Point of View Columns

Mississippi Goddamn and the Tarnished Legend of Bret Favre

There is no rational way to begin to write about this story so we can begin with the title. “Mississippi Goddamn” is a song written and performed by Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1964. And if you don’t know who Nina Simone was take a few nanoseconds on Google to find out. You will be glad that you did.

Mississippi has always been a level of Hell for Black people in America. In the 18th and 19th century enslavers would threaten their enslaved men, women and children with the prospect of being sold to a Mississippi enslaver if they were not sufficiently obedient, subservient and servile.

The enslavers in Mississippi took the infernal system of slavery to new depths, literally working enslaved men and women to death – saving the children for a later depth. And that tradition survived the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Going into the 20th century during the so-called Great Migration of Black Americans from the South (Refugees From Terror would be more historically correct), many natives of Mississippi went somewhere and anywhere, as long as it wasn’t Mississippi.

But many Black people did not leave Mississippi and in the face of lynching, discrimination, wholesale demolition of communities and daily indignities – they stayed. They stayed and built communities. They stayed and fought and died for their freedom. Indeed, Medgar Evers was murdered in front of his wife and children for having the temerity to encourage Black people to vote and Emmett Till was mutilated and lynched for having the nerve to (possibly) say anything to a white woman, no matter how innocuous.

Yet they stayed. They fought for the right to vote and the very real risk of their lives. They stayed and elected Black people to the State legislature, to Congress and to the office of Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. And if someone could have told the mother of Emmett Till in 1955, or the widow of Medgar Evers in 1962, that in 2022 the Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi would be a Black man named Chokwe Lumumba they would have smiled through their tears in disbelief.

But despite the fitful and hard won steps for progress in Mississippi, it is still a bus stop to Hell for too many Black people. Black people have the highest rates of infant mortality and the lowest rates of life expectancy in America. By every indicia of quality of life, the Black people in Mississippi are living the life of a very poor person in a so-called Third World country.

Which brings us to the story of Bret Favre, who should have his photograph on a “Wanted” poster all over Mississippi. Bret Favre is a native son of Mississippi, a football star at Southern Mississippi University and a superstar in the National Football League, earning of $140 million in NFL payments alone, along with uncounted millions from endorsements, etc.

Somehow Favre and his confederates, no pun intended, thought that it was a good idea to siphon Mississippi state welfare funds intended to assist the poorest of the poor in that state (who are among the poorest in all of North America), to be used for private initiatives like a volleyball court/stadium at Southern Mississippi University where Favre’s daughter played volleyball.

That Favre and his confederates (still no pun intended) thought that of all the funds that could be siphoned, welfare funds for the poor people of Mississippi (many of whom are Black) would be the best target is a textbook illustration of racism, class privilege and greed in its vilest iteration.

The fact that this cabal may have siphoned off more than $77 million it is pretty clear that more than a volley ball court has been built.

But it has to make one wonder how, in the third decade of the 21st century that robbing the poor to enrich the rich can make sense.1st

Perhaps he has a good answer that will be scrubbed by his lawyers, but never scrubbed clean of the truth.

In the meantime, all that can be said is Mississippi Goddamn!

Point of View Columns

Not So Late Breaking News – But News Nevertheless

During the past ten days there have been some items in the news which are worthy of comment as well as concern, to wit:

Oklahoma – None so blind as those who refuse to see

Recently the Oklahoma State Legislature determined that no public-school system in the state could have as part of its curriculum any study of American history that might make students feel ashamed of themselves or of America and passed a law to that effect.

It is ironic that Oklahoma is a state totally established on the land that was stolen from the indigenous people who had lived there for many centuries.

It is also ironic that it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921 that white citizens shot, hung, murdered, bombed and burned the very successful Black community in that city. Unknown hundreds of men, women and children were killed and buried in unmarked mass graves and virtually every building in that community was razed to the ground.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Tulsa School Board would approve curricula that included requiring students to learn about that tragedy and savagery that afflicted their city only a short century ago.

And it should come as no surprise that the Oklahoma Board of Education has lowered the accreditation of the Tulsa school system as if by censoring the truth the truth will somehow disappear; that if by closing the eyes of the Black and white children of Oklahoma genocide and murder and lynching will no longer be a part of history.

Indeed, there are none so blind as those that refuse to see.

The Legacy of the British Monarchy

The death of Queen Elizabeth II turned out to be one of those inevitable events that still had the capacity to impact billions around the world. Of course, most of those billions were or are members of the Commonwealth or were colonized by the British, sometimes for centuries.

There is every reason to believe that Queen Elizabeth II was a perfectly gentle soul who performed her service as monarch during a period of seven decades, even as the notion of monarchy has dimmed as anachronism that has outlived its sell by date by a lot.

