WATCH: Fox News Guest Claims Slavery Wasn’t a Racist Thing

Now that Joe Biden is president and things are going reasonably well, Fox News has decided to stop talking about political issues. Instead, the network is very focused on Critical Race Theory, an advanced class typically taught at law schools.

But instead of explaining what CRT is, the personalities on Fox stoke racial tension. A large part of this is claiming that America is not and has never been a racist country. During Tuesday segment, a guest even claimed that slavery “wasn’t a racist thing at first.”

Ty Smith, a radio host, told Martha MacCallum:

“America was not founded on racism. Don’t get me wrong. Yeah, there was slavery going on, but slavery itself was not initially a racist thing. It never was about race initially. So to sit there and take it like America was founded on racism is a complete lie. Yeah, there was slavery going on, but slavery was going on in all the world. It never was a race thing, so why are we making it a race thing now?”

There are a number of arguments against Smith’s theory, of course, but he was not making a good faith argument in the first place. MacCallum did little to respond to the claims of the radio host, choosing instead to thank him and move on to her next segment.

See a clip of the comments below, courtesy of the Fox News network:

Fox Guest: "There was slavery going on but itself was not initially a racist thing it never was about race… It never was a race thing so why are we making it a race thing now?" read more

Fox News Guest Says the Disenfranchised, Minorities and the Poor Aren’t Worth Paying $15 an Hour [Video]

Over the last few decades, wage growth has stagnated in the country. Democrats have been pushing to change that. Joe Biden said during an April congressional speech, “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line.”

Conservatives and there media ecosystem disagree. The hosts of Fox News regularly tell their viewers that a $15 minimum wage isn’t worth it. On Tuesday, the network hosted a guest who said that some workers just aren’t worth that kind of pay.

Art Laffer, a Conservative economist was a guest on Sandra Smith’s show. He told the host:

“Yeah, for those people, Sandra, who are coming into the labor force brand fresh  –not old-timers who’ve been around for awhile – the poor, the minorities the disenfranchised, those with less education, young people who haven’t had the job experience. These people aren’t worth $15 an hour in most cases.

And so therefore when you have a $15 an hour minimum wage, they don’t get that first job, they don’t get requisite the skills to earn above the minimum wage. And after a few years they become unemployable. And after becoming unemployable, they become hostile, and that what you’ll find is happening is this technology has created an underclass of people who are really just bid out of the labor market and will remain out of the labor market for most of their lives. And this I think is just a tragedy. I love the technology but the technology is replacing the jobs for these people. And it’s a killer. It’s a killer for just the people who need the help the most.”

Watch the offensive comments below, courtesy of the Fox News network:

Fox guest Art Laffer: For those people who are coming into the labor force fresh, not oldtimers — the poor, the minorities, the disenfranchised, those with less education, young people who haven't had the job experience — these people aren't worth $15 an hour in most cases read more

WATCH: OAN Guest Denies That There Was Actually a Massacre in Tulsa 100 Years Ago

For decades, students in schools were not taught about the 1921 massacre on Black Wall St. in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was actually an HBO show, Watchmen, that revealed the truth behind the incident to many Americans.

And now that the history of the event is known, the Biden administration is making sure more Americans learn about it. The president and vice president both spent time talking about the incident this week.

And the light shone on the event has enraged Conservative media outlets that like to pretend that racism no longer exists. On Wednesday night, OAN went as far on having a guest deny the seriousness of the massacre.

Radio host Jesse Lee Peterson claimed, “

And I don’t believe that whole story about what happened in Tulsa. It’s not as dramatized as the race hustlers are making it out to be. I guarantee you they have rewritten history, they have written it to be something that is more dramatic so they can make white people look racist, make them look mean, and so they hate all Black people so they can control the Blacks.” read more

WATCH: Tim Scott Argues That Systemic Racism Doesn’t Exist by Saying He’s Been Pulled Over for Being Black 18 Times

A big talking point for the current incarnation of the GOP is that racism doesn’t exist. During his recent address to America, Joe Biden talked about systemic racism and how the country might combat the issue.

To Tim Scott, who gave the rebuttal to Biden’s speech, it isn’t all that big a deal. The South Carolina lawmaker said to viewers, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”

Scott gave a strange explanation for his comments during a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press. He told John Dickerson:

“One of the reasons I have asked to lead this police reform conversation on my side of the aisle is because I personally understand the pain of being stopped 18 times driving while Black. I have also seen the beauty of when officers go door to door with me on Christmas morning delivering presents to kids in the most underserved communities. So I think I bring an equilibrium to the conversation,” he said. “That gives me reason to be hopeful.” read more

Newt Gingrich: The Real Racists are People Who Make Your Kids Feel Bad About Being White

Joe Biden has notched plenty of accomplishments during his first few months in office. And while he’s reached out to Republicans about his policy goals, he’s been happy to move on without them if they weren’t willing to compromise.

And Fox News is set on ignoring all of the things that Biden has done. Instead, they have focused on cancel culture and Dr. Seuss. And following the Derek Chauvin verdict, Fox anchors have a new goal; convincing their viewers that racism doesn’t exist.

On Wednesday night, Mark Steyn invited Newt Gingrich on his show to discuss racial matters. The former House Speaker had some interesting thoughts about who the real racists are.

Gingrich told viewers, “ I think the first thing to do is to take head-on the realization that what you’re seeing is the new racism. As I think you would point out earlier, you have hospitals that say they’re going to treat people based on racial standing. I mean, that is just plain — first of all, it’s illegal. Second, it is overt racism.”

The arch Conservative continued:

“Republicans have to learn to win the argument about who’s the real racist. The real racists are people like Biden and Harris. The real racists are the people who want to set quotas, mostly, by the way, excluding Asian-Americans. The real racists are the people who want to brainwash your child so that they feel guilty about being born white or being born of mixed background.” read more

WATCH: Fox’s Greg Gutfeld Says It’s a Good Thing Chauvin Was Found Guilty Even if He Wasn’t

When George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin last summer, there was essentially no one willing to defend him. Even the talking heads on Fox News recognized how clear the evidence was against the officer.

But once the murder trial began, Fox anchors became more willing to come out and paint Chauvin as a victim. Tucker Carlson went as far as saying that it was actually the police officer who was being lynched.

Not surprisingly, some on the Fox panel did not react well the the announcement that Chauvin was found guilty on all 3 charges. And this was especially true of Greg Gutfeld.

The host told viewers:

“I guess so the media could play to the narrative that a miracle America is full of racist rubes to make their viewers feel superior but this wasn’t a divisive case, and I think it’s a contrast between the reality of Americans who were experiencing this all at once and then manufacture an environment of the people who create the news which is that this reflects a racist country, it reflects racial division, it means the cops are all racist, it’s not a bug in the system, is the system itself, that was what was creating the perception of division, everybody agrees that the case was disgusting and ugly, another story being played a lot, I’m glad that he was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges, I am glad that he is guilty of all charges because I want a verdict that keeps this country from going up in flames.”

Greg Gutfeld: "I'm glad [Chauvin] was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges. I am glad that he is guilty of all charges because I want a verdict that keeps this country from going up in flames." (Note the groans from his Fox News colleagues.) read more

Meghan McCain Apologized for Aiding Trump’s Racist Rhetoric After Brutal Takedown by John Oliver

Donald Trump did a terrible job of containing the coronavirus once it hit American shores. Rather than taking on any criticism, Trump instead tried to paint COVID as “The China Virus.”

And Trump’s words have been blamed in part for the rash of violence against Asians in the country. When he began blaming the Chinese for the virus, Meghan McCain claimed it was a smart strategy that would help him win votes.

So many found it odd last week when McCain made a Twitter post calling for the end to anti-Asian violence. HBO host John Oliver brutally took down McCain for the hypocrisy on his weekend show. Today, the View host apologized for aiding Trump’s racist rhetoric.

Oliver said during his show, “Oh good! Meghan McCain doesn’t have a problem with it,” said Oliver. “Listen, not to the scores of Asian Americans telling everyone that the term is dangerous and offensive. Instead, gather around and take the word of a white woman who’s dressed like she’s about to lay off 47 people over Zoom.’

