Nel's New Day

August 26, 2022

GOP Obsessed with Banning Books

Republican legislators have decided that substituting knowledge with conservative ideology in education creates more GOP voters and more money from big business for themselves. According to a PEN report

  • Thus far in 2022, proposed educational gag orders have increased 250 percent from all of 2021 with 137 gag order bills in 36 states.
  • Gag orders are now more harsh and punitive—heavy fines or loss of state funding of state funding for educational institutions with termination or even criminal charges for teachers.
  • Most gag order bills started with targeting teaching about race, continuing to do so, they are broadening out to discrimination against LGBTQ+ identities including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and 22 other bills in other states.
  • Higher education has been targeted more frequently than in 2021 as bills attack colleges and universities. In 2022, 39 percent of gag order bills are aimed at higher education compared to 30 percent in 2021 while bills blocking diversity trainings at government agencies have decreased. For the first time, bills are also targeting nonpublic schools and universities.
  • GOP legislators overwhelmingly drive educational gag order bills in 2022: only one of the 137 bills has a Democratic legislative sponsor. A few years ago, Republicans sponsored bills protecting free expression on college campuses; now most of them censor the teaching of particular ideas.
  • Conservative groups and educational official broaden interpretations of existing gag order laws, and state boards of education deliver draconian penalties in excess of the laws’ requirements.
  • PEN anticipates the assault of education will continue in 2023 with more gag order bills in states where they failed this year along with an increase in other legislative attacks on education such as “curriculum transparency” bills, anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and bills mandating or facilitating book.

Founded 100 years ago, PEN works to protect free expression. 

In a planned attack on government, militias such as Proud Boys and Three Percenters participating in the January 6 insurrection, are supporting far-right candidates for schools boards, already winning in places such as Sarasota (FL), Sacramento County (CA), and Eatonville (WA).   

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis managed to get 21 people elected to school boards for his far-right agenda. Not satisfied with that success, he suspended four of nine Broward County School Board members, all women, for  “incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority.” “It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance.” His new appointees are all men. In 2019, DeSantis empaneled a grand jury to fire the school superintendent after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in 2018 who resigned last year. No crime has been proved. DeSantis tried to suspend another female board member, but she reigned last year and was elected to the state Senate.

The majority of people at the school board for Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District spoke against the restrictions instituted by members elected by the conservative Christian wireless company, Patriot Mobile. New policies used faulty definitions of such terms as “gender fluidity” in the board’s attempt to erase its existence. 

Library director Kimber Glidden in Boundary County (ID) resigned after religious and political extremists violently threatened her for LGBTQ books that her libraries don’t carry. The recall group for four of the five library board members was upset because the county belongs to the professional American Library Association.

Northwest High School in Grand Island (NE) eliminated the 54-year-old high school newspaper and journalism program after the year-end issue in May featured a story on the history of LGBTQ rights and editorials on LGBTQ topics.

Jamestown (MI) defunded its library after it refused to remove an LGBTQ book. Two librarians have resigned, one of them the lesbian director who left for fear of her safety.

In Florida, teachers are pulling books off their shelves and removing photos of their same-gender spouses on their desks. Across the nation, one-fourth of the teachers have been told to limit discussions about race and racism.

An Oklahoma teacher faced a disciplinary hearing and was put on leave after she covered all the books in her classroom but gave students the QR code for the Brooklyn Public Library’s “Books Unbanned” site that circulates digital and audio access of books to any student in the U.S. She resigned.

A police officer went to a Texas high school to “investigate” a graphic narrative about a bullied gay teen. A middle school in Texas declared parts of a book by the man for whom the school was named, the grandson of slaves who learned to read when he was 98, to be “inappropriate.”

Virginia’s new law is purging books with ideas and identities, according to the nonprofit EveryLibrary, and one school district sends an email notification every time their child checks out a book. Almost all books eliminated in schools are by LGBTQ and minority authors. According to one policy complying with the law:

“While librarians are trained in selecting materials … the ultimate determination of appropriateness for a minor lies with the parent.”

In Kentucky, politicians control book selection.

An Ohio school stopped Jason Tharp from reading his book It’s Okay To Be a Unicorn although it’s not gay as school administrators claimed. Artwork from the book was also removed from classroom walls. He also wasn’t allowed to read his book It’s Okay to Smell Good about a skunk.

Parents in Virginia have even tried to block Barnes & Noble from selling some titles. In Florida one district says that children can check out books only approved by their parents. Susan Meyers’ Everywhere Babies was banned for a drawing of one man having his arm around another man’s shoulders on one page in her book about numerous families. Another form of “soft censorship” is putting “warning” stickers on books.

One America News (OAN) reporter Kara McKinney showed a photo of Nazis burning books when she called LGBTQ literature “filth” that deserved to be banned. Fox network calls teachers lazy, stupid, anti-White Marxists trying to “groom” students for sexual abuse.

Oklahoma has added a new word to banned topics of race, sex, and LGBTQ people—abortion. Library workers are told not to help patrons locate abortion-related information on computers and could face penalties under the law. 

DeSantis rages against education with the term “woke,” bragging about his “anti-woke” laws. The term originated in African-American English with the dictionary meaning of being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” Therefore, DeSantis laws are truly “anti-woke” in that they work to remove knowledge of “important facts and issues.” His goal is ignorance. It assaults and demonizes Blacks and other minorities, anyone considered “other” than the White ruling class if they have different opinions.  

Not all the news is bad. A Minnesota board lifted its gag order preventing staff from talking publicly about issues that could reflect negatively on the district, including its curriculum, after the teachers’ union filed a lawsuit. The district still hasn’t voted on its new curriculum restrictions that teachers believe would prevent students from learning about American history, including racism, and from learning how to think critically and speak civilly about difficult topics.

Proponents of bills argue that they’re supporting “parents,” but conservative ones force their views on everyone. In Granbury (TX), books are taken from school shelves, and the superintendent told employees to “better hide” any non-conservative beliefs. At a school board meeting, however, Adrienne Quinn said:

“I do not want random people with no education background or experience determining what books my child can read, what curriculum they learn, and what clubs they can join. Just because you can get up at every meeting and rant and rave does not give you authority over my child’s education. Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination.”

Applause erupted after he speech. The superintendent said nothing.

Last spring, Llano County (TX) citizens group filed a federal lawsuit for unilaterally removing “award-winning books” from public libraries “because they disagree with the ideas within them.”  The filing claimed violation of the First Amendment, including when the library “permanently terminated access to over 17,000 digital books” they could not censor. “Public libraries are not places of government indoctrination,” according to the lawsuit. Some censored books were as innocuous as Maurice Sendak’s classic In the Night Kitchen.

Some students are forming groups to discuss sex education and having “banned book clubs.” In Missouri, students are suing their district to restore eight censored books.

Last February, 87 percent of people in the U.S opposed bans on books that discuss race and slavery. Only 12 percent support banning books concerning “divisive topics,” and 71 percent of voters oppose removing books from public libraries, almost equal between the two major parties.

Articles about the huge shortage of teachers generally cite only the stress of COVID. Journalists need to start examining the effect of the conservative control on curriculum. Reading helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking. Banning books bans this development in young readers. 

June 4, 2022

Uvalde Killings Brings Many Questions

Mass shootings: On June 4, gunfire killed one person and injured eight others ages 18 to 24 at a north Phoenix (AZ) strip mall during an early morning fight. In Chester (VA), one man was killed and seven other young people from 16 to 21 were injured during a graduation party. Update on the Tulsa mass shooting: The shooter who killed four people at the hospital was distraught because his doctor wasn’t treating his pain after back surgery. He was released from the hospital a week earlier and bought his AR-15 style rifle the afternoon of the shooting.

In the past ten days since 19 children under 11 years old and two teachers were killed in a Uvalde (TX) classroom while waiting 78 minutes for help, Texas has tried to cover up its mistakes and misrepresentations, including the timeline. 

Texas DPS stated that the school district-employed police officer at the elementary school was injured while confronting the shooter. He wasn’t at the school. When he responded to the 911 call, he drove by the perpetrator and mistakenly accosted a teacher.

A teacher was blamed for blocking a door open with a rock, permitting the shooter to enter the school unobstructed. She shut the door after learning about the shooter and watching him hop the fence with one of his guns. The teacher is now suing Daniel Defense, the company manufacturing and selling the AR-15 style rifle purchased by the shooter soon after his 18th birthday and a few days before he used it for murder. Remington settled with Sandy Hook victims’ families for $73 million after the Connecticut elementary school massacre.  

The door didn’t lock, but the assertion has no proof. 

Officials said the shooter wore body armor, but later another DPS spokesman said he wore a vest with additional magazines instead of armor.

