Nel's New Day

January 16, 2023

55 Years after King’s Assassination

Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, White people claim that King wanted them to be “colorblind,” yet King consistently discussed the legacy of enslavement and the need to address structural racism, topics now banned in one-third of the states. Right-wing groups such as Moms for Liberty fight to ban books because including them in the curriculum “makes children hate their country, each other, and/or themselves.” [Painting by Jonathan Harris] 

Republicans cherry-pick King’s words to support their “anti-woke wars” and opposition to “critical race theory.” Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis claims that teaching about the history of slavery and racism in the U.S. is “basically teaching kids to hate our country and to hate each other based on race.” The conservative explanation of CRT causes condemnation of all lessons and books on racism and gender although CRT theory is used only in higher education and legal circles to discuss race as a social concept.

The ban on CRT, according to DeSantis’ handpicked state Board of Education, protects students from education that will “distort historical events, but the state policy prevents students from learning accurate U.S. history. An Oklahoma law blocks teachings that cast anyone as “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” or make them feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex.

The King family pointed out the misuse of King’s words. His youngest daughter, Bernice, said:

“The word ‘woke’ has been repurposed to deter the very work that people focused on awareness about injustice and on the urgent need to eradicate injustice were centering the word to accomplish. Many will distort a positive narrative so that white supremacy can persist.”

Blacks created the term “woke,” which white conservatives use in a pejorative manner, as a defensive survival tactic against police brutality and other unjust societal dangers toward the Black community. In 1923, the term was a call to Blacks to become more socially and politically conscious. Conservative whites co-opted the term to describe any progressive approach—indeed, any traditional education about racism in curriculum used for decades.

The conservatives’ decision to prevent anything “woke” expresses their desire for people to be unaware of political injustice. The purpose of “anti-woke” laws is to erase its context, to convince people that inequalities don’t exist and therefore don’t need to change. Instead, laws prevent any understanding of racism so that White people won’t be “uncomfortable.” Conservatives use “woke” as a slur and an attack just as they used “cancel culture” in the past when they themselves tried to cancel culture and identify themselves as victims.

King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written four months before the 1963 March in Washington and five years before his assassination, described an obligation to collect facts “to determine whether injustices exist” from police brutality, wealth inequality, and antidemocratic threats to voting rights. In the letter, he rebuffs “unjust laws” and white moderates with a “shallow understanding” of injustice.

Racism is one of the three greatest threats to the progress of society, according to King.  In 1967, he said, “Racism can well be that corrosive evil that will bring down the curtain on western civilization.” The current hatred for teachers, books, and education discussing racism blew up when protesters marched against the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.

Recently, House far-right Republicans have discussed the eradication of “woke” education in the military. Before their election, they promised to investigate Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because he thinks West Point students should be educated, including about racial issues, about different viewpoints.

DeSantis described Florida as “where woke goes to die.” With the death of “woke,” people become more ignorant and more willing to vote for conservatives. They also become more violent as demonstrated by their behavior in school board meetings and at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. They fight for limiting rights to only heterosexual white people. “Anti-wokers” take positions as education leaders, setting statewide policies and educational standards. Their control censors books from classrooms and libraries while mandating curriculum that excludes teaching about minorities and unconstitutionally promoting evangelical Christianity in schools. Teachers and librarians are no longer professionals: they simply do what they are told.

Misrepresentations spread by conservatives:

It’s not true … that the United States was built on stolen land.” – Ron DeSantis. [European settlers appropriated land occupied by Native Americans with little or no renumeration.] 

Texas conservatives wanted to replace the word “slavery” with “involuntary relocation” in the social studies curriculum. They failed. (Earlier, Texas textbooks described slaves as “workers.”)

CRT is “state sponsored and state-sanctioned racism… America is not a racist nation.” – Former VP Mike Pence

Slavery was a “necessary evil” to build the nation—the thinking of the Founding Fathers. – Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)  

White people are not responsible for Black enslavement, according to a South Dakota law requiring this ideology in school curriculum. Education can also not include topics about Native Americans topics and the history of their oppression in the South Dakota territory.

[visual – Book banning and guns]

When CRT was originally banned, conservatives claimed that they were going after only rascism materials; within the past year, however, the censorship broadened to LGBTQ materials, anything about “sex,” and whatever else makes conservatives “uncomfortable.” An Oklahoma library canceled a Sexual Assault Awareness Month program and the inaugural Shameless Romancebook club meeting. Instead of waiting for book challenges, administrators are simply stealing books from school library shelves.

“Woke” will continue in the courts. In mid-November, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act renamed the Individual Freedom Act, temporarily blocking the law restricting teaching about systemic racism in public school. The judge ruled that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by preventing some viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting “unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints” favored by the State of Florida. State lawyers argued public school teachers don’t have First Amendment rights in the classroom because they are mouthpieces of the state.

The judge called the law “dystopian.” It banned teaching that people are “privileged or oppressed” solely because of their race, national origin, or sex and that a person’s race, national origin, or sex can predispose the person to biases, “whether consciously or unconsciously.” An expert on McCarthyism called these laws comparable with redbaiting and scare tactics in the “Second Red Scare” of the 1950s.

DeSantis has a new system to prevent higher education from teaching about systemic racism. He appointed five trustees to a politically progressive liberal arts school in Sarasota, the New College of Florida, and created a solid conservative majority on the board. One appointee, Christopher Rufo, started the battle against CRT two years ago. Other appointees are from the conservative Claremont College leading the MAGA movement, an editor of a conservative Catholic magazine, the cofounder of a Florida Christian school which uses textbooks from Bob Jones University Press for a “Biblical worldview” to history and creationism, and MAGA Candace Owen who threatened to kill Dr. Anthony Fauci if he “came at [her] kid with a vaccine.”

On the school’s website is standard “diversity, equity and inclusion” language, but the school also teaches the classics, Western history, and other approved “anti-woke” classes. The vast majority of its almost 300 independent study projects listed for the semester are in science with many of them traditional topics from the humanities. Yet a website announced views considered radical left such as events during Black History Month. Jonathan Chait wrote:

“[DeSantis] is not seeking to protect or restore free speech, but to impose controls of his own liking.”

Chait compared the “anti-wokeism” to the conservative institutional takeover in Hungary under the charge of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, cited as a model by the governor’s spokesperson at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami. With his single-party, anti-democratic rule, Orbán controls the judiciary, media, and elections.

Rufo plans “a top-down restructuring” of the college as his first step to “reconquer public institutions all over the United States.” He has these goals:

  • Abolish “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and replace it with “equality, merit, and colorblindness.”
  • Restructure the academic departments to reflect the new pedagogical approach.
  • Hire new faculty with expertise in constitutionalism, free enterprise, civic virtue, family life, religious freedom, and American principles.
  • Establish a graduate school for training teachers in classical education.

DeSantis and Rufo plan to model New College after the conservative Christian college, Hillsboro; one of DeSantis new trustees is Hillsdale dean Matthew Spalding. Recent Hillsboro speakers discussed the January 6 “hoax,” ways that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rigged the 2020 election, and the DOJ “persecution” of law-abiding patriots. Rufo accused DeSantis’ opponents and other progressives of “grooming” and insinuated public schools are filled with child molesters.

That’s the direction of public education—book bannings, revisionist history, and QAnon conspiracy theories. Less than a month ago, a survey of 2,000 people finds that 73 percent oppose banning books and 43 percent have looked for challenged or banned books to read during the year. Legislators’ next step is punishing “woke” corporations speaking out for social justice, but 71 percent of the population oppose these possible laws.  GOP legislators, however, have a history of ignoring their constituents’ wishes. 

