Category Archives: racism

The Projection of All Their Fears: Justice and the Commonwealth

Few things illustrate the issues for all those “economically anxious” Trump supporters quite as well as the chain e-mail forwarded by the President’s lawyer: “You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”  To repeat the obvious — yes you can.  You can differentiate between slave owners who created an imperfect Constitution (containing safeguards for slave owners) but who had the intelligence and foresight to establish a framework for freedom which could be perfected — to create a “more perfect union,” — and the slave owners who rebelled against this perfectable union and led an insurrection that sought to enshrine slavery from sea to sea.   The hoary old, and utterly illogical, silly syllogism that if you object to Lee you must then object to Washington requires the believer to reduce everything to whether or not a person practiced chattel slavery — and to ignore all other elements.  The repetition of this canard says more about those who adopt it than it says about any 18th or 19th century slave owner.

It says they are afraid, very afraid of losing their “culture.”  If a person’s “culture” includes the veneration of icons of rebellion, white supremacy, and chattel slavery as a part of one’s “heritage,” then it’s time to rethink that “culture and heritage.” This exercise can be extremely difficult for some “fragile whites.”   One of the most fragile appears to be Virginia Senate Candidate Republican Corey Stewart who commented: “The left isn’t doing this to redecorate some parks. They are going after the Founders next, to undermine the Founding Documents.”   Fragile white people live on a perpetually slippery slope.

To question a person’s racial biases is to “attack,” an attack must be nefarious, the nefarious attack must be from some equally objectionable direction, even if this requires attributing motives which are not in evidence.  Thus Stewart can maintain that questioning his support for white supremacists is an assault from some universal cabal composed of opponents of The Founders and their Founding Documents.  Perhaps those who feel assaulted might want to consider that predicating one’s sense of self on the basis of the coloration of a layer of skin, skin so thin it can be cut with a piece of paper, is a very fragile thing indeed.

That fragility creates its own environment of fear — the fear that a white person might have to compete for a job with a person of color, without giving the paler person an automatic edge.  The fear that a white person may not automatically assume an advantage in commerce, education, and in the judicial system.  The following paragraph summarizes this sentiment:

“They see all of this talk about Black Lives Matter and the importance of diversity, including through policies like affirmative action. They see recent moves to tear down Confederate monuments in the South. And they themselves have likely been accused of racism at some point in their lives, making them defensive and angry.” [Vox]

Skin coloration is an extremely thin basis for self esteem; frustration and anger are an even more fragile basis for a successful political ideology — leading as they do to short term gains with practically guaranteed long term losses.   This perspective is unjust, and as St. Augustine advised: “Where there is no justice there is no commonwealth.”

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Talking Points — Reference Points

These White House Talking Points have been publicized, compliments of The Atlantic, and should be used to evaluate the comments of local, state, and national Republicans as they respond to the White Nationalist assault on Charlottesville, VA.

The President was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.
Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important Founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our Creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution.

What-About-Ism run rampant. “Both sides??”  They have to be kidding — a group of goons marching with their Tiki Torches onto a university campus trying to replicate the torch parades of Hitler’s minions, were acting “appropriately?”

He has been a voice for unity and calm, encouraging the country to “rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.”
He called for the end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.

“Voice for unity?”  Would you be speaking of the self-same individual who was cited by the Nixon Administration for violations of the Fair Housing statutes?  Of the person who called for the death penalty for the Central Park 5, and who later refused to accept that these kids were innocent beyond any reasonable — and scientific — doubt?  The person who tasked his Department of Justice with investigating college affirmative action programs to see if they discriminated against whites?  The person who convened a fraudulent vote suppression commission to perpetuate his lies about vote fraud, and to rationalize vote suppression?

The President condemned – with no ambiguity – the hate groups fueled by bigotry and racism over the weekend, and did so by name yesterday, but for the media that will never be enough.

Yes, after a ton (or a tonne) of public pressure and a wave of approbation came flying his way.

The media reacted with hysteria to the notion that counter-protesters showed up with clubs spoiling for a fight, a fact that reporters on the ground have repeatedly stated.
Even a New York Times reporter tweeted that she “saw club-wielding “antifa” beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”
The local ACLU chapter also tweeted that
We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient:
From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence.

And at this point he returns to the “Fake News” theatrical gas lighting.  Yes, there have been killings — but the incidents cited by the White House are a loose amalgam of guilt by association incidents, while the Charlottesville rally was planned by white supremacists, for white supremacists, and these despicable people wanted to ‘nationalize’ their message.

