Point of View Columns

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

It should be clear by now that there are no boundaries for Donald Trump. And there is no limit to the extent to which Trump will seek to disgrace, demean or degrade whoever might come into the line of his vision. And so it should really come as no surprise that even though he has been a lifelong bigot and fully committed racist, Donald Trump would have the temerity to appeal to black voters as their savior incarnate.

We know that Donald Trump reads as much as a mildly curious six year old, so there is no doubt that he will never read this letter. Nevertheless, this letter is addressed to Trump in the hope that there will be those who will read it and understand once and for all, that not only is this man unfit to be President, he should be thankful that the 1st Amendment prevents him from banned from all public discourse – forever.

Dear Mr. Trump:

It is beyond belief that you would actually appeal to black voters with a line like “What the Hell do you have to lose?” Aside from our self-respect, dignity and sense of personhood, voting for you would virtually vaporize any hope of a future for ourselves or our posterity.

But here’s a question for you Mr. Trump. Where the Hell have you been? You are 70 years of age which means that you were 17 at the time of the March on Washington. Where the Hell were you?

When your father’s housing development company, where you served as an executive,  was accused by the Department of Justice of racial discrimination in the 1970’s in Cincinnati did you acknowledge wrongdoing and try to rectify your misdeeds as manager of the project? Or did you sue the federal government for $100 million and finally settle without acknowledging guilt? Where the Hell were you?

And, in the modern era, since you were a public figure by 1980, can you name one time, just one time, when you spoke in favor of racial justice, equity or fairness?

Was there ever a time when you expressed dismay and outrage over the NYPD killings of Eleanor Bumphurs or Amadou Diallou or Sean Bell or Eric Garner? Do you even remember the young black men who were killed by a racist mob in Brooklyn? Where the Hell were you?

We do know that you sought the death penalty for the young black and Latino men who were wrongfully convicted of raping the Central Park jogger. We do know that even after they were fully exonerated and their sentences were vacated you expressed no remorse. When justice was finally done, where the Hell were you?

And when Barack Obama was elected President where the Hell were you when racially motivated bigots tried to delegitimize his presidency? Oh, that’s right; you were the spearhead of that despicable movement.

When there was a demented movement to falsely claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, where the Hell were you? Oh, that’s right; you were at the head of that movement. And when President Obama finally displayed his Hawaiian birth certificate where the Hell were you? Oh that’s right, you were nowhere to be found.

And now, after blatantly and purposely exaggerated the persistent pathologies that have beset the black community, stoking the flames under the perpetually boiling cauldrons of stereotypes, you must know that you did not discover these problems. So where the Hell have you been all of these years? Have you ever taken a single step, made a single effort, uttered a single word to help? Where the Hell have you been?

And now, having run the gamut from insolent indifference to blatantly racist rhetoric for your entire public life, you have the gall to ask for the support of the black community. Now, having insulted and attempted to demean and degrade the first black president of the United States during his entire time in office, you ask “what the Hell do you have to lose?”.

By supporting you Donald Trump, black people would lose the respect of all of the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who marched and protested and labored and died in the cause of freedom and fairness. By supporting you black people would lose any and all pretext of dignity – believing that after 70 years you have finally discovered black people and that you are the savior incarnate would be blasphemy, plain and simple.

So Mr. Trump, the answer to your question, “What the Hell do you have to lose?” is “Where the Hell have you been?”

Black America

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 23, 2013

During the past week we saw the CIA admit that it participated in the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Iran in —- 1953(!!!!). Meanwhile “Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’” is setting box office records which is fine as long as no one thinks that they are getting the full story of black people in the White House. And finally, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is being celebrated on August 24th, what a difference a half century can make.

It’s About Time

The CIA recently announced something that it has denied for years. It turns out that in 1953 the United States did participate in the overthrow of the democratically elected government and its Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replaced him with the Shah. This subversion of democratic principles was done at the instance of U.S. and British oil companies who thought that the elected president might have socialist leanings and nationalize the oil industry.

The Shah turned out to be a repressive and brutal dictator who was also completely subservient to American dictates. The overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddegh is one of those things that Iranians resent even though it took place sixty years ago.

That may seem like a long time to hold a grudge until you ask some of our friends in Mississippi and Alabama how they feel about the Civil War that ended almost 150 years ago.

Did the Butler Really Do it?

From the reviews that are out it appears that “Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’” is the fictionalized story of the life of a real African American butler who worked for eight presidents in the White House. In the movie, the black butler becomes more than a servant; he becomes an offline advisor providing useful insights and suggestions sotto voce.

While some may be growing tired of the seemingly endless stream of Hollywood movies that depict black people serving white people – see “Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Help”, etc., it might be useful to point out that there is a movie about black people in the White House that has yet to be made.

For example – E. Frederic Morrow was the first black advisor the President of the United States. He actually did advise President Eisenhower in the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education case and he played a pivotal role in the decision making process that sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas.

So it may be that there is no need to fictionalize the importance of black people in the White House. The story is already there, waiting to be told.

Another March on Washington

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington will be commemorated on August 24th. Hundreds of thousands of people are certain to gather and remember an important moment in American history.

The thing is…..in 1963 we were marching for some very important things like basic civil rights, voting rights. The goals of the 2013 March on Washington are more difficult to articulate after righteous memorial.

Something to think about.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!



Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 16, 2013

Because there is no bottom to the Teapublican Dumb Bucket, we were treated to another helping this week – this time in the form of a petition. Meanwhile, North Carolina will be dusting off its “Whites Only” and “No Colored” signs any day now. And finally, the mess of a morass in Egypt is yet another lesson on why restraint has to be the watchword in American foreign policy.

