Point of View Columns

Reflections during October 2021

Reflections During October 2021

October 4, 2021

It now appears that Cult of Trump entails a full and complete divorce from reality, no matter that there are billions of witnesses to that reality. Case in point, former Vice President Mike Pence has reduced the 1.6.21 insurrection to “a single bad day”. And he says this even though the insurrectionists announced a very clear intention to hang him.

Perhaps he is hoping that this act of act of abject fealty will put him back in Trump’s good graces.

If not, I am sure that he will still continue on his own personal downward spiral of obsequiousness.

October 5, 2021

Not that it should come as a total surprise, but even though pigs are not soaring through the air in formation, there has been real and actual bipartisan activity in Congress. The reason for this seeming miracle is Facebook, and its continual refusal to embrace any corporate responsibility that does not involve pure profit for Mark Zuckerberg & Co.

Even though it is now absolutely evident that Facebook has facilitated teenage suicides and enhanced the clear and present danger of insurrection in the United States and abroad, Facebook has clearly taken pages out of the Standard Oil playbook – straight out of the 19th century.

But, as John D. Rockefeller & Co. learned, the absolute embrace of power and wealth despite human and institutional costs does have consequences.

Stay tuned for Congressional oversight regarding Facebook and other tech companies in the days and months to come.

October 6, 2021

Yesterday Pope Francis issued a formal apology of the Catholic Church for the over 300,000 instances of the sexual abuse of children by thousands of members of the clergy in France. This savagery took place over a period of 70 years and is probably not the complete number. And we can be sure that the situation in France is not an isolated instance as revelations in Ireland and the United States make very clear.

There are no words to describe the betrayal of trust and faith that these revelations reveal. What is also revealed is how institutionalism and bureaucracy can obscure even the saintliest of intentions.

October 11, 2021

While some people will persist on celebrating this day as Columbus Day, it makes more and more sense to go by the more useful celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in order to serve as a reminder that this nation is literally built with the combination of stolen land and genocide. Of course there is the expected opposition from those who don’t deny the facts, they just don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable with the reality of “discovery” and “settlement” which presumably is kinder to the ear than “genocide” and “stolen land”.

There will come a time in American history when the sordid history of its origins can be told honestly and without rancor, but with the understanding that, even now, we all have to do better.

October 14, 2021

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who (a) are denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) are taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There has to be a question as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to raise their hands as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

October 15, 2021

Historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American people.

Whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which the American people have adopted as the “new normal”

October 21, 2021

It is in the realm of possibility that we will come to understand Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to dental and vision care for the elderly. There is literally no hope that we will ever understand Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to even a “one penny” increase in the tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion dollar companies.

In the meantime, it appears that President Biden is practicing the art of the possible by supporting a scaled down version of his Build Back Better plan. But it should be clear that even a scaled down version represents a major change in American public policy, moving away from decades of penurious and skimpy social service programs (certainly skimpy when compared to any other industrialized countries).

And that being said, it may be possible to see a further expansion if the Trump-led Republicans don’t trash the entire package a little more than three years from now.

A hell of a thought.

October 23, 2021

Somebody in the Biden Administration seems to think that, even though the administration is already dancing on the razor’s edge of multiple crises, it would be a good idea to indicate that this country is prepared to use military force against China in defense of Taiwan. Aside from the fact that such public provocative language will never cause China to pause, there is no sense that the American people are prepared to support another foreign war – with an incalculable cost of blood and treasure – when the interests of the United States are not directly at risk.

Diplomacy exists as an alternative to war. It is spectacularly useless if it is not employed in a timely fashion.

October 24, 2021

The joke of the day is that Trump is starting his own version of Facebook/Twitter through his personal communications company which is in the process of formation. The joke, of course, is that the list of investors who made money in a Trump venture could fit on the head of a pin – a very small pin. The list of Trump founded companies that have been successful could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin – a very small cocktail napkin.

Yet the investors, reputedly some large ones, along with the denizens of MAGA nation will probably put Trump in a position to partially start the company and pocket much of the invested funds if the past is prologue.

October 28, 2021

As President Biden gets ready to leave for the G-20 conference in Rome later today, it would be wise to remember that each of the other 19 countries have paid family leave for the citizens of their respective country. The United States, ostensibly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet does not.

Somehow this is the only country where providing basic benefits for its citizens is seen as either some kind of gift for the worthy or a payment that must be earned according to some mysterious formula.

What is most astounding is that people who oppose paid family leave, like Senator Joe Manchin have no shame when it comes to this incredibly low level of meanness and disdain for his fellow citizen.

Shameful is the only word that comes to mind.

October 29, 2021

It is very clear that the Democrats, especially those in Congress, cannot break the circular firing squad habit. We saw it during the 2020 presidential campaign and we are seeing this movie again as they seem determined to find a way not to pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislation. On the one hand some so-called moderates (why are conservative Democrats called “moderates” when there is nothing “moderate” about denying hearing aids to the elderly of objecting to paid family leave for people who really need that support, especially in these days and times).

On the other hand, we have the self-proclaimed progressives who seem prepared the object to the good in search of the perfect. Considering the fact that the United States is behind every single industrialized country when it comes to the extent and scope of its social safety net, any advance in these areas will begin to change the conversation regarding care for the American people.