By 2011, 94 percent of the U.S. population were favorable toward Martin Luther King Jr. If he were alive today, however, laws in one-third of the states would keep him from expressing his views in school.

November 29, 2021

November, Three Trials about Racism

Thanksgiving is over. Memories of the fights at the table are fading although Republicans are still manufacturing outrage from about VP Kamala Harris’ spending $500 of her own money in Paris on kitchen ware while remaining silent about taxpayers forced to pay $765,000 for golf cart rentals by now-Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Rentals from DDT’s personally-owned resorts.

MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, brought out fewer than 20 people at his protest against Fox outside its Manhattan headquarters because they haven’t uniformly spread the lie about election fraud. The Daily Beast was the only outlet present at the non-event, where even Lindell didn’t appear and thus failed in his promise to reveal names of plaintiffs in his non-existent filing to the Supreme Court. Lindell said he was crossing the U.S. to persuade state AGs to co-sign his election-fraud complaint. He followed the impotent protest with his “Thanks-a-thon,” the 96-hour marathon on his personal YouTube chаnnel which he claimed would reveal election fraud detail. It didn’t. Instead, he complained about AGs not following his lead and the Salem conservative Christian network, declaring he was pulling his ads. He still heavily advertises on Fox.

Three court trials, all dealing with racism, were part of the Thanksgiving conversation. Although the first decision was delivered the week before the holiday, the exoneration of Kyle Rittenhouse in the killing of two men and wounding of another one with the successful claim of self-defense increased the nation’s polarization between different ideologies. The wounded and murdered men were all white, but the protest in Kenosha (WI) concerned a police officer shooting an unarmed Black man in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and sustaining serious internal organ damage. The defense attorney even referenced this shooting in her closing statement

“Ladies and gentlemen, other people in this community have shot somebody seven times — and it’s been found to be OK. My client did it four times.”

Although Rittenhouse’s friendly judge and his $2 million for defense caused many people to expect him to get away with murder, the “self-defense” was laughable: he brought an AR-15, obtained illegally when he had barely shot before, across state lines and sought out people to shoot while falsely claiming to be a paramedic.

Rittenhouse’s far-right supporters, including congressional QAnon believers, have tried to make him into a hero. The nuttiest of representatives—Madison Cawthorn (NC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Paul Gosar (AZ)—have fought over which one of them gets him as an intern, and Lauren Boebert (CO) said she will challenge Cawthorn to a “sprint” to get Rittenhouse as an intern; Cawthorn is wheelchair-bound. Gaetz also wants to pass a national “stand your ground” law, something that the three wounded and dead men were doing. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) introduced a bill to give him a Congressional Gold Medal. It’s an uphill road for her. She needs co-sponsors from two-thirds of both House and Senate and presidential authorization.

DDT, who called Rittenhouse a “nice young man,” brought him to Mar-a-Lago for a photo shoot in front of a photograph of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

After showing his favoritism for Rittenhouse, the judge in the case treated the defendant like a pet, allowing him to select the final dozen jurors from a raffle drum that held the names of the original 18 who heard the case. In Wisconsin, the judge typically selects the numbers of remaining jurors, but he gave Rittenhouse that piece of theater. The judge rescinded MSNBC’s journalism privileges because a freelancer supposedly followed a juror van, but he approved of Fox’s Tucker Carlson filming the event for a documentary. The longest serving circuit judge in the state, the 75-year-old judge has been elected unopposed for seven six-year terms. His next election would be in 2026.  

A sweet-looking 18-year-old Rittenhouse cried on the stand, and the judge yelled, “Don’t get brazen with me!” at the prosecutor. The judge ordered the prosecutor to find an expert testifying that using the zoom on an image doesn’t distort it—“within minutes.” When a juror said he didn’t think he could be impartial, the judge stopped him from talking. In the Rittenhouse acquittal, citizen vigilantism won.

Almost 800 miles south of Kenosha, three White men ages 65, 35, and 32—also vigilantes—were convicted the day before Thanksgiving of chasing down 25-year-old Ahmand Arbery while he was jogging and murdering him. The jury, composed of nine White women, two White men, and one Black man, deliberated over 11 hours in two days after eight days of testimony with 23 witnesses. The verdicts. Travis McMichael, who fired the fatal shots, guilty of all charges – malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. Gregory McMichael, Travis’ father who rode armed in the bed of his son’s pickup, guilty of all charges except malice murder. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr, who made the video that helped seal the verdicts, guilty of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was cleared of the other charges.

The sentencing date for the men has not been made public. Prosecutors plan to seek sentences of life in prison with no parole. Gregory McMichael’s attorney said she was “floored with a capital F” and will appeal as will the attorney for his son. Another defense attorney maintained the McMichaels thought their actions were “the right thing to do” and is disappointed and saddened. The McMichaels, also indicted on federal hate crime charges, will go on trial in February—two years after the murder—for interference of rights and attempted kidnapping as well as a charge of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Black, unarmed, and on foot, Arbery tried to elude the three armed white men in the vehicles pursuing him. They claimed they believed he had committed a crime. They said they conducted a citizen’s arrest and acted in self-defense, but the video shows no indication of that happening. After national notice of the murder over two months later, Bryan gave the video to a radio station. Supported by a district attorney, he thought it would exonerate the three men. Under oath, Travis admitted he had lied to the police when he said Arbery grabbed his shotgun and told Arbery he was making a citizen’s arrest. The law allowing citizen’s arrest in Georgia, now repealed, went into effect before the Civil War when slave patrollers used them to capture runaway slaves. Travis was the only one of the three to testify.

The trial was notable for two major racial highlights. The defense attorney complained about Al Sharpton sitting with Arbery’s family and said he didn’t want any more “black pastors” in the courtroom. Another defense attorney criticized the jury because it didn’t have enough “Bubbas,” meaning White men over 40 years old who were born in the South and had no four-year college degrees.

Attention to the murder was stalled for over two months because assistants in the office of Brunswick (GA) district attorney, Jackie Johnson, told police that the three men should not be arrested. The assistants did indicate a conflict of interest: Gregory McMichaels worked in the DA’s office for over 30 years and called her shortly after the shooting. Johnson then immediately contacted George Barnhill, DA for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, who watched Bryan’s video and stated that the three men could chase and kill Arbery in self-defense. Johnson recused herself, and Georgia’s AG Christopher Carr appointed Barnhill to prosecute the case. After five weeks, Barnhill finally admitted a conflict of interest but repeated his “self-defense” ruling in a letter to the Glynn police department. Another DA was appointed to prosecute the case.

Because a local journalist, Larry Hobbs, stayed on the story, the outrage against the Glynn police department, already being investigated for corruption, went national 61 days after the murder. A week later, Bryan went public with the video, believing it would exonerate him. State officers arrested the three men, and the case was moved to Atlanta, 270 miles from the killing in Brunswick.

A grand jury indicted Jackson for violating her oath of office and obstructing police, using her position to discourage the arrest of the McMichaels. The indictment also states Jackson favored Gregory McMichaels. 

Charlottesville (VA) hosted a third trial about racism in November, this one a civil lawsuit against five white nationalist organizations and 12 individual defendants responsible for the murder and other violence in August 2017 in the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally. The defendants are to pay over $25 million in damages to the nine plaintiffs suffering physical or emotional injuries, including over $12 million for the death of Heather Heyer, deliberately run down by a self-declared neo-Nazi. He is already sentenced to life in prison for his murder conviction. 

