Point of View Columns

Not So Late Breaking News – But News Nevertheless

During the past ten days there have been some items in the news which are worthy of comment as well as concern, to wit:

Oklahoma – None so blind as those who refuse to see

Recently the Oklahoma State Legislature determined that no public-school system in the state could have as part of its curriculum any study of American history that might make students feel ashamed of themselves or of America and passed a law to that effect.

It is ironic that Oklahoma is a state totally established on the land that was stolen from the indigenous people who had lived there for many centuries.

It is also ironic that it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921 that white citizens shot, hung, murdered, bombed and burned the very successful Black community in that city. Unknown hundreds of men, women and children were killed and buried in unmarked mass graves and virtually every building in that community was razed to the ground.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Tulsa School Board would approve curricula that included requiring students to learn about that tragedy and savagery that afflicted their city only a short century ago.

And it should come as no surprise that the Oklahoma Board of Education has lowered the accreditation of the Tulsa school system as if by censoring the truth the truth will somehow disappear; that if by closing the eyes of the Black and white children of Oklahoma genocide and murder and lynching will no longer be a part of history.

Indeed, there are none so blind as those that refuse to see.

The Legacy of the British Monarchy

The death of Queen Elizabeth II turned out to be one of those inevitable events that still had the capacity to impact billions around the world. Of course, most of those billions were or are members of the Commonwealth or were colonized by the British, sometimes for centuries.

There is every reason to believe that Queen Elizabeth II was a perfectly gentle soul who performed her service as monarch during a period of seven decades, even as the notion of monarchy has dimmed as anachronism that has outlived its sell by date by a lot.

It does no dishonor to the memory of the queen to point out that the crimes, sins and outrages committed by the British Empire around the world in the name of the monarchy have to be fully acknowledged or even admitted. The death and destruction committed by Empire in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia is undeniable.

And the rapacious character of the British Empire is also undeniable. The current wealth of Great Britain is due to outright theft, exploitation, slavery and genocide. The historical artifacts looted from civilizations virtually lost to time and depredation are proudly on view in museums in London as trophies of such outright global depredation.

It has been suggested that, with the death of Queen Elizabeth, it may be time to give the monarchy and the myth of the British Empire decent burials with little fanfare.

Then it will be time to discuss reparations, restitution and apology.

Dumb and Dumbest

No more cards and letters please, we have a winner for the Dumb and Dumbest Prize of the year.

It turns out that there are some Mensa dropouts in the Democratic National Committee have aligned with political and nonprofit organizations to donate over $50 million dollars in support of Republican primary candidates who are to the right of Genghis Khan, and some of them actually make Donald Trump seem well, rational.

The strategy that has been revealed is that by helping the most outrageous right-wing Republicans win their primaries, especially for House and Senate seats, will result in candidacies that are too radical for most general election voters thereby virtually guaranteeing Democratic victories (remember that word “virtually”).

Of course, if this strategy had been employed in 2016, millions of Democratic dollars would have gone to Donald Trump thereby derailing the likes of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. And we now know how that would have turned out.

Why anyone would want to risk millions of dollars that might result in the election of one or more mini-Trumps is simply beyond comprehension.

We can only hope that this is not one time where being too smart turn out to be pretty dumb.

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Point of View Columns

The American Truth

The confluence of recent events has revealed a set of very important truths about America. First, the leaked preview of the draft Supreme Court decision that will overturn Roe v. Wade reveals that male Christian dominance is alive and well and was only hibernating in the years after the Roe decision.

Second, the massacre of Black patrons of a Buffalo supermarket by a gun-toting white teenager reveals that the massacre of non-white people by white people is sadly an enduring tradition that began when the first European emigrants arrived in North America.

Third, the news analyses describing “white replacement theory” as some kind of novel and unique strain of xenophobia are either disingenuous or ill-informed when it comes to American history.

First, as has been noted in this space and in many other commentaries, the rationale of the anti-abortion movement is not based on some all encompassing and passionate care for unborn children. If that were the case the United States would not lag so far behind other so-called developed countries when it comes to universal child care, equitable distribution of educational resources as well as food and housing to the children that are supposed to be the object of such love and caring.

Instead, it should be clear that the anti-abortion is nothing more that a naked and brazen attempt to dominate the lives of any and all females who might at some point decided to have, or not have a child. It is clear that to the extent that even rape and incest cannot serve as exceptions is to make the Handmaidens Tale a horror story come true. In that reality, women are vessels and nothing more.

Second, it should be clear that the mass murder of non-white Americans is literally an American tradition. The genocide against the indigenous people of North America was real. The regular slaughter of Black Americans after the Civil War is a matter of documented fact. Rosewood and Tulsa may be taught in the history books, but there have been so many other mass killings and lynching of Black people that the real numbers are beyond calculation.

What transpired in Buffalo this weekend is just one more example of a sick behavior pattern that is as American as the Fourth of July.

Of course, there is irony in the fact that there are few records of mass killings of white people by Black Americans. Even though Black Americans are armed, many with military and law enforcement experience mass killings of white Americans only take place with white Americans as the shooter.

Finally, it should be clear that the so-called white replacement theory is neither new nor unique. That is not unique is clear from the fact that in France and Germany and Great Britain there are similar mutterings regarding white replacement by the “other”.

Of course, in the United States history shows that with the arrival of Irish immigrants, primarily white Anglo Saxon Americans were violently opposed to their arrival. In time it was the Italians and then the Eastern Europeans and the Jews and the Puerto Ricans and the Cubans and the Mexicans who gave rise to white replacement alarms – until they were absorbed and now there are descendants of the Irish and the Italians and Eastern Europeans and the Jews and the Puerto Ricans and the Cubans and the Mexicans who ring the same white replacement alarms.

The irony is apparent because to date Black Americans and Asian Americans have not been absorbed to any great extent.

And so, we stand at the threshold of a potentially traumatic upheaval in American society unless we can somehow find a way to first of all address and name the uncomfortable truths that lie just below the surface of the American epidermis and then begin find a way to move on differently.

Actually, we have no choice – unless there is someone who thinks that anarchy is a choice.

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Point of View Columns

The Tulsa Atrocity – What We Don’t Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This country simply cannot endure while living a lie.

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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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