Nel's New Day

January 18, 2016

MLK Day: Bundy Clueless about Civil Disobedience

MLK Day honors a man who tried to makes lives better for poor and black people through civil disobedience while Malheur occupiers use firearms to keep people from using public land. 

If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been murdered in 1968, he might have turned 87 years of age last Friday. For 30 years, the man who espoused nonviolent civil disobedience has been remembered by a federal day in his honor, but the country has not been solidly behind King’s achievements. Ninety representatives and 22  senators, mostly Republican, still opposed this commemoration, arguing that the nation had been “misled into believing MLK was a great man.” President Ronald Reagan threatened to veto the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day until Congress passed the bill by a veto-proof majority.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended his state’s governor, Evan Mecham, in rescinding the state holiday in 1986. Mecham told a group of black community leaders, “King doesn’t deserve a holiday. You folks don’t need another holiday. What you folks need are jobs.” Arizona started celebrating MLK Day only after NFL threatened to boycott hosting Super Bowl XXVII in 1990.

South Carolina was the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday for all state employees. Prior to that, Southern states avoided the celebration of MLK Day by forcing employees to choose between this day or one of three Confederate holidays. Even today, three states—Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi—honor both MLK and Robert E. Lee, Confederate general on the third Monday of January.

Eight men who voted against honoring MLK are still serving in Congress: all are Republicans although Richard Shelby was a Democrat when he cast his vote in 1983. Senate: Richard Shelby (AL), Chuck Grassley (IA), John McCain (AZ), and Orrin Hatch (UT). House: Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), Hal Rogers (KY), Jim Scalise (LA), and Johnny Isakson (GA).

This is the first year that the Confederate flag has not flown over the South Carolina state capitol on MLK Day. North Carolina educator and activist Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flagpole in front of the statehouse and removed the flag ten days after a white man, showing white supremacy symbols including the Confederate flag on his website, killed nine black people during a prayer service in their church. This tragedy occurred in a state where the governor, Nikki Haley, said last week, “We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” After heated arguments last summer, the state authorized moving the flag to a museum at a cost of over $3 million.

Today, MLK Day, people were allowed to go into national parks for free—except for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Oregon. That’s because a group of armed white people occupy the refuge, asserting that the public land belongs to “we the people.” Yet their occupation keeps everyone else from being able to use land that belongs to all the people, not just the few who patrol the land with semi-automatic rifles.

Environmentalists are taking on these men. A group of almost 300 people gathered at a protest in Bend, 150 miles southeast of Malheur.  Bitterbrush Broadband and their parent group, Old Broads for Wilderness originally designed to protect the country’s public lands on behalf of the elderly and not-so-able, are joining the Audubon Society and other advocacy groups against the occupation of Malheur. According to the broads, it’s time for people to push back against the hooligans. At their rally, they explained how Malheur had been the poster child for collaboration between locals and the feds and how hypocritical and racist the militants are. A “bro,” or male broad, described how he had been turned away from the refuge by a man with a large assault rifle.

hendersonToday environmental activist Candy Henderson, 64, attended a briefing by Malheur occupiers on her way from Walla Walla to Houston for breast cancer treatment. when occupiers claimed that the U.S. must turn the land back to the people because the government has no right to purchase property, Henderson asked if Alaska should be returned to Russia or if the Louisiana Purchase was to return to France. She said that she wanted the government to keep the refuge and other federal properties:

“I want to go to Mt. Rushmore again. I want to go to the national forests and the national Parklands.”

Bundy

One of the occupiers asked if the people behind Henderson were FBI informants and yelled at a man holding a sign that read, “Ideas, not guns”:

“Do you remember what I said to you about that sign? Don’t bring a butter knife to a gun fight.”

When Newsome came down from the South Carolina flagpole on June 17, 2015, she said, “I’m prepared to be arrested.” That is an act of civil disobedience, a peaceful type of protest used by Henry David Thoreau when he refused to pay his taxes in protest of the Mexican-American War and slavery in 1846 and continued by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his attempt to improve the plight of poor and black people. King was arrested 30 times and peacefully went to jail each time.

In contrast, Malheur occupiers threaten violence to anyone who opposes them and aren’t willing to be imprisoned to highlight what they perceive to be injustices. Instead they are capitalists living off the government and donations to get attention. Occupier spokesman is Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy who owns almost $1 million worth of cattle and grazes them free on public lands in Clark County (NV) because he has refused to pay any fees since 1993.