Those words might have convinced McCain to post her Monday afternoon apology. The Conservative talking head tweeted, “I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian-American community. There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks, and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.”

I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian-American community. There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda. read more

Ted Lieu Celebrates Rise in Asian American Voters, Rebukes Trump’s “China Virus” Rhetoric

Ted Lieu says McConnell wants Trump locked up

Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) pointed to a new study published in The American Journal of Public Health that found former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric led to a rise of anti-Asian sentiment online to suggest that Asian voters cost him the presidency.

“Asian Americans are the fastest increasing group in America, with eligible voters more than doubling since 2000,” Lieu tweeted this morning. “In states like CA, [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] are the 2nd largest ethnic group. The former President attacked & mocked Asian Americans. We voted. He lost. Attack us at your own peril.”

Asian Americans are the fastest increasing group in America, with eligible voters more than doubling since 2000. In states like CA, AAPIs are the 2nd largest ethnic group.

The former President attacked & mocked Asian Americans. We voted. He lost. Attack us at your own peril. read more

Representative Grace Meng Says Trump’s Behavior Led to Increase in Anti-Asian Violence

Former President Donald Trump was often criticized over the last year for his use of the phrase “China virus” to refer to the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes Covid-19. Trump would often employ the phrase in official communications via his Twitter account. It was also picked up by right-wing news outlets like Fox News, which have designed their coverage to explicitly blame the Chinese government for the pandemic and its effects on American life.

Amid all this, human rights groups have expressed concern that the use of the phrase would contribute to an uptick in anti-Asian violence with numerous places around the country reporting random attacks against Asian citizens. A national conversation on anti-Asian violence has taken center-stage again since authorities arrested a gunman who shot and killed eight people and injured one at three Atlanta-area spas. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.

In the wake of the shooting, Representative Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) has criticized Trump for emboldening racists and stoking violence.

“When I first heard the former president use words like ‘kung flu’ and ‘Chinese virus,’ I was really horrified. And every time he said it, I thought, okay, this will be the last time. He couldn’t possibly continue to use it,” Meng said during an  read more

Tucker Carlson: Immigrants Are Turning the US Into an Ugly, Unhappy Country

Tucker Carlson Masks

Things were not so good for Fox News close to the last election. After 20 years of ratings dominance, Fox began to fall behind MSNBC and CNN. Even worse, Conservative challengers like OAN and Newsmax were coming out of the woodwork.

In response, the network decided to double down on conspiracy theories and racism. No one has embodied that reaction more than prime-time host Tucker Carlson.

Carlson has spent the last two months either downplaying the effectiveness of COVID vaccines or spewing racist drivel. He was at his most bigoted on Wednesday night.

The host asked viewers, “Over the past 30 years, the population of the United States has exploded by nearly 100 million people, mostly due to immigration. Were you even aware that that happened?”

Carlson continued:

“You’re not supposed to say a word about it, as every year the United States gets steadily more jammed with people, and at the same time, more chaotic and less cohesive, as the open spaces shrink, as nature itself recedes in the face of yet another strip mall or apartment complex or fast food outlet to serve the new people. This is becoming a crowded country, and crowded countries are ugly, unhappy countries. Why are we letting that happen? Well, that’s a rhetorical question, of course. No one asked us what we wanted, they just did it.” read more

The Sheriff Who Said Atlanta Shooter “Had a Bad Day” Has Blamed China For COVID in Facebook Posts

On Wednesday, an Atlanta Sheriff held a press conference about the rash of shootings that left 8 dead yesterday. Rather than show empathy for the victims, Jay Baker seemed to be making excuses for the shooter.

The Cherokee Country cop told reporters, “They got that impression, he did understand the gravity and was fed up and at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

Cherokee County Sheriff said that it was a really bad day "for him" the Atlanta mass shooter yesterday. What about the 8 people that he killed? Having a bad day does not give a person the right to buy a gun and kill others. read more

WATCH: NJ Dem Bob Menendez Eviscerates Ron Johnson During Tuesday Floor Speech

Donald Trump may now be out of office, but Ron Johnson is making sure the stain of Trumpism remains in the Senate chambers. The Wisconsin senator has spent the last few weeks lying about the insurrection, spreading false vaccination info and generally being a massive racist.

Johnson’s behavior has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues. During a Tuesday floor speech, Bob Menendez ripped into the GOP lawmaker.

The New Jersey Democrat began, “Senator Johnson said he never feared for his safety [during the Jan. 6th siege of the U.S. Captiol]. Johnson went on to say that ‘under different circumstances he would have been afraid; had the tables been turned and had those been Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been afraid.’ Is that not racism,’ Mr. President?’ Menendez. My colleague may be ignorant about the pain his comments caused.”

Menendez continued, “

The violent picture they paint of this movement is factually inaccurate. The Black Lives Matter movement is overwhelmingly peaceful. I know many people don’t care about facts these days but it is the truth.” read more

WATCH: Greg Kelly Says Insurrection Coverage is Racist Against White People

When things don’t go Donald Trump’s way, it is always someone else’s fault. The 45th president spent the entirety of his term painting himself as a victim. And that sense of victimhood has trickled down to Conservative media and Trump supporters.

This week, House Impeachment Managers have laid out a devastating case against the Trump supporters who stormed that Capitol on January 6th. And this has left a lot of people feeling attacked. Newsmax’s Greg Kelly is certainly one of those people. During his Thursday night show, Kelly described the hearing as racist against white people.

The Newsmax host began by asking:

“So what’s going on here? Oh, there is a racial component. Have you noticed? Let’s talk about this, all right? It’s clear to me that there is a racial component. Because right now in America, who doesn’t have much status? White folk. Especially poor, white folk. Especially poor, white people who stormed the Capitol. They should not have done it and I think the rioters should be prosecuted.” read more

A Jewish Graveyard in Grand Rapids, Michigan Was Defaced With Trump Spray Paint

Donald Trump has always said that he is a great friend to people of Jewish faith. How could he be anti-Semitic, Trump argues, his son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish and his daughter Ivanka converted when she married him.

But the president has also been slow to condemn his supporters who have anti-Semitic beliefs. After white supremacists marched in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Jews will not replace us,” Trump famously referred to them as “very fine people.”

And now, it seems that some of Trump’s supporters associate his name with anti-Semitism and racism. A Jewish cemetery was recently defaced with vandals spray painting the name Trump on headstones.

Notably the incident took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump will be holding the final rally on his campaign in Grand Rapids.

The vandalism was first reported by the Anti-Defamation League of Michigan, who tweeted, “We are appalled by the reported desecration of gravestones at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, MI. We are in close touch with the Jewish community and Law Enforcement to investigate this vandalism.”

We are appalled by the reported desecration of gravestones at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, MI. We are in close touch with the Jewish community and Law Enforcement to investigate this vandalism. read more

61 Percent of Americans Say Trump’s Handling of Protests is Worsening Matters

According to the latest Monmouth poll, 61 percent of Americans say the way President Donald Trump is handling nationwide protests is actually worsening things, not making them better.

Most Americans (61%) say that Trump’s handling of the protests has made the situation worse and just 24% say he has made it better. These results are basically unchanged from late June (62% worse and 20% better). Nearly 9 in 10 non-Republicans say Trump has made the situation worse, including 88% who are white, 87% who are Black, and 86% who are of another racial minority group. Republicans and GOP-leaners stand alone in their feeling that the president has made the situation better (46%) rather than worse (30%). These findings are similar to the late June poll results,” Monmouth observes. read more

Poll: Majority of Americans Believe the Way Trump is Responding to Civil Unrest is Making Things Worse

Trump Pennsylvania, Cheer

According to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released today, the majority of Americans believe the way President Donald Trump is responding to civil unrest is making things worse.

55 percent of Americans say they believe Trump is worsening matters as the nation grapples with a slew of protests against racism and police brutality. 29 percent said they don’t believe Trump’s comments have had an effect on protests.

30 percent of Republicans believe the president’s rhetoric is improving things, though 26 percent say otherwise. Among

white, non-college educated Americans, a key voting bloc for the president, just 18 percent believe his rhetoric has been successful and 41 percent say his comments have negatively impacted the national conversation on racial inequity.  read more

Kushner Dismisses NBA Protests, Touts Trump’s “Historic Criminal Justice Reform”

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner dismissed NBA players who’ve opted not to play games as part of a protest against police brutality against Black Americans, saying they are “fortunate” to have enough wealth to “take a night off from work.”