Pete Arredondo, chief of the six-person school police force, was in charge of law enforcement to save the Uvalde children. He assumed all the classroom occupants were dead and declared the situation  a barricaded subject, not an active shooter, despite hearing ongoing gunfire during the time he kept the 19 police officers outside the classroom. This “commander” stopped Border Patrol agents from entering the classroom; they finally got a key to the classroom from a janitor and took down the shooter. Arredondo may never answer questions asked by the public because he said he was waiting until the parents had stopped grieving.

During the 78 minutes while the police stayed in the hallway outside the classroom for 78 minutes, children made at least eight calls to 911 on their cellphones, but Arredondo hadn’t turned on his radio to get messages. He claimed he needed more help, violating the protocol from the police department of charging the room.

The Uvalde police will no longer cooperate with state authorities investigating the massacre. People are wondering what the Uvalde police are hiding. (Right: the team that didn’t save the children.) 

According to the Supreme Court decision in Castle Rock v. Gonzalez (2005), police officers should protect the public but have no responsibility for individuals. The case dealt with domestic violence, but the ruling could also be used for mass shootings. That defense is being used for Scot Peterson, a school resources policeman who stayed outside at the Parkland high school while the shooter killed 17 people inside. 

Authorities have admitted that law enforcement was wrong to not immediately storm the shooter in the classroom, but criminal charges are very unlikely. The Texas law for criminally negligent homicide has a high standard. Civil negligence means acting “without using the level of care that an ordinary person would have used in similar circumstances,” according to Rebecca Roiphe, a former New York prosecutor and an expert on prosecutorial ethics at New York Law School. “Criminal negligence, on the other hand, requires a greater degree of carelessness. The risk of harm must be substantial, and the failure to perceive the risk must be a gross deviation from the norm.” Like British common law, Houston lawyer Robert Luke, said, “The starting point is that if the government hurts you, they cannot be held liable.”

Uvalde police officers had body cams, but they are protected by the Texas “dead suspect loophole.” The premise is that information can be given only if the suspect is convicted, and a dead suspect cannot be convicted. All the documents related to the shooting can be hidden unless police agree to release them. Police used this loophole 81 times between 2003 and 2018. A week after the shooting, the school district police told journalists that the city police would arrest them if they didn’t leave.

Finding the real motive for the shooting is impossible because he is dead. Neil Meyer, a former Uvalde resident, wrote an opinion piece about the racial problems in the community of 15,000 largely run by white people although the Latinx population is over 80 percent. He describes the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis at the courthouse and the heavily-armed population, especially white people, with love of guns. Meyer also wrote about the large law enforcement presence in Uvalde—the police department, the sheriff’s office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI. And the school police force.

Fortunately, the DOJ plans an independent investigation into all the problems and inconsistencies behind the Uvalde massacre. CLEAT, a large police union in Texas, advised its members to fully cooperate with any government inquiry into the police response to the mass shooting. The union statement:

“There has been a great deal of false and misleading information in the aftermath of this tragedy, Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement. Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false.”

Republicans are displaying their usual indifference to the problems of murders from guns. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said about raising the age for military-style weapons to 21: “I got my first rifle for Christmas when I was 14. You know, I think this is just not the time to be trying to change major policies. During the first funerals of Ulvalde children and the evening of the Tulsa mass shooting, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote he was having “ridiculous fun” sharing a video of himself playing a charity poker game with celebrities. 

People who blame mass shootings on mental illness should look at the statistics

  • Over 80% of mass shooters were in a noticable mental health crisis prior to their shooting.
  • Most shooters who were in crisis exhibited 1-4 of eight symptoms—paranoia, abusive behavior, depression, mood swings, loss of reality, increased agitation, isolation, and inability to complete daily tasks. One-third of the shooters showed five or more of these signs.
  • Almost 71 percent of mass shooters were suicidal.  
  • Psychosis played no role for nearly 70% of mass shooters; only 10.5 percent showed major evidence of psychosis.

Every day, over 50 people are murdered with a gun and another 1,100 are threatened during a violent crime. Seventy-seven percent of mass shootings are committed with legally bought guns, and percent of school shooters have been under 18.

Republicans have bragged about blocking anything Democrats want, even if the GOP constituency prefers the Democratic policies. And they lie about their reasons. Eight days after the murders in Uvalde, Gavin Wax, president of the New York Young Republican Club, presented his lies on the far-right conspiracy media source:

“We certainly have a lower rate of mass shooting from many other countries across the world, and if you take out some of the big cities in the U.S. and the gang and drug-related instances of mass shootings, the United States is actually one of the safest places in the world. But of course, you know, the Democrats and the media are going to politicize and weaponize this issue because their end goal is to disarm law-abiding U.S. citizens and make us a less free country as a result.”

Statistics can always be “fixed” by removing numbers that contradict a message. The U.S. is far more violent than European countries where people are horrified at the danger in this nation. Wax’s flippant comment mirrors one from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who said maternal mortality in his state isn’t a problem if Black women are not counted.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to work with Democrats in developing bills to protect people from shootings, but this ploy is likely a stalling technique. Cornyn proved that belief when he answered a right-wing talk show’s claim that he is “open to making gun laws more restrictive.” Cornyn answered, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Next Wednesday, survivors and others affected by the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings will testify before the House Oversight Committee.

April 26, 2022

The Faces of the GOP

The weekend focus on France’s election against Hitler/Russia lover Marine Le Pen for the next five-year presidential term glossed over another important European election. Melania Trump’s birthplace, Slovenia, ousted Prime Minister Janez Janša, the autocratic friend of recently elected Viktor Orbán for prime minister who wishes to remove democracy for Hungary. Robert Golob launched the Freedom Movement in January for a “referendum on democracy” and “take the country back to freedom.” Janša continually insisted that Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) won the 2020 presidential election. East of northern Italy, Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until become independent in 1991.

In the U.S., the pretended ignorance of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in a hearing about her part in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was followed by CNN’s revelation of 2,319 texts starting on November 3, 2020, Election Day, submitted by former chief of staff Mark Meadows before he decided not to participate in the House investigation committee. Meadows concealed at least 1,000 more texts, many of them from December 9-20, perhaps thinking these were more benign.

Molly Olmstad summarized earlier texts:

“That Trump refused to quickly condemn the violence on Jan. 6; that Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had accused ‘Biden and the Left’ of ‘attempting the greatest Heist of our History’; that Donald Trump Jr. had developed a strategy for overturning the election even before the election was called for Biden; and that Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Rep. Chip Roy had offered Meadows a statement supporting Trump to ‘leak’ if it was ‘helpful.’”

The new texts filled in some missing pieces, including one from Greene to Meadows to tell DDT to impose martial law to stay in the White House for another term. Under oath, Greene couldn’t “recall” or “remember” this text she sent Meadows on January 17:

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall [sic] law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

DDT’s followers sometimes recommended sedition; other times they just tried to look important.

On January 9, 2021, when Twitter banned DDT, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) texted, “I truly hope he does create a new platform to complete with Twitter and I hope he calls it ‘Trumpet’ and then we can send out ‘notes’ to each other!”

Before the election, Fox’s Sean Hannity, a supposedly “impartial” reporter, wrote “Yes, sir” to Meadows and promised he would push the vote for DDT “everywhere.”

When Donald Trump Jr. begged Meadows to get his father “to condemn this shit” on January 6, he texted the chief of staff that “this is one you go to the mattresses on,” ala The Godfather.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell sent a long text about the election overturn, concluding with “God has his hand in all of this and has put you on the front line.”

The day before the insurrection, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) texted, “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all—in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence…”

A text from DDT’s adviser Jason Miller told him to lie to the public by blaming antifa for the attack.  

Former Texas governor and energy secretary Rick Perry denied he took any part in overturning the election, but the disclosed texts were from his phone—and he signed them. He urged an “AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY” for three states to deliver electoral votes for DDT although the popular vote was for Joe Biden. 

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and DDT-supporter, features in another ongoing story. First, he bought over nine percent of Twitter’s private shares and forced himself onto the board. They told him he had to own under 15 percent of shares to stay on the board and quit bad-mouthing Twitter. He didn’t like that so he dropped off. Then he offered to pay $9 over the going price for any shares but then dropped that idea. Now he may own the entire company, paying about $44 billion.

Worth about $259 billion, Musk can afford the price although he’s borrowing $23 billion because his wealth is tied up in stocks. Also, Tesla pays no federal tax on its profits. If Musk completes the deal, Twitter will no longer be a publicly-traded company and will have no board. Musk can read everyone’s tweets, even those meant to be private, and put all the MAGA hate speech back on, including that from DDT. Musk also desperately wants an edit button, allowing people to change the meaning of a tweet after it’s been shared. Facebook knows the danger of editing: its feature helped a cryptocurrency scam. 

The deal’s size requires Musk to report his purchase to the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. Experts say that there are no clear antitrust concerns because Musk is not a social media competitor, but government regulators might slow it down to review the concentration of power. A problem could be collateralizing the payment with Tesla stock, risky for banks.

