Point of View Columns

The End of July 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

July 21, 2021

The day is barely in full swing before the Congress Carnival displays it worthiness of the title. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Steve McCarthy appointed five Republicans to the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Three of the five had voted not to certify the election – a position which they shared with the thousands of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

Two of those three, Congressman Jordan and Banks have also gone on to launch rhetorical attacks on the concept that there was ever even an insurrection, even after their appointment to the Committee. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the appointments of Jordan (who has distinguished himself as being an unhinged defender of all things #45, including two impeachments – which should entitle him to immediate placement in the Bizarre Hall of Shame) and Banks, who was the author of a shameful anti-Select Committee diatribe mere hours after his appointment.

So McCarthy took his appointment marbles and went home – withdrawing all five of his nominations. And now the only Republican on this Select Committee is Liz Cheney who is at present an outcast in the Republican congressional caucus. And this is what will have to pass for bipartisanship in this increasingly polarized political environment that we are witnessing in real time.

July 22, 2021

A conversion of sorts is taking place these days. Not exactly Saul on the road to Damascus who became Paul. In this case we are witnessing leading Republicans like Steve Scalise and Mitch McConnell advocate that Americans get vaccinated.

Of course a quick glance at the calendar will reveal that they are almost seven months late to the game – except that it is no game when hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because the men and women in whom they believe did not advocate vaccinations early.

July 23, 2021

The 2020(2021) Tokyo Olympics began after a one year COVID-related delay. The stadium was empty, Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic torch…and then, in keeping with the bizarre times in which we live the opening ceremony ended with hundreds of Japanese tap dancers – seriously.

And now, over 95% of all COVID-19 deaths involve men and women who have not been vaccinated.

One has to wonder how these vaccine-deniers sleep or live with themselves.

July 25, 2021

In what must surely be a case of malicious déjà vu it appears that the new Delta COVID-19 variant is many times more virulent that the original version which, in its prior iterations, has already killed more than 600,000 Americans and millions around the world. And in this bizarro scenario we still have less than 50 percent of the American population vaccinated while vaccines are warehoused in freezers all over the country.

Meanwhile, only one percent of the 1.1 billion people in Africa has been vaccinated. And it may only be a matter of time before the plague sweeps across that continent and this country unless something like sanity begins to take hold in the United States and something like human compassion enlightens the wealthy nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas so that vaccines can become readily available to the people of Africa.

As of now we have not seen enough sanity.

As of now we have not seen enough compassion.

As of now a dystopian future for the planet seems closer than ever.

July 26, 2021

It appears that not a day can go by without Trump propagating the Big Lie that the November 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his voters. And, although it may seem counterintuitive, the more that he tells this lie with no facts, proof, evidence of any kind, the more people come to believe him.

At this point we live in a country where somewhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans either that the election was “stolen” or, in any event, that there was something wrong with the 2020 election. And it should be remembered that a very significant percentage of these millions of Americans are very well armed with military grade weapons.

And right now there is a current of thought (if thought is the right word) that Trump will be restored to the presidency sometime in August and many of these well-armed supporters will be coming to the Capitol – again – and as we learned on 1.6.21, this cannot be a good thing.

July 27, 2021

Today the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection met publicly for the first time. Four members of the Metropolitan Capitol Police force stole the show. And all they did was tell the truth about what happened on 1.6.21.

But hearing from these men first hand, providing a literal blow by blow account of the insurrection mayhem spoke volumes to their courage and sense of duty. It also cast a penumbra of shame over all the insurrection deniers and proponents of the Big Lie.

One can only hope that there are enough brave men and women to stand in the way of the coming wave of the next insurrection – and there will be a next insurrection.

July 30, 2021

It may be that another symptom of the COVID-19 virus is straight out madness. How else to explain the vise-like grip on ignorance that is held by so many Americans in the face of the Delta variant which is so much more virulent than the original. Not getting vaccinated is bad enough. Refusing to allow your unvaccinated child to wear a mask in a school building filled with hundreds of other unmasked (and unvaccinated) children can only be a recipe for tragedy of disastrous proportions.