“I think the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences for themselves financially,” Kushner said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So they have that luxury, which is great.”

With the NBA, there’s a lot of activism and I think that they put a lot of slogans out, but I think that we need to turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that’s gonna solve the problem,” he added.

Kushner went on to tout the president’s “historic criminal justice reform,” giving particular mention to the creation of Opportunity Zones, which say states may designate up to 25% of low-income census tracts.

We just have to take this conversation from an emotional one to a constructive one and say what are the policies that we can agree on,” Kushner said, urging the United States to “come together on a policy platform.”

You can watch Kushner’s interview below.

"The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they're able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially," says White House senior advisor Jared Kushner on the NBA player boycotts last night. read more

Pence’s Chief of Staff Criticizes NBA Boycott as “Absurd” and “Silly”

Marc Short, the Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence, criticized NBA players who’ve opted not to play games as part of a protest against police brutality against Black Americans, calling the boycotts “absurd” and “silly.”

“I don’t know that you’re going to see the administration weigh in on that one way or the other. In my mind, it’s absurd, it’s silly,” Short told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” when asked if the vice president supports the boycott. 

“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” he added, noting that the administration shouldn’t speak out on the boycott “one way or the other.”

Last night, @Mike_Pence drew a contrast between an America that continues to hope for more freedoms but also continues to protect our law enforcement vs. an America that would lead to socialism and decline and continue to attack our law enforcement. read more

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass: Trump Is a Racist Who’s “Giving License to Racists”

Karen Bass has accused Donald Trump of emboldening racists and of running a racist reelection campaign. The Democratic congresswoman said there’s clear evidence for the President’s own prejudices.

Bass is considered a major contender for former Vice President Joe Biden’s VP nod. She spoke to CNN’s David Axelrod on Thursday about Trump and was asked if she thinks he’s a racist.

“Yes, I do. I don’t think there’s anything new about that,” she said.

“I think he’s second generation, I mean, his father was. They were charged with discrimination, housing discrimination, sued by the federal government.”

Everything that has come out of his mouth, not just against Black people, I mean, he started his campaign with racist attacks on Mexicans,” Bass went on.

“He’s attacked Native Americans and his latest attacks are on Asian Americans by calling the [Coronavirus] as the China virus. And there has been attacks against the Asian Pacific Islander community. “

“People have been hurt because of his essentially giving license to racists that might have been a little dormant for a minute, but who now feel completely emboldened and empowered.”

Bass added that Trump’s approach to his reelection this year was in part to appeal to racism.

I’m very clear that the Republican Party has two strategies for this election. And one is to resurrect the ghost of Joe McCarthy and the Cold War,” she said.

“And two is to resurrect the ghost of George Wallace and run a racist campaign.”

Bass pointed to Trump’s recent comments about low income housing in the suburbs and added: “You know, I think that he doesn’t use dog whistles. He uses a bullhorn.”

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter read more

Ted Cruz Accuses Oprah Winfrey Of Racism

Ted Cruz has lashed out at Oprah Winfrey after she openly discussed the issue of white privilege in a new interview. The Republican senator accused Winfrey of racism.

Cruz sent a tweet sharing an article from conservative outlet The Blaze slamming Winfrey for highlighting white privilege during an interview on her new Apple TV+ show The Oprah Conversation.

Billionaire Oprah lectures the rest of us,” Cruz wrote.

Billionaire Oprah lectures the rest of us:

"You still have your whiteness. That's what the term 'white privilege' is. It means that whiteness still gives you an advantage, no matter.”

What utter, racist BS. read more

Rev. Al Sharpton Slams Trump for Suggesting He’ll “Protect You From the Blacks”

Al Sharpton Trump racist

Reverend Al Sharpton expressed his disgust following Donald Trump’s remarks about the suburbs and low income housing. He believes Trump has gone beyond dog whistling.

The President tweeted on Wednesday that he had changed an Obama era rule about low income housing that he claimed was harming house prices and causing crime in suburban neighborhoods.

Sharpton told MSNBC on Thursday that this was clearly a racial message.

“We’ve gone from dog whistling to dog barking now, and hoping that if he barks at the dog, the dog will bark back,” Sharpton said.

“He has made a business and political career out of ‘they are going to ruin your neighborhood. I will keep them out of your neighborhood. I will protect you from the Blacks.’ And that’s what he’s going to hear.”

“In a blatant way with no cover, saying they will ruin your neighborhood. It’s all of that that comes with it, they’re robbers, they’re thieves, they will rape your daughters, that’s what he’s messaging here,” he said.

Sharpton sharply criticized Trump for making the statement as the nation mourns Civil Rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis.

“And what is even more offensive, because those of us in the Civil Rights community that have known him are not surprised by it, but what is so blatantly despicable, Joe, is he does it on the period of time we’re mourning John Lewis, who will be funeralized today,” Sharpton said.

“Not only did he not do anything to say in any serious manner how great John Lewis was, he’s going to use this, that we have three presidents on their way to John Lewis’s funeral, to blatantly play the race card and appeal to what he hopes are the white fears that are still there.”

“This is about as low as you can go.”

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New Poll: 56% of Americans Think the Country Is Racist

A clear majority of American voters now believe U.S. society is racist. This represents a significant trend as protests against the treatment of African Americans continue.

Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 56% of Americans think the country is racist, while a staggering 71% believe race relations are bad at the moment.

Brenda Lee is a pollster who worked on the poll. She thinks George Floyd’s death has affected public attitudes.

“Americans are concerned about issues of inequality, and George Floyd’s death helped contribute to that,” Lee said.

“We’ve moved the needle a great deal in terms of just clearly identifying that we, as Americans, have an issue with racism in this society.”

However, there are major partisan differences on the issue of race – a fact that’s been evident in many similar polls.

While 90% of Democrats believe African Americans are discriminated against, just 26% of Republicans agree.

Republicans are also far less likely to think the country is racist. Just 30% believe that it is, compared to 82% of Democratic respondents.

The survey also showed that a majority of voters – 57% – support the protests sparked by Floyd’s death. These numbers will not be welcome news to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

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The President’s Niece Says the Trump Family Often Used the N-Word and Anti-Semitic Expressions

Biden leads Trump in Texas and Georgia

Mary Trump has claimed that members of her family commonly used racist slurs when she was growing up. She says this is partly to blame for Donald Trump’s own racism.

The President’s niece, who has written a book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, gave an interview to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Trump said her uncle is “clearly racist” and that it stems in part from the Trump family’s regular use of racist slurs.

“It comes easily to him and he thinks it’s going to score him points with the only people who are continuing to support him,” she said.

She said her family had “a knee-jerk anti-Semitism, a knee-jerk racism.”

“Growing up, it was sort of normal to hear them use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions,” Mary Trump said.

“Homophobia was never an issue because nobody ever talked about gay people, well, until my grandmother called Elton John [a slur],” said Trump, who is gay.

Trump believes the U.S. government has become a “macro version of my incredibly dysfunctional family.”

President Trump has “an unerring instinct for finding people who are weaker than he is” but he’s also “eminently usable by people who are stronger and savvier than he is,” she said.

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter

Opinion: Lindsey Graham Exemplifies Racist Incoherence Complaining About Monument Removal

Many Americans have been compelled by the recent mass protests to seek a fuller understanding of United States history and particularly the African American experience in that history, up to and including ongoing racism, discrimination, and violence against people of color. Black bookstores in particular are being flooded with orders for literary works that portray African American experiences, historical studies that chronicle U.S. history from an African American experience, and books that offer sociological analyses of race and racism in the U.S.  Even Amazon Prime created a category featuring films and television shows about African American life, culture, and history. read more

U.N. to Debate Systemic Racism and Police Brutality in U.S. Following Call from Entire African Continent

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council will debate systemic racism and police brutality in the United States following a call from all 54 African nations.

“Structural racism and police violence are issues, which are commonly raised by states and civil society at meetings of the council, as are unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rolando Gomez told Voice of America. “And, the aim, of course, is to prevent such abhorrent acts.”