With over 217 million daily users, Twitter is not as large as Facebook and Instagram with billions, but it is popular with political leaders, companies, celebrities, and others searching for image-building. Musk has used a megaphone to announce his support for free speech, but he tried to suppress a Twitter account tracking his private jet. With uncertain advertising, Twitter’s main source of revenue, Twitter has made no profit for eight of the past ten years. Employees are also concerned about compensation and benefits: the anti-union Musk moved Tesla to Texas and dared United Autoworkers to try to form a union.

Since 2017, unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Tesla at the National Labor Relations Board. In 2018, Musk tweeted workers could lose their stock options if they unionized, and workers involved in organizing activities for organizing unionizing activities. Tesla is the only U.S. auto manufacturer without a union.

Last week, a federal judge reduced a $137 million jury ruling to a $15 million payout for a racial discrimination lawsuit against Tesla. Lawyer for Owen Diaz explained to his Black client that the $15 million is the “maximum” that can be required. Diaz said a Tesla supervisor called him the N-word over 30 times. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is also suing Tesla over alleged racism and harassment of Black employees in the same factory in Fremont, “saturated with racism” according to the judge.  

Former staunch Republicans are growing more and more disenchanted with the current GOP such as columnists Jennifer Rubin, Tim Miller, Charlie Sykes, and Rick Wilson. In January, an NBC News poll found 56 percent of Republicans support the party rather than DDT with only 36 percent devoted first to DDT. In October, 54 percent of Republicans put DDT above party.

Joe Scarborough, a GOP representative from Florida for six years, fought for DDT to be elected in 2016, even going to DDT’s apartment to advise him on his campaign although he had hosted an MSNBC show for almost a decade. By August 2016, however, he wrote a WaPo op-ed, “The GOP Must Dump Trump,” and by 2017, he became so disenchanted with GOP that he changed his registration to unaffiliated. In a statement on his show last Friday morning, he said, “I was proven wrong!” Liberals were right about his former Republican Party.

“Over the past six years, the two things that have disturbed me the most have been the Right’s positions on race and my own churches, the evangelical churches’ posture towards Trumpism, and some of the things we’ve seen. I spent my entire life going on shows, going on Politically Incorrect at the time, going on HARDBALL, talking about how what Kevin Phillips and other people in the media were saying about the Republican Party and race were a lie, that the Southern strategy was an oversimplification, that my family, we were conservatives. And I explained why we were conservatives, why people in my community were conservatives.

“I was proven wrong. I was shocked by what I saw over the past five, six years. Donald Trump in the Muslim registry, Donald Trump saying Hispanics are breeders. I could go down the list talking about the others, telling people to go home, members of Congress, Black members of Congress. How could it be that people like David French and myself and other Republicans grew up saying everything that liberals said about our party was wrong when Donald Trump actually seemed to validate much of what they were accusing us of?”

The party has been poisoning itself for a half decade since Bob Dole, evangelicals, and corporations but actor Ronald Reagan into the White House. DDT is a product of the continuing hypocrisy, shamelessness, and corruption overcoming good and decent people who don’t want to see the reality of their elected politicians who rule with hatred, fear, and bigotry.

April 20, 2022

Easter 2022: A Time of Death, Not Resurrection


On this Easter, Donald Trump Jr. celebrated the holiday in the same way that Reps. thoma Massie (R-KY) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) celebrated Christmas–with guns. It’s something that his five children can remember about the event.








Thanks to the NRA, 25 states allow the legal purchase of buying and carrying a firearm with no permit, testing, or training. The rationale for these laws is that the greater the number of guns, the more safety. Almost 40 million firearms were sold in 2020 and 2021, but the murder rate soared 30 percent in 2020, DDT’s last year in the White House. The U.S. averages over one mass shooting of four or more people every day, and violent crime is also up.

On Easter weekend, the U.S. had at least ten mass shootings with eight dead people and dozens injured. That makes a total of 144 mass shootings in the first 106 days of 2022, following the definition of a mass shooting being four or ore people shot not including the shooter. Earlier in the week, the attack on a Brooklyn subway train left ten people shot out of almost 30 injured.

Stockton (CA): Two men killed and two others wounded with no suspect or motive.

Miami-Dade (FL): Four people shot at a residence.

Baltimore (MD): One person dead and three others injured; two other male victims were found at a hospital.  

North as Vegas (NV): Four people injured, a result of an argument and no one in custody.

Syracuse (NY): One person killed and four others wounded.

Portland (OR): One man killed and three boys wounded in the Centennial Neighborhood.

Pittsburgh (PA): Two 17-year-old boys dead and over a dozen injured after over 90 shots were fired at a party in an Airbnb.

Philadelphia (PA): Four men shot in the Fairhill neighborhood.

Columbia (SC): At least nine people shot and five others injured with two men arrested and an arrest warrant for a third.

Furman (SC): Nine people shot at an Easter party in a lounge.

 Russia spent Easter Day continuing his strikes on churches and residential areas from Lviv in the east to the east, primarily Mariupol when about 1,000 people are hiding in the tunnels below the steelworks. These were built by the Soviet Union after German bombed the area during World War II. Russian President Vladimir Putin bragged about his new barrages and promised to capture the eastern area. Ukraine has refused to surrender Mariupol so Russia plans to close the city for entry and exit with people not permitted to move throughout the city without Russian-issued “movement passes.” In the south, regions surrounding Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are being transferred to “the ruble zone” and subordinated to Russian administration. The Ukrainian president said Russia’s actions in the territories were following the example of the so-called separatist republics of the DPR and LPR.

For war crimes and mass killings, Putin awarded the Russian military brigade responsible for Bucha’s horrible killings with the honorary title of “Guards” for “great heroism and courage.” Putin made no mention of his war in Ukraine when he cited the soldiers for “mass heroism and valour.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has classified soldiers in Russia’s 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade as war criminals. Russia claimed images of graves, dead bodies, and bombing aftermath as “fake.”

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin ally, has turned on his parishioners in Ukraine in his support for the Russian invasion; almost half these parishes are under Moscow jurisdiction. Of those 45 Orthodox dioceses, about half of them have stopped praying for Kirill, a leader asking, “How can you accept prayers for the patriarch who is blessing the soldiers trying to kill your son?” In a rare church tribunal, hundreds of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy have signed a petition from Archpriest Andriy Pinchuk accusing Kirill of committing “moral crimes by blessing the war against Ukraine” and asking global Orthodox leaders to sanction their Russian colleague for “heresy.”

In Northern Italy and Amsterdam, Russian Orthodox–aligned churches in Northern Italy and Amsterdam have formally severed ties to the Moscow Patriarchate. Parishioners are switching churches in the U.S., and Orthodox seminarians in France asked their bishop to break with Kirill. Orthodox priests in Russian Orthodox priests are either fined or fired for criticizing the war. The head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church for called for “greater church independence” from Moscow. The world-wide leader of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew, criticized Kirill for calling Russia’s war against Ukraine “sacred.”

Six Supreme Court justices have accepted the racism tainting a Black man’s death sentence in Texas by refusing to take his case. At the 2018 trial of Kristopher Lowe, his attorneys asked prospective jurors if they believe some races “tend to be more violent than others,” searching for illicit bias. One white juror, Zachary Niesman responded, “Yes. Statistics show more violent crimes are committed by certain races. I believe in statistics.” During preliminary examination he gave his belief that “news reports and criminology classes” bore this out but said he could be fair and impartial because he gets this belief from “statistics.”

In Texas, defendants are eligible for capital punishment only if the jury concludes they’re likely to “commit criminal acts of violence” in the future. Love’s attorney tried to strike Niesman “for cause,” in this case his bias, but the trial judge denied the challenge with no explanation. The attorney attempted a peremptory challenge which requires no specific reason for the juror’s exclusion but had none left. The jury found Love guilty and likely to commit violent crime in the future. The judge imposed the death penalty.

The appeal argued that the sentence violated Love’s constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury because one juror was “racially biased.” The all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled against the appeal because the trial judge’s refusal to strike the juror for cause was “harmless” because the attorney had expended his peremptory challenges.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated, “An already-expended peremptory strike is no cure for the seating of an allegedly biased juror.” In frustration, she wrote the Texas courts “deprived Love of any meaningful review of his federal constitutional claim” by deploying a non sequitur. She was joined by only Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Thus the U.S. Supreme Court joins the conspiracy to overturn a decades-long tradition of blocking jury bias by protecting a defendant’s ability to question and strike a biased juror, especially a problem in capital trials which kill people. The death of a person is never “harmless.”

In Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado (2017), a similar situation, the Supreme Court reaffirmed no amount of racism in the jury box is ever acceptable in a criminal trial: the biased juror believed racial minorities are more prone to violence and may have played a role in convicting the defendant. Before DDT’s appointments to the Supreme Court, a five-justice majority followed its duty to “enforce the Constitution’s guarantee against state-sponsored racial discrimination in the jury system.” At a minimum, Sotomayor wrote the lower court should have “meaningfully reviewed Love’s allegations of racial bias” rather than ignoring it. Once again, vital precedents are being struck down.