Meanwhile the Republicans must be chortling with glee as they hope and wish that the circular firing squad will result in nothing being done – in which case the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections will be easy to predict.

October 31, 2021

The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, one Glenn Youngkin, is presenting himself as Republican who is not a Trump Surrogate. This despite the fact that all through the primary contest he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election of Joe Biden.

Now that he is on the cusp of victory in his race against Terry McAuliffe, he is finding that the biggest boost for his campaign has been to promise to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia public schools because “it teaches white children to hate themselves”.

A few facts – remember those? – are in order. First, critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia public schools. Second, the corrections made to the narrative of American history is meant to remove all of the negative stereotypes of the past, lies and omissions that have given Black boys and girls little of which to be proud except for the passing mention of George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, while the reform of the American historical narrative replaces myth with facts, it does reveal much about American history of which no white child or Black child should be proud. Consider – slavery was imbedded in the Constitution in its original iteration. Consider – ten of the first twelve presidents were slave owners. Consider – literally thousands of Black Americans were victims of white domestic terrorism between the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – it was known as lynching. Consider – during World War I blood from Black donors and white donors were segregated so that no white soldier would receive Black blood. Consider – during World War II the American military remained steadfast in its racial segregation policies even while fighting an existential war against the Axis powers.

What American, white or Black should be proud of these facts? What American, white or Black should be proud of the genocide and land theft perpetrated upon the indigenous people of this continent?

And why should white children feel that they should hate themselves in learning about the sordid facts of American history. German children are taught about the Holocaust and there are no reports of German children hating themselves. Japanese children are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and there are no reports of German children hating themselves.

But it is clear that Mr. Youngkin has discovered a tune with which he can use his dog whistle. Animosity against Black people has worked for white candidates many times, and it should be no surprise that he would whistle that tune just as voters are going to the polls.

It is shameful what he is doing. But since he is a Republican he is certainly not alone.

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Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

April 1, 2021

30,461,748-552,076 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It is still early in the Biden-Harris administration but it is not too early to inquire as to whether the urgency of the nationwide suppression of the Black vote in America is being sufficiently prioritized within the public policy universe of competing demands including infrastructure, COVID-19, the economy and climate change.

April 2, 2021

30,548,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the sad and tragic testimony at the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd ebbs and flows forward there is an overwhelming sense of maddening sadness. Sadness because the testimony to date makes it clear that Mr. Floyd did not have to die and in a normal universe he would probably still be alive to this day.

Maddening because this police-Black man scenario has played out so many times that it seems like well-rehearsed satanic performance art. A Black man has an encounter with the police and for no apparent reason the Black man ends up dead in a situation which would see a white man walk away or be peacefully arrested – and in any event alive.

It is maddeningly sad because we know, we all know, that this will not be the last time that we are witness to this tragic scenario.

And, as a reminder of the madness that is flowing the streets and cities and supermarkets of America, a young Black man tried to crash his car through the barriers that surround the Capitol. After crashing he left his car and attacked two Capitol Hill police officers, killing one and wounding the other before being shot to death.

There appears to be no motive other than the madness that is on display in his social media rants. And while there appears to be no philosophical or political motive, it is undeniable that the atmosphere of madness and violence that hangs over America like some kind of cloud cannot have a salutary effect on people with serious mental health issues.

April 3, 2021

30,610,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

There is a weekend pause in the Chauvin murder trial and it is definitely timely. The repetition of the recitation of the cause of the death of George Floyd is a necessary part of the trial process. However, the enormity of Chauvin’s crime goes beyond murder.

It is total dismissal of the humanity of Mr. Floyd – shared by his police colleagues on the scene – which is difficult to comprehend. Veterinarians and butchers demonstrate more empathy and care than Chauvin and that is what is so hard to understand.

One could actually understand a flash of cruelty – a gun shot or gun shots, for example. But killing someone so slowly and personally – sustained sadism actually –  for over nine minutes reveals a certain kind of pathology that endangers all of society.

Chauvin might be an outlier but he is not alone.

April 4, 2021

30,703,999-554,992 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today marks 53 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was killed by some nonentity named James Earl Ray, although how a two-bit crook was able to elude an international manhunt with multiple passports and funds seemingly from out of the sky has never been explained. And at this point probably will never be explained.

Dr. King’s assassination marked a turning point in the struggle for the rights of Black Americans and a recognition that whatever good will might exist in this nation, it was not enough the stem the centuries-old tradition of naked violence in support of white supremacy. His death also sparked insurrections and protests throughout the country, but in the ensuing 53 years there has been grudging progress but systemic change has been resisted virtually everywhere and anywhere.

Still, it was interesting that, even though it was Easter Sunday, there was virtually no mention of the anniversary of the slaying of Dr. King.

And that cannot be a good thing.

April 5, 2021

30,706,129-555,001 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The promoters of the Big Lie of Voter Fraud, which has served as the faux justification for the raced-based voter suppression assault across America. There seems to be a belief that if a lie is spoken enough times it will somehow be considered the truth.