The announcement comes as protests continue to galvanize millions across the nation to speak out against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis City Council caved to public pressure last week, unanimously passing a resolution to disband the police force with a community-led model.

“The tragic events of 25 May in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd led to protests around the world in protest of injustice and police brutality that persons of African descent face on a daily basis in many regions of the world,” Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the U.N., Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, said in the formal urgent debate request. “The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Many other cases of persons of African descent having faced the same fate because of the origin and police violence exist.”

The United States is not a member of the 47-member state forum in Geneva. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley withdrew the U.S. two years ago after alleging bias against Israel.

Ohio Senator Asks if “Colored People” Who “Don’t Wash Their Hands As Well” Are Responsible for Coronavirus Spread

During a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis, Ohio Senator Steve Huffman (R), who also happens to be an emergency room physician, asked if “the colored population” is more disproportionately impacted by the novel coronavirus because they “don’t wash their hands as well.”

“My point is I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and it makes them more susceptible to death from COVID,” Huffman said. “But why doesn’t it make them more susceptible to just get COVID?” read more

Tucker Carlson Rails Against Sesame Street for Anti-Racism Message

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is facing a wave of criticism after using the classic PBS show Sesame Street as an example of “decades of relentless propaganda.”

“All of it designed to make us feel that we have no right to stand up for ourselves, to stand up for our country,” he said. “We are too sinful to resist, we deserve whatever we get. Shut up and take it, America.”

Carlson said Sesame Street, which was featured during a CNN town hall about the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests against racial injustice and police brutality that his death sparked, was teaching children that “America is a very bad place, and it’s all your fault.”

A clip from the event shows Elmo’s dad Louie explaining racism in a way children can understand.

“They are sad and upset, and they have every right to be Elmo. People are upset because racism is a huge problem in our country,” Louie says. “Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin. Not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect one another. Across the country, people of color, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are. What we are seeing is people saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ They want to end racism.”

“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying 'enough is enough.' They want to end racism.”@Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US. #CNNSesameStreet read more

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: Trump “Threatens the Democracy I Spilled My Blood to Protect”

John Lewis has called on the American people to band together and elect former Vice President Joe Biden. The Civil Rights icon made an impassioned plea on Sunday.

Lewis, a Democratic congressman, urged a vote for Biden in an email to Biden supporters over the weekend. He framed November’s election as a last chance to save democracy.

“This President threatens the democracy I spilled blood to protect,” the fundraising email begins.

“Since the day he took office, I’ve witnessed this President turn a blind eye to hatred in this nation and refuse to protect American citizens from violence and discrimination.”

“I watched this President rip newborn infants from their mothers’ arms, put them into cages, and leave them separated for weeks on end. I refuse to let his reign of terror continue.”

“He must be stopped. And we are the only people who can stop him.”

“If  – and only if  – we band together, will we elect Joe Biden and save our democracy.”

“None of us can do it alone. I know better than anyone it takes a group of people taking a stand.”

“We’re fighting for the very soul of our nation,” Lewis wrote.

“I can’t overstate the urgency of defending our democracy against this dangerous President.”

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter

Senior Democrat Jim Clyburn: Trump Is “An Unadulterated Racist” Trying to “Ignite a Race War”

The highest ranking African American in Congress has branded the President a racist. Jim Clyburn accused Donald Trump of wanting to start a race war with his response to recent protests.

Clyburn is the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. On Wednesday, he offered fierce condemnation of the President.

“In all my public life, I have never put the racist label on anybody until now,” the House Majority Whip said in an interview with The Post and Courier.

“He is an unadulterated racist,” Clyburn said.

He explained that he first started to think of Trump as a racist when the President referred to Omarosa Manigault-Newman as a “dog”.

Clyburn also criticized Trump’s reaction to the George Floyd protests. He added his voice to those who’ve slammed the President for his desire to use military force.

“What I’ve seen him do in the last several days, this man is trying to ignite a race war in this country,” Clyburn said.

The South Carolina Democrat also criticized Trump in an interview on CBS.

“It seems as if the president considers the exercise of one’s First Amendment rights to be carnage,” he said.

“How we define it, generally, he has contributed to it more than any president in my lifetime. I don’t think any president since maybe Woodrow Wilson.”

President Wilson, a Democrat, was a notorious racist.

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Rand Paul Delays Anti-Lynching Bill, Saying He Fears It Could Be Used in Cases of “Minor Bruises”

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has delayed anti-lynching legislation, saying “there has to be some give and take” on the measure’s language.

“We want the bill to be stronger. We think that lynching is an awful thing that should be roundly condemned and should be universally condemned. I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate someone who has an altercation where they had minor bruises, with lynching,” Paul said.

“If you’re gonna call something an anti-lynching bill, but you’re gonna have a new conspiracy charge for someone who has minor bruising, we don’t think that’s appropriate. And someone has to read these bills and make sure they do what they say they’re going to do rather than it be just a big PR effort,” Paul added.

When members of the press asked for clarification on what Paul meant by “minor bruises” and requested he spotlight specific language he wishes to see removed, Paul’s office referred to one of his statements.

Paul’s statement reads: “The bill as written would allow altercations resulting in a cut, abrasion, bruise, or any other injury no matter how temporary to be subject to a 10-year penalty. My amendment would simply apply a serious bodily injury standard, which would ensure crimes resulting in substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain be prosecuted as a lynching.”

Paul’s aides said he’d objected to the measure’s language in recent weeks but that his concerns were sidelined because of the coronavirus pandemic. The current delay comes during an especially tense moment as protests rage across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis and whose killing sent shockwaves around the world.

Pope Francis: Catholics Cannot Tolerate Racism and Also “Claim to Defend the Sacredness of Every Human Life”

Pope Francis commented on the protests that have erupted since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, saying that Catholics cannot tolerate racism and also “claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” the pope said. “At the same time, we have to recognize that ‘the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost.'”

Pope Francis says he is joining the Church in Minneapolis, and across the U.S., “in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”

His full remarks are below:

“I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media.

“Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that “the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost”.

“Today I join the Church in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism. Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world.

“May God bless all of you and your families. “ read more

Opinion: Obama’s Endorsement Challenges Biden, Re-Imagines Presidency for the Future

Last Tuesday, former President Barack Obama gave his much-anticipated endorsement of his former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. 

The endorsement was expected, of course, despite the wait Obama imposed, which seemed likely attributable to his preference to time his speech in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ own endorsement of Biden, creating a crescendo effect. read more

Justice Ginsburg Hammers Republicans and Supreme Court Majority for Denying Democracy and Reality

A friend of mine who runs his own small law firm texted me the other day after the financial relief package aimed at helping small businesses stalled in the Senate. Worried over his dwindling ability to keep and compensate his employees, he blamed the Democrats and declared he’s voting for Trump. The Democrats showed themselves, once again, to be “out of touch,” he felt, with the reality of American lives. read more

Donald Trump Jr. Posts Racist “Kung Flu Kid” Meme Starring His Father

The United States now has the highest rate of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world at 86,000. As the White House grapples with heavy criticism regarding its delayed response, Donald Trump Jr. took to Instagram to share a racist meme about the crisis.

“Hahahahaha “The Kung-Flu Kid,” he wrote about a clip of his father beating the coronavirus in a brawl.

View this post on Instagram

Hahahahaha “The Kung-Flu Kid” Thanks @americanaf 🇺🇸🤣🇺🇸🤣🇺🇸

A post shared by Donald Trump Jr. (@donaldjtrumpjr) on read more

Senator John Cornyn Defends The Use Of The Term “Chinese Virus” As Pandemic Continues

Although President Donald Trump has come under fire for using what critics say amounts to a racist dog whistle in referring to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus,” he has a defender in Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who when asked by a reporter whether the use of the term is acceptable, responded, “That’s where it came from.”

“Well, I think China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats, and snakes, and dogs, and things like that,” Cornyn continued. “These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine Flu. And now the coronavirus. So I think they have a fundamental problem. And I don’t object to geographically identifying where it’s coming from.”

You can watch footage of Cornyn’s remarks below.

Reporter: "Are you on board with the President calling this the China virus, Chinese virus. Does it seem like it's helpful right now to call it that?"