Almost two years ago, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in Minneapolis for being suspected of trying to pass a $20 counterfeit bill. On April 4, a Grand Rapids police officer killed Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, during a traffic stop. A private autopsy shows he was shot in the back of the head while he was on the ground. Lyoya, 26, died instantaneously from the “contact shot,” the gun pressed to his head. He had been driving in a residential area and stepped out of the car when he was stopped. The video shows he looked confused when the officer told him to get back into the car before he tried to run away.

The officer said he stopped Lyoya for an improper license plate, but he couldn’t have seen the plate. They were driving in opposite directions when the officer stopped Lyoya. During the struggle, the officer’s bodycam stopped working so a period of time is missing. The officer claimed Lyoya had grabbed for his taser, but it had already been used twice, the maximum usage before re-loading.

Between 2016 and 2021, police killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not wielding a gun or a knife or under pursuit for a violent crime. Many vehicle stops begin for common traffic violations or questioning about nonviolent offenses. Traffic stops are a money-maker for communities. Grand Rapids residents have protested police actions. In 2017, officers searching for a middle-aged woman wanted for a stabbing handcuffed an 11-year-old girl. Months earlier, other officers held five innocent teenagers at gunpoint.

Happy Easter!

January 14, 2022

Fear Blocks Education in U.S.

A few years ago, Republicans tried to smear their opposition by accusing them of “cancel culture.” The concept began as a joke in pop culture six or seven years ago but then became a cultural boycott to show disapproval of someone, for example of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) who put her violent and offensive conspiracy theories to work when she was elected to Congress. Republicans used disapproving statements to accuse Democrats of erasing GOP free speech. Then Republicans tried to “cancel”, or change, history that didn’t fit into their conservative ideals.

“Cancel culture” turned out to be too weak to satisfy Republicans so a clever conservative, Christopher Rufo, came up with his own definition of “critical race theory,” that all schools were teaching white kids to feel guilty for racism and hate themselves for prejudice against white people. Rufo started the conspiracy theory as the “perfect weapon” against Democrats.

CRT caught on fire, and parents started verbally and physically attacking school board members, teachers, and principals for teaching any historical information, such as slavery and other racist activities leading to the current systemic racism in the United States. The theory led to people, including school board members, calling for book burning.

States passed laws to ban books in schools beyond those describing racist behavior, moving to banning all books against minorities lawmakers consider undesirable such as LGBTQ people. An example of these lawmakers is Indiana State Sen. Scott Baldwin, co-sponsoring a bill that would require teachers support fascism and Naziism by showing impartiality toward these evils. Baldwin denies being a member of the extremist Oath Keepers whose members were charged this week with seditious conspiracy, but his name is reportedly on their list. Criticism caused the President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) to announce the bill has been pulled before next week’s vote.

One high school student, Christiane Calixte, disagrees with this “impartiality.” The junior at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, wrote this op-ed for the Washington Post

“As a Black high school junior, I have to say: The backlash I’ve seen against the teaching of critical race theory is unbelievable.

“In most schools, as has been well established, critical race theory—an approach to analyzing the intersection of race, history and the law, generally reserved for higher education—isn’t even being taught. And yet, since January 2021, according to Education Week, more than 30 states “have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism” in K-12 schools.“These policies are no joke.

“One Tennessee high school teacher, Matthew Hawn, lost his job after showing his students a four-minute video of a poet performing a piece about White privilege. In Texas, James Whitfield was pushed out of his job as a high school principal after accusations that he was promoting CRT.

“Opponents of CRT claim that this academic lens is divisive, anti-White, and anti-American. Many have claimed that its teachings are a means of forcing a political agenda onto children in lieu of focusing on subjects deemed more educational.

“Don’t be fooled, though. The retaliation against CRT shows that parents have no idea what students are learning—and that their protests are less about education and more about a projection of their own biases and fears.

“As one of the few high school students who have actually been taught CRT, I should know.

“At my school, students are often permitted to participate in short workshops on current controversial topics. The one we did on CRT lasted 75 minutes. For students who wish to deepen their understanding of CRT, a semester-long elective—completely optional—is offered during senior year. Material on CRT is by no means replacing instruction in math, science or other core subjects in our curriculum.

“When we discussed CRT in our short workshop, we were taught the basic premise of critical race theory—that the underlying cause of racism within our country is institutional oppression built into American government and law. This structural racism shows up in systems such as the electoral college, which allowed slaveholding states disproportionate representation, and the prison-industrial complex, which upholds forced labor to this day.

“Yes, we discussed White privilege, the fact that because of systems planted hundreds of years ago, “White-identifying people have been given unfair advantages over their non-White counterparts. But this discussion in no way resembled the chaos described by anti-CRT activists who argue that the concept of White privilege will lead to widespread resentment of White people.

“Were we taught that all White people are nothing but racist bigots? No. Were we taught that all White people should feel guilty about events in the past they could not control? No. Were students taught to hate their White friends and teachers?

“Absolutely not.

“CRT does not promote the hatred of White people. Nor does the acknowledgment of White privilege.

All people, regardless of race, can work together to dismantle the systems used to oppress minorities. White people are even encouraged to use their privilege to do so.

“In our discussion, CRT also wasn’t presented as absolute and unchangeable truth. Throughout the lesson, teachers emphasized that all students had the right to agree or disagree with the teachings.Not one of us was crucified for failing to succumb to some “leftist agenda.” My fellow students and I had the opportunity to voice our opinions and explain the reasoning behind them.

“Is this not what learning should look like? Should education not emphasize the critical thinking that students will need to use in future endeavors?

“If the censorship of CRT continues, students across the country will be barred from taking part in similar conversations. Which is exactly what opponents of CRT want.

“Their sentiments are translating to real, sometimes dangerous decision-making. More lawmakers and school officials are hopping on the bandwagon of inhibiting or twisting historical discussions of race, gender and discrimination. In one Texas district, an administrator told teachers, disturbingly, to include books with ‘opposing’ views of the Holocaust to comply with new state legislation mandating that teachers discussing “controversial issues” incorporate “diverse and contending perspectives.”

“CRT isn’t at all what its opponents paint it to be. It’s simply being used as a straw man for those who aim to restrict speech and knowledge—and, in some cases, perpetuate bigoted ideologies.

“The right to discuss and speak up against discrimination has been long fought for. So please, adults, if you’re listening: Don’t reverse centuries of progress in favor of promoting ignorance. If the goal of schools is to create a well-informed populace, then nuanced discussions of historical racism must be held in classrooms. It is the only way young people will learn to think critically about our country’s institutions, and the only way to create an inclusive America for future generations.”

Virginia’s GOP legislators displayed their ignorance for all to see. A bill banning what they called “divisive concepts” of racism and sexism in state schools erroneously listed a debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass about slavery during the presidential campaign. The debate was actually against Stephen Douglas, tied to slavery, not the Black activist Frederick Douglass, once a slave who fought for slavery’s abolition. The bill, sponsored by a freshman Republican, demanded the teaching of “the fundamental moral, political and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government” through “founding documents” which included “the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.”   

By the end of 2021, the conservative use of CRT was moving education back to the nineteenth century. In Texas, state Rep. Matt Krause, aiming for Tarrant County DA, put together a list of 850 books that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.” He left out the part about discomfort was only by white students; minorities, including LGBTQ students, were still subjected to books with only white heterosexual people. Then he demanded that all schools search their schools for these books and get rid of them. “Discomfort” includes any books about the history of lynchings and voter suppression. (Cartoon: Headline reads “26 States Ban Teaching about Race.”)

Oklahoma state Sen. Rob Standridge decided to expand Krauses’s campaign with proposed legislation that parents could collect $10,000 if the “offending” book wasn’t removed within 30 days. School libraries in other states such as Kansas, Virginia, Missouri, Utah, and Florida were also forced to moved books fitting their conservative CRT standards.

Journalist Sophie Whitehead wrote, “All book banning revolves around fear of change.” Because of an unflattering view of the Russian Revolution, Doctor Zhivago was banned in Stalin’s USSR. Accused of Mickey Mouse as an “anti-Red rebel,” his comics were banned by East Germany’ communists in East Berlin. In 1633, the Vatican banned a book by astronomer Galileo Galilei which claimed the Earth rotated around the Sun instead of vice-versa. Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor, wrote, “The aim of education is opening minds through access to ideas.” He cited the ruling of the Supreme Court’s importance of this concept in Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico by Pico: access to diverse ideas “prepares students for active and effective participation in the pluralistic, often contentious society in which they will soon be adult members.” Aftergut added, “Fear stifles citizenship and the ability to get ahead.” Even a high school junior understands these concepts.

