Point of View Columns

There is Such a Thing as Asking Too Much – The Negro Problem Revisited

The study of history is so important in understanding the present and the possibilities of the future, that it is amazing how often it is ignored or misrepresented. Exhibit A in real time is the current controversy regarding mostly black athletes protesting discrimination and bias against black Americans at sporting events. The ensuing hue and cry reminds us that the Negro Problem is still a problem for too much of white America.

Frederick Douglass once wrote:

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own Constitution….”

And although those words were written over a century and a half ago, too much of America perceives that there is a Negro Problem, when the real problem has nothing to do with black Americans, and everything to do with the denial of promise of true freedom and the opportunity to freely prosper in these United States. And when President Trump or NFL Commissioner Goodell or NBA Commissioner Adam Silver or any number of white elected officials discourage and disparage black Americans for exercising their Constitutional rights, they totally miss the point in making these athletes the problem when this country is the real problem.

It is of no surprise that many Americans want to whitewash American history or simply crawl into there own personal shell of denial. But the reality is that the United States was founded with the enslavement of black men, women and children as a central aspect of its existence. The reality is that throughout the South it was legal to kill a black person and some would argue that this has not changed appreciably as we settle into the 21st century.

The flag that flies during the national anthem is the flag of a country that countenanced slavery, genocide, legalized segregation, discrimination, lynching and race-based institutional inequities that have lasted to this very moment. It is the flag of a country that is uncomfortably comfortable with over 1000 Confederate monuments scattered across this land like so many dragons’ teeth, even though each and every one of these hellish icons memorialize a war fought to maintain the enslavement of the forebears of the athletes who have the temerity and colossal nerve to kneel in protest of this sordid history and still too sordid present.

The question should not be about why black athletes – and black Americans generally – are protesting. The question should only be about why black Americans are not protesting more – and all the time. And it is sad and illustrative of the problem that there are white Americans who wear the American flag as underwear, head wraps and bathing suits, are offended that black Americans choose to protest in front of this flag. It is sad because these same white Americans are not offended by police brutality inflicted on innocent black civilians. They are not offended by high incarceration rates in the black community. And they are not offended by the overwhelming data that shows that race-based discrimination is the root cause of so many of the disparities in the national black community.

Indeed the controversy over these protests at sporting events shows how far this country still has to come in the long journey to achieve equity and racial equality. In the meantime, for white America to ask black Americans to stop protesting during the national anthem of this imperfect country is simply asking too much.

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Point of View Columns

Silence of the Donkeys – An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

As the United States begins to accommodate itself to the nightmarish catastrophe that is Trump, the Democratic Party, particularly its leaders, have been either silent or muted in their opposition to President Donald Tinyhands. The only thing more puzzling than the Silence of the Donkeys, is the thought that somewhere, somehow, Trump avoidance is a strategy for victory in 2018 and then again in 2020.

There is something about Donald Trump that has caused the so-called strategists and consultants who disserve the Democratic Party to overthink. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the prevailing wisdom was that there was No Way that Trump could win the Republican nomination so there was no need to attack him head on, the prevailing wisdom was that he would most certainly implode – and then he was the presidential nominee.

And then, during the 2016 presidential campaign the prevailing wisdom counseled moderation and restraint in retaliating against Trump even while he routinely savaged Hillary Clinton at any and every opportunity – remember “lock her up”? – Because there was simply No Way that Trump could win. So why even campaign in Wisconsin – and then Donald Tinyhands was elected President of the United States.

And now, ever since that dark and dismal day of January 20, 2017, when Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, the Democrats have engaged in some kind of retro-Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope tactic that permits Donald Trump to run roughshod over the most fundamental concepts of good taste, wisdom or manners without anything more than a whisper of protest or discontent. There seems to be a give-him-enough-rope-and-he-will-hang-himself approach to Trump, even though he has shown quite clearly that if given enough rope he will tie up the Democrats.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he has a base that is virtually impregnable and resistant to any attack on its demigod-like hero. True, the base makes up “only” 38 percent of the voting population. But a bit of simple political math indicates that Trump only needs to peel off 12 percent of the voters who are undecided, confused, easily hoodwinked or susceptible to bamboozling or all of the above. And, by the way, which potential Democratic candidate for 2020 can claim even an ironclad 20 percent of the vote. Indeed, if the 2020 election were held today, who might that Democratic man or woman be? Listen carefully and you will hear the sound of crickets and not much else.