Sen. John Cornyn: "That's where it came from." read more

White House Official Calls Coronavirus “Kung Flu” In Conversation with Asian-American Reporter

A White House official reportedly used the racist term “Kung flu” while speaking to CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang, who was born in China and grew up in West Virginia. The official has not been identified.

“Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” Jiang wrote on Twitter.

This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.

— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 17, 2020 read more

Trump’s Attack on “Failing Government Schools” Reveals Religiously-Repressive, Racist, and Homophobic Attack on Public Education

In his State of the Union Address, Trump took a swipe at what he called “failing government schools.”

Most of us use the term “public school” or talk about “public education,” as we refer to institutions set up by, for, and of the people.

Trump, of course, is talking about public schools, but his choice to re-name them “government schools” is consequential. This phrase is not aimed at making public schools appear as institutions central to supporting the public good, to undergirding any hope for equality and freedom in this country, and to enabling the vast majority of Americans to access education. Rather, he makes these schools sound repressive and imprisoning, not enabling and liberating.  (And I’m not suggesting there aren’t issues of gross inequality in our public school system.)

Certainly, the phrase “government take-over” is never used positively, as when opponents of, say, universal healthcare decry a “government take-over” of the healthcare system.

In short, substituting the adjective “government” for “public” can make any institution sound like a top-down, inefficient messy operation. Sadly, these are just the connotations the word has become saddled with over time, deserved or not.

And in many cases, it is not deserved. Remember when Tea Party activists used to wave signs demanding “Keep your goddamn government hands off my medicare”?  People loved their government-run healthcare; they just didn’t know it because the right wing has trained so many Americans reflexively to hate government (even when the right wing controls it!) and automatically see it as the enemy and as inefficient.

Indeed, the world had been turned upside down for these Americans, as they protested against their own interests, railing against a government that administered the very program they wanted.

The same is true in the case of Trump referring to “failing government schools.”  The phrasing is designed to get folks on board with defunding the public schools on which most Americans depend, promising them more “choice” and better schools.

But what’s really behind Trump’s words?

Let’s listen and then unpack.  Here’s what he said Tuesday night:

“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” Trump said. “Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”

The solution is to pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, legislation proposed by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and endorsed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  This act would provide $5 billion worth of annual tax credits to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds. Families could apply for these funds to send their children to private and religious schools or potentially other kinds of vocational training or certification.

But what’s really behind this proposal? Why not actually have not just “government run” schools but schools that are actually sufficiently—and why not lavishly?—“government funded”?

We can’t separate Trump’s call for an “inclusive society” and attack on public education from his call for what he calls “religious liberty,” which is intimately linked to Attorney General William Barr’s and DeVos’s agenda of dismantling the division between church and state, imposing a right-wing Christian worldview on public institutions (or eliminating them), and de-funding the public sector.

Compare what Trump said in last Tuesday’s address to what Barr said in a speech last October at Notre Dame’s law school.

Here’s Trump:

“My administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools,” he said. “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the glory of God.” read more

Opinion: Trump’s Domestic and Foreign Policy Reveal his Genocidal Mind

The national security threats the behavior of President Donald Trump and his administration have posed to the United States have justifiably been the focus and concern of those members of congress leading the impeachment inquiry. After all, the Mueller report compellingly concluded that the Russian Government

“interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and discovered numerous points of contacts between Russia and the Trump associates leading up to, and even after, the 2016 Presidential election.  Trump’s recently discovered shenanigans in soliciting the Ukraine government to dig up dirt on his opponent Joe Biden and effectively interfere in the 2020 election. read more

Opinion: For Trump, States’ Rights are OK for Racism and Sexism, but not Saving the Planet

Last Thursday the Trump administration announced its intention to revoke California’s right to set its own auto emissions standards.

The state’s special authority to set its own standards, stricter than federal regulations, dates back to the 1960s when California was battling particularly severe air pollution. Since then, however, California has been influential in encouraging other states to follow suit in acting more urgently to protect our environment. Twelve states have adopted California’s standards, effectively establishing a near nation-wide standard.

For the Trump administration, I guess, the authority of states’ rights just extended too far.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in announcing the administration’s plans to revoke California’s special authority, asserted, “No state has the authority to opt out of the nation’s rules and no state has the right to impose its policies on everybody else in our whole country.”

She contended also that the state’s stricter standards “harms consumers and damages the American economy.”

Never mind that, even according to Forbes magazine, Chao is dead wrong in her assessment of the effects of these standards on consumers and the economy. Higher fuel costs, Forbes reports, will punish the consumer and thus the economy overall; and, of course, the increased air pollution and overall damage to the environment come with their own substantial costs. Additionally, automakers themselves have opposed these freezes in emissions standards because they threaten to make American manufacturers less competitive globally.

Indeed, according to Forbes, the revocation does not support American business overall but is consistent with Trump’s deregulatory tendency and his support for the oil industry, in this case at the expense of the overall economic and environmental health of the nation.

Chao’s erroneous and damaging assessments aside, what is also stunning about her announcement is her rejection of states’ rights in favor of the federal government’s power to exert its authority nationally.

Support for states’ rights has long been the rallying cry, the political bedrock, of right-win conservative politics, enabling them to challenge federal civil rights legislation and maintain racist practices, such as segregation, regardless of what the federal government said. For a recent example of how states’ rights doctrine, more popularly referred to as federalism, works, we can look to the

Supreme Court’s ruling read more

Opinion: Beware of Anti-Trump Republican Apostates Claiming Conservatism Isn’t Racist

Defending conservativism against charges it is an inherently racist ideology has become de rigeur among not just that sector of Republicans that has for some time sought to distinguish and distance themselves from Trump but also among more recent apostates jumping the sinking Trumpist GOP Titanic.

As Trump’s overt racism threatens to expose, or indeed has exposed, the ugly ideological core of a Republican Party that has long sought to play upon white voters’ racial anxieties and suppress the Black vote, not to mention challenging civil rights at every turn possible, of late the drumbeat has been louder in the efforts to rescue conservatism from its associations with racism.

The tactic seems to be to return the political rhetoric of Republican conservatism to the dog-whistle racism encoded in terms like “small government,” “states’ rights,” “tax cuts,” and “fiscal responsibility.”

Former congressman Joe Walsh’s recent appearance on Morning Joe exemplifies this seemingly orchestrated initiative.  Walsh rode the Tea Party wave into the House of Representatives back in 2010, campaigning with a fulsome devotion to anti-Obama birtherism and an unapologetic anti-Muslim ideology. He ardently supported Trump in 2016.

Now, of course, he has thrown his hat in the ring as a challenger to Trump in a Republican presidential primary.

Host Joe Scarborough guided Walsh through his ritualistic mea culpa, giving him the opportunity to apologize and reject his racist past and his support for Trump, to let us know he has grown. Indeed, it is precisely because he has grown, that he is seeking to right his wrongs by seeking to oust Trump.

Once it became clear Walsh had seen the error of his ways, he and Scarborough bonded over what attracted them to conservatism and Republican politics. They talked about the need for small government and fiscal responsibility, complaining about Trump’s exploding deficits and out-of-control spending.

The gymnastic rhetorical exorcism was complete. Republican politics and traditional conservatism were dispossessed of Trump—head-spinning, vomit, scary voices, and all.  That old Joe Walsh who used to pee on the carpet was gone, and real pre-Trump Republicanism was back in business.

He could now join the ranks of anti-Trump Republican apostates like MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, former communications director during the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime. Wallace claims she didn’t leave the party; the party left her by changing its core platforms, saying “This Republican Party is unrecognizable to me . . . I’m not embarrassed to share a political party with John McCain or the 41st president or 43rd president.”  Her show is also known to parade other disaffected Republicans such as David Frum, Steve Schmitt, and Charlie Sykes.

The message is the same: The conservative politics of the Republican Party and its long tradition are wholesome enough and not at all racist; it was just Trump who brought racism to the party.