The President is taking swift action to hold violent hate groups accountable.
The DOJ has opened a civil rights investigation into this weekend’s deadly car attack.
Last Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it had completed the largest prosecution of white supremacists in the nation’s history.
Leaders and the media in our country should join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division.

Yes, and the Department of Justice decided to decline a grant for an organization which helps restore former neo-Nazis to productive lives, and to take the spotlight OFF white supremacist and other American Terrorists instead focusing on foreign terrorism?

“Unite and heal our country?”  This, from the man who said Mexicans were drug dealers and rapists? From the man who said a judge with an Hispanic name couldn’t be fair to him? From the man who said Muslim refugees are all potential terrorists?  From the man who demonized Muslims in his campaign rallies?  From the man who couldn’t remember David Duke, whom he’d previously condemned? From the man who said if he was rich enough, entitled enough, that grabbing women in the private lady parts was OK?

So, we can take the White House talking points and use them to measure the statements issued by state and local GOP politicians.

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Meanwhile back at the local GOP offices

I’m just going to leave these here — for those who believe that this is some sort of inflection point for the Republican Party —

There’s this from Flagstaff, Arizona:

“Donald Young, a Flagstaff Trump supporter, said he thought Trump made an “outstanding statement” against the hatred and violence in Charlottesville.
Young said including “many sides” in the statement included the Black Lives Matter Movement and anti-conservative actions at Berkeley.
“He was talking about the ultra-left as well as the ultra-right,” Young said.
Young said “no rational person” would say Nazis and white supremacists have been empowered by Trump, and said he is not in favor of any group that tries to divide the country.”

And, another voice from Flagstaff:

“White supremacists might feel empowered by Trump in the same way the Black Lives Matter movement may have felt empowered by Barack Obama, Staveley said, calling Black Lives Matter a “hate group.” “Did either president do anything to empower these people?” Staveley asked. “Obama did not come out with any strong language against Black Lives Matter, and they were a violent, anarchistic group. I do see similarities between the two.”

From the Republican GOP Chairman in Virginia:

“The president’s statements were unequivocal in opposing hatred, and so his statements were in line with the Republican base on this,” said Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck. “I don’t see any scenario where grassroots conservatives are sitting there picking apart the president’s every word and rethinking support for him.”

From North Carolina:

Carter Wrenn, a veteran North Carolina-based Republican strategist: “I’m not a Trump fan, but I didn’t see any problem with what he said. I thought he made it pretty clear he disapproved of what happened.”

From Iowa:

Steve Scheffler, the Iowa Republican national committeeman who also heads the state’s socially conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition, said he was troubled by the criticism leveled at Trump by members of his own party in Washington, specifically U.S. senators.

“Why don’t these senators go and have a private conversation with him instead of making a public statement,” said Scheffler, who stressed that he supported condemning the white supremacist groups themselves “in the strongest terms.” “I suspect that a lot of it has to do with politics.”

“I’m getting fed up to the top of my head with some of these pontificating Republican senators in particular, who seem to try and find every opportunity just to take a dig at the president,” he said.”

Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

County Commission member: “Our president, and that’s what we need to call Donald Trump, is ‘our president,’ ” he said. “He’s everybody’s president and so I respect that office. There’s some comments he’s made that I don’t necessarily agree with. But all in all, he’s surrounded himself with some awfully good people. So in that regard, I think he’s doing a lot of good.”

Meanwhile in Connecticut:

A state GOP leader says she’s sorry for a Facebook rant — posted in the wake of the deadly melee in Charlottesville, Va., incited by white supremacists— referring to immigrants who commit crimes as “junk people” who “deserve what they get.”

“As for xenophobia, what a bunch of crock. I’m tired for paying for every foreigner showing up, some of whom are here just to make trouble instead of settling and making something of themselves,” Patricia Fers, a Republican State Central Committee member from Ansonia, posted early Sunday morning. “Those junk people who won’t support themselves and who do by crime deserve what they get.”

If a person can’t tell the difference between a Black Lives Matter member advocating for increased respect by law enforcement personnel for members of minority communities and a Neo-Nazi, there’s probably not much we can say to help the individual.

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans

And then he spoke, wrecking the message in three words

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said, then repeating, “On many sides.” [Trump]

It would have been a stronger statement had the President left off those last three little words, “On many sides.”  There was only one side meriting condemnation today — the Neo-Nazi White Supremacists who descended on Charlottesville like so many locusts.  There is NO moral equivalence between the racists and the counter-protesters.  There never has been such and equivalence, and there never will be.

