Point of View Columns

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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Point of View Columns

We Have Been Warned

Anyone who is surprised by the vitriol spewing from The Fountain of Hate That is Trump has not been paying attention to what has been going on in this country. Either that or the surprised individuals have been spending too much time in the smoke bars of Denver and are now totally delusional.

At some point during the past six months, too many people were willing to dismiss the Trump presidential candidacy as a passing diversion or, in the alternative, an entertaining intermission until the real campaign started. However, from the outset, with his attacks on Mexican immigrants, drug dealers, murderers and rapists disguised as mothers with children, Donald Trump made it very clear that he was prepared to wade into the American muck of racism and bigotry in a cesspool that has no bottom, and stay there.

Still, many Americans found his misogyny to be amusing in a frat boy kind of way or, at worst, mildly disturbing. His ad hominem attacks on his Teapublican rivals were seen to be either a sign of his strength, power and rhetorical virility or a mildly offensive use of personal invective.

But all along Trump was laying the groundwork for a way to separate himself from the pack and draw from the Teapublican base that always hated President Obama because he is black, from the right wing of the right wing that lived in fear of the demise of the white man’s America and the rise of a truly multicultural United States of America. Black Americans were not a useful target if only because black Americans are always a target for some. Latinos equal immigrants in the TepubSpeak, and in that regard Trump was not alone in his disdain – just listen to Ben Carson.

But the inexorable rise of ISIS gave Donald Trump the target that he, and only he, could use as a hate magnet. The Muslims of America are a small (3%) part of the population and an identifiable group that has enough tenuous links to the global reign of terror to satisfy the haters. And Trump has decided to become the drum major of hate.

In what seems like a twenty first century version of the Nazi playbook in the 1930’s Trump has vilified this American super minority and connected it to the fear and terror that ISIS, Al Qaeda and daily gun violence has created. And when people are afraid a common enemy is a unifying force. And Trump has decided that hatred and fear Muslims is the brick and mortar that will cement his position as the leading Teapublican presidential candidate.

Keep in mind that when Trump called for a “registry” of all American Muslims the general reaction was passing disdain even as his poll numbers rose. Now he is calling for the death of the families of ISIS operatives as well as the banning of all Muslims from the United States (a shout over the whisper of Jeb Bush calling for the inclusion of only Christian Syrians in this country’s refugee policy).

And now, it is not an exaggeration to compare his proposals to the hate policies of the Third Reich. The irony of Muslims now being the Jews of the 21st century American hate theater rerun of the 20th century German tragedy is painful and sad.

What is worse is that we always knew that Trump was a bigot and a pitiful purveyor of hate. What is even worse is that Trump is not going anywhere. And what is worse than that – Trump could become President of the United States.

And that is when fear will become the oxygen of the America atmosphere.

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Point of View Columns

The Confederacy – The American Reich

In a singularly perverted observation of Black History Month, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour stated last week that he had no problems with a new state license plate that honors Nathan Bedford Forrest. That would be the same Nathan Bedford Forrest who was a Confederate general and one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

The ensuing controversy was nothing short of bizarre, even for these bizarre times. Some Forrest apologists argued that he was only “one” of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan and he shouldn’t be burdened with the entire guilt of paternity involving this consortium of terrorist racists. Others claimed that regardless of his “imperfections” he was an outstanding general, perhaps a military genius, and he deserved honor for his martial accomplishments.

Rather than jump down the rabbit hole with Haley Barbour and the pitiful adherents to this concept of Southern “heritage” and “tradition” I am choosing to stand on the solid ground of history and fact. For too long the flying of Confederate flags, the celebration of the secession of southern states and the glorification of the “Southern way of life” has been the subject of debate. It is time for that debate to end.

The entire way of life in the southern states that seceded from the United States was based on slavery. Unlike the Germans at the end of World War II who claimed that they were unaware of the horror of the concentration camps, every conscious white man, woman and child in the South was absolutely aware of the forced bondage of millions of black men, women and children.

Like their moral bretheren the Nazis, the slave owners, slave masters and slave traders along with their wives, children and political supporters established an awful but efficient system because it was to their advantage. The Nazis chose the Jews, the slave owners chose black people.

Their approaches were similar. The religious and philosophical gymnastics used to justify the enslavement of black people would have sounded familiar to the Nazis as they justified the persecution and murder of Jews.

There was nothing endearing, uplifting or worthy of praise in a system that bought, sold, tortured and oppressed human beings on a daily basis. There is no honor in a “heritage” that accepted the brutalizing of the spirit of the slaves – and the slave masters. The “Southern way of life” embraced and endorsed rape, murder, torture and degradation. There is simply no escaping these facts.

I do not believe that the men and women whose family trees have their roots in the South should engage in eternal penance. I also do not believe that these men and women should blithely engage in the creation of a mythical history that absolves the sins of their mothers and fathers.

This is not only disrespectful of the memory of the men and women who suffered their entire lives as the property of a society as cruel and despicable as any in modern history. It is also dangerous, because by ignoring the facts of history we run the risk of not perceiving its recurrence.

The Confederacy was the American Reich. It was a relatively successful social and economic system that was built on the belief that the supposed inferiority of some people could be used for the benefit of the majority. There were psychic as well as economic values to this system – feeling superior to someone, anyone, anesthetizes the pain of personal insecurity and failure.

Like the Third Reich, the American Reich was worth fighting for, long after defeat was guaranteed. The “way of life” – legal and legitimized bias, prejudice and cruelty was worth dying for, and hundreds of thousands did just that.

Like the Third Reich, adherents of the American Reich continued to guard the flame of their wretched dream. The Nazis took to hiding in Argentina and Paraguay awaiting their return to glory. The Confederates went lurking in the dark woods of the South, wearing sheets, engaging in silly rituals and murdering black people in the middle of the night.

The dreams of the Third Reich have dimmed. There is no United States governor who would give cover to the Nazis. There are no statewide celebrations of the Third Reich (in the United States or Germany) replete with goose steps and brown shirts.

However, the dreams of the American Reich seem to be alive and well in too many places.

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