Archive for Race

Jul
01

How should we then rule?

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For a sub-sect of Christians, it is an attack on “religious liberty” when they can no longer tell equally free Americans how they can and cannot live. As Yul Brynner said, playing Moses, their god “IS God.” The Big G, the top dog, the Big Kahuna. Freedom of religion in America is fine, and all, so long as other, lesser faiths understand whose god IS God.

Fear of losing that top-dog status is behind the insistence by conservative Christians that America was founded as a Christian nation. White fear of having to share power with former slaves was behind decades of Jim Crow and KKK terror. Thus, it is “erasing white history and white culture” to take down a flag flown as a constant reminder of just whose race is boss.

“Religious liberty” has become the catchphrase for people who find their ability to lord it over their neighbors eroded by America extending freedoms they enjoy to “lesser thans” whom they fear. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges to extend the blessings of legal recognition of marriage to same-sex couples has them freaking out. The American Spectator calls the ruling “the Dred Scotting of religious liberty.”

It’s as peculiar a conception of liberty as it is a peculiar definition of persecution. Especially for a group so flush with cash and influence. Talking Points Memo reports on the Hobby Lobby Bible museum planned for just off the Mall in Washington. Among other things, it will be there as a staging area for lobbying efforts and marches by the Christian right:

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Categories : Labor, National, Race, Religion
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You knew it was coming as soon as calls to remove Confederate battle flags caught fire across the South starting in Columbia, SC:

The Ku Klux Klan has been approved to hold a protest rally at the Statehouse next month against removing the Confederate battle flag, with the group calling accused mass murderer Dylann Roof a “young warrior.”

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan applied for the permit last week to hold a rally for 100 to 200 people on July 18 on the north side of the Statehouse.

If you are holding your breath for Fox News’ Griff Jenkins to cover the Klan rally live just to remind us all that racism is dead and only racists and race baiters say otherwise, don’t.

Actually, this Klan group hails from North Carolina:

Calling itself the “Largest Klan in America,” the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are based in Pelham, N.C., according to the group’s website.

A man identifying himself as the “great titan” of the N.C. chapter of the Loyal White Knights left a message with The State saying his group is holding the demonstration because “to us they are erasing white history and white culture right out of the history books. That’s why they want to take that flag down.”

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Jun
29

Great balls of jello

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Frank Rich takes aim at the gutlessness of the GOP’s 2016 presidential hopefuls:

Say this about the Old Confederacy: At least its leaders had the courage of their own bad convictions. Today’s neo-Confederate GOP politicians, vying for primary votes in Dixie 150 years after Appomattox, proved themselves to be laughable cowards. Confronted with the simplest of questions – should a state capitol display a flag that stands for slavery, racism, and treason? – they hedged (all of them), spouted gibberish (Ted Cruz), or went into hiding (Rand Paul). If they’d been the Rebel generals in the Civil War, it would have been over in a week.

This was, Rich writes, “the second time in three months we’ve seen GOP presidential contenders unwilling to stand up to the unreconstructed bigots still infesting their party’s base.” In April, they had caved or hedged over “religious freedom” bills passed to sanction discrimination against gay families. They then retreated faster than Lee at Gettysburg after civil rights groups and the NCAA condemned Indiana’s version, and influential CEOs objected to the states dissing their customers.

Seems like only yesterday that Gov. Bobby Jindal and his legislative tigers were lying down like the Siegfried and Roy cats before the once enfant terrible, Grover Norquist. They wrote asking his and Americans for Tax Reform’s permission to sorta kinda raise state taxes after Republican economic dogma had driven Louisiana’s balance sheet (like Kansas’ before it) deep into the red.*

But boy howdy, whichever of these bowls of jello survives being a debate contestant on the RNC’s “Who Wants To Be The Next War President,” you can be sure we will be treated to months of tough-sounding ads telling us that only he (it will be a he) has the balls to protect Uh-murca from the jihadis’ long, curved knives.

