Point of View Columns

Midnight in America

The sun may be shining but let’s be clear. It is midnight in America.

The concatenation of malign intent, purposeful stupidity and the toxic mixture of hate and nihilism have combined to make this country the victim of events and forces that should not be the danger that they clearly have become.

Let us count the ways –

First – the continued denial of the validity of the 2020 election has had a possibly irreversible effect on the democracy of this country. It is one thing not to agree with anything/everything about a president (remember “Not My President” posters referring to Trump?). It is quite another thing to consider the president to be illegally elected.

Because if that is the basic premise, there are no limits to the damage and violence that can be perpetrated in an effort to correct this imagined wrong.

Second – Since the Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013, this column has had numerous comments on the malicious and delirious attacks on Black voting rights empowered by this decision. The erosion of Black voting rights has been obscured by the voter turnout in 2020, but there should be no illusion that this erosion has been going on for almost a decade.

Now, thoroughly emboldened by Trump’s Big Lie, states are gerrymandering, restricting, eliminating and disabling various strategies that have been used to get Black people to be able to exercise the franchise.

This is only getting worse, and the 2022 election will bring to light the most egregious aspects of the New Jim Crow.

Third – The Trump Supreme Court (3 of the 6 right wing faction of the Court are Trump appointees) are providing a lasting legacy of The Man Who Should Never Have Been President. Voting rights, abortion rights, environmental protections – even mask mandates in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century – have all been on the chopping block. And these justices are just getting warmed up.

Unlike electoral results, we will be living with the impact of this right wing of the right wing Supreme Court for decades to come.

Fourth – Like the frog in warm water who doesn’t realize that it is being cooked slowly, Democrats and particularly the progressive wing, are acting as if they conduct politics as usual rather that fully comprehending that this is an existential moment in American history.

If the Trump-infused Republicans take control of the House and the Senate in 2022 and the presidency in 2024, the conversion of this nation into its race-based and anti-egalitarian past will happen with lightning speed.

Why the Democrats don’t fully understand this existential threat brings to mind the farmer who smells some smoke in the barn but does not think that it is important enough to call neighbors and starting priming the pump.

Historians in the future – if they are allowed to write and publish such things – will look back on the steadfast refusal of Democrats and Progressives to see the coming tsunami of proto-fascist and racist policies when the signs were perfectly clear and wonder why.

In closing, it is always important to be positive and stay positive and believe in better days. But it is also important to keep eyes and ears open and when the other side is telling you what they are going to do to disenfranchise and disempower you – believe them.

It may not be midnight in America but the dawn seems further and further away with every passing hour.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Daze Before Christmas

The Daze Before Christmas

It was the daze before Christmas

And all through the nation

There was dismay and concern and great consternation

COVID was flying through the air with ease

And the unvaccinated would not get vaccinated

Even when Biden said “please”

The wishes, prayers and dreams of better times were all through the air

In hopes that the Divine would take time to care….

It should be clear to all who care to care that 2021 has turned out to be an infernal continuation of 2020, hands down the worst year in recent memory. When Amanda Gorman delivered her epic poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden as President and successor to the infernal reign of Donald J. Trump there was reasonable hope that this year would be different and that it would be better – if only because it wasn’t 2020.

With a little more than a week left in 2021, unless a series of miracles are unleashed over these next eight days, the hopes for a Happy New Year are already dim. And for very good reason.

We can begin by noting that the Democratic Party in Congress continues to revert to a circular firing squad whenever the opportunity to collaborate arises. As a result, even when something historic, epic actually, like the Infrastructure Bill passes after decades of every Congress and President kicking the can down the road, the Democrats, halfway through a victory, get into a battle over the Build Back Better Bill – also a righteous and historic initiative. But it would have been helpful to let the American people savor the good stuff before diving right back into the battle.

We can continue by resigning ourselves to the fact that unless Satan appears to reclaim his lost son, Donald Trump is with us and seemingly here to stay. The destruction of societal norms and the infrastructure of democracy are clearly his bastard children. And even though it is clear that his destructive mode is more a matter of tantrum than strategy, the damage that he is wreaking may have an existential impact on this country.