November 7, 2021

Moscow (ID), a Template for Theocracy

Christ’s Church in Moscow (ID) may be a template for the evangelical attempt to take over the United States for a theocracy; it even has the goal “to make Moscow a Christian town” by taking over the town of at least 24,000 population. Behaving like the biblical version of Jesus might not be a huge problem, but Christ’s Church opposes secular government, browbeats perceived opponents, harasses elected officials regarding COVID restrictions, and takes over land and businesses to transform the nation into following its ultra-conservative moral ideology.  

Controversies began with Douglas Wilson, the church’s founder and pastor, and has continued with his son who threatens political violence. YouTube removed Wilson’s blogpost “A Biblical Defense of Fake Vaccine IDs,” based on the conspiracy theory that the vaccine is President Joe Biden’s “power play. He also urged readers to “resist openly” in the civil war because it is not “rebellion against lawful authority” but “an example of a free people refusing to go along with their own enslavement.” The church has grown to about 2,000 since its founding in the 1990s and draws people to the area with the hope that northern Idaho will become a conservative fortification against U.S. modernity.

Sexual abuse and theological subordination of women: In 2005, Wilson asked a judge to be lenient in the case of a former student at a Christ Church-aligned college who was convicted of sex offenses involving children. Wilson married the student in 2010 who Wilson met through a then-Christ Church elder and now pastor in Colville (WA).

Slavery: In the 1990s, Wilson co-wrote the book Southern Slavery As It Was with the co-founder of the neo-Confederate organization the League of the South.    A year ago, Wilson distributed flyers on at the University of Idaho at Moscow advertising an upcoming conference featuring himself and his co-author, Stephen Wilkins. The flyer included excerpted “highlights” of the book:

  • “Slavery as it existed in the South … was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.”
  • “There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. …
  • “Slave life was to them [slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.”

Theocracy: Wilson’s 2016 book describes the church’s aim as “a network of nations bound together by a formal acknowledgement of the lordship of Jesus Christ,” as opposed to secular society ruled by “civil governments, [which] are in necessary degrees satanic, demonic, and influenced by the god of this world, who is the devil.”

Non-profit abilities: Christ Church doesn’t need to report income and maintains tax-free status, and Wilson has developed a profitable network of educational institutions, publishing houses, churches, and national associations that he founded and controls with a small group of men, many of them from his own family, that exert power in both his organization and Moscow. For example, the town’s New Saint Andrews College (NSAC) has Wilson, his son-in-law, and his pastor on the board of trustees; another of Wilson’s son-in-laws is college president. Wilson and his son Douglas are on the faculty along with Wilson’s brother, who believes the world was created in seven days, as senior fellow of natural history. These college employees draw salaries.

Town influence: A founding director and former trustee at NSAC, Andrew Crapuchettes, was CEO of Moscow’s largest private employer, EMSI, for over 19 years until the company was sold in June 2021 to become EMSI Burning Glass. The company, announced by Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) as Idaho Small Business of the Month for July 2021, provides labor market data for education. EMSI employees 55 NSAC graduates of the total 635 people since its founding in 1994. The COO/CFO at EMSI is a Christ Church elder and a teaching elder at the church’s suburban offshoot church, and Wilson’s son-in-law, the NSAC trustee, is EMSI’s executive VP of higher education. Crapuchette has started an employment website for church run or founded organizations and companies belonging to other church members. He also expanded into property development and gained legal “annexation” of 27 acres of land on Moscow’s south-western edge for a new, 109-unit subdivision, Edington.

Wilson’s ideas about slavery came from theologian Gregg Singer who rediscovered writings of Civil War Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s chaplain, Robert L. Dabney, in the 1960s. Singer joined another far-right theologian, Rousas John Rushdoony, to develop the view of the pre-Civil War South as a religiously ordered society overtaken by rationalist and anti-religious thought. The theologians used Dabney’s work which described Blacks as a “morally inferior race, a “sordid, alien taint” marked by “lying, theft, drunkenness, laziness, waste”—lies to opposed the Civil Rights movement. Rushdooney’s book Institutes of Biblical Law, established him as the founding thinker of Christian Reconstruction, a “reconstructed” society following the Old Testament. Equality has no place in Rushdoony’s society of classes with differing rights.

Rushdooney’s strategy planned the development of Christian homeschooling and private schools to train a generation that would follow his guidelines. His influence led to the collaboration between “orthodox Christians” and “Confederate nationalists,” and Wilson’s Logos School, a private Christian academy in Moscow, follows Rushdooney’s plan. Logos is now one of 165 “classical schools” teaching students Greek and Latin in the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, also founded by Wilson. Thousands of students order their books from Wilson’s Canon Press which publishes and sells 31 titles. Graduates from a three-year training program in the 20 churches in the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE), another of Wilson’s inventions, must promise to engage in “cultural reformation”; they have started several churches around the country. Rushdooney and Dabney are considered foundational thinkers like Plato and Aristotle at Wilson’s college NSAC.

In Alabama, college professor Michael Hill founded the League of the South with Wilkins. The organization called for a second Southern secession to create the “revitalization of general European hegemony” in the South. People would be welcome in his new South only if they obeyed Hill’s religious rules, including its “Anglo-Celtic” nature. His ideas all followed those of Rushdoony. The group now has 15,000 members in 87 chapters throughout 16 states.

Wilson tries to maintain he isn’t a Christian Reconstructionist and the movement is “dead,” but his theology is almost identical to Reconstruction. He and Wilkins have been instrumental in building the neo-Confederate theology far beyond pro-slavery. Some of these positions:

The goal is “the overthrow of unbelief and secularism.”

Children are “foul—unclean” if “neither parent believes in Jesus Christ.”

“Government schools” are godless propaganda factories.

Woman “was created to be dependent and responsive to a man.” They should be allowed to date or “court” only with their father’s permission and then Christians with other Christians.

A rapist should pay the father of his victim a bride price and then marry her with her father’s permission.

Gay men and lesbians are “sodomites” and should be exiled.

Cursing parents is “deserving of punishment by death.”

Christian parents “need not be afraid to lay it on” when spanking and used for children as young as two years old for such “sins” as whining.

Other evangelicals follow the pattern set up in Moscow (ID), according to a new study from Public Religion Research Institute. A growing number of other religious and non-religious people in the U.S. want the United States to be a place where people follow diverse faiths, but 57 percent of white evangelical Christians want them to be only Christians. The values of Islam are at odds with U.S. values and ways of life, according to 75 percent of white evangelicals. In opposition to minorities, white people in other religions, and non-Christians, only 47 percent of white evangelicals want undocumented people to find a path to citizenship. Almost as many want to see them deported. A large majority of white evangelicals, 60 percent, also think that the election was stolen, and one-fourth of that religious group are QAnon followers. Also 26 percent of them want violence to “save the country.”

The number of evangelicals may be shrinking because of COVID. Only 45 percent of white evangelicals say they will definitely or probably not get the vaccine, compared to 90 percent of atheists and 77 percent of Catholics.

June 20, 2021

Religion Moves to QAnon Beliefs

The Southern Baptist Church conference is over, and thousands of people elected the less extreme Rev. Ed Litton as president. In Slate, Molly Olmstead called the vote a move away from extremist support for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Before last week’s meeting, ultraconservatives had pushed DDT supporters to elect far-right Mike Stone and vote for their positions about critical race theory (against) and the church’s sexual abuse (ignore). Former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, accused of trying to intimidate and silence an alleged sexual assault victim, was a strong proponent of Stone.

Outgoing president J.D. Greear introduced the two-day conference by warning about the dangers of hypocrisy—even worse, he said, than the “curse of liberalism.” He cautioned against a convention mistreating and maligning “female abuse victims” and putting more energy into lambasting CRT than “lamenting the devastating consequences of years of racial bigotry and discrimination.” Two years ago, the SBC convention passed a resolution to use CRT and intersectionality if they were second to Scripture; in November, seminary presidents declared CRT “incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message. Prominent Black pastors left the SBC.  

Prepared for a fight, convention organizers combined many resolutions into one, apologizing for the SBC’s part in perpetuating systemic racism but rejecting “any theory or worldview that finds the ultimate identity of human beings in ethnicity or in any other group dynamic” as well as “any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ.” The resolution easily passed, and conservatives failed with resolutions to specifically condemn CRT or stop funding institutions promoting CRT. A final vote also amended SBC rules to expel a member church for racism.

In the other issue, the SBC has been accused of ignoring claims by victims of sexual abuse and sheltering the abusers, swiftly clearing accused pastors without a complete investigation. Recently, a report alleged the SBC failed to look into allegations of a church staffer who moved on to abuse children at other churches. A popular Bible teacher, Beth Moore, left the SBC in March, citing sex abuse allegations. She had also broken SBC rules by speaking publicly to men and women as well as opposing DDT in the convention.

Russell Moore (no relation), who pushed for reform within the conference, criticized the SBC for its poor handling of abuse allegations and left the church’s leadership. The convention passed a resolution that “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor.” 