* Meanwhile in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton’s Democratic leadership led the state to the top of CNBC’s list of best states for business in 2015.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Jun
27

Hearts still need to be opened

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In “the land of the free,” the fight for equality is far from over.

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges  that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in all 50 states. We won’t dwell this morning on the particulars of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority decision, nor on Justice Antonin Scalia’s bitter dissent, but rather on what comes next.

Marriage equality victory rally last night in Asheville, NC. 

At the victory rally in Asheville, NC last night, social justice activists addressed the crowd:

“It’s extraordinary,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “There are people who have been waiting their whole lives to marry the person they love, and now they are equal under the law. Think about the families racing to the courthouse in Mississippi right now. I’m overwhelmed by the emotion and historical significance of this. It took decades and decades of work to get to this moment.”

Now, about Mississippi …

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Jun
21

Old ways there are not forgotten

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It’s been hard trying to find respite from news of the Charleston church slayings this morning. Halfway around the world in the Sydney Morning Herald is a story of a woman who awoke from a nightmare and recognized nothing in the bedroom. She stumbled out of bed, down a foreign hallway to a bathroom, and gazed into the mirror horrified:

“I grabbed my face and screamed, ‘No! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god … I’m OLD!'”

Ms Jacobs was 32, but she had lost 17 years of her life to a rare amnesia. As far as she was concerned, she was 15.

How often have we wondered what it would be like to go back and relive our teens and twenties knowing what we know now. Naomi Jacobs experienced a part of that:

As her sister cautiously explained “adult” Naomi’s life, “teen” Naomi could not understand how, despite all the dreams she’d had for her future, she had become a single mother in a two-bedroom council flat.

There was so much to catch up on: Ms Jacobs spent hours online watching piano-playing cats, kids drugged up after dentist visits, crop circles and conspiracy theories. She sobbed over the 9/11 attacks and the “War on Terror”.

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Categories : National, Race
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Jun
20

An overactive sense of history

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We were told during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s that some of the ethnic hatreds there dated back centuries. People in the Balkans were re-fighting battles lost 600 years earlier.

One knock against Americans is, it is said we have no sense of history. But during the Bosnian genocide, it struck me that the flip side to having no sense of history was having an overactive one.

Here in the South, there are some people with overactive senses of their own history. Specifically, a history symbolized by flying flags of the Confederacy from lawns, from pickup trucks, and in South Carolina, on the state capitol grounds. That particular flag flies on a pole from which, by law, it cannot be removed.

Why?

Americans with no sense of history will not appreciate how in the South the loss of the Civil War is, a mere 150 years after the fact, still the source of a gnawing, grinding anger for a minority with an overactive one. The myths of the Lost Cause, the Bloody Shirt, “heritage not hate,” “states’ rights,” “Forget, Hell!” and all the other post hoc rationale for whitewashing slavery, treason, Jim Crow, and decades of lynchings and other domestic terrorism are still alive, if only in small pockets. But they won’t let it go. Call it pride. Call it Scots-Irish stubbornness. (And a lingering inferiority complex.) But it is toxic. The defeat went down hard, and the memory of a defeated people runs deep. Ask the Serbs.

Enough.

After the mass shooting in Charleston this week, one South Carolina state legislator, a Republican, proposes removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds once and for all:

South Carolina state Rep. Norman “Doug” Brannon announced on Friday night that he would introduce a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol, citing the death of Sen. Clementa Pinckney during the terrorist attack in Charleston earlier this week.

“I had a friend die Wednesday night for no reason other than he was a black man,” Brannon, a Republican, told MSNBC host Chris Hayes in a phone interview. “Senator Pinckney was an incredible human being. I don’t want to talk politics, but I’m gonna introduce the bill for that reason.”

He showed more integrity than many of his cohorts this week.