With his malign inspiration, Republicans all over the country have determined that the best way to preserve the limited guard rails preserving white male supremacy is to simply throw out the entire constitutional playbook and not even try to win elections (although that has worked out pretty well for them over the past few decades, especially when you consider the demographic deficit which they have been confronted).

Instead Republicans have determined that stealing elections by hyper aggressive and shameless gerrymandering and the grotesque altering of voting laws that tip the playing field in their favor. And Trump appointed judges all over the country and in the Supreme Court are prepared to throw legalistic holy water over this smoking, stinking pile of institutional sabotage.

We have seen the gradual acceptance of school shootings as part of Life in America. No matter how many girls and boys and teachers and coaches are shot dead in schools, the sclerotic approach to anything resembling gun law safety has gone the way of the Dodo bird. So now death in the schools, in the streets and anywhere and everywhere continues unabated as America remains the most well-armed nation in the world and the highest civilian murder by gun rate in the world.

And that madness does not seem that it will ever stop until there is nobody left to shoot.

And no reflection on 2021 (aka 2022) would be complete without the simple observation that, by packing the Supreme Court with right wing of the right wing conservatives, we are now look at decades of victories by the national right wing of the right wing in cities, towns and states throughout this nation. It should be clear to all who care to see, that Roe V. Wade is on Death Row, and it is only a matter of whether the execution will take place by lethal injection or slow and cruel strangulation.

But that, of course, is only the beginning…before this conservative majority ages out in about twenty to thirty years, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Brown v. Board of Education case will all be on the judicial trash heap. It should be pointed out that this is not a matter of mere surmise, Barrett, Gorsuch, Thomas, Alito and Kavanagh are clear proponents of this judicial lynching.

It has been said that hope springs eternal but the year of 2020-2021 is putting that saying to the test.

However, that as long as there are women and men of goodwill who are willing to stand up, to speak up, to be heard and to not give up hope. For, as we know, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing.

It is clearly time to do something.

Happy Holidays to all

To all who believe in righteousness

Let 2022 be a year of the triumph of justice!

*Special thanks to Negrodamus, my special muse, for the “Daze” concept.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Lessons Not Learned from Pearl Harbor

There are some important things to keep in mind as the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was observed. That day in 1941 demolished the self-taught myth of American invulnerability – the belief that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans formed an impregnable wall around Fortress America.

This myth was revived and fortified by the obliteration of the combined military might of the Axis powers and the dawning of the Nuclear Age. The myth evolved with the belief that the arrival of Mutually Assured Destruction combined with the overwhelming size of the American nuclear arsenal resulted in the overwhelming nature of the American military might – sufficient to deter any attack.

And then, on September 11, 2001 the myth was shredded – seemingly for good. After 9/11 it was clear that the United States could not engage in, nor finance, death a destruction in nations around the world without consequent blowback.

But the myth has died hard. Because after 9/11 the myth supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the thought being that America could once and for all convince the rest of the planet that it was, indeed, invincible and invulnerable to attack.

And then came the cyberattacks and the ransomware attacks, the election hacks and the ubiquitous and random hacking of hospitals, corporations, police and fire departments and the United States government. And this time there has been no target to bomb. This time there is no feasible troop deployment that will stop these attacks. Perhaps forever.

And then came COVID-19. And this pandemic has thoroughly shredded the myth of American invincibility. Again, there is no target to bomb. And this time Americans have almost gleefully joined in the exacerbation of this attack by literally refusing to protect themselves – burning masks and shunning vaccinations while attacking public health officials and governmental agencies.

There seem to be few if any limits to the stampede towards self-destructive behavior in too many parts of these United States. The notion that vaccine and mask-wearing mandates in the face of a clearly lethal pandemic would cause gunfire, death threats and absolute resistance seems absolutely absurd. And yet, in December of 2021, with over 600,000 COVID deaths in America – and 5 million worldwide – and with over 1000 deaths daily, there are tens of millions of presumably sane Americans who refuse to take even the most rudimentary steps to save themselves and their friends and families.