The verdicts in these three trials raise questions. Would Kyle Rittenhouse be acquitted without a $2-million defense and a sympathetic judge? Would Ahmaud Arbery’s three killers be convicted without the video that one of the three men made public because of advice from Georgia’s elected officials? Or without an intrepid journalist pursuing the story? And would the white supremacists in the Charlottesville lost if they had competent defense instead of their own egotistical and racist testimony?

October 18, 2021

Racist Problems Caused by Legislature

Southlake (TX), population 32,376, has a Black percentage of 1.7 percent and a household median income over $240,000; most students attend schools in the Carroll ISD. The idyllic community became the focus of an NBC documentary, Southlake: Racial Reckoning in a Texas Suburb, after a video of students shouting racial slurs led to students sharing accounts of racism and discrimination. A school board attempt to address the problem caused a culture war about the non-existent teaching of GOP-invented issue of “critical race theory (CRT)” when the vast majority of White conservatives decided to wipe out any mention of racism with the help of new Texas legislation. 

A new superintendent in the school district of 8,400 students developed a plan to work on the problems of racism, but wealthy conservative parents elected school board members to quash support for anyone except white students. Again, Southlake stories went viral. First, the school board voted 3-2 to reprimand a fourth-grade teacher, named the school’s teacher of the year, for having the book This Book Is Anti-Racist in her classroom. Parents of one child who donated $1,000 to elect the school board members complained the book was against their “morals and faith.” In over 5,000 reviews, the book had received an average of 4.35 stars out of five.

The reprimand came from the demand that any classroom libraries had to “give deference to both sides” of historical topics. In a “training” of book content, a top district administrator mandated the new requirement for classroom libraries, even books about the Holocaust when German Nazis killed over 6 million people, primarily Jews, in concentration camps during the 1940s. A secret recording of the training also went viral.  

Despite the recording, the school district claimed that the media was wrong about these statements: Carroll ISD claimed that “our district has not and will not mandate books be removed, nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.” Written materials from the district ordered teachers to have mandatory training about new rules and directions for getting rid of books that don’t meet the “deference” rule. Teachers are to discard books that present singular, dominant narratives “in such a way that it … may be considered offensive.” The purpose is to avoid any lessons that make students (presumably White) feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race. According to the school district reprimand, one parent can cause the elimination of instruction or teaching materials. One teacher asked:

“How am I supposed to know what 44 sets of parents find offensive? We’ve been told: ‘The parents are our clients. We have to do what they want.’ And this is what they want.”

For their libraries, teachers have used yellow caution tapes or black sheet of paper with a sign reading, “You can’t read any of the books on my shelves.” 

Among the books that teachers are afraid to keep in the classroom:

  • Separate Is Never Equal: a picture book by Duncan Tonatiuh about a Mexican American family’s fight to end segregation in California in the 1940s.
  • A Good Kind of Trouble: Lisa Moore Ramée book about a girl involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • The Hate U Give: ” Angie Thomas’ book depicted radicalized reactions to a policy shooting.
  • All books by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Censorship attempts by White parents in other places also want to eliminate any non-White books:

  • Franklin (TN): Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington (Frances E. Ruffin), The Story of Ruby Bridges (Robert Cole) about the 6-year-old Black girl who integrated a Louisiana public school in 1960, and several others.
  • York County (PA): After the school district voted to censor books recommended by the district’s diversity committee, national protest including that from Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Berniece King caused the district to reverse their censorship.
  • Katy Independent School District (TX): award-winning graphic novels about the lives of young Black men by Jerry Craft.

Earlier this year the Carroll ISD had told teachers they could not use Scholastic News, a current events magazine for youth from one of the largest and most reputable publishers in the United States, after parents said its articles had a liberal bias. A teacher in the district described the driving forces behind determining “both sides” are fear, ignorance, and racism. The person said teachers are not “asked to have opposing views on colonization. We’re not being asked to have opposing views on Christopher Columbus Day or Thanksgiving.” Educators’ lives are at risk, according to the teacher, who reported threats against teachers who speak out “to destroy their lives, to come for their license, to go after their families.”

Southlake’s problems are not going away. During tonight’s school board meeting with over 50 speakers, a former student described the anti-Semitic bullying he experienced in the Carroll ISD that made him consider suicide. Teachers said they felt unsupported and under attack. A Jewish parent, descendent of Holocaust survivors, said his family is thinking about moving from Southlake. Some parents condemned the advice for “opposing” perspectives on the Holocaust but defended the district administrator who gave these orders.

Another Texas law goes into effect in December about social studies curriculum restrictions to the state’s “understanding of the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government; the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States; the structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels.” This curriculum can come only from the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the first Lincoln-Douglas debate, writings of the founding fathers of the United States, the history and importance of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Missing are the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing voting by Blacks, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Requirements cut from the state standards include “the history of Native Americans,” “[founding] mothers and other founding persons,” and topics such as slaves by George Washington (Ona Judge) and Sally Hemmings (Thomas Jefferson). Frederick Douglass’s writings, the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcing indigenous Americans off their southeastern lands, and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists defending the separation of church and state have disappeared as have “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations” about the Chicano movement, women’s suffrage and equal rights, the civil rights movement, indigenous rights, and the U.S. labor movement. White supremacy, eugenics, the Ku Klux Klan, and the importance of the civil rights movement are gone.

If teachers voluntarily address controversial issues and current events, they must address all perspectives and not “choose sides.” Teaching about “courage” can use “George Washington crossing the Delaware, or William Barret Travis defending the Alamo,” according to a member of the state board of education. The bill specifically removes a requirement to teach about slavery and how it is morally wrong, women’s suffrage, equal rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated:

“Parents want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.”

Schools in other states are also permissive about racism. In Rome (GA), Black students were singled out for punishment when a diverse group of students—Black, Latinx, and White—at Coosa High School protested the school’s failure to discipline White students using racial slurs against Black students and waving a Confederate flag at them. All students were warned against the protest where they only had flyers, but only Black students were suspended. A White student pointed out she escaped any punishment “because I’m white.” Public school students have a constitutional right to protest.

A Dallas Morning News editorial “blame[s] legislative meddling” for the Southlake chaos—and probably the racist laws in other Republican states which are described as protecting students from the non-existent CRT education.

“If any American community embodies the national frenzy about how we teach race in schools, it’s Southlake. The acrimony over Carroll ISD’s diversity plan to tackle racism reshaped the school board, drew unflattering headlines, and inspired a podcast by NBC News…

“What happened in Southlake this month is the unfortunate outcome of a new and misguided state law against critical race theory that passed earlier this year. While the law doesn’t define the term or even mention it, it was crafted by legislators in the context of a national panic about how our country confronts racism…

“There should be no moral confusion in our schools about the evils of the Holocaust, of slavery, of white supremacy… There have been more than enough incidents to make it clear why many students and families feel less than welcome in Southlake, so it should be equally clear why the community needs honest and civil discussions about a diversity and inclusion plan.

“The Texas Legislature has made it harder for Southlake to find a path toward reconciliation. Our lawmakers should be joining us in these difficult conversations instead of dividing us.”

Amen. The Southlake debacle is about far more than the Holocaust, but it’s a beginning to address the rampant pro-racism laws being passed in red states.