It is a fact that the Black voters across the country, but particularly in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are directly responsible for the electoral victory of Joe Biden, in the processing dashing the fevered dreams of conservatives and white sup remacists who desperately wished for a second term for 45. And so, in 43 states there are legislative commando raids going on which, while not being able to reverse the results of the 2020 election, will certainly make it incredibly more difficult for Black voters to exercise voting rights and impact an election in the same way.

It is clear that there is a virulent, cancerous segment of white America that is prepared to bring down the temple of democracy if it means holding on to white supremacist minority rights.

These are dangerous times indeed.

April 6, 2021

30,785,734-555,619 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So now we are learning that Major League Baseball (moving the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver), Delta and Coca Cola (issuing statements of concern to date) are announcing their displeasure with the voter suppression efforts in Georgia.

It is good to see elements of corporate America publicly recognize the seemingly eternal need for racial justice in this country but it remains what it is that corporate America is going to do? After all, there are 42 other states considering various types of voter regulation that could easily morph into voter suppression.

What is corporate America going to do?

Delta is not going to stop flying to Texas. Coca Cola is not going to suspend sales in Pennsylvania. And Amazon…well Amazon is going to keep being Amazon. So if there is no consequence beyond some rhetorical sniper fire, we can be sure that voter suppression will soon become the de facto law of the land in much of America.

April 7, 2021

30,847,926-556,529 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Hopefully the Matt Gaetz Distraction of the Day will be just that. There is just too much grave and serious issues and tidal waves of perilous change to worry about finding out that one of 45’s most vocal and bellicose supporters is a sleaze bag.

How can that be a surprise when Gaetz idolizes 45, who has taken the concept of sleaze bag to Hall of Fame levels that will be difficult to surpass.

Meanwhile there are actual arguments over whether people should carry proof of vaccination as part of the effort to stem the lethal COVID-19 tide. Once again, we see the argument of personal liberty being juxtaposed against all of us dropping dead. It should not be a hard decision.

History does not reveal this kind of visceral opposition to the smallpox, polio or measles vaccines. So what has changed so that over a half century later, when ostensibly more people know more about science and how vaccines work, that there is this intransigent, indigestible segment of America that will refuse vaccines because (a) it threatens their personal liberty) or (b) there is no real “proof” that vaccines work. Insofar as (a) is concerned, the calculation that personal liberty is more important than the lives of others is stunningly cruel. With respect to (b), it may be that there is simply no arguing with intentional, obstinate and immovable stupid. But it will be hard for the (b) group to argue about anything when they are in an ICU somewhere

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Today We Are All Asian

Yesterday another member of the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men decided that it would be a good thing to kill as many Asians as he could find in massage spas in and around Atlanta. He managed to kill eight people, six of whom were Asian. The other two just happened to discover that their Sell By date was yesterday.

In other words, the other two were just collateral damage in the continued hate war being waged by the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men. And in that war anyone and everyone stands the risk of being collateral damage. In that sense, we are all Asian. Just as we are all Black. We are all LatinX. We are all Muslims. We are all Indigenous people. We are all LGBTQI members. We are all Jews.

Because in hating and targeting all of the above, the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men doesn’t care who gets in the way. And they certainly don’t care who dies. Yesterday it was six Asian women who committed the capital crime of Being Asian and Working. About a year ago it was Armaud Arberry who committed the capital crime of Jogging While Black in an Atlanta suburb. In August 2019 it was 23 Latinos in El Paso who committed the capital crime of Being Latino in A Public Place. And in 2017 it was Heather Heyer who committed the capital crime of Demonstrating for Justice with Black People in Charlottesville. And in 2018 it was 11 Jews worshiping in a synagogue who committed the capital crime of Being Jews.

Of course the behavior which cost these men and women their lives are only capital crimes in the twisted universe of white supremacist domestic terrorists. These men (and women) have been letting us know who they are for years and the response of the public and law enforcement has been tepid at best. All of the referenced atrocities are considered isolated events and not part of the obvious pattern of white extremist violence which is committed to maintaining white minority rule in this nation, no matter the human or institutional cost.

We saw the savage combination of white supremacy and white privilege on January 6, 2020 when a mob that would have warmed the heart of the Ku Klux Klan in days gone past, stormed the capital – ostensibly to keep 45 as president – but…there were Confederate flags and Nazi paraphernalia present — clear signs that white supremacy was coursing through the veins of these so-called “good people”.

History shows quite clearly how this country responds when it perceives a domestic threat. Look at what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Paul Robeson among thousands of others accused of being part of some Russian conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Look at what happened to the Black Panther Party when its members asserted the constitutional right of Black people to exercise their Second Amendment rights (the irony is apparent). And look what happened to Martin Luther King, Jr. when the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered him to be “the greatest domestic threat” in the country.

A Black man preaching nonviolence in the quest for justice is a domestic threat. A tribe of white supremacist domestic terrorists are considered to be either misunderstood or misguided, but certainly not a national threat.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated that he considers domestic terrorism to be a national threat. But he needs to be more specific – it is white supremacist domestic terrorism that is a true national threat. And unless and until this nation confronts this danger from within, every American citizen is in danger of being in the cross hairs of this renegade tribe.