It is more that ironic that the greatest enemy to the United States and its future is not China. The greatest threat to the demise of the United States is not Russia. The greatest threat to the future of the United States and its future prospects is that massive segment of the American population that believes in lies, worships madness and is clearly committed to some kind of Jim Jones-like mass suicide, taking the rest of us along on this ride to oblivion.

This time, to paraphrase Walt Kelly, an iconic cartoonist from long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us”.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Why Elections Really Do Matter

We have been witnessing the slow motion dismantling of so many of the rights and expectations that have been put in place during the past half century. The reiteration of the rights of Black Americans, women, the differently abled, those with various gender identities – all of that is under attack. And those attacks seem to be succeeding.

A bit of background is certainly in order. Beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the United States has embarked on an imperfect trajectory towards something resembling equity and justice for all Americans. The codification of civil rights for Black Americans – yet again – in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which affirmed that the right of women to choose what happens with their bodies is a constitutionally protected right, to affirmative action, to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the recognition of gender diversity as a matter of right and law all seemed to presage a progressive movement by a nation distinguished by its resistance to equity and justice.

What was happening under the public radar, but hiding in plain sight, has been a proto-conservative movement to undermine and overturn all of that progress using the lawful tools of elections, the courts and a certain skewed interpretation of the Constitution. Certainly a significant aspect of this movement has focused on the resistance to racial equity – but gender equity and the broad interpretation of rights for all have always been in the cross hairs as well.

The proto-conservative movement has paid particular attention to the electoral process. In doing so they have commandeered the state legislatures – Republicans control 30 state legislatures, Democrats control 18 – and the federal court system. Consider that in just four painful years Donald Trump appointed 226 right wing conservative federal judges to lifetime positions. This is contrasted with Barack Obama appointing 320 federal judges in eight years. And when the 320 appointees of George W. Bush are combined with the Trump appointments, one can see that the federal judiciary has shifted to the right in a very real fashion.

While the protoconservatives have kept their eye on the prize, the Democrats and progressives have engaged in ideological civil wars abandoning the good in search of the perfect. And a perfect example is the 2016 presidential election.

While it can be accepted as a given that Hillary Clinton did not run anything near a pitch perfect campaign, given that her opponent was A Buffoon Named Trump, her election should have been a given. Instead, due to the internecine battles between the Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, many Democrats and independents stayed home in November 2016 and as result gave the presidency to worst person ever to hold that office.

The moral victory of not electing Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed by the unconscious facilitation of the election of Donald Trump and all the disasters that have followed since January 20, 2017.

Clearly no victories are permanent. But while the right wing of the right wing is in the ascendancy, it is incumbent upon those who believe in a more equitable society and a more representative government to beginning doing the hard work of elections at the local, state and federal levels as well as focusing on the judiciary. It is also important to define the message of a progressive America by dispensing with self-immolating themes like “defund the police” and begin to more clearly articulate what an equitable society really looks like.

And most of all – it is important to realize that this struggle take more than weeks and months. If the commitment is not for years and decades, then the cause is already lost.

Each one of us have a choice to make.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Justice is For Just Us

The Not Guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is simply a reiteration of what White Privilege in America is all about. We can begin with the acceptance of the reality that if Mr. Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old Black man, armed with an automatic rifle, shooting and killing people during the melee in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the police would have shot and killed him instead of offering him a water bottle.

If the Black Rittenhouse somehow made it to trial his tearful pleas of self-defense, enhanced by his weeping mother (who continued to peek to make sure that cameras were capturing her tears), they would have fallen on deaf ears and he would be carted off to prison for the rest of his life as you are reading this column.