April 17, 2021

Systemic Racism Leads to Explosions

Last week, the trial defense for the police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis rested after two days of their lies about the cause of Floyd’s death last summer—including the false accusation of carbon monoxide from car exhaust, thrown out of court.

Both prosecution medical experts testified the death came from lack of oxygen caused by nine minutes and 29 seconds of the officer pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck exacerbated by the officer’s refusal to permit any attempt at resuscitation. Law enforcement officials testified that the policeman who killed Floyd used excessive force and did not comply with his training.

Closing arguments start Monday before the jury is sequestered to make its decision.

According to the autopsy, Floyd had heart disease and illicit drugs in his system. Testifying for the defense, David Fowler, facing a lawsuit in his home state, said he would not have categorized Floyd’s death a homicide but admitted under cross-examination that Floyd should have received immediate medical attention, blocked by the police officer, to reverse any cardiac arrest.

The defense claimed no force because of no bruising, but prosecution testimony stated bruising wasn’t necessary to indicate loss of oxygen. Cardiologist Jonathan Rich said “the position that he was subjected to” meant his heart “did not have enough oxygen.” Pulmonologist Martin Tobin testified that a perfectly healthy person could have pulmonary failure under this type of physical restraint. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the police officer’s restraint “is not part of our training” and “in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy,” and a Minneapolis police lieutenant called it “totally unnecessary.” Other people testifying for the prosecution supported these statements.

The police officer refused to testify at the trial, claiming Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself. Last year he offered to plead guilty to third-degree murder with a ten-year prison sentence before then-Attorney General William Barr personally stopped the deal. This plea would have blocked federal charges, including civil rights, and the rapid resolution would have avoided the year-long protests about the murder. 

The officer’s conviction of second-degree murder, with a sentence of 40 years in prison, requires the finding that he caused Floyd’s death “while committing or attempting to commit a felony offence,” meaning assault. The lesser charge of third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, requires the finding that he committed an “act eminently dangerous to others … without regard for human life.” Although the judge blocked the third-degree murder charge, an appeal from the prosecution to overturn that decision succeeded because of a greater chance for conviction with a jury decision he showed disregard for Floyd’s safety. A second-degree manslaughter conviction with ten years in prison would come from the finding that the officer took “an unreasonable risk” that endangered Floyd’s life.

Three other police officers who stood and watched the murder will be tried together later this year for charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The Army has now disciplined soldiers in the D.C. National Guard for hovering only 55 feet over protesters’ heads to frighten and scatter the crowds. Then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy falsely claimed helicopters were to monitor crowd movements. One crew member said the mission was to “be loud … fly low over the crowds.” Ryan said then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) “fully vetted” the mission. Four of the five helicopters carried painted red crosses to identity them as medical transports; their use for non-medical mission without specific approval violates Army regulations, which they did not obtain. One reporter recounted pulling shards of glass from her hair spread by the helicopters. 

Emails obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted “covert surveillance” on protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Albuquerque. DEA agents were assigned to “infiltrate” protests, monitor social media monitoring, and perform aerial surveillance. The DOJ authorized these DEA activities.

Protests for almost a year after Floyd’s murder by a police officer on May 25, 2020, focus on the law enforcement killings of black people for small offenses. Almost 800 people, almost all White, broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to stop the legal counting of electoral votes for the president of the United States. They beat up law enforcement officers, rifled through classified documents, vandalized the building, and threatened the lives of hundreds of people including members of Congress and the vice president of the United States. No one was arrested that day, and conservative judges and lawmakers are still trying to protect these criminals.

George Floyd paid with his life for trying to pass a $20 counterfeit bill—perhaps unintentionally. Fewer than seven years ago, Eric Garner was also choked to death for suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. A police officer put him into a chokehold after he tried to pull away from two of them. The unindicted killer kept his job in law enforcement for another five years. Both Black men, George Floyd and Eric Garner, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” until they lost consciousness.

Since Floyd’s trial started on March 8, 2021, law enforcement has continued killing Black males, often with little provocation:

Chicago: A police officer chased a 13-year-old in an alley and told him to put his hands up. The boy started to comply, and the officer shot him dead.

Minnesota: Ten miles away from Floyd’s murder trial, in Brooklyn Center, a police officer shot a 20-year-old Black man dead when he tried tog et back into his car after a stop for expired license plates and an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror; she said she meant to use a taser.

Knoxville (TN): A police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old Black teenager in a school bathroom after reports that the boy had a gun. The first report stated that the teen had shot the school resource officer, but he was critically wounded by the officer who killed the student.

Daly City (CA): Police shot and killed a 44-year-old Black man sitting in his pickup truck with a flat tire because they claimed he had a gun on his lap. It was a BB gun. 

Almost all the victims of 64 fatal encounters with law enforcement within the past three weeks are are male, Black or Latino. Many of all the killings have no video evidence, unlike the death of George Floyd and the boy in Chicago. Fortunately, the video of the horrific traffic stop of an Army medic near Norfolk (VA) in the small town of Windsor has gone viral after he filed a federal lawsuit against the abusive police officers. The police officers threatened and attacked Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, because he had temporary license plates on his brand-new car. When he was ordered out of the car, he said he was afraid to get out. One of the policeman said, “You should be.” Journalists wrote, “Nazario was pepper-sprayed, struck in the knees to force him to the ground and handcuffed. No charges were ever filed.” Police threatened to destroy Nazario’s military career if he talked about the traffic stop. Nazario is related to Eric Garner and called him “uncle.”

Veterans of color describe the racist abuse they have suffered. 

David Gray’s commentary on the difference between Black and White:  

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).

After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor).

“These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”

The United States is a tinderbox, waiting for the outcome of George Floyd’s trial. Without justice, the Black Lives Matter movement will blow up; with justice, conservatives, fueled by the hateful rhetoric from Fox and other far-right media, will come out in full Ku Klux Klan force. Summer will be very long.

July 19, 2019

DDT Uses Racism to Avoid Problems

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) faced three major blows this week:

Court documents indicate that DDT was involved in hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have an affair with him, in a scheme that began the day after the release of the Access Hollywood tapes when DDT bragged about grabbing “pussy” one month before the 2016 presidential election. Released materials show that former White House communications director Hope Hicks might have lied in her sworn testimony to the House Judiciary Committee when she said she had no direct knowledge of the payments and no contact during DDT’s campaign with key participants. But if the attorneys are not talking, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff is. As AG Bill Barr protects DDT, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said that “ample evidence [exists] to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty.” House Democrats are questioning U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of New York about its decision to not indict DDT for his campaign finance crimes.

Child molester and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, former friend of DDT, was denied bail because of being a flight risk, especially after a falsified passport showing that his home is in Saudi Arabia was discovered. His safe also contained $70,000 in cash and 48 loose diamonds. The judge said, “I doubt any bail package can overcome [danger to the community].”

After falsely smearing Omar Ilhan—a woman, person of color, liberal, resident of the United States, and an elected representative of the nation’s highest legislative body—and passively standing by for 13 seconds while the crowd chanted “send her back,” DDT tried to clear himself the next day. He said he was “not happy” about the chant and tried to stop the crowd by speaking quickly. A video shows DDT silently pausing and looking around at his audience for 13 seconds while they chant. DDT also claimed that he did not initiate the attack chant, but he earlier said that the four U.S. representatives—all women of color—should leave the country. All four are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the United States.

DDT used the Klan mantra: “America – Love It or Leave It” that mimics the Nazi signs in 1930s German cities: “Jews, immigrate to your land.” DDT has claimed that no one who criticizes the United States should be allowed to stay in the country.

