if it isn’t stopped, it may be the thing that turns the upcoming election in Trump’s favour. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I’m fearful of November 3, 2020. The polls are starting to tighten, as expected. And they’re going to tighten even more. While things still look good for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, what’s unfolding on America’s streets as we speak, cannot continue.

Folks, it’s playing right into the current president’s playbook. He has no desire to bring this country together. The violence over the past 48 hours in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after another senseless shooting of an unarmed black man, threatens to hand this election again to the most dangerous president in American history. We cannot let that happen.

The violence has to stop. And while I wish I had a bigger platform to shout from, I’m going to say it as loud as I can. The looting, arson, assaults, and overall anarchy and mayhem are playing across American television screens and social media 24/7. And the current president is exploiting…

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It’s Time To End The Civil War …

Among my favourite columnists is Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post … he always seems able to cut through the detritus and get to the heart of the matter, to make sense out of chaos.  His column yesterday is no exception and I thought very worthy of being shared here.  I also highly recommend you check out his link to the 1619 Project, an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.


Trump might go down in history as the last president of the Confederacy

Eugene-RobinsonBy Eugene Robinson 

Columnist

June 11, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. EDT

It should have happened 155 years ago, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, but maybe — just maybe — the Civil War is finally coming to an end. And perhaps Donald Trump, not Jefferson Davis, will go down in history as the last president of the Confederacy.

Symbols like flags and monuments matter, because what they symbolize is our vision of ourselves as a nation: the heroes, battles, movements, sacrifices and ideals we honor. So when I see multiracial crowds toppling the statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians, when I see respected military leaders arguing that Army posts should no longer bear the names of Confederate generals, when I see NASCAR banning displays of the Confederate battle flag at its races — witnessing all of this, I let hope triumph over experience and allow myself to imagine that this may indeed be a transformational moment.

Like the Civil War itself, “Lost Cause” symbology is simply and entirely about white supremacy. It has nothing to do with “heritage” or “tradition” or any such gauzy nonsense. The heavily armed “liberate Michigan” mob that invaded the statehouse in Lansing, egged on by President Trump, had no historical reason to be waving the Confederate flag. That banner represents the knee that has been kept on the necks of African Americans not just for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Derek Chauvin spent crushing the life out of George Floyd, but for 401 years

Lee’s surrender ended nothing, because the nation did not even begin to grapple with white supremacy. Reconstruction was strangled in its infancy; true racial reconciliation was never even attempted. The statue of Davis in Richmond, brought down by protesters Wednesday night, was not erected until 1907. Like almost all of the Lost Cause monuments, it was built during the revanchist era, when Southern whites were celebrating their reestablished dominance over African Americans via repressive Jim Crow laws and the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan.

Many recall that the Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse was taken down in 2015 following the massacre of nine African American worshipers by a white supremacist at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. Few realize that the racist flag had been installed at the statehouse not in 1861 but a century later, in 1961, when black South Carolinians like my parents were agitating for the right to vote.

The killing of Floyd has provoked a national moment of reckoning with police violence and white supremacy. But the position of the Trump administration is that systemic racism does not even exist — that our unexamined and unaddressed racial problems all come down to a few “bad apples” here and there.

Perhaps in an attempt to gain political advantage — and perhaps, as much evidence suggests, because it’s what he truly believes — Trump has used this moment to side with Lost Cause white supremacy. His all-caps tweets for “LAW & ORDER” sound like George Wallace when he was governor of Alabama; his demand for a militarized response to the protests reminds me of Bull Connor, the Birmingham commissioner of public safety who attacked nonviolent civil rights protesters with water hoses and vicious dogs.

When it was reported that high-ranking Army officials are open to stripping the names of Confederate generals from military posts such as Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Hood, Trump reacted instantly. He tweeted Wednesday that he “will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

Trump claimed, ridiculously, that the names are somehow part of the nation’s “history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” He may be historically ignorant enough not to know that the generals in question were traitors as famous for the battles they lost as for any of their triumphs; that ultimate victory went to the Union, not the Confederacy; and that the whole point of the rebellion was to deny freedom to African Americans. Or he may know these facts but believe his political base doesn’t.

Just hours later, however, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag. If there is one sporting venue that Trump might think of as a safe space, it would be a NASCAR race — until now. Heck, I might even go watch a race when the pandemic ends.

Trump must be bewildered. Unsubtle appeals to racial animus (remember his “birther” lies) have always worked for him in the past, but now he seems to be flailing. If it turns out that the Lost Cause is finally, truly lost, then so is the president who made himself its champion.