Yet, the White Rittenhouse is home, safe and sound. The White Rittenhouse is a celebrity in the right wing of the right wing. Indeed, Matt Gaetz, that noted Congressman About Town and Friend of Teenage Girls, has already offered him a job as an intern.  (How apropos)

It is one of those concatenation trick of time and circumstance that the Rittenhouse verdict occurs during the same week that we discover, not to our surprise, that the convicted murderers of Malcolm X didn’t do it. Further, the wrongful convictions were the result of intentional efforts by federal and New York City law enforcement to obscure the identity of the real killers. And now, over a half a century later, we will never know.

Which leads us to question the multiple occurrences of injustice and prestidigitation that have been a hallmark of the Black Experience with American Justice. For example, the murderers of Emmitt Till were never convicted and the white woman who lied in claiming that your Mr. Till had insulted her waited on her deathbed to tell the truth – the young man was innocent.

Or – consider, are we to really believe that James Earl Ray, a two-bit criminal if there was ever was one, shot and killed Martin Luther King and was able to escape and flee to London and then Lisbon with fake passports that would require a level of experience and knowledge that was far beyond the ken of Ray. But, of course, James Earl Ray is dead and the fake story is now the real story.

The point, of course, is that the criminal justice system in America is a stacked deck when it comes to Black Americans. We know that, not only would the hypothetical Black Kyle Rittenhouse have been shot dead in the street, as would have been the hypothetical Black insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

It is true that the killer of George Floyd has been convicted. But the killers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice walk blithely walk the streets and will never spend a nanosecond in prison. And this, of course, is a very incomplete listing of injustices.

All of which is to say that, when it comes to the United States of America, White America is saying that in the United States justice is Just for Us.

Standard
Point of View Columns

What White Privilege Really Looks Like

 It is certainly too bad that too many white Americans, and some Black Americans, do not want the truth of white privilege in this country to be taught in public schools. It is too bad, because with an understanding of white privilege in an historical context, all Americans would be able to understanding the dystopian disconnect that exists between the glorious stated ideals of this country and its dissonant reality. Consider a few examples from recent history:

Exhibit 1

Consider the fact that on January 6, 2021, an overwhelmingly white mob made up of thousands of armed and angry men and women stormed the Capitol with the sole purpose of preventing the lawful election of the President of the United States. An act of subversion and insurrection without precedent.

In the aftermath, only one of the invaders was killed by the beleaguered law enforcement personnel. Most of the participants have never been arrested, much less charged with a crime. Of those who have been charged with a crime, no one has received a sentence in excess of four years, and most of those convicted to date have been sentenced to very light sentences or community service.

At the time and since, many observers have noted that if the insurrectionists, men and women determined to overthrow the Constitution of the United States, had been Black, there would have been Black blood all over the steps of the Capitol and there would have been a shortage of body bags in the District of Columbia. The rationale for that point of view is that in so many of the urban protests and insurrections which have involved the destruction of property, but never the overthrow of the Constitution, Black men and women have been gunned down regardless of the reasons for their protest – like unjustified the murder of Black men and women and children by the police.

Exhibit 2

At the age of seventeen, a young white man by the name of Kyle Rittenhouse drove from his home in Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin with an automatic rifle in tow. His stated purpose was to provide medical assistance and security during the protests in Kenosha in the aftermath of the brutal police shooting of James Blake.

Rittenhouse, in full view of law enforcement, killed two of the protestors and seriously injured a third, and walked away. He is now on trial claiming self-defense and there is a very real possibility that he will be acquitted and almost certainly will not be convicted of murder.

Consider the following hypothetical – an armed Black teenager shows up during violent street protests and starts shooting and killing in front of the police. Not only would that teenager be dead, there would be very little public remorse for his demise.

Consider that a young Black boy, Tamir Rice, was 12 years old and playing with a toy gun in a playground in Cleveland, Ohio when he was shot and killed by the police and to this day there has never been a conviction with respect to his murder.

Exhibit 3

Last year three white men saw a Black man jogging through a suburban neighborhood and accosted him and shot and killed because they suspected that he might be responsible for a series of non-violent burglaries in the neighborhood. Ahmad Arbery was unarmed and by all video accounts, only tried to defend himself and escape from armed white strangers in Georgia (Black people in Georgia have a well-founded fear of armed white strangers).