What parent would run that risk? Virtually all parents routinely have their newborn children vaccinated for smallpox, measles, etc. – what is the problem now? Clearly the problem is just the flood of misinformation that is spewing out over the internet and television channels. And that flood now has submerged logic, common sense and the survival instinct.

It would appear that, unless the spell of ignorance is broken, there will be a tsunami of pain spilling out across this country during the next 100 days.

Let us hope that the spell can be broken.

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Point of View Columns

To Whom Much is Given

July 19, 2021 will be remembered as the day that it was proved – once more – that in these days and times there appears to be no limit as to what the wealthy can do. It was on that day Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world (sorry Vladimir Putin), took a multibillion dollar joyride into space. Why? Because it has been his childhood dream to fly into space and after twenty years of trial and personal investment over $20 billion, he did it.

Billionaires have continued to find new ways to make their every dreams and their childhood dreams and their every fantasy come true. Mega yachts, mega homes, private islands, fleets of private planes, sports franchises and every toy and pleasure known to humankind. And, of course, the lesser members of this class – those worth a paltry $900 million or less– will certainly be in the market for any or all of these pleasures which now includes space tourism.

It may be useful to point out that while the ultra-rich are playing at being Space Ranger children are starving in so many countries in this world – including these United States. Indeed, food insecurity is the silent global pandemic. It might be useful to point out that disease, homelessness and hopelessness are afflicting many of this planet’s 10 billion people.

And let’s not forget climate change which is ravaging the planet on an hourly basis. And the irony of this vanity space travel phase is that it is a well-known fact that jet travel plays a significant role in the degrading of the earth’s atmosphere. So the idea that the business model for these literal play boys has as its goal rockets flying through that atmosphere on a weekly, perhaps daily basis.

It might be a good time to say goodbye to polar bears, polar ice caps and Miami Beach right now.

It is probably pointless to point out that these largely non-tax paying billionaires and millionaires could do so much good for the people of the world. If they just peeled of a few percent off their Midas-like bankrolls for use in addressing the various challenges that we all face on this planet – take climate change, sexual and racial oppression and famine, for starters).

Branson, Musk, Bezos and their billionaire/millionaire tribe members will point to the rather impressive charitable efforts which they already support. But, with all due respect, if any of them peered past their stacks of cash and mountains of gold bullion, one look around any place in the world reveals that it is clearly not enough.

There is no doubt that most of this new breed of Midas are very bright – and they are also very fortunate. To be clear there are all kinds of platforms that provided them the opportunity to exploit their own genius – Branson did not invent the airplane, Musk did not invent the automobile, Bezos did not invent the modern retail industry – and none of them had anything to do with developing the microchip or computers.

The point is that all of them enjoy the confluence of their own genius with the circumstances of the era in which they live. Perhaps those of us who are not wealthy on a scale that we cannot imagine, can also not imagine using some significant portion of that wealth to make the world a better place rather than indulging in making their childhood dreams come true.

Finally, to the extent that this new breed of Midas will balk at parting with a few more of their multibillions, they may wish to remember the maxim – “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

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Point of View Columns

An American Tragedy – Suicide by Stupidity

We are bearing witness to an American tragedy in real time. It is now clear that over 100 million Americans are dead set on committing Suicide by Stupidity – committing Homicide by Stupidity in the process. There is no genteel or balanced way of analyzing this current vaccine denial pandemic that has followed on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

It has been noted that ignorance can be addressed by education and information. Stupid is terminal and indomitable – it literally refuses to admit defeat even as it crashes, burns and dies. And that is where we are here in a country where over half of the population, for one reason or another, refuses to get vaccinated even as hundreds, and perhaps thousands in the near future, die every day because they are not vaccinated.

There is no rhyme or reason. There are some situations where no sense makes sense, and sadly that is the case for more than too many people in these United States.

A moment regarding ignorance – we begin by recognizing that no one knows everything. Being ignorant as to how to fly a plane is only important if you are a pilot. Being ignorant as to how to perform brain surgery is only important if you are a brain surgeon.