Resolutions are non-binding opinions, and SBC conservatives elected their choice as vice-president. Yet some evangelicals may separate themelves from the secular focus that elected DDT.

Peter Wehner, who worked for three GOP administrations before DDT as speechwriter, wrote about a concern about evangelicals participating in the QAnon movement as 31 percent of them have. In an interview with The Atlantic, Tennessee’s former two-term GOP governor Bill Haslam said:

“I have heard enough pastors who are saying they cannot believe the growth of the QAnon theory in their churches. Their churches had become battlegrounds over things that they never thought they would be. It’s not so much the pastors preaching that from pulpits—although I’m certain there’s some of that—but more people in the congregation who have become convinced that theories are reflective of their Christian faith.”

Wehner wrote:

“Countless people who profess to be Christians are having their moral sensibilities shaped more by Tucker Carlson’s nightly monologues than by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

“Many of those who most loudly proclaim the ‘pre-eminence of Christ’ have turned him into a means to an end, a cruel, ugly and unforgiving end. And this, too, is not quite what Jesus had in mind.”

The SBC is not the only fundamentalist Christian religion being taken over by the QAnons, and pastors are leaving their churches because of parishioners’ radicalization. Even YouTube sermons are infusing dangerous conspiracy theories about rampant sex-trafficking and demon possession of Democrats. Consider Sen. Ted  Cruz’s (R-TX) speech to a recent fundamentalist conference about Democrats being “soulless” with “red eyes” and “no brain.” Many of the audience literally accepts his message. Christian fundamentalism continues to be ripe for takeover by White supremacists.

Last January, over 45 percent of Protestant pastors reported often hearing congregants repeating conspiracy theories about national news events. Sixty percent of White evangelical respondents believe President Joe Biden’s 2020 win was “not legitimate”—the highest of any religious group. Last February, more than 1,400 evangelical pastors and faith leaders published an open letter condemning “radicalized Christian nationalism” and the “rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ,” according to the Washington Post. SBC youth pastor Jared Stacey, who left the church, said, “The church is going through the biggest information shift since the printing press.”

Since January 6, Derek Kubilus, senior pastor of Uniontown United Methodist Church (OH), has offered “healing for QAnon followers and family members from a Christian perspective” through his “Cross Over Q” podcast. He said he felt he had to do something after seeing “crosses being carried alongside QAnon banners and a noose.”

Also at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference where Cruz spoke, a group shouted “traitor” at former VP Mike Pence. The MAGA group claimed he had validated the presidency of Joe Biden by permitting the Electoral College to cast the votes of the people for the 2020 election.

The FBI sent Congressional members an unclassified threat assessment that QAnon may go from “digital soldiers” to “real world violence.” The “believers” already played a central role in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol with over 20 of them arrested for their participation. The FBI had already classified QAnon as a domestic-terror threat in an internal memo, but DDT accepted their members, calling them “people who love our country” and “they like me very much, which I appreciate.” The recent FBI report comes after requests by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) for a full assessment on the QAnon threat.

Steven Benen wrote about QAnon:

“The basic idea behind the madness is that Donald Trump is secretly at war with nefarious forces of evil, including Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, the “deep state,” cannibals, and an underground ring of Satanic pedophiles who are operating a child sex trafficking ring that only adherents of the conspiracy theory are aware of.

“QAnon adherents were convinced that a reckoning was imminent, in which Trump would be re-elected and his enemies would be vanquished. When President Biden took office, some followers of the crackpot theory came to realize that their bonkers ideas were not coming to fruition.”

Because of DDT’s pressure, QAnon followers have not moved on with their lives but instead joined him in the master conspiracy theory that the election was “stolen” from him. The FBI fears that they “will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts,” leading them to extreme violence. Facts contributing to QAnon’s lasting effect, according to the FBI report, include COVID, posts on social media platforms, U.S. polarization, and support from public individuals. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is a QAnon strong advocate., a political website reporting surveys, has a detailed explanation of why people fall for conspiracy theories such as the moon landing being a hoax and vaccines being dangerous. The article presents testing for different traits such as the jumping-to-conclusions bias with little evidence, a trait more likely held by conspiracy theories. No one trait of the article predicts belief in conspiracy theories, but several of them may indicate a pattern.

A 2018 study about whether a series of coin tosses is random or predetermined examined tendencies to see patterns even if there are none. Those who see predetermination also find them in random statements—as in QAnon conspiracy beliefs making connections between unrelated events and symbols as a marker of conspiracy theories—such as a cicada landing on Biden’s neck meaning the onslaught of “the storm.” Or the connection of the Ever Given, ship caught in the Suez Canal believe by QAnon to transport trafficked children, and a March madness tweet from Mike Pompeo, a warship transit, and a 2018 Q post. [Hint: these coin tosses are random, not predetermined.]

Environmental factors can influence cognitive traits. Conspiracy theories can make people feel safer, perhaps by having a specific political candidate win or keeping a job endangered by an understanding of climate change. The theories may make them part of their tribe, “in-group” instead of “out-group.” Belief can make a person feel superior or important. The sharing of conspiracy theories builds them, and social media has been instrumental in doing this, especially when people were staying at home and on the internet during the pandemic.

About half the population endorses at least one conspiracy theory. (I won’t tell you mine!). And all brains want to take shortcuts, make assumptions, and be irrational. The extremes create danger for our lives and for our democracy.

A fascinating look at conspiracy theories through the last six centuries, their relationship to social and political upheavals, and DDT’s history of conspiracy theories.


June 19, 2021

Time to Talk Critical Race Theory

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:01 AM
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One of the speakers featured at this weekend’s Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), spreading more disinformation about critical race theory. He claimed that CRT tells every white person they are a racist and the theory is “as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” Then he topped off his damning remarks by how it came from Marxism, that CRT changed the conflict “between the owners of capital and the working men and women” to that of race. Cruz finished by claiming he loves everyone, “whatever skin color you are” before he compared Democrats to the Terminator: they “are soulless, have no brain, and red eyes.” So much for love.

Most people have heard the term “critical race theory,” but most people may not know what it means. For that reason, Christopher Rufo decided it would be the “perfect weapon” against Democrats and created the conflict with falsehoods about it. He took advantage of remote work, making leaked large meetings and emailed documents much easier to access. In July 2020, a Seattle employee sent Rufo documentation from an anti-bias training session, and he sent a report claiming forced education about internalized white supremacy to the center-right Manhattan Institute, once home to white nationalist Charles Murray who talks about Blacks have lower IQs than Whites:

“Under the banner of ‘antiracism,’ Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.”

Collecting more stories of anti-racism trainings, Rufo noted they cited popular anti-racism books, for example, by Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. The books’ footnotes cited academic scholarship from the 1990s by legal scholars arguing current laws and societal rules reflecting past white supremacy which were called critical race theory. Rufo associated CRT with critical-theory, sometimes Marxist, research by the 1968 generation including Angela Davis—aka “red-baiting.” He created language to supplant the former conservative targets such as “political correctness” during President Obama’s second term and “cancel culture” of more recent years. He wrote:

“’Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain. Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.”

On Tucker Carlson’s show, Rufo said, “It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory”—emphasizing the last three words by saying them slowly—“has pervaded every aspect of the federal government.” He continued by describing his articles and then said:

“Conservatives need to wake up. This is an existential threat to the United States. And the bureaucracy, even under Trump, is being weaponized against core American values. And I’d like to make it explicit: The President and the White House—it’s within their authority to immediately issue an executive order to abolish critical-race-theory training from the federal government. And I call on the President to immediately issue this executive order—to stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology.”

The next day, White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows called Rufo who immediately helped draft a presidential executive order issued in late September to block contractors from talking about race in federal diversity seminars. Recently, Rufo bragged about how the conservative campaign against critical race theory he invented “came from nothing.”

The farthest right became Rufo’s followers: Carlson hosted Rufo for an hour-long segment on “woke education”; Rufo advised language for over ten bills banning the teaching of CRT; and people like Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) use Rufo’s language. He speaks to Congress and has drinks with Cruz. The Fox network mentioned “critical race theory” 1,300 times in under four months—244 times last week—in order to influence the 2022 election

Rufo’s goal in his personal movement is “to politicize the bureaucracy,” allowing conservatives to take over from the liberals. His laws prevent social studies teachers from explaining current events at all levels. Three months ago, Rufo promised to make CRT “toxic” in the public imagination. He even provided his own definition of the term in a tweet:

“The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Five states passed bills preventing the teaching of CRT—whatever they think it is—and another seventeen introduced bills to ban that education. The bills condemn teaching of historical racism and its impact on modern U.S. society as divisive or racist. Florida, Montana, and Utah have banned CRT through their states’ boards of education.

Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw explained that in the “post-George Floyd backlash” the anti-CRT campaign tries to change the argument focus from addressing structural racism to the anti-racism seminars addressing structural racism.