The three murderers are now on trial before a jury of eleven white people and one Black person. Defense counsel has complained about “Black pastors in the courtroom” and it is a safe prediction that this jury will not return with a unanimous verdict to convict.

Consider what the outcome would have been if three Black men had accosted a white jogger and shot him to death without reasonable cause. It is fair to say that, in whatever state, the defendants would be glad to achieve a life sentence plea bargain.

The point of these examples is to provide some context for the notion of white privilege, particularly when seen in juxtaposition to the life and existence of Black Americans in similar situation.

The lofty aspirations in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are admirable and have been emulated in many countries around the world. But is very clear that the United States of America has a long way to go to live up to those aspirations.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Reflections during October 2021

Reflections During October 2021

October 4, 2021

It now appears that Cult of Trump entails a full and complete divorce from reality, no matter that there are billions of witnesses to that reality. Case in point, former Vice President Mike Pence has reduced the 1.6.21 insurrection to “a single bad day”. And he says this even though the insurrectionists announced a very clear intention to hang him.

Perhaps he is hoping that this act of act of abject fealty will put him back in Trump’s good graces.

If not, I am sure that he will still continue on his own personal downward spiral of obsequiousness.

October 5, 2021

Not that it should come as a total surprise, but even though pigs are not soaring through the air in formation, there has been real and actual bipartisan activity in Congress. The reason for this seeming miracle is Facebook, and its continual refusal to embrace any corporate responsibility that does not involve pure profit for Mark Zuckerberg & Co.

Even though it is now absolutely evident that Facebook has facilitated teenage suicides and enhanced the clear and present danger of insurrection in the United States and abroad, Facebook has clearly taken pages out of the Standard Oil playbook – straight out of the 19th century.

But, as John D. Rockefeller & Co. learned, the absolute embrace of power and wealth despite human and institutional costs does have consequences.

Stay tuned for Congressional oversight regarding Facebook and other tech companies in the days and months to come.

October 6, 2021

Yesterday Pope Francis issued a formal apology of the Catholic Church for the over 300,000 instances of the sexual abuse of children by thousands of members of the clergy in France. This savagery took place over a period of 70 years and is probably not the complete number. And we can be sure that the situation in France is not an isolated instance as revelations in Ireland and the United States make very clear.

There are no words to describe the betrayal of trust and faith that these revelations reveal. What is also revealed is how institutionalism and bureaucracy can obscure even the saintliest of intentions.

October 11, 2021

While some people will persist on celebrating this day as Columbus Day, it makes more and more sense to go by the more useful celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in order to serve as a reminder that this nation is literally built with the combination of stolen land and genocide. Of course there is the expected opposition from those who don’t deny the facts, they just don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable with the reality of “discovery” and “settlement” which presumably is kinder to the ear than “genocide” and “stolen land”.

There will come a time in American history when the sordid history of its origins can be told honestly and without rancor, but with the understanding that, even now, we all have to do better.

October 14, 2021

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who (a) are denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) are taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There has to be a question as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to raise their hands as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

October 15, 2021

Historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American people.

Whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which the American people have adopted as the “new normal”

October 21, 2021

It is in the realm of possibility that we will come to understand Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to dental and vision care for the elderly. There is literally no hope that we will ever understand Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to even a “one penny” increase in the tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion dollar companies.

In the meantime, it appears that President Biden is practicing the art of the possible by supporting a scaled down version of his Build Back Better plan. But it should be clear that even a scaled down version represents a major change in American public policy, moving away from decades of penurious and skimpy social service programs (certainly skimpy when compared to any other industrialized countries).

And that being said, it may be possible to see a further expansion if the Trump-led Republicans don’t trash the entire package a little more than three years from now.

A hell of a thought.

October 23, 2021

Somebody in the Biden Administration seems to think that, even though the administration is already dancing on the razor’s edge of multiple crises, it would be a good idea to indicate that this country is prepared to use military force against China in defense of Taiwan. Aside from the fact that such public provocative language will never cause China to pause, there is no sense that the American people are prepared to support another foreign war – with an incalculable cost of blood and treasure – when the interests of the United States are not directly at risk.

