Point of View Columns

Statues and Flags and Sanity

When the Trump legacy is written, it may be that the only good thing that was done by Donald Tinyhands was to help make it clear that the notion of America being in a post-racial status has always been a myth. It is useful to recall that when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, accompanied by post-racial anthems, the skinheads, Klansmen, Aryans and assorted white supremacist mouth breathing Neanderthals were already deeply imbedded in America – everywhere.

Clear evidence of the virulent racism in this country, accompanied by the more insidious passive aggressive dehumanization of black Americans, are the scores of statues, busts and plaques throughout the country that honor the leaders of the Confederate States of America. These celebrations of traitors should not be seen as some kind of limp effort at reconciliation.

The CSA was founded on the principles of slavery as just, white supremacy and black inferiority. Any and every Confederate honoree – Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, etc. – believed absolutely in these principles, principles that were way ahead of more esoteric notions of states’ rights and constitutional interpretations.

This is not a subjective perspective; it is a matter of fact that the first article of the constitution of the Confederate States of America upheld the eternal preservation of slavery. It is a matter of fact that the leadership of the Confederacy was wedded to an unshakeable belief in white superiority and black inferiority. And it is a matter of fact that Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest were absolutely complicit in the unconscionable wholesale slaughter of black Union troops who had the misfortune of surrendering to CSA soldiers.

All of this has been known since the end of the Civil War. Yet white Americans have stood by silently while these villains and war criminals were honored, all in the name of intimidating and bullying black America. The fact that there is even a conversation about depopulating this nation’s public spaces of such obscenities is itself obscene and it is a telling commentary as to the status of black Americans. It is more than fair to ask – do black lives really matter?

Consider that it is simply against the law to honor Adolf Hitler in Germany. Wearing a swastika or giving the Nazi salute on the streets of Berlin can land you in jail. The same is generally true in France. And consider that these proscriptions on honoring Nazis came about not because of pressure from the Jewish people. Indeed,  the banning of Nazi celebrations came from German and French men and women of good will who understood that the horror of the Nazis not only should never be repeated, it should also not be honored, celebrated or even exist in the public space.

It 152 years have passed since the end of the Civil War. It is astounding that there is even a conversation about celebrating Southern “heritage”, when that “heritage” encompasses the enslavement and degradation of human beings. It is shameful that there are public officials that refer to some beautiful past that should be celebrated when that past includes the wholesale slaughter, rape and exploitation of black Americans for the better part of two centuries.

It is well past time for conversation or debate. The Confederate statues, flags, busts and plaques are wrong – they have always been wrong – and any American who supports their existence is wrong. The descendants of slaves have endured this ongoing insult for too long and white Americans who accept the humanity of black Americans will understand this. And white Americans who do not accept the humanity of black Americans will not and should be adjudged as racist as the most vile skinhead goose stepping down the street.

When it comes to the Confederacy and its moldering and vile relics, there is simply no middle ground.

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Point of View Columns

Tea Party Terrorism

Recently some commentators in the press as well as White House staff members have referred to the Teapublicans in the United States Congress as “terrorists” by reason of their strategy of shutting down the federal government in order to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act. The thundering demands for apology as well as the cries and shouts of outrage and feigned injury cannot hide one basic fact – the Teapublicans in Congress are terrorists.

It has been said that one person’s patriot is another person’s terrorist. As has been noted before, George Washington, Jefferson Davis, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela have all been labeled with the term “terrorist” at some point. But in all of these examples, the individuals involved operated pursuant to a stated opposition to the governmental entity that they defied.

The Teapublicans are terrorists of a different order. Holding to a loudly articulate but philosophically incoherent view that “government is the problem”, the Teapublicans seem to believe that only the social service aspects of the federal government are “the problem”. On the Planet Tea Party there is no need for investment in education, health or infrastructure. But there is a rationale for funding law enforcement, penal institutions and farm subsidies.

But it is not their clouded view of government and the underlying social contract that has sustained the United States for over two centuries that is the problem. The problem is that, while claiming to be patriots and having this country’s best interests foremost in their hearts, they are willing to wreak havoc on the governmental process because they did not get their way.

There are two schools of thought regarding why the Teapublicans insist on playing Captain Ahab to the white whale of Obamacare. One is that there resides within the right wing of the right wing a belief that a national health care system is an unacceptable expansion of the federal government and should be opposed at all costs – even the cost of an orderly and healthy society and a stable economy.

The problem with this analysis is that Medicare and Medicaid have been a part of this country’s social safety net for almost fifty years. Social Security has been a part of this country’s array of citizen services for almost a century. Only the most rabid, foaming at the mouth Teapublican would advocate the repeal and destruction of these institutional supports, yet Obamacare has become the personal Alamo of the right wing of the right wing.

At some point someone will connect the dots and recognize that the viciousness of the modern neo-conservative movement known as the Tea Party coincides with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. And it is a fact that on the day that President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, the leaders of the Republican Party and conservative operatives actively conspired to collapse and delegitimize his presidency. While political opposition is a healthy proposition in politics, the Teapublicans crashed past the boundaries of decency and logic a while ago.