But ignorance can be successfully addressed with education and learning. If you want to fly a plane you can learn to be a pilot. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you can learn to be a brain surgeon.

Stupid is something else, and much more pernicious and dangerous. If you do not know how to fly a plan and attempt to do so that is simply a stupid thing to do. Obviously if you do not know how to perform brain surgery, trying to do so is simply a stupid thing to do.

And that brings us to the COVID-19 pandemic and the available vaccines. During 2020 we watched our family, friends, neighbors and strangers slaughtered by the virus. All we could do is avoid almost everything – work, school, family, friends, bars, restaurants and stadia. Masks, hand sanitizers and PPE were the only lines of defense – lines that were frequently breached by the insatiable virus.

And then as 2021 the vaccines became available – tested and approved for use by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. And then the death toll and rates of infection fell dramatically as Americans and Brits and Australians lined up for “the jab”. It seemed as if the only challenge was to make sure that there at least 300 million vaccines available for the over 300 million Americans in the United States.

And then…Stupid stepped in. Stupid already had a few people drinking bleach. Stupid already had too many people walking around without masks and gathering in bars and beaches – not bothering to get vaccinated engaging in these activities. Stupid even having some people engage in fistfights when requested to wear masks in sealed steel tubes called airplanes.

But Stupid was only getting warmed up. Stupid spread faster than the virus as people claimed, falsely, that the vaccine was prepared too quickly (due to advanced technology), that the vaccine was just one more ploy to exploit Black people like the Tuskegee Experiment (the Tuskegee incident involved the withholding of treatment to Black experimental subjects), that the vaccine contained microchips that would control human behavior for all time (vaccines contain no microchips, at all) and a range of even more bizarre excuses/reasons not to get vaccinated.

This COVID vaccine resistance has now morphed into a rejection of all vaccines which, if taken to its illogical conclusion, will mean that we will see waves of smallpox, measles, whooping cough and polio sweeping across this country within the next year or two. It should be pointed out that there have been only minimal outbreaks of these diseases in this country over the last half century thanks to vaccines.

It is certainly unkind to employ the term Stupid. But when people are presented with irrefutable evidence from every imaginable source – government, scientists, doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, celebrities and athletes – and still refuse to save their own lives and the lives of people that they will never know, the only useful word is Stupid.

Ignorance can be addressed with education.

Stupid can be dangerous to your health and the health of everyone else.

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Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

July 7, 2021

The day begins with the news that gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his residence. This killing continues centuries of destabilization and dysfunction of the first nation every founded by virtue of a revolt of Black enslaved men and women.

Indeed, since 1804, then President Thomas Jefferson articulated the need to make sure that the Haitian Republic did not succeed in order to dissuade the enslaved people of the United States from following the example of their Caribbean brothers and sisters. Incredibly, the nation of France has demanded and collected billions of dollars from Haiti as reparations for its liberation.

American corporations have drained further billions from Haiti over the past 100+ years through a wide variety of rapacious “investments” that benefitted the Haitian people not at all. And so, in the midst of all of this dysfunctions – to be clear there are many wounds that have been self-inflicted by the tiny elite class of Haiti to only make matters worse – the murder of President Jovenel is just one more example of the long road away from dysfunction that confronts the people of Haiti.

July 8, 2021

The day sees a continuation of the concerted Republican drive to skew the voting process for decades. Stealing elections before a single vote is cast is nothing new, what is new is the nationwide scale.

The outrage and uproar that will ensue when the election thefts happen will threaten the entire concept of democracy – and clearly the Republicans just don’t care – or perhaps tearing down the temple may be the endgame for them after all.

July 9, 2021

A fourteen-year old Black girl by the name of Zaila Avant-Garde won the National Spelling Bee. It is good to know that something as basic as spelling bees still exist as there is no way to digitize or monetize spelling bees – at least not yet.

But the youthfully innocent spelling genius in her comments displayed an unshakable belief in the possibilities of life as she articulated all that she wanted to accomplish by the age of 25.

I am putting my money on Zaila Avant-Garde and all the other young people who can’t spell the word “impossible”.