Diplomacy exists as an alternative to war. It is spectacularly useless if it is not employed in a timely fashion.

October 24, 2021

The joke of the day is that Trump is starting his own version of Facebook/Twitter through his personal communications company which is in the process of formation. The joke, of course, is that the list of investors who made money in a Trump venture could fit on the head of a pin – a very small pin. The list of Trump founded companies that have been successful could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin – a very small cocktail napkin.

Yet the investors, reputedly some large ones, along with the denizens of MAGA nation will probably put Trump in a position to partially start the company and pocket much of the invested funds if the past is prologue.

October 28, 2021

As President Biden gets ready to leave for the G-20 conference in Rome later today, it would be wise to remember that each of the other 19 countries have paid family leave for the citizens of their respective country. The United States, ostensibly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet does not.

Somehow this is the only country where providing basic benefits for its citizens is seen as either some kind of gift for the worthy or a payment that must be earned according to some mysterious formula.

What is most astounding is that people who oppose paid family leave, like Senator Joe Manchin have no shame when it comes to this incredibly low level of meanness and disdain for his fellow citizen.

Shameful is the only word that comes to mind.

October 29, 2021

It is very clear that the Democrats, especially those in Congress, cannot break the circular firing squad habit. We saw it during the 2020 presidential campaign and we are seeing this movie again as they seem determined to find a way not to pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislation. On the one hand some so-called moderates (why are conservative Democrats called “moderates” when there is nothing “moderate” about denying hearing aids to the elderly of objecting to paid family leave for people who really need that support, especially in these days and times).

On the other hand, we have the self-proclaimed progressives who seem prepared the object to the good in search of the perfect. Considering the fact that the United States is behind every single industrialized country when it comes to the extent and scope of its social safety net, any advance in these areas will begin to change the conversation regarding care for the American people.

Meanwhile the Republicans must be chortling with glee as they hope and wish that the circular firing squad will result in nothing being done – in which case the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections will be easy to predict.

October 31, 2021

The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, one Glenn Youngkin, is presenting himself as Republican who is not a Trump Surrogate. This despite the fact that all through the primary contest he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election of Joe Biden.

Now that he is on the cusp of victory in his race against Terry McAuliffe, he is finding that the biggest boost for his campaign has been to promise to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia public schools because “it teaches white children to hate themselves”.

A few facts – remember those? – are in order. First, critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia public schools. Second, the corrections made to the narrative of American history is meant to remove all of the negative stereotypes of the past, lies and omissions that have given Black boys and girls little of which to be proud except for the passing mention of George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, while the reform of the American historical narrative replaces myth with facts, it does reveal much about American history of which no white child or Black child should be proud. Consider – slavery was imbedded in the Constitution in its original iteration. Consider – ten of the first twelve presidents were slave owners. Consider – literally thousands of Black Americans were victims of white domestic terrorism between the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – it was known as lynching. Consider – during World War I blood from Black donors and white donors were segregated so that no white soldier would receive Black blood. Consider – during World War II the American military remained steadfast in its racial segregation policies even while fighting an existential war against the Axis powers.

What American, white or Black should be proud of these facts? What American, white or Black should be proud of the genocide and land theft perpetrated upon the indigenous people of this continent?

And why should white children feel that they should hate themselves in learning about the sordid facts of American history. German children are taught about the Holocaust and there are no reports of German children hating themselves. Japanese children are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and there are no reports of German children hating themselves.

But it is clear that Mr. Youngkin has discovered a tune with which he can use his dog whistle. Animosity against Black people has worked for white candidates many times, and it should be no surprise that he would whistle that tune just as voters are going to the polls.

It is shameful what he is doing. But since he is a Republican he is certainly not alone.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Case for Reparations – Again

There have been news reports to the effect that the Biden administration is moving rapidly to set up a process whereby the immigrant families that were forcibly separated during the Trump administration will be compensated financially for their suffering. And there should be no doubt that there was suffering when children were taken from the arms of their mothers and disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole.