Conservatives are delighted with the success of its anti-CRT campaign. The Affordable Care Act hasn’t gone away, the religious right hasn’t yet destroyed LGBTQ rights, and Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) involvement in elections frightens Republicans for future elections. Now the far right feels successful because they are banning the teaching of a concept in the schools that has not been taught in schools. They have defeated a threat that doesn’t exist. Instead, teachers are becoming terrified of even mentioning race—a difficult proposition when explaining the newest federal holiday of Juneteenth. Conservatives complain about a new holiday to recognize just one race, forgetting that the original Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, celebrated only White people. No people of color had “independence” in the United States of the 18th century.

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis forced the state board of education to ban CRT in classrooms, the state’s U.S. GOP Sen. Rick Scott proposed a similar resolution in the Senate. It claims CRT “serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool, and should not be taught in K-12 classrooms” while encouraging states and localities to take action to discourage the theory. The resolution avoided the truth: CRT is not a defined doctrine, and CRT, taught in graduate school, does appear in K-12 schools. Three senators co-sponsoring the resolution did not provide specific supporting information, and three anti-CRT groups did not explain its problems.

Falsehoods used to “support” the resolution:

“Whereas Critical Race Theory’s teachings stand in contrast to the overarching goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the United States”: Nope. CRT supporters believe in the Civil Rights Act, hailed as an important step to equality, but think that more is needed to done to achieve its goal of equality “in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public,” as Lyndon Johnson said. When the law didn’t cause the end of discrimination, Harvard philosopher Cornel West praised CRT’s founders in the 1990s for exposing society’s failure to deliver on the “possibilities for human freedom and equality.” Khiara Bridges’ 2018 book, Critical Race theory: A Primer, showed that Blacks are still disproportionately poor.

“Whereas Critical Race Theory serves to resegregate institutions of education and balkanize students into groups by race and ethnicity”: Nope. No current scholarship advocates resegregating schools. Any desire appears to be extremely limited. Desegregation peaked in 1988, but by 2016, they were returning to segregation. As children see more racism in their lives, they can learn about it.

“Whereas efforts to indoctrinate critical race theory into United States school children are designed to eventually transform the United States by stigmatizing its economic system and creating a hatred of all its institutions”: Nope. Anti-CRT people can’t find any examples of this. Teaching history shows a growth from the nation’s inception when voting was related to owning property and people could be owned. Learning how this is wrong is part of civic reasoning.

“Whereas the 1619 Project, which puts slavery, not the ideal of equality, at the center of our Nation’s storyline, and has been widely debunked by historians across the ideological spectrum, is nevertheless being taught in 4,500 classrooms across the country”: The New York Times edition on the legacy of slavery and racism in America since the arrival of the first slaves in 2019 was revised, and classroom materials are not identical to the piece. In addition, the material is available to classrooms but not mandated.

A definition of CRT from Isaac Saul on the middle-of-the road website Tangle:

“An academic movement that recognizes systemic racism in American society and examines how that racism impacts the law, institutions, and outcomes. It argues that many social problems are influenced more by racial inequity in societal structures than individual or psychological factors. CRT teaches that racism is an everyday experience for people of color, and that white supremacy maintains its power through our systems of government and law.”

He continues:

“If K-12 students are being taught that they are inherently inferior, superior, or racist, based on their race—or otherwise being compelled to espouse those ideas—they are already protected by our country’s laws. And they can use those laws to seek recourse.”

There’s much more to say about critical theory, but basically, as its inventor claimed, its “toxic” and the “perfect weapon.”

June 1, 2021

QAnon Believes in DDT’s Return, Scandals Continue

Michael Flynn, the national security advisor who DDT fired less than a month after his inauguration, told a QAnon conspiracy conference last weekend he wanted a Myanmar-style coup in the United States to put Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) back into the White House. On video, Flynn stated the coup “should happen here” but later claimed, “I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.” The military coup against the government already killed 800 people. Flynn was convicted after confessing to lying to the FBI, destroying any personal credibility.

Flynn’s false claim is comparable to Washington, D.C. police who stated they didn’t use tear gas to clear peaceful protesters so DDT could walk to the church for his infamous photo-op last June. The police attorney now admits the police used tear gas but described the use as “not unreasonable.”

DDT is telling close associates he will be reinstated in the White House by the end of summer, according to New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman. Sidney Powell, a former lawyer who tried to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election in court, also told the QAnon group that DDT will triumphantly return. She said, “A new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House.” Powell is being sued for $1.3 billion for her lies about Dominion voting machines and software. Smartmatic is also asking for $2.7 billion in damages for their defamation suit against Powell. Her legal defense argues that “no reasonable person would conclude that the statements [by Powell about the 2020 election] were truly statements of fact.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is another one of the liars at the QAnon conspiracy conference. About DDT’s supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol, Gohmert criticized an independent review of the insurrection and pushed the myth that “it wasn’t just right-wing extremists” rioting despite federal officials saying that left-wing activists weren’t present. Gohmert also said the event trying to overturn a presidential election wasn’t any big deal, that foreign attacks were much worse. Despite Gohmert appearing in a video, one of his staff members said he didn’t go to the conference. Later, Gohmert told a CBS journalist he doesn’t “know who or what QAnon is.” Earlier this year, Gohmert said in an interview that if the 2020 election isn’t overturned, “it will mean the end of our republic, the end of the experiment in self-government.” After his speech, Gohmert posed with known QAnon conspiracy theorist and podcaster RedPill78, who openly admitted to storming the Capitol building on January 6.  

The typical call to execute Hillary Clinton came from Roger Stone’s social media advisor Jason Sullivan. DDT pardoned Stone after his conviction. Sullivan claimed “80 million followers” for QAnon, but a survey found about 30 million.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was “very useful to me,” according to Andriy Derkach, the Ukrainian politician and businessman described in the Biden and DDT administration as an “active Russian agent.” Derkach fed Giuliani false information on Biden and his son Hunter Biden, leaked tapes to damage Biden’s presidential campaign, and passed along the conspiracy theory to Giuliani and others that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2020 election to get DDT elected.  

A judge approved the DOJ request to appoint an independent supervisor to review materials obtained from Giuliani’s home with a search warrant last month. The ruling also rejected Giuliani’s challenge to the legality of the recent search warrant and the one two years ago as part of his business dealings with Ukraine.

Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WV), surprised about the filibuster requiring 60 out of 100 votes to permit bills to the Senate floor, is “disappointed” because the Republicans he supports have blocked bipartisan legislation to examine the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.  The filibuster requires 60 votes even if senators don’t show up. Only 54 members voted in favor of a commission with 35 votes against it: 39 percent defeated 64 percent. Only in the Senate is the number 35 larger than the number 54. Not present for the vote were nine Republicans and two Democrats, Patty Murray (WA) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). Manchin said “putting politics and political elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable,” but he and Sinema are responsible for keeping the filibuster and blocking democracy. 

Six GOP senators voted to forward the January 6 commission bill for debate: Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), and Ben Sasse (NE). Most Republicans oppose the commission for fear its revelations will hurt their election chances in 2022.

Possible paths for a congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol:

The Senate can try again. After all, the 9/11 independent investigative commission wasn’t formalized for 14 months. House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “I reserve the right to force the Senate to vote on the bill again at the appropriate time.”

House Democrats have started their own probe of the insurrection with a coalition of seven committees; documents requests have been sent to 16 agencies in the federal government.

Democrats could also create a select House committee without GOP support and undertake steps for accountability as Republicans with Benghazi. The GOP followed six separate GOP congressional investigations with a select committee, all failing to find evidence for the GOP far-right conspiracy theories against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A select committee, needing only a House majority, has subpoena power, a dedicated staff, and no firm deadline.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), under investigation for a number of criminal offences including sex-trafficking, explained the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary.”

Gaetz was speaking specifically about his willingness to silence Big Tech, but his listeners will likely use his words to kill anyone.

DDT’s appointments from before Biden’s administration are still haunting the country. An example is retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, who pushed conspiracy theories about George Soros, talked about Europe welcoming “Muslim invaders,” and encouraged deadly force against undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Before leaving the White House, DDT put Macgregor on a West Point advisory board where he announced Biden’s bringing in non-White immigrants in a “grand plan” for them to outnumber White people of European ancestry in the U.S. He also attacked women’s military service in combat. Cleaning house will take Biden a long time.

Rational people aren’t surprised about revelations of corruption in DDT’s administration such as this one. According to EPA scientists, their officials reapproved Monsanto’s pesticide by revising scientific analyses with no evidence. Officials gave scientists an outline for its impact analysis document that removed vital parts of the original. The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention told scientists to use Monsanto data for reported dicamba damages instead of EPA science data. The senior management decision to use plant height instead of plant injury to measure dicamba’s effects changed scientific conclusions. Other concerns were “numerous inaccuracies” and using studies for controlling weeds on cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate it instead of crops not engineered to tolerate it which were impacted by its usage. In 2020, dicamba was approved for five years although a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology links dicamba use to cancers. An article for The Hill avoided any mention of Monsanto, but dicamba is a Monsanto product.