Examples of DDT’s negative comments about the U.S.:

Make America Great Again: DDT said he started his slogan “Make America Great Again” on the day that President Obama was elected to his second term. He said, “I looked at the many types of illness our country had, and whether it’s at the border, whether it’s security, whether it’s law and order or lack of law and order.”

Crippled America: DDT’s 2015 book referred to the U.S. as “this mess” and “Uncle Sucker,” pointing out the multiple weakness of the U.S. He “wrote,” The idea of American Greatness, of our country as the leader of the free and unfree world, has vanished … I couldn’t stand to see what was happening to our great country. This mess calls for leadership in the worst way.”

American Carnage: The day that DDT was inaugurated, he described the U.S. as a dystopian nightmare by saying, “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

Ridicule of U.S.: Starting in 2011, DDT tweeted that other countries were laughing at the U.S., that the government is “on the hook for more than a third of the world’s entire debt.”

U.S. Criminal Acts: Asked about Vladimir Putin being a killer, DDT said, “You think our country’s so innocent?”

Infrastructure: In his speech to the 2016 GOP convention, he said, “Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in third-world condition.”

Anti-Semitism: DDT called his opponent Hillary Clinton corrupt and tweeted her image over a bed of money beside a six-pointed Jewish star. He also tweeted and retweeted other anti-Semitic messages.

Vulgarities: Rep. Omar Ihan (D-MN) has never used vulgar language or images, as DDT accused, but DDT said African and Caribbean countries are “shithole countries,” that he would bomb the “shit” out of the Islamic State, and businesses wanting to return to the United States from overseas should be told to “go [mouths the f-word] themselves.”

2014 Tweets: “Our country has become so politically correct that it has lost all sense of direction or purpose.” “Our country and our ‘leaders’ are getting dumber all the time.” “Have you ever seen our country look weaker or more pathetic…”

DDT may have felt he was safe with his racist comments because a voter study showing that those most susceptible to DDT’s appeal tend to view people of color, non-Christians, and feminist women as the undeserving “other.” The last week has reflected this attitude as Republicans become more supportive of DDT while independents are moving away from him. Four years ago, DDT began his 2016 campaign by describing immigrants as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” Now he’s appealing to his base by openly declaring that female women of colors, born in the United States and elected to the U.S. Congress, should be forced out of the country. The official position of the Grand Old Party is now “send her back.”

After lying about objecting to the chants for a day, DDT declared that the people who chanted “Send her back!” at his Wednesday rally are “incredible patriots.” Gone is his declaration that he was “not happy” and tried to stop them. Or the White House comment that DDT couldn’t hear the chants. According to DDT, criticism of the U.S. is unacceptable (aka free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment) and the four female elected representatives “can’t get away with” it, “not when I’m the president.” He also said, “We have First Amendment rights also—we can … say what we want.” He didn’t specific who the “we” are. Now he claims to be unhappy “with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.” Ilhan didn’t, but DDT has.

Asked if the “Send her back!” chant is racist, he responded:

“No, you know what’s racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, who hate everybody, who speak with scorn and hate …. We’re dealing with people who hate our country.” [Note DDT’s criticism above as well as his lies about Ilhan.]

DDT plans to change the questions for becoming a citizen. Most of the people born in the U.S. can answer only one out of three at this time. How would you do

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of U.S. men walking on the moon. In the past half century, we have made this progress: the last week focused on the man elected as U.S. president racially attacking four women of color elected to the Congress, abuse and neglect of people seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border because of U.S. regime changes in their countries, increased polarization of the nation through Republicans packing the U.S. courts with xenophobic and misogynist bigots, a rapidly ballooning national debt because of huge tax cuts for only the wealthy and big businesses, vastly increased health issues and deaths of U.S. residents from loss of clean environment, horrible heat waves from a climate crisis, voter suppression and permission for foreign governments to selected U.S. elected officials, a movement toward fascism including greatly increased military expenses, excessive violence and killings including by law enforcement, high inequality in income and wealth, increased loss of workers’ rights, and racism to “make American white again.” That’s what developed from the space race of the 1960s.  

July 17, 2019

GOP Stays Quiet about Racism or Sees It as a Strategy

Today is the fifth day that the racism of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been on full display and consumed media coverage. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of a man walking on the moon; today is the day that DDT promoted rally chants of “send her back” after five days of racist remarks that began with calling on four women of color congressional members—all residents of the United States and three born in the United States—to go back to their country. Once again, DDT looks for shiny objects to divert people from his illegal activities and push his supporters to more vile reactions toward his campaign philosophy of supremacy of white people.

If the media weren’t focused on DDT’s opposition to people of color in the nation, they might be pointing out that tomorrow is the bail hearing for child molester and trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, close associate of DDT in the past and let off by DDT’s former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. (Video of DDT and Epstein at DDT’s party with 28 NFL cheerleaders.)

Tomorrow is also the day that a judge has required federal prosecutors to release information about a probe into DDT’s business role in hush money payments to women who claimed affairs with DDT. No one other than DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen is being charged, and DDT’s current fixer, AG Bill Barr, has tried to hide the materials discovered in the probe about other people involved in the payoff. Cohen had implicated DDT in the payoff to help him with his presidential campaign. The investigation closed down soon after Barr took the position leading what should be an independent judicial agency. 

In another buried news article, DDT’s deficit for the past year will go over $1 trillion because of tax cuts after he promised to eliminate the debt. 

DDT’s started his war last Saturday when he tweeted that four women of color in the U.S. House should “go back [to] totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Those would be New York, Detroit, and Cincinanti—places he described as having “governments [that] are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all).” In his attacks, DDT has also re-united what some people believe to be a fractured Democratic party instead of diverting people from his own “crime infested” corruption.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN), whose family fled civil war-torn Somalia when she was a child and became a citizen when she was a teenager, recently introduced an amendment passed in the House requiring that the U.S. military provide Congress the cost and the supposed national security benefits of all foreign bases and operations. Like other members of Congress, she has pointed out the control of Israel over the United States that DDT has promoted.

Republicans stayed silent about DDT’s tweets for a day, but Fox & Friends’ hosts praised his comments, laughed, and called DDT “comedian in chief.” Facing media criticism about his racist comments, DDT doubled down to repeat that the women from the United States should go back to their own country. Asked by Fox’s John Roberts about his common cause from white nationalist groups for his message, DDT said he had no concern “because many people agree with me.” The statement, made during an event to highlight U.S. manufacturing, followed DDT’s tweets calling on the Democratic women of color in Congress to apologize for their “foul language & racist hatred.” DDT also accused Pelosi of making “a very racist statement” after she said he wanted to “make America white again.” After DDT started his racist war, GOP approval went up five points while his approval rating stayed at 41 percent because independent support dropped from 40 to 30 percent. 

Forced by publicity to comment on DDT, Republicans had a variety of responses—negating what was in the tweets and saying that DDT’s statement were “clearly not racist.” VP Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said that DDT couldn’t be racist because he appointed a Chinese American woman—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) wife—as transportation secretary, a woman whose ethically-challenged connections have personally benefitted DDT. New acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli couldn’t explain why DDT’s tweets were not racist, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), changing his position that DDT engaged in “race-baiting” and was “xenophobic” now that he is running for re-election, went full-bore on Fox & Friends:

“We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country. They’re calling the guards along our border—Border Patrol agents—concentration camp guards. They accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamins. They’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America.”