And there should be no doubt that these men, women and children being compensated is an indication of basic humanity, even though compensation will never fully address the pain and suffering that has been, and still is being endured.

It is quite likely that, while there will be some kind of uproar and disapproval from MAGA nation, most Americans will support this initiative as being fair and humane even though they were not personally involved in any aspect of this atrocity. The governmental system is at fault and therefore the American people will pay for these misdeeds.

Which brings to mind that this latter day reparations initiative should be seen as analogous to the reparations that have yet to be paid to Black Americans. Somehow centuries of brutal slavery, dehumanization and outright murder and genocide don’t seem to require any reparations in the view of too many Americans. Somehow the denial of the right to vote, the right to own property and even the right to live does not warrant direct compensation to the descendants of the survivors of this American nightmare.

Some Americans, like Senator Mitch McConnell, will argue that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are all the reparations that Black Americans ever deserved. This is an atrocious lie told by an atrocious human being, who knows damn well that the constitutional and legislative items mentioned simply acknowledged rights for Black Americans to which they were always entitled as human beings and as citizens.

There will be many Americans who will say that they never benefited from slavery, domestic terrorism and discrimination that exists to this very day. But there can be no doubt that the Constitution, the laws of this nation and the men and women who are citizens of this nation’s government were not only complicit in this barbarism – the entire system of government and the American way of life created and perpetuated this hell on earth for centuries.

To suggest that reparations are not in order raises the question as to how reparations for Black American people is not appropriate, but it is right and just to support reparations for the immigrant families so recently abused by the United States government to receive monetary reparations?

And why is it right and just for the Japanese Americans who were stripped of their property, businesses and homes and imprisoned during World War II to receive reparation but it is not right to compensate Black Americans who are descendants of men and women who were stripped of their property, businesses, homes and freedom?

Why is it right and just for the state of Israel to receive monetary reparations from Germany for the atrocities visited upon the innocent Jews of Germany and Europe but it is not right and justice to acknowledge the pain and suffering of millions of innocent Black Americans by means of monetary reparations?

It is useless, futile and unintelligent to compare the pain and suffering of one group of human beings to the pain and suffering of another group of human beings. It should be enough to acknowledge that people who have suffered and have endured pain through systemic machinations are entitled to reparations.

Of course, for that to become a reality in American it will first be necessary for the majority of white Americans to fully acknowledge the humanity of Black Americans. Clearly this is a task that has too difficult for too many people for too long.

America has been called the land of hope and promise. Black Americans can only hope that one day America will deliver on the promise of liberty and justice for all by supporting, endorsing and implementing reparations for Black men, women and children.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Prelude to an Epitaph

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who are (a) denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There have to be questions as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation, inclusion and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to lift a finger as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

At this rate historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American population. And they will wonder, as we wonder now, how the hell did this come to pass.

Let there be no doubt that the history and story of America is far from pristine. Whether the subject is stolen land, enslavement and genocide for starters, there are very few examples of shining humanity in the origins of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, in these days at time we now see that whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which far too many of the American people have adopted as the “new normal”. And of course, that new normal comes at a cost.

While these United States have never been truly “united”, the ease and frequency of movement between the states has regularly changed the demographics of the various states. At the risk of generalizing, a great deal of that movement has seen Black and Brown and more progressive white people moving to states which were thought of as bastions of white culture and presumed supremacy.

As the literal face of America has changed (consider that 2020 was the first census in American history that saw a decline in the white population in comparison to the non-white population), the reaction of the “original” residents of many of these states has been to redistrict, gerrymander and wrongfully manipulate voting requirements in a blatant effort to retain power.

And that power is meant to prevent the inclusion of Black history in school curricula, the right of women to freely exercise the rights of reproduction, initiatives to engender housing, education and economic diversity. Instead, that power is meant to ensure the supremacy of a shrinking white minority in all phases of life – not only in the states so inclined – but also throughout the entire United States by controlling the U.S. Senate (the 50 Republicans in the Senate represent 38% of the nation’s population) and the Supreme Court.