Bundy wants to “return” the land to the “people,” meaning ranchers although the land was Northern Paiute Indigenous territory called Malheur (“misfortune” or “tragedy” in French) in the 1870s where occupiers now live. Malheur, like much of public land in the United States, is owned by “we the people” because native peoples were forced to leave them and the federal government purchased the land. Ranchers like the Bundys have broad expanses of land because the federal government privatized land after dispossessing indigenous peoples or maintained public land for their use.

The two ranchers of Harney County, imprisoned for arson and illegal activities, have received federal largess. Hammond Ranches received $295,000 in payments between 1995 and 2012 under various conservation, livestock disaster, crop disaster and other federal assistance programs. Other federal bonuses for the Hammonds:

  • A government program that protects ranchers’ and farmers’ livestock from predators, including killing five coyotes for the ranchers between 2009 and 2011.
  • Charges to the ranchers of only $1.35 for a cow and calf per month, a savings of 93 percent for the ranchers for using public rather than private lands.
  • Reimbursement of half the grazing fees to the ranchers for range betterment to benefit the ranchers.
  • A federal drought disaster relief program that provided two insurgent rancher families in Nevada $2.2 million in 2013.
  • The federal “emergency feed program” providing money for feed even with no emergency.

Removal of wild horses from public lands to make way for cattle.

Many people in Harney County suffer from poverty, but these aren’t the people who would get the land if the Bundys were successful. Occupiers want to give the land to other ranchers like these:

Treetop Ranches, controlled by Larry and Marianne Williams who complain about government overreach, owns 6000 cattle impacting 750,000 acres and 100 race horses, one of them finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby. The Williams also made millions in timber.

Roaring Springs Ranch with its manager, Stacy Davies, extols the virtues of cattle grazing and subsidized taxpayer-funded clear cutting of Western juniper. The Sanders family, timber mill barons, purchased the ranch in 1992. Its 1,011,792 acres, three-fourths leased from the government, sustains over 6,200 head of cattle and 150 horses as well as 2,500 acres of meadow hay and 1,200 acres of alfalfa. The owners of six sawmills have an agreement with the federal government that precludes an endangered-species listing while government subsidizes projects, disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections, that maintain high levels of grazing disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections. Taxpayers provided the Sanders with $300,000 over five years starting in 2007 to provide the ranch with fencing. Davies praised this “funding and expertise” as a “fantastic partnership.”

Ranchers have succeeded in exempting agreement information from Records Act requests in Oregon, and the federal Farm Bill prevents anyone from discovering who is receiving government munificence. The Roaring Springs Ranch has its own biologist to ensure that these agreements keep benefitting themselves. The result is use of federal funding to protect wildlife going to wealthy ranchers who destroy wildlife.

Bundy wants these people to get public lands purchased by taxpayers—i.e., “we the people.” He and others claim the occupiers use “civil disobedience,” but their using weapons to keep people off public land mark them as insurrectionists trying to destroy the federal government. Lack of prosecution for the Bundy family and their followers in 2014 after they pulled guns on federal agents and anyone near the Bundy ranch in Nevada has led to a geometric increase of white supremacists who are terrorizing the United States. It’s past time for the government to stop the current insurgency.

January 19, 2015

How Some People Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 10:17 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Forty-four years after his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. is commemorated by a federal holiday, despite past legislators’ objections. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was one of those objectors: he voted twice against celebrating King in Louisiana. Three Southern states have diluted their dismay at the MLK Day by celebrating Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same day. Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi use the same day to honor Lee.

The Ku Klux Klan scattered leaflets in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh (PA) with King’s mug shot from an arrest under the name “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” Similar ones appeared in Chester (VA), and Sam Green, who claims to be the Great Titan of the Richmond area, asked “why people would be upset about the truth.” KKK Imperial Wizard Chris Barker said about the flyers in Georgia, “We told our members to go out and pretty much counteract Martin Luther King’s birthday, who was a known communist–and we decided to put out Klan literature.”