“He called on “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and said that, “No child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.”

This isn’t a matter of law and order.  It’s a problem of what to do with white nationalist (Neo-Nazi/White Supremacist) terrorists who insist they are  “exercising their rights” while intimidating, bullying, and terrorizing their fellow citizens.  He continued:

“No matter our color, creed, religion or political party,” he said, “we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we’re proud of our country, we’re proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and want to study it and see what we’re doing wrong in this country.”

It was a good start for the paragraph, and then it got mushy.  We want to “study it?” IT has, as the occupant of the Oval Office proclaimed, been around a long time.  It’s called racism. It’s purveyors are white supremacists.  The general category is “domestic terrorism.”

Perhaps the President thinks there is something more that needs examination? However, his anti-Islamic views have administrative results, as we discovered last February:

 “The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”

So, no “racist domestic terror attack” in Portland?  No domestic terrorism at the Minnesota mosque?  Perhaps IT does need more study by this administration, given that the President’s notion that most US terrorism convictions after 2001 were handed down to foreigners, an obvious falsehood .

A statement which should have revealed moral clarity, managed instead to muddle itself into “both sides do it,” and “violence” in highly generalized terms complicating what should have been a simple matter.

Mr. Trump was very clear that words matter, as in “radical Islamic terrorism,” but he has a baffling tendency to muffle and mix his own message when he can’t seem to pronounce the words, “Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, domestic terrorism.”

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Filed under Politics, racism

GOP and the Great White Whine

There are Neo-Nazis parading in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Young mostly, male mostly, and all white.  They’re convinced, probably radicalized online, that (1) they are the master race; (2) they are victims; and (3) they are ‘free’ to display their hatred and bigotry in public spaces.  They are the Great White Whine.

And the man in the White House is silent.

If they weren’t white and they decided to conduct a march with burning tiki torches they’d probably find out what ‘oppression’ feels like.  If they weren’t white and decided to show up for their rally armed, then they’d probably find out what ‘oppression’ looks like.  If they weren’t white, and they showed up calling for “Power” they’d assuredly find out what ‘oppression’ sounds like.

And the man in the White House is silent.

A thug, and these are thugs, don’t necessarily have to wear hoodies and jeans; they can just as easily be clad in khaki trousers and golf shirts.  If the Neo-Nazis proved nothing else today they’ve at least provided proof of this truth.  Interesting isn’t it, that African Americans, some 13% of the American population, honor Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, fly the Stars and Stripes with pride, and make up 17% of our active duty military.  People of Hispanic heritage constitute about 18% of our population, and make up 12% of our active duty military — three times their number in 1980.  The Neo-Nazis gathered in Virginia waved the Stars and Bars, the battle flag of treason and traitors to the Union instead of the Stars and Stripes.  It takes a major amount of chutzpah for them to declare themselves “Patriots.”

And the man in the White House is silent.

Thus far the only comment from the White House came from the First Lady, herself an immigrant, to say: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.”  Granted this isn’t a full throated denunciation of Neo-Nazism, but it’s more than any other White House figure has ventured.

And, still the man in the White House is silent.

And, his silence is a grave danger to the Republican Party.  Ordinarily I’d not spend much thought on how the Republican Party should position itself for success in this country, but this is serious.  I do believe in a two party system, I do believe there is a place and purpose for conservative policy arguments — I don’t have to agree with them, but that “free speech” part is important.  If the current administration continues to be associated with Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other thugs then the human propensity to append guilt by association will engage.  If David Duke marches with his fellow Neo-Nazi White Supremacist thugs, and the administration make no official (and stern) condemnation, then the guilt by association will have more potential traction.

And still the man in the White House is silent.

The man in the White House has yet to condemn the attack on the Bloomington, MN mosque — indeed, one of his spokespersons opined it might have been a “fake hate crime.”  He’s not apologized in any way, shape, or form for comments about immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries being “bad hombres.”  He’s not offered any solace for African Americans who are searching for ways to attract attention to their efforts to bring their communities and their local law enforcement personnel closer toward the goal of better, and more cooperative, relationships.  Therefore, we ought not be surprised that…

The man in the White House is silent.