The Democratic Party and its leadership has been lifeless and virtually helpless in the face of the Trump juggernaut. Instead of going into permanent attack mode, they seem to be afraid of being labeled as obstructionists. And, by the way, the Republicans played the role of Obama-deniers for eight years and ended up electing a quasi-lunatic as President. It is hard to believe that Democrats cannot meet that very low bar.

There is a base of disaffected Americans who are looking for a more coherent message than “Anybody But Trump”. There are millions of Americans who are experiencing shock and awe as Trump and his minions run amok and take sledgehammers to the institutions and programs that have defined this nation. The environment, civil rights, rational foreign policy, women’s rights, gun control, fair employment, the dismantling of the incarceration nation – all these initiatives and more are under attack every day.

Donald Trump has provided the Democrats with enough ammunition to beat him in a dozen elections. But only if the Democrats put an end to their Silence of the Donkeys routine and become the leaders of resistance and opposition to the phenomenon called Trump…….and soon.

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Point of View Columns

The United States of Gun – Chapter 1,518

The most recent American gun massacre in Las Vegas is the tragically perfect definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Here in the United States of Gun, the sale of virtually any kind of gun and any kind of ammunition, no matter how lethal, is legalized and yet there is collective shock and dismay when gun massacres occur again and again. The only variable is when and where the blood of innocent children, women and men will be spilled again.

Since the horrific gun massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 there have been 1518 gun massacres in which four or more people have been killed. The body count from these carnage carnivals has been 1700 dead and over 6000 injured and countless thousands mourning or cowering in fear. And now we add a new chapter The United States of Gun book, a chapter entitled Las Vegas – 10.1.17.

Newtown, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and San Bernardino – the list is too long and too sad to recount in this space. What we do know is that the United States, despite all of its technology and luxury and presumed veneer of civilization and advancements is rapidly claiming the title of The Most Dangerous Nation on Earth. And it is the sheer random nature of gun violence in this country that almost assures that America will hold this title for many years to come.

Sadly, random violence is known in too many venues around the world. But in most places the terror and mayhem arises from political and religious discord that is inexcusable, but does take place in the logic of some kind of warped universe. But in America, there is not even the semblance of rhyme or reason as to why a person will be shot to death in a nightclub, an office holiday party or a kindergarten.

The United States Congress has allowed itself to be held hostage by the National Rifle Association – an organization that poses as representing a citizen’s advocacy group when in fact it is a trade and industry association, the industry being the manufacture of guns and the trade being the unrestricted sale of instruments of death anywhere and everywhere and to anyone. There can be no possible reason why there are 300 million guns in this country, virtually a firearm for almost every American. Yet it is easier to buy a semiautomatic weapon than it is to buy a car. There is no reason why a device that converts a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun should be sold to anyone – yet as you are reading this column someone probably just purchased another bumper stock accessory for their AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.

As this country continues awash in the blood of over 30,000 gun violence victims this year, it is past time to ask why. Why do Americans need so many guns? Why does the ensuing violence inspire silence and inaction instead of thoughtful action and reflection? And why can the gun industry dominate the Congress of the United States even as Americans die of gunfire every day of every week of every month of every year.

And for once and for all, the false advocacy of a flawed interpretation of the Second Amendment should not provide a fig leaf for the naked greed and hypocrisy that are the sole motivation of the gun lobby. There are restrictions on every right articulated in the Constitution. Freedom of religion does not countenance human sacrifice. Freedom of speech does not include advocating the violent overthrow of the government. How can gun ownership be without any serious control, oversight or restriction?

Sadly, it would seem that there will be another Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Orlando tragedy long before Congress will take any realistic action. And the silent aftermath of the next tragedy will be heartbreaking and tragic and so very unnecessary.

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