It does no dishonor to the memory of the queen to point out that the crimes, sins and outrages committed by the British Empire around the world in the name of the monarchy have to be fully acknowledged or even admitted. The death and destruction committed by Empire in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia is undeniable.

And the rapacious character of the British Empire is also undeniable. The current wealth of Great Britain is due to outright theft, exploitation, slavery and genocide. The historical artifacts looted from civilizations virtually lost to time and depredation are proudly on view in museums in London as trophies of such outright global depredation.

It has been suggested that, with the death of Queen Elizabeth, it may be time to give the monarchy and the myth of the British Empire decent burials with little fanfare.

Then it will be time to discuss reparations, restitution and apology.

Dumb and Dumbest

No more cards and letters please, we have a winner for the Dumb and Dumbest Prize of the year.

It turns out that there are some Mensa dropouts in the Democratic National Committee have aligned with political and nonprofit organizations to donate over $50 million dollars in support of Republican primary candidates who are to the right of Genghis Khan, and some of them actually make Donald Trump seem well, rational.

The strategy that has been revealed is that by helping the most outrageous right-wing Republicans win their primaries, especially for House and Senate seats, will result in candidacies that are too radical for most general election voters thereby virtually guaranteeing Democratic victories (remember that word “virtually”).

Of course, if this strategy had been employed in 2016, millions of Democratic dollars would have gone to Donald Trump thereby derailing the likes of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. And we now know how that would have turned out.

Why anyone would want to risk millions of dollars that might result in the election of one or more mini-Trumps is simply beyond comprehension.

We can only hope that this is not one time where being too smart turn out to be pretty dumb.

Point of View Columns

Reflections on Labor Day 2022

In most of the northern hemisphere the beginning of Autumn will take place on September 22, 2022. However, in yet another example of American “exceptionalism”, Labor Day marks the end of summer. And so it seems that this is as good a time as any to reflect on the many twists and turns in Life in America true story in which so many of us are living. These six items are as good as any as providing some real time perspective:

  1. Sometime within the last 48 hours Trump is now claiming that the confidential secret documents were in his Mar a Lago estate/resort because he wanted them for……. his presidential library. There is no elaboration as to whether he said this with a straight face since he is (a) notorious for not reading and (b) no member of his senior staff can seem to recall any particular interest that Trump had for a presidential library and (c) although Trump managed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree having attended two universities to attain this goal, there is literally no record of Trump having written anything of note in his entire professional career that would warrant the need for a Trump presidential library. Of course, this is just another example of Trump throwing stuff against the wall in the hope that something will stick.
  2. Meanwhile, the federal judge in Florida that is dealing with the case pertaining the confidential/secret security documents taken from Mar a Lago by FBI agents has partially granted Trump’s request for a Special Master to determine if any documents personal to Trump should be returned. It should be noted that the judge in this case was appointed to the federal branch by Trump in 2020. And while it should be presumed that federal judges would be fair and impartial, all of the over 200 federal judges appointed by Trump, including the three Supreme Court judges, were vetted and recommended by the proto-conservative Federalist Society. So…. this ruling in Trump’s favor should be no surprise.
  3. Meanwhile, across the pond, the Conservative Party in Great Britain designated Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister, succeeding the very troubled administration of Boris Johnson. In her acceptance speech Ms. Truss praised Boris Johnson for engineering Brexit, the British withdrawal from the European Union. That would be the same Brexit that has had catastrophic consequences for virtually every aspect of British life and the British economy and consigning Great Britain to third tier status among nations for the foreseeable future. Hearing this news one is reminded of the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  4. The most recent news from Canada is that two men in Saskatchewan went on a killing spree stabbing ten people to death with no apparent motive. One wonders what the death toll might be if AR-15 rifles were more easily available in Canada. Of course the NRA would argue that if more Canadians were armed with guns these killers would have been foiled even though the real time experience here is America is that this argument is as full of holes as a target on a shooting range.
  5. Meanwhile, a new COVID-19 booster is now available as a protection on the seemingly immortal omicron virus that continues to plague this country. And now the countdown begins for the vaccination deniers to howl about the violation of their right to die while killing others as the reason why they should not be required to get vaccinated. If historians are even around 1000 years ago it will be interesting how they chronicle the way that means of self-destruction like no gun restrictions and protest against vaccines became so popular.
  6. And finally, many Republicans are upset that President Biden referred to MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascist”. These would be the people who either participated or have supported the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol to prevent the legitimate transfer of power to a duly elected president. These would be the same people who believe that modern day fascists such as Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, should be invited to mainstream Republican conferences. Hopefully President Biden will continue to tell the truth.

And now, since it is the end of summer in America, we will need to prepare ourselves for the virtual and actual Winter in America.