His followers declare that President Obama’s politics were divisive.  Perhaps because he heard the complaints of the African American communities, as Trump’s followers do not? Perhaps because he understood the economic and cultural contributions of immigrants to this country, as Trump’s followers do not? Perhaps because he appreciated the humanity and worth of members of the LBGT community, as followers of Trump do not?  An individual’s failure to recognize the humanity and worth of those who are unlike himself isn’t the fault of any politician — it is seated in the insecurity of that individual himself, by himself, selfishly for himself.

And the man in the White House is silent.

Silent as the thugs align with his political party, emboldened to march without hoods and masks, to wave their flags alongside his banner, inviting the notion that to be a Republican is to be a Neo-Nazi, a White Supremacist, and an intolerant bigot.  Or, that to join the Party is to align oneself with the Neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the bigots.  What I hope for the Republican Party is…

A man in the White House who will not remain silent, who will banish from his administration those who harbor Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, bigoted, intolerant views.  Republican members of Congress who will condemn the Neo-Nazis, the bigots and the intolerant.  Republican Party leaders at the national, state, and local levels who will vehemently assert that the Republicans today decry intolerance, bigotry, and racism, and will not associate themselves with it.  I hope to see Republicans with the courage to say,  we can do perfectly well in our elections without the staining of our honor with your bigotry, racism, Neo-Nazism, and White Supremacy. sil

The man in the White House is silently leading the Party to a narrow and dark place.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Filed under civil liberties, conservatism, Politics, racism, Republicans

Ripped from a few Headlines: Friday Edition

If you haven’t already seen the New Yorker article concerning Trump, Putin, and what the Russians want…click immediately for some excellent reporting and analysis. Here’s a taste:

“The great fear is the neutering of NATO and the decoupling of America from European security. If that happens, it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities. If Trump steps back the way he seemed to as a candidate, you might not even need to do things like invade the Baltic states. You can just dominate them anyway. You’re beginning to see the collapse of institutions built to insure our security. And if that happens you will see the re-nationalizing of Europe as a whole.”


If anyone is counting, and they are, there have now been THREE Jewish cemeteries vandalized within the last few weeks, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester, NY. And then there are the bomb threats to Jewish community centers.

“In all, 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats. On February 20, another wave of bomb threats hit 11 JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs, according to the JCCA.” [CNN]

It would appear that while most people are protesting immigration related raids, Muslim travel bans, and assorted Trumpian outrages, others are taking the opportunity to express their antisemiticism, racism, and bigotry.


Meanwhile in the last two months four mosques have been attacked by arsonists.  The Oval Office remains silent:

“The press has certainly covered Trump’s attitudes—and those of his top advisors—toward Islam, particularly since he announced a ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim nations on January 27. But attacks on American mosques have received far less attention than the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. As far as I’m aware, no reporter has asked Trump about them at a press conference. And no major network would suggest that Trump’s failure “to adopt a stern, public line” against Islamophobia has been “politically damaging.”


Floating around in the Swamp, the Trumpster Regime — again (and again) says there was no connection between the campaign and Russian operatives. This, of course, goes nowhere toward explaining the contacts made by Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, … and what names are to come?


The most bizarre explanation for opposing Motor Voter/automatic  registration in Nevada comes compliments of Nevada’s political gadfly and whack job Ira Hansen, did you miss this one?

“Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, was the most vocal opponent during the committee hearing and said it represented an overreach of people’s privacy, especially those who don’t want to partake in the electoral process.”

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Hate Crimes, Immigration, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Voting, White Supremacists

Unfortunate Similarities

Scapegoating is never positive and never without antecedents. Why does this keep happening?  Perhaps because it’s convenient, and pen-ultimately selfish.

“Scapegoating removes us from one of our central ethical constructs, which is to see everything as part of a whole. When someone is scapegoated, we are denying this conceptualization in the service of identifying an easy target. Further, scapegoating can only occur when we turn a blind eye to complex power dynamics.” [TSW]

Thus, it’s likely no accident that divisive leadership both encourages and utilizes scapegoating as a means to its own ends.  The end, of course, is power.  A divided office, a divided state, a divided nation, is all the more susceptible to control if there is a degeneration of the ability to see “everything as part of a whole.” Those who use or accept scapegoating are loath to see a diverse American population as a positive amalgam of ethnic and gender groups, but as a collection of different populations some of which are not part of a common identity.  The results of group on group scapegoating in this context  are particularly pernicious:

“Groups chosen for scapegoating are also often in low-status positions due to the socio-economic structure of society, and also lack power and the ability to fight back against the scapegoating. It is common for scapegoating to grow out of common, widespread prejudices against and practices of stereotyping minority groups. Scapegoating of minority groups often leads to violence against the targeted groups, and in the most extreme cases, to genocide. All of which is to say, group-on-group scapegoating is a dangerous practice.” [Soc.]