July 10, 2021

The CPAC Convention has never been palatable to those with a taste for something left of the far right. But now the CPAC Convention has become a right of the right wing echo chamber screaming lies, more lies and threats to every viable institution in this country.

July 11, 2021

Does Richard Branson (kind of) flying into space augur the new neo-luxury fantasy come true for the uber wealthy of this planet? The answer is probably yes – and that cannot be a good thing.

It should be clear to all that this notion of space tourism will only be available to the truly wealthy. And it should also be clear that the regular disruption of the atmosphere by regular space travel cannot be a good thing for this planet.

It is right to give pause and consider that in a time of unlimited wealth, unlimited behavior of the destructive kind will take place and every human, beast and plant will suffer.

July 12, 2021

What happens if government just stops working? It is a question worth asking because in this country the effectiveness of the government relies upon the cooperation, compliance and faith of the population – coercive measures are typically the last resort and typically fall in to the area of law enforcement and public safety.

Now this country is facing a challenge that could not have been foreseen even five years ago.

It is not a matter of wishful nightmares. It is clear that if over one hundred million Americans refuse to get vaccinated that more Americans will die. And more will die after that. And that cannot be a good thing.

Nevertheless, there are elected officials and news commentators and run of the mill rabble-rousers who think that it is a good idea to promote the idea that not getting vaccinated is a badge of honor – presumably to be worn just before burial or cremation.

There is this cruel confederacy of dunces that would have susceptible Americans believe that after all the progress that has been made by reason of science, that science is not to be trusted and that ignorance provides safety from reality.

Clearly nothing good can come from this nightmare scenario.

July 13, 2021

Once more President Biden is leaving Washington to go to Pennsylvania – clearly a must-have state for 2022 and 2024 – this time to put forth the argument that elections should be fair and that it is unfair to deny people the right to vote. And it is amazing that in the year 2021 the President of the United States has make this argument in the face of absolutely steadfast commitment to do just that.

Certainly, in the modern era we have never seen such a nationwide commitment to deny the franchise to so many Americans, and especially Black Americans. And the U.S. Supreme Court (with three justices appointed by #45) has already issued an opinion that racially-based disparities are inevitable and not necessarily unconstitutional.

And with that bloodless and soulless statement the Supreme Court has given permission for James Crow – the direct descendant of Jim Crow – to spread his wings and befoul the democracy of this nation – however imperfect it has been – and make it the sole property of the shrinking white majority of this country.

In effect, we are watching the building of an infrastructure that will embed minority rule for decades to come.

Freedom is not always free.

Justice is not always just.

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Not with a Bang, Not with a Whimper, But with a Whine

Apocalyptic predictions are usually dismissed because of the inherent societal belief that things can never really get that bad – until they do. Predictions of the absolute collapse of civilization as it had been known prior to the actual Inquisition in Spain, or the Reign of Terror in France or the Holocaust in Germany or the arrival of Europeans in what is now North America had one thing in common – not enough people ever believed that things could get that bad – until it was too late.

It may be that this country has arrived at an inflection point where the combined currents of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and white supremacy have combined to actually transform these United States into a citadel where the advocates of these miseries and live and thrive and prosper. So it is important to understand that these times are different from any other time in American history.

There are two distinct events where the American story could have simply unraveled. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the inevitability of a United States of America was not apparent and walkout threats by various delegates were real. Hence the major compromises – including slavery – that were embedded into the Constitution.

Of course the Civil War, absent some tactical genius and blunders at Gettysburg, could very well have resulted in the permanent establishment of two nations. It should be noted, that the principal issue of slavery was cause for war. It could be argued that there were no fundamental differences with respect to government itself.

Today we are in a very different place. The (virtually all-white) Republican Party is clearly intent on codifying white minority rule in the United States. Through its Supreme Court majority, gerrymandering, control of state legislatures, voter suppression and 50 United States Senators (who represent 38% of the American population), the Republicans are hell-bent on actually disenfranchising the non-white segment of America.

This is not being done surreptitiously. This is not being done in the dead of night. It is happening live and in color for all the world to see. And what we all see is the very real possibility that the basic concept of democracy and full participation in government could simply expire like the passenger pigeon or the dodo bird. Indeed, American democracy could end up in a museum with very few visitors and limited visiting hours.