And that is why today we are all Asian.

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The Day That Donald Trump Declared War on America

As the new year began there was the faint flicker of hope that 2021 would be a better year because at least it would not be 2020. But the fact that Trump was still president meant that his capacity for creating chaos would remain.

There are a number of dates in American history that are remembered with dismay and pain.

  • April 15, 1865 – the day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The first time that an American president had ever been killed while in office.
  • December 7, 1941 – the day that the Empire of Japan attacked the United States without a prior declaration of war. Thousands of Americans died in the attack and America entered World War II.
  • November 22, 1963 – the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the first time that an American president had been assassinated since 1901.
  • April 4, 1968 – the day that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • September 11, 2001 – the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of over 3,000 Americans
  • January 6, 2021 – the day that Donald Trump declared war on America

That last bullet might sound extreme except that it is true. If any foreign power or individual invited a huge mob of disaffected, well-armed true believers to come to Washington and then incited and invited that mob to attack the United States Capitol it would be considered an act of war. An individual would be charged with capital crimes including sedition, inciting to riot and treason.

Trump took these actions with the clear goal of derailing the certification of the presidential election results so that he, Trump, could remain in power. This is a clear and present case of treason and sedition. These are certainly impeachable offenses with which no American president has ever been charged. But if there were ever a time, now is the time.

An historical note – Andrew Jackson was arguably the most disruptive president in American history pre-Trump. Upon his inauguration he invited hundreds of his drunken supporters into the White House who virtually trashed the place as they celebrated. Very bad taste indeed – but not treasonous.

Now Trump comes along – with a portrait of Andrew Jackson in his office – and directs his supporters to attack the Capitol and the members of Congress to keep himself in office. And they actually go ahead and do it – Trump calls them patriots and beautiful people and as of this writing remains absolutely remorseless. And lack of remorse is just one more indication of how damaged a human being Trump is.

It should also be noted that the Trump mob was virtually all white. This all white mob virtually waltzed passed the Capitol police who were happy to take selfies with these invading rioters. The all white mob terrorized the members of Congress who were forced to cower and hide. The all white mob destroyed property, defaced the Capitol and generally acted like the deranged fools that they clearly are.

And their grievances are hard to discern at first? There were no poor people in the crowd. Most were reasonably well dressed and it is doubtful that there were many homeless or jobless white men and women in the mob. Their grievance was that their sense of White Privilege was being eroded by the progress of Black people, LatinX people, Muslims, LGBTQ communities and any “other” group that offended them.

And then, the DC polic4e allowed this mob to exit with few arrests failing only to give them souvenir gifts commemorating their visit to the nation’s Capitol. Four mobsters died under circumstances that are not yet clear. But there was no wholesale violence or brutality suffered by this all white mob.

Now change the narrative of the past two paragraphs from all white to all Black and think about how different the outcome would have been. After all, peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors have been shot, killed, maimed and arrested en masse without attacking any governmental buildings or committing acts that could be called treasonous or seditious in any way.

Think what the body count would be if thousands of Black Lives Matter protestors had invaded the Capitol and harassed and threatened the members of Congress while trashing and defacing the building in the process. The body count would not be complete as of the writing of this column.

Two things are clear from yesterday’s staged debacle. First, White Privilege is real. The overwhelmingly white men and women who made up the mob felt that they had a right to act in an illegal and violent fashion because they didn’t like the election results. Such is the perspective from the ivory tower of White Privilege. Such behavior would have been suicidal for Black Americans.

Second, Donald J. Trump did indeed promote a civil insurrection against the United States government and should be held accountable. There may be only thirteen days left in his Reign of Terror but his actions on January 6, 2021 should not be without consequence.

He was already going to be ranked as the worst president in the history of the United States. He should now be the first president ever convicted of treason.

After all, Trump did declare war on the America.

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Three Days in the Life of America

July 26, 2020

4,178,730 –146, 463 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

 The death of Congressman John Lewis has provided an opportunity to once again fully appreciate the importance and nobility of his life, which was one of protest and advocacy for change and justice literally until the day he died. There have been the expected hypocritical and totally hollow mechanical statements from the like of Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (who couldn’t even tell the difference between Elijah Cummings and John Lewis when he tweeted his faux statement of sympathy).

 

But there have also been eloquent statements from his remaining peers like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young to name but a few. And certainly many current leaders like Kamala Harris and Marc Morial, again to name but a few, have been delivered statements that meet both the gravity and the glory of the moment.

 

And then there have been some statements by commentators and members of the press to the effect that the leadership of the civil rights movement is dying. And that is an astounding misstatement of fact and history. It is misstatement of history because it perpetuates the absolutely false assumption that the civil rights movement began in the 1950’s until at some point in the latter part of the 1960’s after the passage of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts.

 

The reality is that the struggle of Black Americans for civil rights and the institutional recognition the humanity of Black people began in 1619 when at least one or more of the first enslaved Africans said no. The struggle for civil rights was manifested in the Underground Railroad and the hundreds of revolts by Black slaves. Pierre Toussaint was a civil rights leader in the New York of the 1700’s as he established his humanity not only by being a successful businessman but also by being a philanthropist.