We’re watching stereotyping, and scapegoating in the current administration.  If it’s the current administration’s intent to be transparent about their racism and bigotry they’re doing a fine job.  Two paragraphs from a highly recommended article by Heather Digby Parton provide a description of the parallels between the current administration and its antecedents:

“There are parallels to be found in U.S. history, with the marginalization of earlier waves of immigrants and our horrific scapegoating of African-Americans and Native Americans for crimes they didn’t commit. But the drawing up of lists of criminals of a certain ethnicity to publish for public consumption brings to mind the most famous scapegoating of a population in history. That would of course be the systematic persecution of the Jewish population of Europe during the Nazi era.

From the early 1930s onward, the pro-Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer published lists of crimes allegedly committed by Jews. When Adolf Hitler came to power the government took over the job in order to further stoke anti-Semitism. The point of Trump’s order is to stoke anti-immigrant paranoia, almost entirely directed at Latinos and Muslims. The parallel is ugly but it’s accurate.” [Salon]

Der Sturmer, a tabloid newspaper published by Julius Streicher beginning in 1923 carried a tag line at the bottom: “The Jews are our misfortune.”  The message was endlessly repeated by a newspaper which relied on rumor for its sources; readers were invited to fill out and send in cards in which the ‘crimes of the Jews’ were described, and the paper printed these tales with little or no investigation. It was enough to have fodder to feed the columns of print for antisemitic readers.  Therefore, those who find parallels in the administration’s desire to create an office of Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE, which could as easily be VICE) aren’t far from the mark.  The collection of ‘crime’ stories, and their compilation without regard to the citizenship status of “aliens,” is an open invitation to corrupt the commonality of American civic society.

Someone in this proposed office must be charged with defining an ‘alien,’ is it a first generation immigrant?  A permanent resident, a person with a green card, a person with a temporary visa? A naturalized citizen?  The definition is crucial, one of those devil in the details items warranting our scrutiny.

How will the ‘crime reports’ be compiled? From databases kept by local law enforcement personnel? From reports in local, regional, or national media?  From cards sent in by ‘concerned citizens?’  It’s interesting to note that while it’s a fact that immigrants commit fewer crimes (pdf) than native born citizens, our government prevents the compilation of gun violence statistics as a public health issue, a real national security and health problem, we are invited to compile ‘evidence’ of crimes committed by immigrants.

And, what is a ‘crime?’  Will the databases be filled with those who have entered the country without documents? Or, those who have overstayed visas? Those who have committed traffic offenses? Those who have sold items without collecting sales taxes? Those who have violated local sanitation ordinances?  If the practices of ICE and CBP of late are any indication, there’s little reason for confidence in their capacity to differentiate the serious from the quotidian from the downright ludicrous. How will violations of their enforcement operations be recorded. And, what determines inclusion in the database — must there be a conviction for a crime, or will a simple arrest suffice to include the individuals in the database, even if the charges are dropped or the individuals found innocent?

If the intent is merely to collect and publish anecdotal information about the “misfortune in our midst,” then there is precious little difference between what Der Sturmer was doing in the 1930s and what the VOICE office will be doing in the 21st century?

Lest we not take ‘Digby’s’ warning seriously it’s instructive to note that in 1927 Streicher’s ugly little paper had a readership of 14,000 which increased to 486,000 by 1935. By 1938 the paper shifted from calling out the evils of the ‘misfortune among us’ to actively advocating the annihilation of Jews. On January 20, 1942 the Nazis held their infamous Wannsee Conference.

More disturbing still is the current administration’s emphasis on stereotyping and Muslims, to the detriment of the consideration of crimes committed by white nationalist domestic terrorists.  [ Reuters]  The former serves as a convenient scapegoat, the latter is an actual source of serious criminal behaviors. [HuffPo]  Evidently contemporary Republicans are incapable of saying “Radical White Supremacist Terrorism.”

So long as we have White Nationalists and racists like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller holding forth in the White House, with the ear of the chief executive, there is ample cause for concern.  More than enough reason to say Never Again. More than enough to read ‘Digby’s’ article a second time.

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Filed under Immigration, Nativism, Politics, racism