Most of the strongest statements from Republicans about DDT were that the tweets were “inappropriate” and “really uncalled for.” GOP senators up for re-election in 2020 went to their corners by Tuesday: 

  • McConnell declared that DDT is not a racist but “political rhetoric has gotten … overheated.”
  • Martha McSally (AZ) had no comment.
  • Cory Gardner (CO) didn’t go farther than disagreeing with DDT’s language.
  • Joni Ernst (IA) agreed that DDT’s comments were racist. (Iowa is turning blue.)
  • Susan Collins (ME), in trouble after her votes after her votes for Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the tax reform bill in a state turning blue, said the tweets were “way over the line” and should be deleted.
  • Thomas Tillis (NC) doesn’t know anything about DDT/s tweets but look at the economy.
  • David Perdue (GA) said Monday it was “outrageous” to describe Trump’s language as racist, arguing “of course they’re not racist.”

Questioned about what country DDT meant when he told the congressional women of color to return, White House aide Kellyanne Conway asked Jewish reporter Andrew Feinberg what his ethnicity is. Feinberg said that it wasn’t relevant, but she declared it is and lied that DDT said “originally” before she launched into “America” first.” Underlying questions about “ethnicity” are insinuations that people are from another country, possibly loyal to a foreign government and usually inferior people.  Before asking about Feinberg’s ethnicity, Conway called the four women of color who DDT attacked, “the dark underbelly” of the United States. She added that the DDT team isn’t racist, they’re just “sick and tired” of “dark” Americans.

In the House, 187 Republicans voted to support racism while all Democrats, four Republicans (including the sole black GOP House member), and one newly-announced independent supported a censure resolution to condemn DDT’s racist tweets and statements against four representatives. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) failed to have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) description of DDT’s statements as racist removed from the House record. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) earlier called the four women “anti-American.” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who filed the censure resolution, compared DDT to the racist slave-holding President Andrew Jackson who “led to the Trail of Tears against Native American Indians.” Jackson was also censured for withholding documents about his defunding the Bank of the United States.

Racism is the belief in one race’s superiority over another that results in discrimination against someone of a different race or ethnicity. People who think that DDT is not a racist should read about his history. And all the racism he’s exhibited since his inauguration. Nicholas Kristoff describes how every bone in DDT’s body is racist.

According to an interview with the Daily Mail, DDT takes pride in his racism and told the reporter that he isn’t “unhappy” about the events that led to the censure resolution. He repeatedly says that what the four women have done is so horrible he can’t even tell people about their actions. His behavior in this event may be mild, compared to what will happen before the 2020 election. To keep people from thinking that DDT suffers from a lack of filter on his language, a symptom of dementia, his supporters and campaign strategists have stopped defending DDT as not racist and now argue that it’s a clever move to connect all Democrats to the four women’s progressive politics. Not all GOP consultants agree.

DDT may need to direct media attention toward his racist comments because his highly touted immigrant deportations last Sunday came to nothing. The media almost ignored DDT’s announced mass deportations last Sunday that showed few removals, perhaps because the fear and terror from his announcement resulted in an extensive “Know Your Rights” educational campaign. An internet search shows almost no articles about the deportations since Sunday when they were supposed to go into effect. On Monday, he lied when he said that ICE was focusing on violent criminals. Many people who voted for him now know that he lied about targeting ony dangerous people.

People vote not for what they want but for who they are. DDT supporters don’t care if they lose their health care, pay more taxes to support the rich, and lose clean air and food. They support a racist no matter what—that’s who they are.

May 28, 2017

A Presidential Message

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 3:23 PM
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At the same time that Alabama passed a law preventing anyone in the state from removing any Confederate monuments, New Orleans has removed the last of its four. Mayor Mitch Landrieu won’t be running for president, but his speech about these removals reflect how I wish the president of the United States would speak. Below is the first half of the speech, the remainder of it can be read here

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.

It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let’s start with the facts.

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today … for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights … I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

Landrieu concludes:

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you.

And thank you, Mayor Landrieu. 

October 12, 2015

Time for Native American Day

Today is Columbus Day. The federal holiday has caused millions and millions of children to be taught myths as truth because President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Knights of Columbus a gift of a federal holiday honoring a Catholic man. Evidence shows that Leif Eriksson led a band of Vikings to North American five centuries before 1492 and established a settlement before the indigenous peoples drove them off. It is also thought that Irish monks, the Chinese, Africans, and others “discovered” the continent before Columbus—a place already discovered by the people who had moved to the New World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 to 15,000 years earlier. Even when Columbus died, 16 years after he landed on the island, he thought he had found a path to Asia, his original purpose. But still, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus.

The first Columbus Day celebration in the United States was in New York in 1792 to honor Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea. It was to honor Italian-Americans because people believed Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, instead of Spain’s Catalonia region. One-hundred years later, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking people to celebrate the day with patriotic festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage. In 1971, the national holiday established in 1937 was moved to the second Monday in October as the U.S. decided three-day weekends are important.

About the Taino people who Columbus encountered, he wrote, “With 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish. [They were] fit to be ordered about, to sow, and do everything else that may be needed.” A former slave trader, Columbus captured “seven head of women, young ones and adults, and three small children” to take back to Spain.

Columbus’ journals of his voyages document graphic acts of rape and brutality. He and his men chopped off the hands of Taino slaves who failed to get a daily quota of gold, and female slaves were forced to leave their babies on the road sides. Spanish conquistadors bet who could chop a Taino body in half with just one blow. In 1499, Columbus was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain.

History has described Columbus as “self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and racist,” and he left a legacy of death, pillage, and rape of the land filled with colonialism, enslavement, discrimination, and land grabs. Thanks to people who followed Columbus, one-third of Native Americans died of disease—chicken pox, measles, cholera, malaria, typhoid, bubonic plague, etc.

People who think that the indigenous people in the United States no longer suffer as they have in the past need to consider what the government is doing to them in the 21st century. Native Americans didn’t get the right to vote in 1924 because the Fourteenth Amendment excluded Indians. Yet states found ways to keep Indians from voting for most of the 20th century through methods such as literacy tests. Despite lawsuits, some states refuse to recognize tribal IDs for voting and will not set up satellite polling locations on reservations, forcing Indians to drive as far as 163 miles or even to fly to a polling place. No access to early voting makes the process even more difficult.

White men are still allowed to abuse Indian youth. Last year, 57 Lakota students between 8 and 13 were rewarded for academic achievements by attending a hockey match in Rapid City (SD). At the game, a group of men in an executive suite poured beer over their heads and shouted, “Go back to the Rez!” Only one perpetrator faced criminal charges, and he was acquitted when a judge declared that the beer was just sprayed in excitement over a goal. The children are afraid to leave the reservation now.

Until last April, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services routinely placed Native children in white foster homes while denying Indian parents and guardians any due process rights in the hearing process. Parents were not allowed to examine evidence or cross-examine witnesses in hearings that sometimes lasted less than one minute, on average less than five minutes. One judge, Jeff Davis, ruled against Indian parents every time. Judges also told parents that their jurisdictions could ignore the law. An average of 740 Indian children was taken from their homes each year, some of them sexually abused in their foster homes.

Years ago, Indian children were taken from reservations and sent to “schools” where they were forced away from their culture. Putting children into white foster homes serves and same purpose, and white entitlement in the United States supports this “assimilation.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), currently a GOP presidential candidate, said that if Native Americans were “assimilated,” that it would take only a decade for them to “probably be doing as well as the rest of us.” That’s his excuse for taking all the reservation lands and forget the way that white people refused to “assimilate” to the native culture of the country where they committed genocide.