And so, leaders of the Teapublicans felt comfortable suggesting that President Obama is not an American citizen, that he is by turns a fascist, a communist, a Trojan Horse for the domination of America by the United Nations and an anti-colonialist revolutionary. He could be called “a liar” from the floor of the Congress and “Second Amendment solutions” have been casually discussed in the most gun-choked nation on Earth.

It is through this clouded prism of mindlessness, illogic, bigotry and meanness that the Teapublicans view President Obama and Obamacare. And it with this godforsaken world view that they can justify shutting down the federal government or even collapsing the American and the global economies.

If this sounds familiar, it is because it the same bloody, soulless illogic that motivates every terrorist and hostage taker in the world today. In the view of the Teapublicans the end justifies the means even if the means cause tremendous harm and permanent damage to the United States and its citizens.

Having failed to fully advance their cause at the ballot box – losing two presidential elections to the Anti-Christ in Chief; having been betrayed by the AlitoThomasScaliaRoberts rightwing cabal in the United States Supreme Court; having been unable to secure veto-proof majorities in the House and the Senate; the Teapublicans have decided to jettison the rules since they haven’t been able to win by the rules.

Terrorism is used by those who can see no other way to advance their cause. Of course, in the case of the Teapublicans there is another way – advocate, legislate and adjudicate.

The Teapublicans in Congress are genuine terrorists who are only interested in advancing their demented vision of the future, by any means necessary. No apologies to the terrorists in the Capitol are necessary.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 4, 2013

While one person’s terrorist is another person’s patriot, in these United States it is hard to argue that the Teapublicans in Congress are not home grown terrorist as they revel in the damage that that they are inflicting on the American people. Meanwhile, the musty, funky smell of racism is attached to the mindless opposition of the Teapublican terrorists, reminiscent of a terrible time in this country’s history. And finally, ever wonder what would happen if the Teapublicans were black? History tells us what did actually happen.

Tea for Terror

The Teapublican terrorists in Congress are very clear that they are prepared to wreak damage on this country if they don’t get their way. This is not the way of the “loyal opposition” or the conflict resolution process envisioned by the Constitution. This is anarchy pure and simple.

It is true that “terrorist” is a subjective term. George Washington, Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, Jefferson Davis and William Tecumseh Sherman were all considered “terrorists” by the other side. By that standard, today’s congressional Teapublicans are certainly terrorists.

Even during their most virulent and repulsive iterations, racist Dixiecrats like George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and John Stennis never even hinted at collapsing the governmental infrastructure of this country as they sought to defend the hellish segregationist culture that they espoused. To their credit, they regrouped and reconfigured as Republicans and have indeed been able to roll back some key elements of the civil right movement that they opposed.

Today’s Teapublicans are not concerned with process or protocol. Their one basic demand is my way or the hostage gets it…and in this case the hostage is the United States government. It is certainly not the American way. It certainly is the way of terrorists.

The Return of the Nigger Breakers

In all discussions about the mindless opposition to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, there is an almost universal reluctance to confront the fact that there is a deep and undeniable racist element to the hard core Teapublican attacks on President Obama. Barack Obama’s presidency has been essentially moderate and middle of the road, much to the chagrin of some of his supporters who are truly on the left. Nevertheless this centrist president has been attacked as if he were getting his directions from Moscow, Beijing or Nairobi or wherever.

During the terrible hell that was slavery in the United States, plantations would employ specialists who had the ability to “break” recalcitrant or resistant slaves. They would either “tame” the oppositional slave or kill him/her. They were known as “nigger breakers”.

Similarly, the Teapublicans wish to “break” Barack Obama. Indeed, Senator Mitch McConnell was quoted in 2009 as saying that he would “break this boy” referring to the President of the United States.

And the Teapublicans have taken up the task of delegitimizing President Obama – through the “birther” nonsense to “Fast and Furious” to “Benghazi” to calling him a liar during his address to Congress to the multiple attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act – it is all about the Teapublicans seeking to “break” the first black President of the United States.

If the Teapublicans Were Black…..

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the Teapublicans were black? You need not wonder. In the 1960’s there was an organization called the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers advocated that black Americans exercise their Second Amendment Rights. The Black Panthers argued that government should be limited in its presence in the lives of black Americans.

What happened? Many Black Panthers were shot down in the streets. Many Black Panthers were arrested, tried and convicted for conspiring against the government of the United States. Forty years later many Black Panthers are still in prison.

Clearly there is a difference between White Tea and Black Tea.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 28, 2013

The evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court this week is the most racially damaging decision by that Court in exactly 117 years – almost to the day. Meanwhile the end of the DOMA as we know it has been a cause for justified celebration but it is celebration that should be muted given the near death of the VRA. Finally, given the precarious health of Nelson Mandela President Obama’s trip has a somber tinge but it does provide yet another opportunity to put the spotlight on what is good about Africa these days.

RIP VRA

In May of 1896 the United States Supreme Court dishonored itself by confirming the legality and constitutionality of racial segregation in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. For the next 100 years almost every Supreme Court decision on racial matters has been part of incremental progress.