The DeKalb County (AL) Superintendent Hugh Taylor banned a school history club from its collective attendance at a viewing of Selma because of “racial profanity.” The film features such icons as Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and James Bevel as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to fight for voting rights in the Jim Crow South. Rev. James Stanton, the black parents of a senior in the history club, spoke out against the white school official’s decision asking whether the school wants to keep students from knowing about the march. “I don’t believe it is just about the profanity,” he said. Stanton remembers watching Saving Private Ryan in that same school. That movie has an R rating for “battleground chatter” (aka frequent four-letter words) and the use of “Krauts” for Germans. Selma is rated P-13.

In other parts of the country, over 285,000 students in 24 cities saw the movie, thanks to the $2.1 million raised by a group called Selma for Students.

The Tea Party invited Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and possible African-American GOP presidential candidate, to celebrate the legacy of MLK on King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, mostly overturned by the Supreme Court. A caller responded to Carson’s appearance on the Fox network:

“You embody what MLK wanted for the black community. If you run for president, I’ll spread the word for people to vote for you.”

Carson told the caller not to worry about the negative impact of President Obama’s actions as the first black president because he was “half-white.”

President Obama is biracial, but he is perceived as black because of his appearance. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has been declared black, especially by all his racist haters.

Carson has a history of ignorant statements, many about the Affordable Care Act which benefits the blacks:

 “ObamaCare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. In a way, it is slavery, because it is making all of us subservient to the government.”

“[The ACA is worse than the 9/11 terrorists attacks] because 9/11 is an isolated incident. Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United Sates of America and shift power from the people to the government.”

“I think what’s happening with the veterans [dying] is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider.”

He also compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia and tried to spread a rumor that President Obama would continue to be president by calling off the 2016 election through declaring martial law. According to Carson, the Advanced Placement history curriculum will cause students who learn about civil disobedience to join ISIL. He also wants to have the citizenship of non-citizens revoked if they are caught in voter fraud, a statement so ignorant that it was removed from his WND column. [For a taste of how wacko WND is, check out their website.]

The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network bends King’s words and intentions:

“One of Dr. King’s most important contributions was that he exhorted Americans to resist the gravitational pull of racial identity and famously challenged us all to value the content of character above skin color. Some contemporary ‘race leaders’ seek to limit Dr. King’s legacy by ghettoizing his impact and identifying him as a black leader.”– Joe R. Hicks

“Many of the so-called and self-appointed leaders of the racial grievance industry are guilty of bastardizing his mission. They use his legacy as an instrument to contribute to racial hostility under the false guise of racial justice.”– Derryck Green

Meanwhile, legislators refuse to return voting rights to everyone after the Supreme Court overturned the law that would help give these constitutional rights to all eligible people. Conservatives oppose affirmative-action laws using the false justification that King called for an end to “playing the race card.” Their belief is that a black student scoring 1820 on the SAT shouldn’t be admitted to UCLA over a white student who scored 1840.

As King wrote in Why We Can’t Wait: 

Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic… A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”

Preferential treatment for blacks in the 21st century means that blacks can sometimes be beaten and killed with more impunity than whites. It means that they can be turned down for jobs or refused housing with little justification. At the same time, people celebrate MLK Day and the man for which it is named without any anger about the rampant prejudice throughout the nation.

Almost 50 years after his death, the United States has sanitized King and his mission against injustices, turning him into a nice black man who quietly marched and gave eloquent speeches. Republicans claim that King is really one of them, and people who want unlimited gun ownership talk about King owning a gun. They forget that Southern Democrats during much of the 20th century blocked racial progress, and King decided not to keep the gun.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted a guaranteed minimum income for all people in the United States, connected to the median household income of the time. He wanted the United States out of Vietnam and called for reparations to blacks for their past centuries of mistreatment. He campaigned for class equality by addressing poverty, slums, housing segregation, and bank lending discrimination through a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” A strong ally of labor unions, he was killed in Memphis where he was supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.

In the years before King’s murder, 63 percent of people in the U.S. had an unfavorable opinion of him. Now 94 percent of the population approve of him because he isn’t here to fight for his beliefs. If he were alive, he would be standing with poorly paid workers and against the NRA and bank abuse. He would call for taking money from the military to put into infrastructure, education, health care, and especially jobs. He would march with immigrants for immigration reform and with activists to end racial profiling, mass incarceration of youth, and the killing of young black men by police.