There are over forty states that are either enacting or contemplating draconian measures that will result in the nullification of nonwhite votes for at least a generation. The results of these measures will almost certainly result in the Republican control of the House and the Senate in 2022 with a clear pathway for the Restoration of Trump in 2024.

And if that seems like a nightmare scenario it is time to wake up and realize that nightmares can come true.

And it is time to abandon the belief that things can’t really get that bad.  They really are that bad and they are about to get worse.

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Why the Juneteenth Holiday is a Clear and Present Danger

It should go without saying, but in these days and times it must be said, the establishment of the Juneteenth federal holiday is a good and great thing. It is good because every time that this nation inches towards full recognition of the humanity of Black Americans, there remains a possibility that the aspirations set forth in its origins might actually become a reality in someone’s lifetime.

It is great because President Biden continues to demonstrate that he is not taking the Black vote/support for granted – something that too many other white (and Black) Democrats have not been able to do on a regular basis. While it is true that systemic racism in its many hydra-headed forms continue to exist, it is also true that symbolism can inspire hope and in turn hope can inspire action and action can create change.

Of course there will never be enough outrage that some Republicans will wish to visit on this country, several of the more egregious mouth breathers like Ron Johnson and Ted (Cancun) Cruz have decided that, upon President Biden signing the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, it would be a good time to mount a full-throated attack on critical race theory and defend America against attacks on systemic racism.

As it turns out, critical race theory is an academic area of study tracing the continuum of racism in the American legal system. Johnson, Cruz, et. al. have interpreted CRT as an attack on America, American values and apple pie. And they want to ban the teaching of CRT anywhere. And in fanning these fake claims of outrage they have inflamed the hearts and minds of far too many white Americans.

According to Cruz and Johnson and their cohorts, teaching the fact that eight of the first ten presidents of the United States were slaveholders is an attack on American traditions. The fact that emancipation did not end systemic racism in this country should also not be taught at any level – whether K-12 or in colleges and universities (the recent controversy regarding the denial of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones by the University of North Carolina is only one outrage).

Indeed, even #45 chimed in claiming that CRT would teach American children to hate this country. Of course this presumes that teaching children to hate racism, to hate slavery, to hate the inhumane treatment of any human beings means that children will hate America.

Clearly the battle to clear, or corral, white supremacy and white supremacist theory (or WST) has been an ongoing struggle. There are too many adherents who believe that the truth about America and race would diminish this country not realizing that virtually every country has an historical past that sheds little honor on that country.

Consider the treatment of serfs, commoners and peasants in England and France for centuries or the intentional starvation of the Irish by the British or the Inquisition in Spain or the naked decadence accompanying the fall of the Roman Empire and the Greek city states. These are all immense national flaws that have been overcome to some significant extent by the citizens and institutions of those countries. Clearly the British and the French and the Greeks and the Italians and the Spanish can handle truth and move on towards making their respective countries better.

Clearly Cruz and Johnson and #45 and so many more don’t believe that the American people can handle the truth and move on to being a better country. And they are doing everything within their power to make this belief the truth.

And it would such a sad commentary on this country if they are right.

And that is why, for too many people, the Juneteenth Holiday, however symbolic, is a clear and present danger to the twin myths of white supremacy and American exceptionalism.

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Another Week in the Life of America – 2021

June 3, 2021

Now #45 is going around with the truly bizarre prediction/promise/fantasy that he will be reinstated and installed as president in August of this year. Aside from the fact that there is no constitutional provision that even remotely facilitates such a bizarre turn of events, it is clear that in his desperate desire to maintain some relevancy in the cesspool of irrelevancy that is his life, #45 will try anything.

The sad and dangerous part of this particular scenario is that millions of Americans already believe him and as August approaches we may discover that 1.6.21 was just a dress rehearsal.

June 4, 2021

Just when you thought that things could not get any more bizarre, there was a focus on election season in Mexico. As of this date almost 90 candidates for various offices have been assassinated – sometimes the ubiquitous criminal cartels claimed responsibility, sometimes more nefarious political motives seem to be at play.