 

Nate Turner and Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey and so many other leaders of slave revolts were civil rights leaders – as was Harriet Tubman and the other conductors of the Underground Railroad. Black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Prince Hall, Sarah Parker Redmond, Henry Highland Garnet and William Still were all civil rights leaders.

 

And when they died the mantle of leadership in the ongoing struggle for civil rights rested on the shoulders of the like Ida B. Wells and Monroe Trotter and W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Walter White and Marcus Garvey and Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore.

 

And when they died this country learned the names of Malcolm X and Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Williams as advocates for civil rights.

 

Clearly the list goes on of the men and women of this day who believe in and live for the struggle for racial justice and dignity for Black people. And the fact that many of these names And while it is right and just to mourn the passing of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, the idea that the leadership and heroes of the Black civil rights movement sounds like the beginning of an excuse for future inaction and a defense of acceptance of the status quo because “our heroes are dying”.

Every man, woman and child is a hero – we are all heroes, if we would only take the time to realize that fact and then act.

 July 27, 2020

4,234,140 –146, 935 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin the day with the breaking news that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now quarantined at home. The White House immediately reassured America that Trump and Vice President Pence are safe.

Somehow, Americans are supposed to be assured that not only are Trump and Pence safe, but that American children will be safe to go to school next month even though the highest officials in the federal government – who are in the White House on virtually a daily basis and presumably tested regularly – fall to the disease. How many infections and how many deaths will be too many for this White House to backtrack on mandatory school openings? Clearly it is an unknowable and probably unthinkable number.

And then there is this – and if anyone who is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement thought that white supremacy was just going to go away to the dustbin of history quietly, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had this to say:

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country.

“As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

There is no way to argue with a stone. And there is no way to argue with this kind of stubborn embrace of white supremacy. The real question is how his colleagues in the Senate and the House and the people of this country will respond.

It is safe to say that if a United States Senator were to suggest that slave labor and prison camps were “an understandable choice by Nazi Germany” that there would be a justifiably righteous uproar and outrage. The question will now be one of how America – having embraced the concept of Black Lives Matter by kneeling at a few public events and taking Aunt Jemima off the pancake box and removing a few statues of dead Confederate thugs and offering up ritualized mea culpas regarding slavery and systemic racism and the death of George Floyd – will respond to a new blooming of the rancid flower of racism in the moment.

It’s now pretty safe to agree to take down the Confederate swastika flag. But it is always safe to condemn the past and be silent in the present. What is going to happen to Tom Cotton? Will he be censured on the floor of the Senate? Will editorials flow from media outlets from coast to coast? We know that Trump will do nothing, but what will Joe Biden do? What will the Congressional Black Caucus do? And what about the clergy and elected officials across the country – what do they have to say?

Years ago Jimmy the Greek, a glorified TV bookie spewed some rancid garbage about the inherent inferiority of Black people and he never worked on TV again. Tom Cotton is a United States Senator, one of only one hundred elected officials with awesome responsibility, awesome power and awesome stature. If a glorified bookie can be sanctioned for making racist remarks what should happen to a sitting United States Senator?

We know that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be silent, but there are 49 other governors. We know that Arkansas Senator John Boozman will be silent, but there are 98 other senators.

The American response to Tom Cotton’s outrageous embrace of white supremacy and justifying and legitimizing of slavery is a perfect opportunity to find out if Black Lives Really Matter.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate are finalizing their version of a stimulus package which includes virtually no money for states and localities – a position that will virtually guarantee the near collapse state and local governments across the country. Trump has been running ads claiming that Joe Biden supports the defunding of the police. But in reality it will be the Republicans who will literally defund the police in states across the country if the stimulus package does not address the pressing needs of states and localities.

But even the part of the Republican bill that deals with direct aid to American citizens, the proposal is to reduce the $600 per week income supplement to $200 50 million suddenly unemployed Americans have an incentive to go back to work.

This from a group of well fed and financially comfortable and self-righteous satraps who seem to have a good dose of mean flowing through their veins. They are reminiscent of the billionaires who give a quarter to a homeless man on the corner and then feel like they have done a good deed.

 July 28, 2020

4,294,770 –148, 056 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Because constant drama seems to be a hallmark of the Time of Trump while awaiting the appearance of Attorney General (and Trump consigliore) William Barr before the House Judiciary Committee, the chair of the committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, was delayed when his car was in an accident. It appears that he was unhurt but the conspiracy theorists on every side of the political spectrum are already in a frenzy.

When William Barr did appear he did not disappoint his Godfather Trump or his fiercest critics who have accused him of being nothing more than Trump’s consigliore and fixer – kind of a Michael Cohen with an Ivy League pedigree. Democrats on the Committee came looking for a fight and Barr certainly accommodated him.

Fresh off his denials of being involved in the multi-year sexual scandal at Ohio State where he was an assistant wrestling coach, Congressman Jim Jordan did his best pit bull imitation in trying to turn the hearing into an Inquisition of……. the Obama administration, of course. Accusing the Obama Justice Department of spying on the Trump campaign only makes sense

if Jim Jordan simply ignores the fact that Trump campaign operatives engaged in conversations with Russian operatives who were being spied on – and that is when they became persons of interest and ultimately some of them became convicted felons as a result. But, to the likes of Jim Jordan, facts have no place in a good Inquisition.