As a young person, King said, “A society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people’s needs is wrong.” He recognized that a purpose of racial segregation was to oppress working-class whites by letting them feel superior to blacks. He wrote, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He’s still right.

January 16, 2012

MLK Day 2012 Shows How Backward We’ve Become

Over half a century ago, a 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. led the boycott of segregated Montgomery (AL) buses; today we honor his memory by celebrating his birthday. Fifty-seven years later, what is our status on racism? Some believe that electing a black president of the United States means that we have achieved tolerance, that bigotry is gone. Looking closely at the culture of the nation today shows a far different picture.

Many of our nation’s “leaders” make racial remarks, sometimes unaware of how ignorant their statements are. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich  insulted black through the insinuation that these are the only poor people in the country and that they’re poor because they’re lazy.

Kansas Speaker of the House, Mike O’Neal, forwarded two emails, one calling the First Lady “Mrs. YoMama” and the other wishing Psalms 109:8 on Obama: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office,” a statement followed by “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” He said that forwarding the first one was an accident, “To those I have offended, I am sorry. That was not my intent.” [He certainly couldn’t admit that the content was wrong.] About the second email he said he didn’t really mean that he wanted President Obama to die—a statement commonly used by those who persist in sending out the email.

Earlier Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) declared Mrs. Obama a hypocrite for leading the Let’s Move campaign because she supposedly has a “large posterior.” Ironically, Sensenbrenner made his crude comment at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Hartford (WI) while talking with 72-year-old Ann Marsh-Meigs and other parishioners during the church’s Christmas bazaar.

The racial difference between the Democrat and Republican parties shows a clear polarity: Hispanics favor Obama over Romney by 68 to 23 percent while the Republican Party is 92 percent white. At the same time that seniors 65 years of age and older, overwhelmingly white, benefit from a Medicare plan far superior to that of President Obama’s health care plan, yet 50 percent of them oppose the Affordable Care Act.

These statistics may not indicate racism to deniers. We’ll continue. How about Republican methods of skewing the vote? Four years ago in South Carolina, the state holding a primary in five days, conservatives spread the false rumor that John McCain had illegitimately fathered a black child.

South Carolina is also one of several GOP-controlled states passing a law mandating voters to have government-issued photo identification. Many people without this photo ID remember the old poll taxes and literacy tests that led to the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the most important victories of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the number of politicians who wander around claiming that there was no intent to disenfranchise minority voters—indeed it wouldn’t at all, according to them—a study shows that more than 5 million voters would lose their citizens’ rights, the majority of them minorities as well as young and old voters. In South Carolina, 82,000 registered minority voters lack state-issued identification, according to the state’s recent statistics.

Arizona, according to state law, terminated its ethnic studies program in Tucson because of the claim that classes designed to teach about a particular ethnic group “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” Faced with losing $14 million dollars in state funds, the city’s schools are even removing books on the basis of their ethnicity, literally taking them out of the hands of students. Even William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest has been taken from the classrooms. Teachers have been told to avoid any curriculum in which “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.”

Another banned book in Tucson is Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, which was described as unbiased and factual by an independent audit of Tucson’s ethnic studies program commissioned by Arizona Supt. of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. He declared the Tucson program in violation of state law, and the board chose not to contest his decision in court.

In Tucson’s school district, founded by a Mexican-American, more than 60 percent of the students come from Mexican-American backgrounds. The administration has removed every textbook dealing with Mexican-American history, including Chicano!: The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales, featuring a biography of longtime Tucson educator Salomon Baldenegro.

An audit of students by David Scott, the school district’s director of accountability and research, found that students enrolled in the Mexican American Studies program did better than their peers. He wrote, “Juniors taking a Mexican American Studies course are more likely than their peers to pass the [state’s standardized] reading and writing … test if they had previously failed those tests in their sophomore year…. Seniors taking a Mexican American Studies course are more likely to persist to graduation than their peers.”

These narratives are only the tip of the iceberg, but they demonstrate the worsening state of affairs in this country. As the conservatives gain more power, they increase their bullying because they consider themselves the elite. To quote Joseph Welch who brought down Sen. Joe McCarthy during the 1950s witch hunt, “Have you no sense of decency?”

We’ll have to wait until at least one person in the nation is brave enough to ask the conservatives the same thing: “Have you no sense of decency?” WWKD: What would King do?

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