The point is, with all the discussion about “Second Amendment” solutions and strategies here in the United States, can it be too farfetched to imagine that grievance-laden members of MAGA Nation, the most heavily armed faction in the United States outside of the military and the police, may decide to take matters into their own rifle sights.

It was approximately a year ago that right wing white supremacists plotted to kill the governor of Michigan. Ever since 1.6.21 there have been countless members of Congress and public officials throughout America have engaged enhanced security details because of the threats and dangers that have been fostered and fertilized by #45 and his enablers and supporters.

June 5, 2021

Carnage in the United States of Gun continues and a federal judge in California says that an AR-15 assault rifle is just like a Swiss Army knife. There has been a record of mass shootings in this country since the beginning of the year and yet this judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that California’s ban assault rifles is unconstitutional.

Putting salt in the wounds of all of the families of the victims of gun violence – and pouring gasoline on the firestorm of gun carnage that is sweeping across the nation – this judge actually uttered his Swiss Army knife analogy. Many observers stated that this opinion seemed to have been lifted word for word from a  National Rifle Association list of talking points.

The judge will never meet with the relatives and survivors of gun violence although it would seem that he is insulated from any aspect of compassion or intelligence.

June 6, 2021

Over the weekend it has become clear that the November 3rd election of last year did not result in the election of Joe Biden as president. It appears that Joe Manchin, the senator from the Great State of West Virginia is the head of state because anything and everything that the Biden administration wants to accomplish absolutely must meet with Manchin’s approval.

And now Senator Manchin has announced that he is not going to vote in support of the voting rights reform bill.

So there…and by the way, who actually won the November 2020 election?

June 7, 2021

Democrats are working very hard to find a way to lose the elections in 2022 and 2024 – really. Considering that there is no real argument that the Black vote delivered the White House to the Democratic Party, it would seem that legislation regarding the protection of voting rights and protection from police violence would be “hot knife through butter” tasks.

Yet, this items are caught up in the arcane rules of Congress that are insurmountable except when it comes time for tax breaks for billionaires and Fortune 50 companies. The arithmetic is clear that the Republicans hold a death grip on the putative Democratic majority in the Senate, but the filibuster rule is not written on stone tablets delivered from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

If the urgency of now for Black America means anything, now and in the 2022 and 2024 elections, the Democrats need to find a way.

June 8, 2021

There is a very real opportunity for everyone alive today to be a witness to history being made. Unfortunately, it may not be the best narrative for which anyone could have wished.

But the reality is that by degrading the election process on a national scale, there is a very real possibility that the 2022 and 2024 elections could result in figurative and literal bloodletting as the credibility of the electoral process because Republicans continue to question that credibility.

As has been noted, it is guaranteed that every Republican who loses an election in 2022 will claim fraud – and there is no reason to believe that Democratic losers won’t  also be singing from the same playbook. And there will be enough turmoil and litigation in the two years before the presidential election that once again the Republican/Democratic loser will claim fraud and voter theft and then…and then we will have an opportunity to witness an existential threat to the world’s oldest democracy.

This will be the legacy of #45.

June 9, 2021

The range of possibilities in the Republican journey to the City of Crazy in the Land of Stupid is infinite. Exhibit 278 is the recent pilgrimage of Republican state legislators from all over the United States to visit and observe the voter recount taking place in Arizona.

This November 2020 election vote recount is the most recent of the dozens of recounts that have already taken place all over America – all with the same result…no indication of voter fraud.  Nevertheless, in its infinite wisdom, the Arizona State Legislature instituted a third, and unofficial, audit of the votes cast in November 2020.

A renegade firm by from Florida by the name of Voter Ninja (seriously), with no experience in statewide voter recount, has been conducting a bizarre recounting process including testing ballots for bamboo particles (which would prove that they came from China). Nevertheless, Republicans have been flocking to Arizona to see how they can gum up the electoral works in their respective states.