The Republicans began their turn at the hearing by airing what looked like an updated version of the dystopic 70’s movie “Wild in the Streets”. If you believed the GOP production America is in flames and at any moment the peasants will be at the gates with torches and pitchforks. And our only hope is the gestapo tactics of Barr, who is playing Pinocchio to Trump’s Geppeto. And we kept waiting for the Republicans to trot out some Benghazi tapes while they were at it.

The Democrats attacked Barr and there was a lot of thrust and parry. It is fair to say that no one landed a knockout punch, on either side. Although Barr did make a couple of stunning statements including:

  • He was not sure if Trump could or could not change the date of the national election
  • He would not answer what he would do if Trump refused to leave the White House on January 20, 2021
  • He implied that there might be instances where the President accepting election from a power might be permissible.

Any one of those statements would be jaw dropping. But since we are living in the Age of Trump, no one’s jaw dropped even once.

And the day mercifully ended with Trump conducting another press conference where, among other things, he reiterated his support for a Nigerian-American doctor who claims that masks are useless, hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19 and that some doctors have been working on vaccines involving the DNA of aliens (simply cannot make this stuff up).

Trump went on to complain that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were getting higher approval ratings than him. And he mused out loud as to why people don’t like him.

At least he didn’t start sucking his thumb.

But there is always tomorrow.

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Point of View Columns

A Hate Supreme

Part of the singularly American mindset is the belief that the stated ideals of this country constitute reality, when in fact that is not, and has not, been the case – ever. The Declaration of Independence speak to all men being created equal and there is no doubt that not one of the signatories actually believed it.

The Constitution speaks about “we the people” when the so-called white and largely slave holding Founding Fathers absolutely did not believe for a nanosecond that “the people” included women, white men without property, black people or the indigenous people who had the horrible misfortune of living on land that white Europeans coveted and stole.

It is this willful blindness that has created a public conversation regarding the “rise” of white supremacy and white nationalism and white terrorism as if the recent massacres committed by self-confessed white nationalists is representative of some kind of new phenomenon that is new to America. All the while, even a passing familiarity with American history would reveal that white supremacy/nationalism/terrorism is embedded in the American DNA.

Consider that only an absolute belief in white supremacy could justify Europeans coming to what became North America and claiming the entire continent despite the fact that millions of indigenous people had established civilizations over thousands of years. And, after the first “explorers” “discovered” that this continent was huge and bountiful, the concept of Manifest Destiny proclaimed that some divine right empowered white Americans to literally steal an entire continent.

Consider that even before there was a United States, race-based slavery was an absolute fact of life. And this “peculiar institution” was founded on the notion of white supremacy and the innate inferiority of people of African descent. This concept was embedded so deeply that a Civil War was fought in order to divest slaves from the slave owners who believed so deeply in white supremacy that were willing to kill and die for their belief.

Consider that after the Civil War and throughout the 20th century, state sanctioned white terrorism – based on concepts of white supremacy and white nationalism – victimized black Americans, not only in the South, but in virtually every part of these United States. For those exposed to only the sanitized version of American history, it is important to know that this is the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer” when over 1000 black men, women and children were murdered by mobs of white terrorists in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The bodies of the victims were dumped into a common grave. And it was during this same summer of 1919 that the black town of Rosewood, Florida and its residents were wiped from the face of the earth by mobs of white terrorists.

It is important to understand that the concept of white supremacy countenanced the white terrorist lynching of thousands of black citizens throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. And it was that same concept white supremacy that allowed white Americans who did not participate directly in this carnage to turn a blind eye and do absolutely nothing.

It was a white supremacist terrorists who blew up the church in Birmingham, Alabama killing four black girls. And it was white supremacist terrorists who killed Emmit Till and Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman and Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King and Harry T. Moore and Viola Liuzzo and so many more.

White supremacy, white nationalism are not new to America. These vile notions are unworthy of the stated ideals of this country but they are as much a part of history as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

And certainly, the first step to addressing this sad and pathetic aspect of the American Way is to acknowledge the truth – white supremacist terrorism is part of the American Way and it cannot be removed until it is acknowledged.

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Point of View Columns

Rebirth of a Nation

It is rare that we recognize history being made as it happens. Times of great stress and tragedy – Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and 9/11 were all moments that were etched in history in real time. And then there are days like November 6, 2018. While there is the very real hope that some cataclysmic event will not occur, it is also quite clear that there is a very real opportunity for the citizens of this country to begin to divert the United States from what has seemed to be an inexorable slide into permanent division and hopeless conflict inflamed by racism, hate and lies.

When Donald Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, there was a feeling that seeped into the national consciousness that the circus act that resulted in his improbable election was not going to end. And it became clear that the word “circus” was not going to be the benign cavalcade of clown shows, trapeze artists and somnolent lions. The Trump “circus” has turned out to be an affair of which Caligula would have been proud with damage and destruction and mindless outrage being the main events. The Trump Circus has provided very little bread for any but the very rich, but the circus act has entertained and inflamed his base to the point where a Trump-led victory in the midterm elections would certainly send this nation careening into something that would look very much like chaos.