Governments are still taking land away from Native Americans. For example, a section in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act transferred the San Carlos Apache tribe’s sacred area of Oak Flat in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to mining company Resolution Copper. The land had been protected since 1955 when President Eisenhower declared it closed to mining because of its cultural and natural value, and President Nixon’s administration renewed the decree in 1971. Mining will destroy the area, but Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake supported the land grab after they received contributions from Rio Tinto, mining company’s parent corporation. Flake was also a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium in Namibia before being elected to Congress.

When Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe protested the removal of his tribe’s land, Arizona’s 4th District Rep. Paul Gosar told him, “You’re still wards of the federal government.” Gosar was repeating the position that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall took in the 1830s. Although Congress controls Indian affairs, tribes are known as sovereign nations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ website describes the federal government as trustee of Indian property, not the guardian of all American Indians and Alaska Natives.

McCain has a history of taking Indian land. In 1974, Senator John McCain wrote the 1974 Relocation Act which moved over 14,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi from their homelands to the site of a uranium mining accident in Chambers (AZ) where they developed lung cancer and their babies were born with birth defects. The excuse was to settle a land dispute between the two tribes, but the real purpose was to exploit mineral resources by creating two of the biggest coal strip mines in the nation. Ceasing operations in 2005, the mine left a 273-mile abandoned coal-slurry pipeline and 325 million tons of climate pollution in the atmosphere.

The state of Michigan wants to give 13,000 acres (about 20 square miles) of Native American treaty land to a Canadian company to develop a limestone mine. The state will get $4.53 million. It’s not a done deal yet, but Native Americans must fight for their land.

Like other minorities, Native Americans are victimized by the U.S. justice system with an incarceration rate 38 percent higher than the national average and four times the rate of white men. Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group and fall victim to violent crime at more than double all other citizens. While Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is by non-Native perpetrators. Native American youths are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped.

A movement to honor Native Americans on October 12 has been growing in the past decades. Both Hawaii and the Bahamas call October 12, “Discovery Day,” and South Dakota began to use the term Native American Day in 1989. In 1992, Berkeley (CA) changed the name to Indigenous Peoples Day. Nine cities—including Albuquerque, Portland (OR), and Olympia (WA)—have followed suit. It’s not much, but it’s a start to recognize white entitlement, the belief that nothing has value or exists unless a white man is in charge. That’s a belief that may become more predominant in states such as South Dakota, which not longer requires Native American history to be taught in the public schools. Schools that do teach Indian history treat the subject as if Native Americans are gone—that they no longer exist. But that’s what many white people want.

July 11, 2015

Confederate Flag Degrades South, Conservatives

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 8:32 PM
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The symbolic Confederate battle flag didn’t fly in South Carolina for 100 years after the firing on Fort Sumter. Raised to the top of the capitol on April 11, 1961, ostensibly to celebrate the centennial celebration of the firing on Fort Sumter, it became a permanent fixture there because of a resolution from Rep. John A. May. The placement came from a shift of the Democratic party to the GOP in an attempt to protect the Southern way of life represented by racial segregation, white supremacy, and Jim Crow laws from federal intervention. The Ku Klux Klan also adopted the flag as their symbolism of racist hatred and intimation. Only the murders of nine black people, including a state senator, in a Charleston church brought the flat down on 10:00 EST on July 10, 2015.

A few weeks before the flag went up in 1961, ten black students were arrested and convicted because they refused to leave an all-white lunch counter in the state. Nine of them, known as the Friendship Nine, moved the civil rights forward by refusing bail in a strategy called “Jail, No Bail.” Taylor Branch wrote in Parting the Waters  that this action reverses the financial burden of protest so that demonstrators aren’t charged but white authorities must pay for the protesters’ food and jail space. The students, who did 30 days hard labor at a prison farm, led other demonstrators by their example. Early this year, a judge tossed out the trespassing convictions against the Friendship Nine, ruling that the men should never have been charged.

Many Southern conservatives, including 3 state senators and 27 state house members, claimed that the flag has no relationship to racism, but the 21-year-old white supremacist who killed the nine black people less than a month ago on June 17 proudly posed for photos with the Confederate flag. The debate in the state house lasted 13 hours because those who claimed that the flag is part of their heritage brought up 68 amendments to the bill, all of them voted down. They failed to persuade the others that the Civil War was about states’ rights and not slavery and racism.

Rep. Mike Pitts declared that the flag shows how dirt-poor southern farmers fought Yankees who were invading their land. He wants the legislature to respect the Confederate soldiers exactly like soldiers who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ruben Bolling’s history of the Confederate flag in the South:

confederate flag cartoon


The argument about flying the Confederate flag moved to the U.S. Congress when the House passed three measures barring the flag’s use on federal lands on the same day that the South Carolina senate passed the bill to take down its flag. An amendment was added to a National Parks Service spending bill to stop the use of Confederate flags in national cemeteries. Another amendment confirmed a NPS request that its stores remove items featuring the flag as a symbol, just as retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have done. A third amendment blocked funding for the Confederate flag on National Park land unless it provides historical context, in line with NPS policy. The amendments passed by voice votes in the U.S. House.

Late the next day, however, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) put up an amendment allowing federal cemeteries to keep the Confederate flag. The vote to keep the Confederate flag on federal property was scheduled for July 9, the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment promising equal protection of the laws. Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA) told reporters that the Confederate battle flag isn’t racist and that he didn’t think Confederate soldiers had “any thoughts about slavery.” Negative publicity caused the appropriations bill–and Calvert’s amendment–to be pulled from the floor.

Over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech against slavery using the biblical directive that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave conservatives control over his agenda when he chose to pass bills with only Republican votes. Republicans are becoming more and more divided against themselves because extreme conservatives withhold their votes if they don’t get what they want. Conservative groups such as Heritage Action, from the Heritage Foundation, also wield great power, just as they did in the 2013 government shutdown and the current position of keeping the Export-Import Bank from being reauthorized.

After Boehner pulled the appropriations bill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) proposed a measure to remove any flags with Confederate symbols from the U.S. Capitol. At least five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi—have incorporated parts of the Confederate flag in their state flag, and Mississippi includes the complete Confederate flag as part of its state design. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the only black representative from Mississippi, introduced the same resolution a month ago and does not display his state flag in his congressional office. He said:

“We are a nation of laws. We should not identify with symbols of hatred and bigotry. That flag, those symbols, should be put in a museum. They should not be flown under any circumstance where there is freedom and dignity in this great institution of ours.”

A vote sent the resolution to a committee after Democrats demanded a paper vote following the contentious voice vote to show people who is willing to vote in favor of a symbol of hatred and violence. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), complained, “We’ve put our heads [out] like a pumpkin on a stick and given [Democrats] a baseball bat.”

On Friday, the House Republicans suspended work on appropriations bills, fearing more amendments from Democrats related to the Confederate flag. The House also cannot vote on the funding bill until after it votes on the Calvert amendment to put Confederate flags into all federal cemeteries. The flag isn’t the only problem. Boehner said that he will put together a commission to examine the use of Confederate symbols in the Capitol which will include statues of Jefferson Davis and John Calhoun, fighters for slavery. The party that understands they can’t win with only white male voters may not want to be seen as the party fighting for the Confederate symbols. Boehner has “for some adults here in the Congress to actually sit down and have a conversation about how to address this issue.” He didn’t say where he plans to find these adults.