Once again, there is very little doubt that the 2022 local, state and federal elections will be subject to an unprecedented tsunami of challenges to the outcome of countless races. This will only further erode general confidence in the electoral process, thereby setting the stage for a disastrous 2024 presidential election.

Sometimes great empires end not with a bang, but with a whimper…

June 10, 2021

President Biden is now in Europe – his mission is to clean up the diplomatic and strategic mess that is part of the stained legacy of #45. Given that even a casual observer cannot be clear as to how long common sense will reside in the White House, the six other members of the G7 can be forgiven for their reluctance to fully embrace the notion that “America is back”.

That declaration by President Biden will certainly be met with the understandable – if unspoken- response, “Yes, but for how long”?

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The Tulsa Atrocity – What We Don’t Know

On this day, June 1, 2021, Joe Biden became the first United States president to acknowledge the Tulsa race massacre that took place one hundred years ago. It took a century for the head of this state of this country to not only to acknowledge the atrocity of the devastation of Greenwood and the murder of hundreds of its Black residents – in the process he also acknowledged the humanity of Black Americans – an act which has been so very difficult for this country.

The fact that an atrocity of such scope could be hidden from virtually all Americans for most of this past century makes it clear that this country has no moral standing to condemn similar atrocities in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It is also clear that even as President Biden offered more than condolences – he also made concrete proposals to address the economic disparities that have been the result of the massacre in Tulsa, and in most of these United States.

But the question must be asked – what is it that we don’t know. If the massacre of hundreds of men, women and children and the total devastation of a large and thriving community could literally disappear from national memory, it is impossible to believe that the destruction of Greenwood was an outlier, an anomaly, some kind of unfortunate divergence from decency.

We do know about the race massacres in Rosewood, Florida and in Atlanta – but what about Elaine, Arkansas where 100-237 Black people were massacred by white mobs in 1919. The point is that Black Americans have been experiencing a reign of terror for centuries in this country.

The difference in the modern era is that we don’t see white mobs decimating Black communities, but sadly we see too many out of control white police officers murdering Black men, women and children one by one. In the modern era we don’t see white mobs roaming the streets of Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant or Compton. What we do see is the systematic and systemic denial of basic human needs – housing, medical care, access to transportation, quality education and clean water.

We do not see the apocalyptic horror of roaming mobs. Instead we see the slow motion decimation of human being, denying the humanity of too many Black men, women and children in the process. And to be clear, it is not only Black Americans who suffer this indignity. And to be clear, it is always Black Americans who are first, last and always the targets and victims of this not so benign neglect.

It is interesting that telling the truth about the experience of Black Americans in this country – also known as Critical Race Theory – is actually against the law in the state of Texas, and we can be sure that other states will follow. It is interesting that too many Americans are comfortable with lies and myths and are adamantly opposed to uncomfortable truths.

Finally, what we do know is that unless and until all Americans confront and address these uncomfortable truths there is zero possibility of this nation ever attaining the ideals that are articulated in its founding documents.

This country simply cannot endure while living a lie.

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On the Anniversary of the Death of George Floyd – A Prayer for Black America

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd woke up never realizing that it was his last day on earth. On this day, one year ago, George Floyd had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes, just like everyone else, only he did not realize that it was his last day to be alive. And on this day, just like everyone else, George Floyd was already thinking about what he might be doing next week or next month or next year, never realizing that this was his last day to be alive.

George Floyd did not he was destined to be the living/dying embodiment of what systemic racism means in America. He certainly did not know that his killer did not even know his name and was not planning to kill him when his day began, but at some point he decided that he would kill him.

And so George Floyd joined the ranks of random Black martyrs, sacrificed on the crimson stained altar of racism, white supremacy and systemic injustice. But on that morning, he had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes just like everyone else – except that everyone who is Black always has the unspoken Prayer for Black America somewhere in the recesses of their mind.

Please God, let me go through this day without having my patience or my self-respect tested by some aggressive store security guard or snarky cashier or pompous doorman which could lead to my reacting in a way that could get me killed.

Please God, let my son go out of the house today and come back alive. Please do not let him be killed because he has a toy gun, or a bag of Skittles or was playing the music too loud today or doing anything else that would give some white policeman or wannabe deputy a reason to kill him.