And that is where the opportunity for historic action comes in. There is no way that Donald Trump will not be president on November 7th. But if enough Americans vote, and are allowed to vote, and are able to overcome vile Republican efforts at voter suppression – then Donald Trump will not be able to use the United States Congress as his personal sock puppet. If enough Americans see November 6th as an opportunity to bring some sanity and clarity and minimal decency into the political and governmental processes in Washington, then he will be rudely disabused of his very clear belief that his real title is “king”, and that as “president” he will have to contend with constitutional checks and balances that will occasion the rebirth of this nation.

It is not an exaggeration to state that the current condition of this country, anesthetized by lies, terrorized by presidentially-inspired hate without even a fig leaf of an attempt to be decent could have lasting effects long after Donald Trump is lost on the trash heap of history as a failed president and the miserable human being that he has always been and will always be. However, the rebirth of the nation begins with voting – not necessarily for the perfect candidate, but certainly for the possibility of rebirth and renewal.

This country has always been a nation of second chances. Voters will determine if this is also a country capable of rebirth.

 

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Point of View Columns

The American Fountain of Youth

When we take a closer look at American history, we realize that the youth of America may have been, and may be in the future, this country’s remaining saving grace. Despite their multiple, virtually countless faults, the so-called Founding Fathers devised a form of governance that, when practiced according to principle, is a virtual work of art. And those “Founding Fathers” were primarily men in their twenties and thirties. Similarly, the epic civil rights movement and episodically heroic Vietnam War protest were led by young men and women (Martin Luther King was 34 when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech). And now, this past weekend, we witnessed the youth of America seize the mantle of leadership and take up battle against gun insanity in the United States.

There is no need, and this is not an attempt, to romanticize or rationalize American history or the American present. But it is a truth that in the history of this planet younger generations of any era have translated the change into their lives into the changes of society and the world in which we live. In the current era there has been such an emphasis on self-comfort, self-aggrandizement and just plain self, that there should be no surprise in learning that it has taken the current generation of youth more than a minute to climb out of their digitized rabbit holes and confront the world with their vision of today and tomorrow.

The awful and bloody reality of living in the United States of Gun has been with us for the better part of this country’s existence. But it has been during the past half century that the glorification of the God of Gun has been commercialized to the point that the Second Amendment to the Constitution is seen by too many as an advertisement for gun ownership and more importantly, gun sales.

But the generation of young people with the most potent voices last weekend are the first generation to literally grow up from the cradle to skateboard with regular visitations of mass gun violence in schools. These boys and girls and young women and young men have not known a time when a year could go by without death by automatic weapons fire in some school somewhere in these United States. Theirs is a generation that lives in an America where bullets know no boundaries – from the suburbs to the inner cities to the farmland – where bullets cannot distinguish between black and white, male or female, rich or poor. Bullets in their world kill without discrimination and seemingly without pause.

This past Saturday we may have witnessed a generation of young people realizing that the world is theirs to change and that they have the power to cast off the painful yoke of endurance and pain and quite simply change the world. With their capacity to communicate globally and instantaneously and their discovery that they have (or will have) the right to vote, this young generation of new warriors may be able to do something that past generations have been unable to do – stop the worship of the gun and revisit the notion of reverence for life and peace.

We should be glad that they are not listening when they are told that they are too young to express their opinion, much less seek to change the world. Of course, that is what was said to Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and the generation of war protesters whose voices drove a President from office and started this country on the path of peace and away from useless and bloody war.

Last week we may have watched the dawning of a new day in America and in the world.

Time will tell. As it always does – because actions will always speak louder than words, no matter how noble and eloquent those words might be.

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Point of View Columns

The Shame of it All

The New Year has begun as last year ended. Shameful, disgraceful, embarrassing, horrific and pitiful are just some of the words that come to mind when the words “Donald Tinyhands” are written or spoken. Indeed, it really should come as no surprise that, on the exact anniversary of the inauguration of Donald Trump, the entire government of the United States shut down. The poetic symbolism is inescapable.

If the Russians, the Chinese or the Martians wanted to come up with a way to destabilize the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the planet, they could not have come up with a better Trojan horse that Donald J. Trump. While some commentators will point to continued improvement in the economy – rising stock market, plunging unemployment rates – these same commentators seem to willfully ignore the fact that Trump is riding the crest of an economic wave that began eight years ago during the administration of President Barack Obama. Indeed, Trump reminds us of the rooster that takes credit for the sun coming up, when all he really does is making joyful noises over something which is totally irrelevant to his efforts, policies, programs and rhetoric.

But, while too many of us are transfixed by the numbers, this draft-dodging, megalomaniacal misogynist is doing everything within his power to take a wrecking ball to this country. He has legitimized racism, sexism and basic bad behavior. While his legal team pays off porn stars and his press team pretends that he doesn’t say the words that he says that he says, huge portions of this country have not only lost any respect that they might have for Trump, they are also losing respect for the men and women in the governmental institutions who are either mute or muted in the presence of this awful man who somehow has managed to become President of the United States.