It stands to reason that those who support seriously more progressive policies across the board will not stand by idly. And, it can only be a matter of time before minority rule becomes untenable and then the United States will not be so united anymore. Either through political arrangement or through more violent measures, it is certain that the majority of Americans are not going to accept minority rule that is so cruel, intrusive and offensive forever.

What happens next may be the subject of the epitaph for the United States – the story of a country with admirable ideals that fell far short of embracing and realizing those ideals.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Thoughts at the End of September

As the ninth month of the year (also known as the twenty-first month of 2020) comes to an end and 2022 is just over the horizon – some thoughts come to mind as to what is going on in this country and on this planet.

Missing Persons

As you are reading this over 60 young Navajo women are missing. However, given the national obsession with the disappearance and apparent murder of one young white woman, there is no way that the tragedy of the Navajos comes anywhere near the surface of the American consciousness.

It should be possible to care and grieve for Gabby Petito and also care and grieve for the hundreds of Black, LatinX, Asian and Indigenous girls and women who have gone missing and have never been found. It should be possible, but this is the United States of America, and while the echo of Black Lives Matter continues across this land, the truth is that White Lives Matter more.

How else to explain the breathless hour to hour coverage of the Gabby Petito story while the name of even one missing nonwhite woman is unknown to the newspaper editors, television commentators or radio talk show hosts. How else to explain the institutional lack of care and concern if the missing/murdered victim is not white.

A year ago, it seemed that the people of America were finally ready to confront and conquer this country’s original sins of racism and white supremacy. A year later it would seem that it will take more than marches and the chanting of slogans.

As of September 2021 White Lives Matter More – still. After all, it’s the American Way.

Vaccine Hoarding

It is said that during times of crisis that the best and the worst of humanity appears. Certainly, that is true during this pandemic as we have seen bravery and compassion and courage and resilience of virtually superhuman proportions. Of course, we have also seen greed, meanness and brutish ignorance roam the streets as well.

And this can be seen on the international stage as there has been unprecedented cooperation between the industrialized and economically secure countries in promoting the research, production and distribution of vaccines. And yet, only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated.

And yet, in America and throughout Europe there is a literal oversupply of vaccines and the question is only how to get unvaccinated citizens vaccinated as well as dealing with the medical luxury of who should receive booster shots first. Meanwhile only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated while the so-called developed countries put a few vaccine coins in the poor box, their collective arrogance, selfishness and greed are apparent.

The United States and the European Union may be technologically advanced but when it comes to compassion and simple kindness, they leave a lot to be desired.

Here Comes the Democratic Party Firing Squad – Again

As of January 20, 2021, the Democratic Party “controlled” the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Of course, since we are speaking about the Democratic Party quotes (“”) must be used due the lack of discipline and common cause within that party.

One may or may not be a big fan of the Republicans, but party discipline and focus on core values are very clear and apparent. On January 20, 2017 the Republicans controlled the House, Senate and House of Representatives and they got to work. Hundreds of conservative judges including a stacked conservative majority on the Supreme Court for at least a decade, gutting environmental regulations with a healthy dose of racism for good luck. Republicans are very clear about what they want and how to go about getting it.

Democrats, on the other hand, by being a “big tent” party, has so many implacable competing interests that right now the party resembles a circular firing squad, doing its very best to get absolutely nothing done except create further fissures and divisions in the party and provide the paving stones for the Republican Road to Victory in 2022 – and perhaps 2024 as well.

The number of Democrats who are willing to abandon the good in pursuit of the perfect is appalling – especially when the specter of the next Republican takeover of the federal government is a very real nightmare that could come true. But there are too many Blue Zealots who believe that going down to defeat in a worth cause is better that achieving some goals right now and building on that edifice – an edifice that is right now just some sketches on a blueprint.

And all the Republicans have to do is wait and let the Democrats defeat themselves.

Standard