The Bottom of the Dumb Bucket

One of the developments of the new media/communications age in which we live is that virtually any group or organization or cadre of insane asylum escapees can get the White House to post a petition with the requisite number of signatures.

This is why last week the White House had to respond to a petition filed by right wing of the right wing gun worshipers who wanted to disarm the Secret Service security detail that guards President Obama.

Their theory was that if public schools should be made gun free zones then so should the White House.

A brief review of history shows that there has never been a proposal to disarm the Secret Service since there has been a Secret Service – until now.

Can’t wait to see what’s next in The Bottom of the Dumb Bucket.

Back to the Future

This past week the governor of North Carolina signed a bill that so severely restricts, restrains and represses voting that it might have been modeled after the laws that used to govern the Old South at the turn of the century, the 20th century that is.

Without even a fig leaf of propriety or a passing reference to justice, it will quite simply be a lot harder for some people to vote in that state. And it was the intention of this legislation that “some people” would be minorities, the poor, the young and the elderly – most of whom typically vote Democratic and most of whom voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

It is ironic that, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington North Carolina is providing reasons to march all over again.


Beware of the Slippery Slope

The turmoil and violence in Egypt should be a lesson to all of those who think that it would be a really great idea for the United States to “do something”, that “something” being the start of some kind of military presence and involvement. We have heard the same drumbeat being played when the song was about Syria and Libya not too long ago.

The sad reality is that there are simply times when the United States really has to stand back. Unless and until there is some clear action that this country can take that will unequivocally protect the United States while actually solving a conflict somewhere else diplomacy will have to suffice.

Vietnam was the lesson 40 years ago; Iraq was the less 10 years ago. We do not need Egypt to be another lesson.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Shameful and Shameless

It is pretty clear that when the discussion turns to modern political discourse and contemporary commentary in the United States there is no bottom. From blathering “birthers” to fallacious claims of “death panels” to the prospect of “terror babies” as the latest cavil to be hurled at immigrants along with calls for Koran burning sessions, nothing is too stupid, too revolting or too ridiculous to get a place in the media sun, however momentary.

With that thought in mind, no one can be too shocked at the depraved, mindless and morally impoverished disgrace perpetrated by Glenn Beck and his Tea Party cohorts this past weekend. To hold a rally at the Lincoln Monument (thankfully sans nooses and burning torches) on the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington for the purpose of exhorting Americans to “take back America” was obscene in its intentional desecration of the memory of a moment in time when it seemed that all things right were possible and there was no need to “take back” this country. Rather it seemed that it was time for everyone to share in this country.

I was blessed and favored to have actually attended the March on Washington on August 28, 1963 as a 13-year old kid from New Jersey who would be starting high school in a few weeks. I had never seen so many people in one place at one time for a single purpose except for when I sat on my father’s shoulders to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a little guy. That the purpose was the elimination of injustice and racism and the promotion of equality and justice was uplifting and inspiring. Anger and rage were not the emotions of the day, but the demand for justice was clear and unequivocal and anyone who was on the mall that day will remember that moment for the rest of their lives.

I have to wonder what will the attendees of the Glenn Beck – Sarah Palin self-love fest remember for the rest of their lives? That they came to Washington to “take back America”? Take back America from whom? Will they recall that they raised their voices in a chorus to “reclaim America”? Having already exercised his freedom of speech to mindlessly insult President Obama as a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred of white people” (which presumably would include the President’s white mother), Glenn Beck now proclaims that the President does not practice the “right type” of Christianity, while we should presume that he and his followers are steadfast in adhering to the true path that Jesus trod.

As noted, there is no bottom to this pit of madness and sadness. It is madness that, in the midst of this very real and sustained economic crisis there are millions of Americans who perceive the first black President of the United States to be complicit in some plot to “take” American away from them. It is a cause for sadness that too many of our fellow citizens believe, truly believe, that Barack Obama and his purported fascist/socialist/atheist/Muslim/subversive agenda will result in the final demise of this country when in fact it is their mobocratic tendencies that are sending us careening towards the brink of something very ugly.

And, at this stage of national debate, it must be clear to even the most partisan observer that the blackness of this president is not irrelevant to the outrage and bile and vitriol that have flowed into the national bloodstream. It is more than political disagreement that has 20 per cent of the population believing that he was not born in the United States, voicing an unspoken wish that some undeniable bolt of disqualification will make Barack Obama just go away almost two years after his election.

Every President of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush has been insulted and reviled. It is a part of the political process and the limitless freedom of speech that has been a truly exceptional aspect of this country for over two centuries. And certainly freedom of speech allows Tea Party yahoos to burn Barack Obama in effigy and to Photoshop his head onto the body of a half naked bushman.

We know that Abraham Lincoln was portrayed by his opponents as a baboon and George W. Bush was certainly burned in effigy more than a few times during his term in office. But the very special hatred that is directed towards Barack Obama is coming from something more than philosophical disagreement. There is a visceral need on the party of the Becks and the Palins and the Limbaughs and the right wing of the right wing and the Tea Party yahoos to “take back America” because this country has, in their minds, been besmirched and defaced by the dark presence that now occupies the White House.

The world premiere of “Birth of a Nation” was held at the White House at the invitation of President Woodrow Wilson. That racist screed on film directed by D.W. Griffith had at its core a message that it was time to “take back America”.

Now, instead of a cinematic monstrosity that upon its release inspired the lynching of black Americans throughout the country, we have Beck and Palin and the Tea Party yahoos cavorting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, proclaiming that they will “take back America” again.

Wilson and Griffith would be proud. This country should be ashamed.