John Fugelsang has one of the best (and upbeat) takedowns of Confederate flag-waving and why the South ought to let it go:

Of all the periods of your history, why do you want to celebrate those four years? … You are better than them! You are better than your ancestors who quit America because they wanted to keep people as pets.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : History, National, Race
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Jun
19

A Full Lord’s House

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IMG_20150619_124540_014We attended the community church service at St. James AME Church today. Standing room only in the church and in the overflow. Lots of fans, tissues, moist eyes. Lots of familiar faces. The preacher had the place jazzed to pull together and get organized. I hope it’s not just another flash in the pan as Jon Stewart suggested might happen last night. Maybe this will help. God knows we could use some.

Categories : Local, National, News, Race
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Jun
19

A confederacy of lunatics

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I’m sitting in upstate South Carolina processing the Charleston mass shooting. I’m watching clips from politicians — conservative politicians — doing their damnedest not to say anything on camera that would alienate their political base. Or replaying talking points for their base that reinforce the toxic world view that produces people such as the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof.

Sen. John McCain was at least enough of a leader in 2008 to publicly disagree with the woman who said she was afraid if Barack Obama, “an Arab,” got elected. The crowd of supporters booed McCain when he said Obama was a good and decent man:

“Come on, John!” one audience member yelled out as the Republican crowd expressed dismay at their nominee. Others yelled “liar,” and “terrorist,” referring to Obama.

At Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak yesterday posted footage of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaking in South Carolina in March failing to do the same, using the word “tyrant” and having the chutzpah to talk about Obama’s “complete lack of leadership.” Madrak writes:

And just watch this video. This woman is a South Carolina teacher, and she’s plain batshit crazy. Listen to her! Straight out of InfoWars. And does Santorum talk to the woman, try to calm her down? Hell, no.

Instead, he validates her concern (while artfully avoiding actually leaving a record of anything that could be used against him later) and even whips it up!

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Apr
30

First comes the disinformation…

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First comes the disinformation. Next come the wingnut emails.

The city of Baltimore is preparing for a Friday release of details of Freddie Gray’s injury and death in police custody. “Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she’s working with Freddie Gray’s family and faith leaders to clear up ‘misinformation’ that could lead to further unrest.”

Such as?

The Washington Post on Wednesday evening published an article that states that a unidentified prisoner who was also in the back of a police van with Gray claimed he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” and “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

The prisoner’s tale comes via a police document obtained by the Post, in which the statement is included on an application for a search warrant, which is currently sealed. The prisoner could not actually see Gray, according to the report.

How it plays on Fox: Freddie Gray broke his own back. Coming Up Next: Martin Luther King shot himself.

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Categories : Media, National, News, Race
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Apr
28

“Like being in a bad marriage”

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Something was bound to give. It’s not as if Baltimore didn’t have a reputation for brutal policing, as Digby noted last night. The Baltimore Sun investigation, “Undue Force,” was from just last fall. As Tavis Smiley asked Bill O’Reilly two weeks ago in the wake of recent deaths of black men at the hands of police, “How many isolated incidents equal a pattern?” After Freddie Gray’s died from mysterious injuries sustained under police custody in Baltimore days later, his funeral yesterday finally set fire to fuel that was tinder-dry:

After almost two weeks of tension over the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore descended into chaos Monday.

Roaming gangs of mostly young men clashed with police in the streets, seriously injuring officers; tore open businesses; and looted their stocks. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard, and state police requested as many as 5,000 reinforcements from neighboring states.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a weeklong citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Tuesday.

Rawlings-Blake called the rioting and destruction “idiotic.”

“This isn’t a white-black issue,” Gray family attorney William Murphy told a crowd last night. “This is an issue of how do we treat each other as human beings.” He set the rioting against the backdrop of community oppression from the days of slavery to Sundown towns to the Civil Rights era to a war on drugs that left America with more of its citizens imprisoned than any other country in the world. Murphy concluded:

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Categories : National, News, Race
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