In a recent column in Time titled “My Fellow Republicans Must Stand Against the Alt-Right Virus Infecting America,” David French danced a similar pattern, arguing that while the white nationalist has been thrilled by and attracted to, perhaps even enabled by, Trump’s rhetoric, that movement is separate both from Republican conservative politics and even, he argues, from Trump. Focusing on Trump, he argues, is too narrow and won’t address the real problem plaguing America, which is white nationalism. Indeed, French went even a step further than Walsh, refusing even to throw Trump under the bus. The real problem is that white nationalism has infected America, and the GOP is the victim of this same infection.

He puts a point on this argument, writing, “To be clear, the vast majority of conservative or right-leaning Americans are not racist, hate racism, and utterly reject the ideology and language of white nationalism.”

Timothy P. Carney, in a recent opinion piece in The Washington Examiner titled “It’s time to create a conservative ecosystem that doesn’t welcome racists,” opens with a similar position, arguing that Republicans aren’t racist but for some reason racists have been attracted to the party: Liberal commentators will always say conservatives are just a bunch of racists. This is a lie. But conservatives need to do a better job convincing the racists that it’s a lie.”

Republicans, he says, need to start running more candidates of color to scare racists away.

But is racism really absent from the core of conservative politics?

Consider the recent bombshell reporting on the newly-released tape of Ronald Reagan’s conversation with Richard Nixon, in which Reagan referred to African diplomats as “monkeys,” begins to make this point clear. Reagan doesn’t sound all that different from Trump, when he tells Nixon, ““Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television, as I did, to see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them — they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”  And Nixon laughs.

The only difference between Trump and Reagan here is that Reagan thinks nobody will hear the conversation, so his hateful racist attitudes can inform Republican policies in coded and unrecognized ways.

And let’s remember exactly how Republican operative Lee Atwater described the Southern Strategy he crafted to get Nixon elected in 1968 and, really, move to consolidate Republican dominance in the South moving forward to the present.

Here’s how Atwater characterized the strategy in a 1981 interview, laying bare its racist underpinnings:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “[N-word], [n-word], [n-word].” By 1968 you can’t say “[n-word]”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-word], [n-word].”  (parenthetical substitutions of “n-word” are mine.)

The exorcism, it seems, cannot be complete without dismantling the GOP and conservative ideology down its fundamental DNA.

Racism is the foundation of conservatism in the United States.

Opinion: We Can Be Better Than Sending Sick People to Certain Death

Rachel Maddow Trump deport sick kids

We can do better than sending sick people to certain death, forcing them to literally beg Emperor Trump for their lives. We can do better than taking issued student visas away because the student’s friends may have said something we don’t like.

I realize there are so many other catastrophic things, like the hurricane that devastated the Bahamas and is on its way to America. But few things are as simple and straightforward as basic compassion.

Last week, the Harvard Crimson reported a story about a freshman from another part of the world whose visa was withdrawn because of something his friends said on social media. The visa has since been reinstated,

I am glad for that. But I’m not willing to let the Trump administration off the hook that easily. That was one welcome instance where there’s a reversal.

There is no clear reversal of the policy to deport people whose medical conditions can’t be treated in their home countries. Neither of these wrongs should ever have happened in the first place. They’re both inherently cruel.

Welcome to the Trumpian version of McCarthyism, which is all part of the master plan of pandering to his white supremacist base.

Those who defend Trump by claiming he is the least racist president ever, or by pointing to the fact that Ivanka converted to Judaism after marrying Jared Kushner, are completely missing the point.

Whatever Trump’s personal beliefs, they are secondary to what his policies say about us and to the world. For the sake of argument, he could be the most enlightened person in the history of the world, but that doesn’t matter when he’s building walls to keep brown people out, passing laws to keep Muslims out, and throwing people who are sick and dying out because they have brown skin. If Trump’s policies were more consistent with the values we aspire to live by, one could be forgiven for overlooking his personal character flaws – for the good of the nation.

Yes, the idea would be to have an enlightened president with enlightened policies. But if I had to choose between a racist with enlightened policies, or an enlightened person with racist policies, I’d take the racist with enlightened policies.

While the story about the Harvard freshman was making the rounds, people who are here legally under a medical deferment program  were getting Stephen Miller-level, ice-cold letters telling them to get out of the country in 33 days or be subject to the DOJ-controlled deportation process. Many of the people in this program have cancer and other illnesses that, left untreated, will mean death. There is no escaping that fact. There is no spinning it into something about brown people wanting free stuff from hardworking white people.

The reason this group of people are here is because the life-saving treatment they are getting isn’t available in their home countries. Without that treatment, they will die. Oh, and by the way, some were invited here as research patients and what is learned from their treatment will benefit other people with the same illnesses. Other American people with the same illnesses. So enough about this being charity to the undeserving.

After negative press and outrage expressed in letters from members of Congress, the administration announced it would re-open “some requests.” Wow.

Both things illustrate how insanely cruel Trump’s immigration policies are. And while I think this is us at the moment, it doesn’t have to always be us. I also firmly believe that we can be better than this.

When we’re sending people to certain death or denying people entry to study because of their friends’ political views, it’s tempting to say that’s bad and stop the analysis there.

But, maybe because I’m an immigrant, I see these examples as mere symptoms of a much deeper problem.

We go through this every time there is a new wave of immigrants, be it the Irish during the potato famine, the Jews during World War II, people of color today.

The thing that bothers me is, if we are better than this, why do we keep making the same mistake? We go through this mindless dehumanization and inherent cruelty while patting ourselves on the back for our generosity. Or more specifically, while economic predators like Donald Trump hire undocumented workers at lower wages and under conditions that are more favorable to their profit margins, we the people blame the immigrant.

They wouldn’t come if the jobs weren’t available and the reason the jobs are available to them is because employers won’t provide the conditions that are required for Americans.

Granted, many of us get why this runs against the values that America aspires to live by, many more than those who want to be like countries that base identity on blood lines instead of ideas. But it seems that every time there is a new wave of immigrants, the same xenophobic morons come back from the dead to spew the same rhetoric before a new-found group of converts.

At the same time, one can point to the positive fact that the Trump administration appears to be walking truly horrific decisions back. But we have to keep an eye on them. It isn’t like Trump and his cronies are the most honest, compassionate people in the world. If they are reversing policy, it isn’t because they had an epiphany; it’s because of the bad press.

In the case of the Harvard student, clearly someone with a brain saw that it was wrong to judge him based on things his friends said – especially since he didn’t post anything remotely political at all. Maybe somebody pointed out that we can’t punish one person for what someone else did, and in this case, we can’t punish either party because someone allegedly expressed an opinion we don’t like.

I am happy that a wrong that never should have occurred is being put right.

But, I still have a problem with the very idea that one’s access to education is based on whether they have political opinions, and if so, if the Trump administration approves of them. Immigrants have as much right to free speech as citizens and permanent residents – under the First Amendment, and by the way, host of international human rights instruments, beginning with the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

So, I’m sorry, but freedom of speech is not and should not ever be accepted as merely a privilege for American citizens and those whose opinion have the MAGA seal of approval.

Obviously, freedom of expression does not and should not be confused with hate speech toward any group of people – including Americans. But if, for example, someone expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that should not be a basis to exclude them from entry to America – nor should it exclude all the people this person knows simply because they know the person.

On the matter of medical deferment. I was never at a loss for words until now. For any words that come to my mind don’t adequately expressed how barbaric, disgusting, inhumane and cruel this is. Without question Trump’s cancellation of medical deferment surpasses any level of cruelty that was imaginable within the context of this country – ever before. And while I’m relieved for the people whose lives may be spared as a result of reversals, again, this never should have happened.

It’s one thing to, ostensibly, wish to get rid of the “bad hombres” Trump mentions in his hate-laden speeches. No one would dispute deporting violent criminals and people whose “crimes” actually are crimes – not merely violations of civil law – which is what entering unlawfully was before Trump.

But we’re not talking about bad hombres. We’re not even talking about people who entered the country illegally. If you’re on medical deferment, you’re here legally. In some cases, your treatment is part of a study  to advance knowledge about the treatment of a disease that Americans get too.

To say it’s galling to kick this person out is the understatement of the year. And unlike Donald Trump, the people in this program have not harmed our international reputation, our national security or the planet’s existence with decisions made in a matter of days.

It’s a small program – probably less expensive than Trump’s golf weekends for a year. Under the best case scenario, some cases will be reconsidered and the program may be a shadow of its former self.