When DDT stopped the requirement of payroll taxes to boost the economy during the pandemic, people thought the taxes would be forgiven. The day of reckoning, however, has arrived, and federal employees making under $4,000 per biweekly paycheck owe thousands of dollars because DDT made the delay mandatory. A letter demands payment in full within 30 days before the debt is forwarded to the Treasury offset program for collection. One recipient is incensed about her debt of $1,300. Private sector employers largely refused the payroll tax delay for fear that workers couldn’t pay back the money.

DDT’s lease on his Washington, D.C. hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion is once again for sale. The first time was in Fall 2019 when the hotel was typically half empty. Property revenue fell by 62 percent last year, and Cyrus Vance’s investigation of DDT’s business affairs may include this hotel. DDT supposedly put $200 million into renovations with a $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank; in 2019, he wanted $500 million for the lease and property.

Update: Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill charging social media platforms $250,000 a day after they ban a politician for longer than 14 days, and NetChoice and the Computer and Community Industry Association are suing him and other state officials. The suit declares First Amendment rights of private online businesses. DeSantis’ battle was always about the culture war.

May 21, 2021

U.S. Involvement in Israel/Palestine Combat

After 11 days of Hamas-fired rockets and Israeli shelling destroying much of Palestinian infrastructure and killing 232 Palestinians, an Egypt-brokered ceasefire stopped—at least briefly—firing on both sides. Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved the ceasefire, and Hamas agreed “as long as the occupation is committed.” Twelve Israelis died from the rocketing in the 11 days, including two children; Israel killed at least 65 Palestinian children. 

Hamas said that Israel had granted concessions on several points, but Israel said it only agreed to stop military operations. Israel Defenses said that the 200 hours of bombardment had succeeded in degrading the Hamas’ capability in Gaza. Devastated electricity and water systems are producing a humanitarian crisis, and Israel blocked trucks carrying medical supplies and relief workers into Gaza to help injured Palestinians. (Israel blames Hamas attacks for blocking the trucks.) Shelling also damaged the health and sewage systems, closed schools for 600,000 students, and displaced almost 100,000 people from their homes. 

After defending Israel’s attacks, President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.” The demand was a huge change from the previous administration giving Netanyahu anything he wanted. With a weak leadership in Israel’s parliament, Netanyahu is caught between needing the U.S. as an ally and the appearance of strength for his right-wing base. U.S. gives over $3 billion a year to Israel and is poised to sell Israel with $735 million of precision-guided weapons. Congress could block this sale, and members of Congress are pointing out that the U.S. knows its sale of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel will be used to displace and kill Palestinians.

Immediately after Biden asked Netanyahu for a “vital de-escalation,” Israel fired on a “variety of targets” in Lebanon. This past week Palestinian workers in Israel and occupied territories went on strike. Violence erupted in cities while stores were shuttered. Palestinians represent 20 percent of the Israeli population in a system of apartheid denying the same rights to Palestinians as to Jews.

Before the 11-day combat, unemployment in Gaza was about 50 percent, and everything going in and out of Gaza, including electricity and fuel, was controlled by Israeli and Egyptian governments. Israel also controls Gaza’s airspace, maritime access, and cellular data as well as restricts Palestinian access to farmland beside Gaza’s perimeter.

Journalists are targets for Israelis: an airstrike killed Palestinian Yusef Abu Hussein in his home and Reema Saad, four months pregnant, with her four-year-old son. Last weekend on the Jewish Sabbath, the military deliberately destroyed the building housing the Associated Press Gaza bureau and other news agencies. Israeli airstrikes damaged or destroyed the offices of at least 18 media outlets. For almost a week, Israel refused to process applications for journalists to cover the conflict, leaving them unsure of when news agencies not already on the ground of when they could be permitted entry. If the AP had not been in Gaza when its building was blown up, it could not get into the area. The AP can continue reporting, but its president described the effect of Israel’s destroying the building where the news agency had a bureau for 15 years:

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

Israel’s autocratic behavior mimics the attitude of media-freedom abuse from the previous U.S. administration, and Biden’s administration must now address a principle of free expression and the anti-media sentiment developed during the past four years.

The combat was triggered by Israel’s refusal to permit Palestinians into Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque and its eviction of Palestinian families from their area in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim property they or families owned in Jerusalem before the division of the city into quarters before 1948 if they can prove their ownership, yet 750,000 displaced Palestinians cannot claim rights to property in Jerusalem or other parts of Israel, even if they prove ownership. Thus non-Jewish families are being evicted. Most countries do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty in East Jerusalem and claim that evictions violate international law.

Israeli security forces confronted Palestinian civilians on the most important night of their religious celebration of Ramadan, Laylat-al-Qadr, causing clashes at the Noble Sanctuary, the Temple Mount sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Surrounding countries—Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates—all made official statements of concern or condemnation. Yet the Arab countries all want continued diplomatic, commercial, and security cooperation with Israel.

U.S. presidents generally avoid the issue of Israeli settlements. President George H.W. Bush tried to stop loan guarantees to Israel if the country didn’t stop building settlements, and President Barack Obama pushed Netanyahu into a hiatus of settlement building. Yet, neither Bush nor Obama took action to bring Israel’s growing annexation, violating international law, to any end.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) assigned his son-in-law Jared Kushner to make peace between Israel and Palestine. Six months before DDT left the White House, he announced peace in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords agreement between Israel and four Arab countries—but no input from Palestine. The announcement of the deal in August 2020 promised the end of Israel’s annexation of Palestine’s West Bank, but the arrangement was only a business transaction to give Netanyahu everything he wanted.

The United Arab Emirates would invest in Israeli hi-tech firms, manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture while cooperating on military production. Bahrain and Sudan also benefit, and the agreement causes problems in violating international law and diplomacy by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in opposition by the people of that territory. The arrangement also complicates U.S. relationships with Algeria, which supports Western Sahara’s right to self-determination, and North Africa. Palestine, however, is left to the mercy of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing while Israel expels Palestinians from their homes and ignores the needs of the other countries in the agreement. Close connections between Kushner and his family with Jewish investments guaranteed favoritism for Israel.

U.S. citizens are large donors to the non-profit Central Fund of Israel funneling money to the Israel Land Fund, which purchases land in Palestinian neighborhoods throughout occupied East Jerusalem to sell to Jewish settlers. These donors receive tax deductions to promote apartheid in the West Bank, giving over $220 million from 2009 to 2013 to Israeli settler organizations. The movement of Jewish settlers into Palestinian land is part of the plan to create Jewish dominance over Palestinians and destroy any hope of a Palestinian state with a capital in part of Jerusalem.

While in the White House, DDT favored not only Netanyahu but also all efforts to destroy Palestine. He removed any financial aid from Palestinians while declaring Jerusalem, belonging to different countries, the “capital” of Israel by moving the U.S. embassy there. He supported Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and provide aid to Israel. Over a year ago, DDT exhibited how much he was willing to give Netanyahu with his “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine: Israel wins and Palestine loses in a deal with no Palestinian input.

A February decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could cause problems for Israel with a ruling that ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes in Palestinian territories committed by Israel and Hamas. Netanyahu rejects the jurisdiction, but Palestinian officials welcome the news. Israel could face charges for the Gaza Strip blockade, settlement policies in which Jews occupy Palestinian land, and the number of Israel attacks against the Palestinians.

For the first time in a conflict between Palestine and Israel, the Democratic party is not acting in concert to support Israel. An authority in the continuing battle between Palestine and Israel, Sahar Aziz, explains that the change comes from the growing understanding in the U.S. of systemic racist oppression from the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly among the younger generation. Like Blacks, Native Americans, and Muslims, Palestinians have been demonized and dehumanized with impunity.

Between 2001 and 2011, over 50 percent of people in the U.S. had sympathies toward Israel compared with under 20 percent for Palestinians. The percentage began to equalize at 25 percent among Democrats in 2018 although Republican voters’ sympathy for Israel stayed at 79 percent. DDT’s xenophobic rhetoric along with the increasing videoed murders of unarmed Black men by police officers pushed a progressive, anti-racist movement among Democrats. By last March, 53 percent of Democrat wished the U.S. government to pressure Israel into compromising about Palestine.

On May 13, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first Palestinian elected to Congress, said, “We must with no hesitation demand that our country recognize the unconditional support of Israel has enabled the erasure of Palestinian life.” Twenty-one House members now co-sponsor the bill “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.” It would create more oversight and restrictions on Israel’s use of U.S. foreign aid. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) succinctly explained the bill’s objective:

“Not one dollar more of US military aid can be used to demolish Palestinian homes, annex Palestinian lands, and torture or kill Palestinian children.”

Traditionally, such statements are associated with anti-Semitism, but an anti-racist movement is developing an understanding of Palestinian oppression in at least one U.S. political party.

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