Please God, do not let any person, especially a white person, touch my hair, ask to touch my hair or ask me about my hair as if the hair of a Black woman was so otherworldly that it requires this high level of inquiry and investigation.

And while you are at it God please do not let someone mistake for the waitress or the maid or the salesperson or the secretary because in the minds of too many, there is no other role for a Black woman to play in these United States.

Please God, let me go through this day without being stopped by the police while driving with a faulty brake light or an air freshener on my rear view mirror or without my license – any of these things could be a reason for a white policeman to shoot me to death or beat me to death or just simply choke me to death.

Please God, let my son and daughter always remember The Talk that we had – never, never, never run from the police – never talk back to the police – never, never, never resist if you are searched or arrested – always, always remember that in these situations the police literally hold your life in their hands and they might get careless or they just might not care.

And finally God, thank you for the blessings of life and family and love and community that I have been able to enjoy, even in the most difficult of times. So please God, don’t let a white policeman kill me today – please let me live another day.

Amen.

We can be sure that George Floyd offered up his version of The Prayer for Black America a year ago today.

And we can be sure that in these United States of America the prayers of Black America are not always answered.

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Point of View Columns

Majesty and Travesty and Nikole Hannah-Jones

Earlier this week, in its infinite (and non-existent) wisdom, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina denied Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure at that institution. It should be noted that as a member of the faculty she had been appointed to a chair funded by the Knight Foundation and that tenure appointment has been routine for past faculty members in this position.

It should also be noted that the Board of Governors at the University of North Carolina are appointed by the North Carolina legislature, not known to be a bastion of free thinking (or even intelligence on occasion). And it is quite clear that Ms. Hannah-Jones groundbreaking “1619 Project” which began an historic reconsideration of American history and Black people is the unforgivable sin that has resulted in her application for tenure being denied.

There are many ways to look at this travesty. On the merits, Ms. Hannah-Jones is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship to go along with her Pulitzer Prize and a literal boatload of other prestigious awards. It is inconceivable that any college or university with aspirations of academic excellence would treat her in such an incomprehensible and disrespectful manner.

But, of course, there is the back story. The white members of the North Carolina legislature are part of an underground band of cultural guerillas determined to maintain white supremacy and American mythology at all costs. Keep in mind that Ms. Hannah-Jones has been accused or “rewriting history” when it comes to the narrative of Black people in America.

And of course, the answer is damned right.

American history as it has been taught for over four histories has been built on a foundation of lies, myths and white supremacist delusions. American history has been an exercise in whitewashing the crimes, the genocide, the slavery and the literal theft of a continent from people who were living here. American history has somehow justified the enslavement of millions of Black human beings and then gone on to minimize the pain, misery and eternal jeopardy of being Black in America.

Damned right that American history has needed to be rewritten. The sins, crimes and wrongs that are a literal part of the foundation of this nation need to be acknowledged before true justice, equality and equity can be possible in this country. And the fact that teaching and learning the true American story can be seen as a problem demonstrates what exactly is the problem.

The problem is that too many white Americans take comfort in myths, revel in the lies and wallow in the mud of deception as long as it reinforces the crumbling concepts of white supremacy, and by extension, Black inferiority. The problem is that the so-called 1.6.21 insurrectionists were not in Washington to simply overturn an election, they wanted to stop the constant and now inevitable erosion of the myth of American exceptionalism and white supremacy.

That problem is the reason why 47 states are trying to subvert the Constitution (into which slavery was embedded, by the way) in order to limit or deny the right the vote so that a white supremacist alternate reality can last a little bit longer. And, of course, Nikole Hannah-Jones represents the voices that must be silenced so that the fantasy – which is a nightmare for everyone who is not white – can continue for as long as possible.

There is nothing that the University of North Carolina can do to ever diminish the majesty of Nikole Hannah-Jones and her life’s work. The travesty belongs to the University of North Carolina and its racist enablers.

And, in the end, the truth about America will prevail and it is then, and only then, that this country will be a better country.

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