Now, in its most recent ruling the Supreme Court has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, one of the pillars of progress built by the civil rights movement of the modern era. Using sham analysis to mask the obvious intent to disenfranchise black Americans and other people of color, the majority on the court has disgraced itself and desecrated the memory of all of the American heroes, black and white, honored and anonymous, who worked and struggled and died so that civil rights could become a civil reality in this country.

The majority of the Supreme Court should be ashamed of themselves but they are not. They will continue to wrap themselves in the self-righteous literal translation of the Constitution whenever it is convenient and suits their damnable purpose.

Somewhere in the depths of Hell Strom Thurmond, the Ku Klux Klan, Lester Maddox, John Stennis, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and the rest of the members of the unrepentant American racist terrorist movement are celebrating.

DOMAcide

The signing the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996 was one of the more regrettable aspects of the presidency of Bill Clinton. This law was obviously unconstitutional and was a legislative expression of pure prejudice.

Seventeen years later DOMA has been dismantled by the Supreme Court. While the outcome of this case should have been inevitable – the ScaliaAlitoRobertsThomas wing of the Court has proven itself capable of trampling even the most basic of rights.

While there are twelve states and the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is now legal, that means that there are 38 states that still need to come to the realization that the right to love and care for someone is not something that should be subject to legislative rule or permission.

Back to Africa

As noted, the precarious health of liberation icon Nelson Mandela casts a somber light over President Obama’s trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

While our prayers are with Mr. Mandela and his family we should not that President Obama’s trip does provide the American media and the American business community with an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of Africa, not only in the visited countries but throughout the continent.

Business expansion, technological progress, increased democratization and gradual but steady improvement of living conditions are all characteristics of large parts of the African continent.

We have to hope that this message about the “other” Africa will resonate long after President Obama returns to Washington.

Have a great weekend!

 

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Point of View Columns

A Celebration From Hell

I do not generally engage in forecasting and prognostication, but I can safely predict that on Thursday, April 7, 2011, there will be multiple celebrations throughout the southern states of this country noting the commencement of the Civil War. That such appalling and offensive revelry will be done in full view of the American public and the world is shameful.

Yet, this Thursday fools, buffoons and adherents to a cruel, vile and false version of history will parade down streets and in “secessionist balls” reveling in some romantic notion of states’ rights and the preservation of the “southern way of life”. In no other country on this planet is treason celebrated without censure and punishment.

Yet in the United States traitors, war criminals and slave owners like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis are honored with their names on streets, boulevards and universities – indeed their portraits are still hanging in state capitols rather than being strewn on the trash heap of history where they belong.

And all the while black Americans are treated like the non-persons that the original Constitution of the Confederate States of America proclaimed them to be.

This is not simply a matter of racial sensitivity or political correctness. The mindset that celebrates treachery and treason cannot be fully committed to a truly united United States of America. The man or woman who believes that the “southern way of life” should be honored and glorified cannot also believe in racial equality or diversity in the twenty first century. There is simply no middle ground.

At the outset of the Civil War there were nine million people living in the South and four million of them were slaves. Four million black men, women and children were owned by white men, women and children and they had the same status as horses, cattle or other chattel.

Slaves were routinely beaten, tortured, killed and abused. Families were torn asunder to satisfy gambling debts, settle estates or to liquidate assets for an investment.

There was nothing good, pleasant, uplifting or ennobling about the peculiar institution of slavery in the United States. And the Confederate States of America was formed in order to protect and preserve the institution of slavery.

The Civil War had many ancillary factors that contributed to the bloodiest conflict in American history but there should be no doubt that slavery was the central cause. All sane and honest historians agree that but for slavery there would not have been a civil war.

And we should be clear that while slavery ended with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States the spirit and heart of the South barely changed for more than a century. The Ku Klux Klan and its adherents tortured maimed and massacred black people with impunity throughout the South and beyond. Jim Crow laws not only segregated just about every aspect of life in the South, it degraded and debased the dignity of black men, women and children as a matter of law.

And it has only been in the last fifty years that real progress has been made although if you scratch beneath the surface in too many corners and nooks and crannies in the South the vile stench of racial hatred and white superiority wafts into the political atmosphere barely disguised with fig leaf phrases like “states’ rights” and “taking America back”.

It is amazingly sad that men and women of good will sit by idly while this celebration from hell takes place. We do not have to be Jewish to abhor the Holocaust. We do not have to be Native Americans to decry the genocide perpetrated against the original residents of this continent. We do not have to be Tutsis to denounce the mass killings in Rwanda.

Why then is there such deafening silence in the face of this ghoulish perpetration of the myth of the Confederate States of America and the celebration of a way of life that trafficked in human flesh and blood for centuries? I would hope that people – regardless of their political persuasion, could coalesce around the basic principles of decency and justice.

It is not right for the secessionist celebrants to dance on the graves of the men, women and children who suffered and died because of the southern “way of life” Their celebration is indeed ghoulish and mawkish and all the more wrong because they know better.

Their celebration is truly a celebration from Hell.

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