In 2020, we have an opportunity to reject this sort of decision-making that looks upon immigrants as a threat or a burden. We have to make that rejection emphatic and clear to those who made Trump’s presidency possible – here and in the Kremlin.

Understanding Trump’s Support for Israel as Part of his Racist, Anti-Semitic Agenda

President Trump, we should know by now, is the master of distraction, making it hard for the news cycle to keep up with his endless string of controversy-inspiring tweets and incendiary behaviors.  As the media gets caught up in dissecting the language and meaning of one text, he is on to something else.

It is important, though, that we preserve a memory of the catalog of hate and horrors that have occurred under and, really, been inspired by Trump’s divisive and deadly leadership so the record is clear and, more importantly, so we can comprehend and challenge the social, particularly racial, dynamics he is engineering.

As I wrote about recently in  PoliticusUsa, our conversation, particularly in the media, tends to get bogged down in argument over whether or not Trump is racist instead of describing, explaining, and understanding how racism is working—and how Trump promotes its working—in U.S. society to the detriment of the majority of Americans.

Preserving this memory is particularly important in the context of Trump’s urging of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib be barred from entering Israel as part of a congressional delegation on grounds that they are anti-Semitic.

Certainly, both have criticized Israel’s treatment of and policies toward the Palestinian people, as are many Israelis as well as Jewish people around the globe.  A critique of Israel is not in itself anti-Semitic, nor is a call for the humane treatment and even sovereignty of the Palestinian people.

And what do we make of Trump’s implicit endorsements of anti-Semitism and the general promotion of hate, often resulting in deadly violence, his peculiar brand of leadership has inspired?

Trump has been an ardent of supporter of Israel, and yet arguably a purveyor of anti-Semitism.

How do we understand what we might call this anti-Semitic brand of Zionism?

It is worth teasing out a bit the relationship between anti-Semitism and support for Zionism.

They are really not strange bedfellows at all.

Consider that the Ku Klux Klan supported the efforts of the Black activist Marcus Garvey from the 1910s and 1920s who started the Universal Negro Improvement Association and advocated for a Back to Africa movement.

Why would the KKK support a Black activist? Well, think about it, Garvey wanted Blacks to live away from whites. The call for Black sovereignty and separation, which Garvey viewed as freedom from white racism, dove-tailed nicely with the KKK’s own desire for segregation.

So, along the same lines, we can see that supporting a homeland for Jews is not inconsistent with anti-Semitism.

More to the point, however, it is crucial to understand the relationship between the theology of evangelical Christians, upon whose support Trump depends, and Zionism.

Evangelical Christians have long supported Zionism not because they have affection for Judaism and its adherents but because of their powerful belief in biblical prophecy that declares the Messiah’s second coming will and must be preceded by God’s gathering and resettling of the Jewish people in a homeland. For decades, support for Israel has been a key component of political platform of the evangelical right, as is evident in the words of prominent spokespeople such as Pat Robertson.  The Christian narrative of the Messiah’s return cannot be fulfilled without the existence of Israel.

Understanding these dynamics is important in light of Trump’s positioning himself, in his support for Israel, as the crusader against anti-Semitism, and Tlaib and Omar as anti-Semites because of their critique of Israel and expressions of support for Palestinians.

Here is where it’s important we sustain a memory of Trump’s presidency thus far.

Let’s start here:  Jews will not replace us.

We must always remember the episode in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia that witnessed white torch-carrying marchers vociferously chanting those words at a white supremacist Unite the Right rally.

It is also worth remembering President Donald Trump’s statement that among those marchers were some “very fine people,” as he refused to condemn their anti-Semitism and white supremacism overall.

Also worth remembering is Robert Bower’s October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a hate crime that took the lives of 11 Jewish worshippers.   Before this relentless and inhuman 20-minute attack on those worshipping in the synagogue, Bowers had authored a social media post ranting against the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for bringing in “invaders in that kill our people.”

Amidst the constant eruptions of new tweets from Trump and new behaviors from him and his administration, setting off renewed and repetitive discussions in the media about whether or not Trump is racist, there is risk this long line of events will recede from our memory.

Indeed, the killer in the recent mass shooting in El Paso, motivated by anti-immigrant hate, very much echoed the language of Bowers in his use of the rhetoric of “invasion” to characterize immigrants entering the United States.  Obviously, this rhetoric also very much echoes that Trump has employed since the inception of his 2016 campaign for president, which, it is now widely understood, has cultivated a fertile ground not just for overtly racist rhetoric and policy, but for overtly racist deadly violence.  While the rhetoric of El Paso shooter has been understood as influenced by Trump’s, I have not seen the connection made to Bower’s.

As we chart this pattern and put the pieces of Trump’s tweets and behaviors together, it becomes clear that Trump’s support for Israel is part and parcel of, and absolutely consistent with, his larger nativist platform manifested in his anti-immigrant policies, his overt racism as seen in his attacks on inner cities, and his calls for those he labels “others,” such as Omar and Tlaib, to go back to where they came from.

Jews will not replace us, a chant Trump refused to condemn, is consistent with chants of Immigrants will not replace us, People of color will not replace us, and so on down the line.

Let’s not forget this brief history of Trump’s racism amidst his constant distractions.


Opinion: Inciting Hatred Ought to Be an Impeachable Offense

[Where indicated, this article includes opinion by Tobias J. Grant, legal analyst at PoliticusUSA]

If a president incites one group of Americans to hate another group of Americans, it ought to be an impeachable offense. No matter what your views on the size of government may be, surely we can agree that a President must be duty bound to protect all Americans – not just the ones he likes.

When Beto O’Rourke expressed his outrage, he spoke for me. There are few times in my life when I’m willing to defer to someone else on matters close to the heart – like how we treat each other. It was Beto’s finest moment. Anyone still wondering what to say about Trump the white nationalist, domestic terrorist, should listen to Beto and take detailed notes.

But O’Rourke’s outrage conveyed emotions that have been building in me since the day Donald Trump announced his campaign with disgustingly racist comments, and with Melania Trump standing by his side.

I’m tired of skirting the issue. Donald Trump has been inciting hatred and violence against a long list of people he doesn’t like ever since. He won the Republican nomination and the Electoral College vote fanning the flames of racism and white supremacy. He intends to do it again for the 2020 election.

The fact that he can win enough votes to win the Electoral College not only disgusts anyone with any sense of decency, it is frightening if you are on that long list of people who are targeted daily by Trump and by people in his base.

We are not talking about “political correctness”. We’re talking about being able to go shopping for school supplies without getting shot by some crazed Trump supporter with a weapon of war. We’re talking about being free to worship in a church, a mosque or a synagogue without being gunned down – even though security means having armed guards in your place of worship. Armed guards, people.

Armed guards in schools, in malls, on airplanes.

Does anyone feel safer? More importantly, does anyone feel free anymore? When was the last time going to any public place didn’t involve having the requisite I.D. or an examination to make sure you aren’t carrying something that will set off the metal detector?

When was the last time you could kiss your child good-bye as they go to school without you thinking, even for a moment, this might be the last time I see my baby alive.

When was the last time you could assume your spouse would arrive home alive and well from work?

The guns are roaming free while the human beings are in prison.

So when Donald Trump spoke on the horrors that happened in El Paso and Dayton this weekend, I wasn’t expecting a healer in chief. I wasn’t expecting a statesmen who would recognize that you shouldn’t need to do a risk analysis before going to the movies or eating at a restaurant.

I was expecting the Donald Trump we got. He blamed the epidemic of mass murder on the internet, on video games, on the media and on anything but the hate for which he has been turning up the temperature for weeks.

He said some things that few would argue with, like the fact that white supremacy is an evil ideology. The thing is, Donald Trump is a white supremacist who panders to white supremacists, who support him because he’s a white supremacist. This is where I say that the logic leads to the conclusion that Donald Trump is evil.

Ok, I can hear the outrage. You can’t say that about the President! Yes, I can and more importantly, yes we must.

If we’re ever going to find our way out from this dystopian nightmare, we have to admit some basic truths and we need to do something!

Yes, of course the Senate should pass gun safety bills sent there by the House of Representatives. And yes, Trump should sign those bills into law.