GOP presidential candidates are split on the issue of taking down the Confederate flag. The most extreme ones claimed “states’ rights” which translates into “I’m afraid of saying anything that could get me in trouble.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in a rapid “evolution” to taking down the flag in South Carolina after Haley moved from “no big deal” to “big deal,” possible on her way to becoming a potential vice-presidential candidate. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal extended states’ rights by tacking on the old “don’t talk about it while we’re in mourning” translated as “let it blow over so we don’t have to deal with it” approach, commonly used for mass shootings.

Attention to the Confederate flag kept the discourse from gun sense laws after the killings until the information surfaced that the NRA-backed three-day law for background checks allowed the Charleston killer to purchase a gun. A breakdown in communication between police departments and county government resulted in lack of sufficient knowledge to deny the killer a gun based on his drug-related felony charge.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tried to use the lack of communication as a reason to keep from enacting more strict gun sense laws. The real problem, however, comes from gaps caused by powerful gun-manufacturing-controlled groups. Requiring all records from prohibited people to go into one system with background checks required for all gun sales would have stopped this horrifying glitch. At this time, records are spread out enough that some people slip through the limit of three business days to deny or approve a purchase before the dealer can automatically complete the sale. Another part of the problem is the laxness of law enforcement. For example, some county sheriffs in Oregon are saying that they will give low priority to the new background check for all gun sellers.

Michael Lind, historian and native Southerner, explained the way that greed and class domination joins racism to drive the economic system. Over 100 years ago, the Redeemers, pro-business Southern politicians, vowed to undo the post-Civil War Reconstruction racial and economic reforms. When the federal government turned the responsibility for educating the poor, building hospitals and roads, and creating the nation’s first national health care system for freed slaves, Redeemers dropped all these programs to cut taxes for wealthy plantation owners. Today’s Republicans in the South follow the same pattern, keeping workers dependent on employers so that employees won’t get “uppity.” Poor people with no benefits have no control over their lives, and corporations have cheap labor in these states with the greatest poverty and worst health in the nation. In addition, prisoners provide unpaid labor for private businesses.

The South today: the love of the Confederate flag and guns protecting the top 1 percent while the rest of the people don’t even know they’re being flim-flammed.

July 5, 2015

White Terrorists Spread Lies to Keep Power


The horror of tragedies in the United States is short-lived. The more optimistic of us thought that there could be a change in laws after 20 children were killed in Newtown (CT) because of the country’s lax gun laws. After a few weeks of the NRA railing against the “politicizing” of these deaths, the U.S. went back to normal, increasing the number of guns in the hands of irresponsible people. Since then every mass shooting has resulted in decreased responsibility for these deaths and looser gun laws.

Not even a month ago after a white terrorist killed nine black people at a bible study class in a Charleston (SC) church, an uproar against the praise of the Confederate flag, a symbol of treason against the United States, seemed to be making a difference. My conservative newspaper in Oregon commended Republicans such as South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley, for asking that the flag be removed from the state grounds. The article failed to mention that no action has been taken, even to protect blacks from having to walk under the despicable flag to honor black state Sen. Clementa Pinkney, one of the slain in the church. South Carolina needs a two-thirds vote to take down the flag, and it’s most unlikely that this will happen. For example, State Rep. Lee Bright compared removing the flag to a “Stalinist purge,” brutal murders of ideological dissidents by a totalitarian dictatorship.

The civil war against the flying of the Confederate flag is over, and the terrorists have won. The United States maintains its exceptionalist approach toward stupidity after a poll shows that 57 percent of people in the United States perceives the treasonous flag as a symbol of “Southern pride” rather than its reality of racism. That’s only two percent less than 15 years ago.

The recent polling has undoubtedly put GOP members recommending the removal of the flag in a quandary. Their first reaction was undoubtedly in response to massive media objections after the killing, and the state General Assembly was scheduled to being debate tomorrow about removing the flag that was installed on state grounds in 1961 in protest of civil rights. The poll puts the issue in a different light for them, especially after South Carolina residents began getting robocalls on Friday comparing the movement to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds to ISIS. The newly formed Conservative Response Team (CRT), a pending non-profit organization with unspecified funding, started with 40,000 robocalls.

South Carolina officials has given approval to the white supremacist “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol on June 17, one month and one day after the killings in the Charleston church. The chapter calls the killer a “warrior.”

Part of the positive polling about the Confederate flag is that white Southerners, unlike Germans after World War II, never accepted blame for the war’s devastation and its bigotry. Schools in the South still teach that blacks were happier in slavery, that the North was really responsible for the war, that the issue was more about interpretations of the Constitution, and that white Southerners were the true victims in “the war of Northern aggression.” Confederate pride led to lynchings of blacks and continued with the use of the Confederate flag to declare white supremacy as a license to kill innocent black people.  The recent Charleston killing came from these beliefs, the racist propaganda and lies about black-on-white crime.

Whenever approached with a question that might cause a GOP presidential candidate trouble with part of his constituency, the response is using to let the state make a decision. That’s Mike Huckabee’s response to the removal of the Confederate flag. Rick Perry went farther into stupidity to find a reason: prescription drugs.

 “This is the (modus operandi) of this administration, any time there is an accident like this. The president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message…. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

Former 1960s pop singer Pat Boone represents the epitome of the white Southerner reaction to the killings at the Charleston church in his excoriation of President Obama, a black man who Boone says failed to stop racism:

 “At no time do I recall your mentioning the far greater instances of ‘black on black’ crimes, the high percentage of crimes of all types committed annually by blacks, or the senseless looting and violence that follows the inflamed ‘protests’ after one of the above-mentioned incidents. Strange that you, our half-white president, have little to say about these things.”

Indeed, the president talked about the subject and started My Brother’s Keeper Initiative while the MBK Task Force has issued a 1st Year Progress Report. Yet white supremacist blogs—and the Fox network—continue to lie about the danger of blacks to the whites in the United States.

After Fox reported that 92 percent of murdered black people are killed by other blacks, there was no big announcement that 84 percent of white murdered people were by other whites. Even worse, this data shows only those murders with one offender or one victim. That leaves out the Charleston killer because there were nine victims—and all the other mass shootings which are primarily done by white males. The actual percentage of blacks killed by blacks is 55 percent while white-on-white murders is 62.7 percent, 7 percent higher than blacks.

According to the FBI, terrorism is “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives,” and Title 22 of U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines it as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

The mission of the killer in the Charleston church was to kill black people in order to start a new civil war against blacks. Two weeks after the tragedy, FBI Director James Comey refused to call the gruesome attack “terrorism” because he doesn’t see it as a “political act.” To Corney, starting a race war is not “political.” Floyd Corkins II, a black man, was labeled a terrorist when he only intended to shoot people in the offices of the Family Research Counsel. That’s white entitlement.

PULASKI, TN - JULY 11:  Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

PULASKI, TN – JULY 11: Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The continued practice of flying the Confederate flag on the capitol grounds demonstrates the willingness of whites to humiliate and intimidate blacks. The whites are declaring that their right to pride and power is more important than any other belief. The Charleston killer didn’t celebrate the pride of the Confederate flag when he went to the church to kill black people. He wasn’t celebrating his belief in the violent use of force against blacks in the United States. As GOP presidential candidate said, the flag is “who we are.” Yet that image of the  Confederate flag supporters demonstrates danger to people in the United States.

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