Here is a president who refers to African “shithole” countries the day before reading a proclamation commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King and three days before he goes golfing on national day of observance – Dr. King’s birthday. And while there are voices of outrage, they seem muted in the face of the Trump sound machine – or perhaps there is simply too many people who are too afraid of the Wrath of Trump.

Here is a president who after firing the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, now casts doubt on the integrity of the FBI, the Department of Justice and any other law enforcement institution that might dare to think that Donald Trump, he of the thousands of settled lawsuits, might have engaged in wrongful conduct. And yet the voices in the Senate and the House are muted.

One wonders what would have happened if all the Trump stories of his first year in office had the name “Obama” instead. Actually we don’t need to wonder as it is sure as the gravity that binds us to this earth that impeachment would have been the least of Barack Obama’s worries and that a moving van would have been leaving the White House with everything Obama a long time ago. But, of course, the first African American President of the United States was held to a much higher standard than the standard that is applied to Donald Tinyhands.

And so, in this New Year, with a shut down government, and a President who can’t shut up, we know now that the standard for presidential behavior has been lowered – we can only hope that this is not a permanent condition.

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Proof that Past is Prologue

Proof that Past is Prologue

On June 14, 1970 I graduated from Dartmouth College at the age of 20. I was privileged to be one of the Commencement speakers celebrating the 200th graduating class of the College. What follows is that speech which, written 46 years ago, contains themes and emotions that resonate to this very day.

Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Mr. President, Faculty and Guests:

We are gathered here this morning to celebrate what is supposed to be a great day, a day of significance, and a day of meaning for all those involved. But what does this day mean for us, what does this day mean for us, the Black students who have survived the Dartmouth College experience?

This day means that we recognize ourselves as being the result of years of labor and sacrifice, the labor of fathers, the sacrifice of mothers, the encouragement and help from brothers and sisters, the support of friends. What we owe for this labor, this sacrifice, this encouragement, this help, this support, we can never pay back in material terms no matter how hard we try. For what we have been given can never be measured in terms of money, the god of fools. For what we have been given was given in the spirit of love and we must return in the same that love, otherwise we have not survived the Dartmouth experience, but rather we have been crushed by it.

If we are to make the years of labor and sacrifice meaningful, then we must dedicate ourselves to our people. We must dedicate ourselves to Black freedom and Black peace of mind, no matter what the obstacles, no matter what the barriers, no matter what the side alleys that lead to dead ends of frustration and negation. We must dedicate ourselves to putting an end to the sad humor of the contradiction of a Black man in a white man’s school trying to learn how to free himself.

We were made to be free, Black men and Black women were not meant to be anybody’s hand servants or slaves, we were meant to stand tall and proud under the sky of liberation without any clouds of oppression or injustice on the horizons of our minds. And if we are to be free once more, then we must not be surprised by whatever America tries to do to us. Three hundred years of oppression, three hundred years of blood, three hundred years of brutal and inhuman treatment should have taught us that much.

But, when we were first put in chains, our ancestors were surprised; when Reconstruction was found to be a sick white joke we were surprised; when Marcus Garvey was railroaded to prison, we were surprised; when Emmett Till and Mack Parker were murdered, we were surprised; when Malcolm X, the prince of blackness was murdered in cold blood we were surprised; when Martin Luther King, the prince of peace, was killed were still surprised; when Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed by the animals that masquerade as Chicago police, were we were still surprised; and even last month, when more of our brothers and sisters were shot down in August and Jackson, we were surprised.

Well, we can’t be surprised any longer. What goes around comes around, and it’s time for the other folks to be surprised.
We have been told to believe in America, to believe that there was something deep down inside America that was good. And what has happened?
Black brothers die daily in the Indochina madness that is just another example of the sickness of America spilling out all over the world, and still be try to believe; Nixon tells Black people that he doesn’t give a damn about us, that he would rather put a white man on the moon than put food into a Black (or white) child’s stomach, and still we try to believe; the Congressional Records of the United States detail the construction and planned use of concentration camps and still we are supposed to believe.

The time has now come for us to believe in ourselves. The time has come to make ourselves free. Our stars of freedom still shine and our saints of righteousness do live. You only have to look around.

The stars are in the eyes of little Black babies and children who were born destined only for freedom, the saints of righteousness are the mothers and fathers, the brother and sisters who have provided the strength for Blackness to survive in the face of the forces of evil.
The time is coming, the time has got to come, when freedom will be seen in our smiles, and our Blackness will mean freedom. We have to believe this, because this is the only reality left to us.

That is what we are about, that is what today means for us. To best sum up our feelings though, I would like to quote a poem written by Brother Herschel Johnson, of this class, as this poem speaks for the souls and spirits of all of us:

For you mothers with dirt-rough hands
For you with backs aching from bending
And flushing and scrubbing
For all you women on transit
You with brown bags under your arms
Bringing home the leavings of white folks
Bringing it to your children
For all you Black mothers and fathers
Who had to live with humility
And yet have had the pride to survive
For you Black mothers and fathers who raised up
Your men are now with you.

Thank you and may a beautiful Black peace always be with you.

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