But it doesn’t end there. We’re nowhere near finished doing the work that needs to be done. For as important as gun safety measures are, it is also important to admit that we have a white supremacist domestic terrorism problem. We need to designate white supremacist groups as terrorist organizations.

We must also acknowledge the man sitting in the White House is to white supremacy what Osama Bin Laden was to radical Islam! The man in the White House has given that ideology legitimacy and a voice more powerful than any other. We have to call Trump’s ideology by its name. It’s white supremacy based domestic terrorism.

Every time Donald Trump uses the office of President to attack and demonize people he doesn’t perceive as American, he is inciting domestic terrorists. If you’re on the long list of people Trump doesn’t like, you have a target on your back.

He is encouraging white terrorists to act as one of them did this past weekend. That man took his war weapon and drove 10 hours to gun down people he thought, because Donald Trump said so, are an “infestation”, an “invasion,” and come from “sh*thole countries.” He said it in tweets, speeches and even in Facebook ads.

This leads me to a question that has been on my mind since the El Paso massacre. If we can impeach a President for having a blow job and lying about it, why the hell can’t we impeach a President who incites one group of Americans to harm other groups of Americans?

Tobias J. Grant and I had a long discussion about this, knowing it was a thought exercise. The Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Russia’s help in the 2016 election and the numerous times Trump obstructed justice have been the focus of investigations that could lead to an impeachment.

But of the presidents who faced impeachment charges, none of them incited one group of Americans to hate other groups of Americans, repeatedly and leaving nothing to the imagination.

It should go without saying that when a President incites violence against any citizen, there must be more of a response than a tweet, or even a well thought out opinion piece.

So this is where I turn it over to Tobias J. Grant.

We propose that Trump’s incitement of violence is an impeachable offense. Officials, the President included, can be impeached and convicted and removed from office for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The men who wrote the Constitution didn’t say much about what exactly that means. Regardless, we can be pretty sure that if something is an ordinary crime, there’s a good chance it is impeachable. Inciting violence is a crime, but is Trump’s incitement serious enough to make him unfit to stay in office?

The answer is yes. Trump being who he is, provoking mass shootings is not ordinary incitement. For starters, his incitement falls short of his duty to faithfully execute his office. That duty includes taking care that our laws, too, are faithfully executed. Also, his crypto-white supremacy is repugnant to the principle of equality, a principle firmly and rightly ingrained in the Constitution and American political culture. Besides, heads of state are supposed to be moral leaders, to lead by example. Recent mass shooters follow Trump’s many bad examples. In Trump, faithful execution of our laws, making equality real, and moral leadership are sorely lacking. So lacking that for him, the ordinary crime of incitement to violence rises to the level of being “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Even though he doesn’t stand at the head of a mob rioting and lynching, he provides impetus for the vicious mindset that festers and festers until it finds the fatal outlet of mass shootings. For that, he deserves to be thrown out of the Oval Office.

Both of Tobias and I agree on that, and perhaps we’re the only ones who do.

I realize there are holes you can drive a Mac truck through. Without question, Republicans will object, as will anyone who considers the political reality that Mitch McConnell’s Senate is never going to convict this President.

I also know that Donald Trump’s words are inspiring to killers – too many killers. They’re gunning down synagogues. They’re sending bombs to newsrooms and to high profile Democrats,  because they criticize Donald Trump. And now they’re driving for hours to stop what Donald Trump says is an “infestation.”

Americans cannot let this stand. Maybe impeachment isn’t the answer. Maybe the answer is censure. Maybe the answer is the House merely saying it impeaches the President and doesn’t send the articles to Senate for trial. Maybe it’s something Toby and I haven’t thought of. But I know with every fiber of my being that doing nothing makes every one of us complicit in the next mass shooting.

It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid; it’s a Stupid White Supremacy Undermining the Economy

When Donald Trump tweets something patently racist, as when he tweeted the squad of four should go back where they came from or when he derided Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested mess,” media pundits can spend days debating whether or not Trump is racist.

The idea seems to be that if Trump can be declared a racist and enough people admit he is racist, somehow that settles some ongoing and open deliberation for which the national audience has been on tenterhooks awaiting a verdict—as if determining he is a racist will be a “gotcha!” moment and his 2020 chances for re-election all but annihilated.

Uh-oh! Trump’s a racist! We can’t elect him.

Ex-post facto spoiler alert: the electorate knew in 2016 what his racial attitudes were.

Instead of discussing Trump’s racial attitudes and having heated arguments about whether or not they rise to the level of racism, perhaps a more effective approach to addressing the electorate is to actually discuss in analytical ways how racism works and how racism impacts their lives in negative ways; how the racial attitudes to which Trump gives expression, if they were to inform policy, would not actually uplift the lives and economic conditions of white voters but rather worsen them.

Last October, for example, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in its 30-year blueprint for regional economic development, cited racial and ethnic inequality, particularly as manifested in African American unemployment, as the most significant obstacle to addressing Chicago’s lagging, even stalled, economic progress.  As the blueprint’s executive summary puts it, “Metropolitan Chicago simply cannot thrive when so many people and places are left behind. Despite our numerous enviable assets, we fall short of ensuring economic opportunity for all residents. Though also true of many other regions, this unfortunate reality is particularly evident here.”

While the agency presents many solutions, a key element emphasized is the need for “prioritized investments” rather than the tax cuts that many political conservatives consider crucial.

It is precisely this the type of thinking and outlook, however, which is rooted in social reality and history and which would help most to create an effective economy for all, that Trump is able to manipulate by deploying racist ideology.

CMAP is basically making the argument that a rising economic tide lifts all boats.  We hear this argument all the time from politicians who argue that tax cuts for the wealthy—or, another way off putting it, investments in the wealthy—stimulate economic growth and thus help everybody. CMAP, however, has identified the key obstacle to growth not as a lack of investment in the wealthiest among us but in a lack of investment in racial and ethnic communities, in racial and ethnic economic disparities.

Thus, what would help lift all boats is investment in communities of color, those communities have in fact endured significant disinvestment over the years.

But calls to invest in communities of color, even if that investment would benefit all, are precisely what trigger racial resentment, what some call racism, and which we need to discuss. Resorting to shorthand labels like “racist,” which lead to dismissal rather discussion, won’t help us challenge Trump’s racial attitudes and the resentments he so artfully and maniacally stirs up.

 Study upon study show us that racism and sexism are key drags upon the economy and keep us from availing ourselves as a society of all the human productivity at our disposal, productivity that could be put to use to serve our needs.

Thus, overcoming the obstacles in our thinking that prevent us from doing so is key.

In her 2016 New York Times bestseller Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, Arlie Russell Hochschild heads deep into the Louisiana bayou to understand the prevailing attitudes among white people suffering economically and why they seem to vote for conservatives who do not seem to support policies that help them economically.

Put crudely, Hochschild finds that the animating belief in this culture is that there is a line in America of those waiting their turn for economic reward, and immigrants and people of color are trying to cut in that line, aided and abetted by liberal democrats in Washington, D.C.

Call it racism. Call it racial resentment. Call it simply a powerful cultural belief.   It needs to be discussed and analyzed, not judged and dismissed.  We need to talk about how this view of the line, this sense of a need to have a rightful advantage, actually works against these whites’ well-being.

In her powerful book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson offers a powerful analysis off U.S. history from Reconstruction forward, looking at how white resentment toward African Americans, cultivated since the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, has in fact undermined both capitalism and democracy.  Among many arguments and analyses she offers, she points out how African Americans have historically been undermined through racially discriminatory and downright repressive laws and policies in their quest for economic self-sufficiency.

African American self-sufficiency and economic achievement, however, would actually help create a more productive economy for all and also make people less dependent on the state and taxpayer dollars for assistance.

But we really can’t begin to explore the ways variations of white supremacist ideology work against the interests and well-being of the majority of Americans if we don’t expand our political and social discourse beyond the making of judgments.

Our media shouldn’t be spinning wheels debating who is a racist; it needs to be engaged in educating Americans about the meaning and consequences of political positions and policies, helping them understand the dynamics off our society, and helping them think about their interests as well as the overall public good in sophisticated and rounded ways.




Beyond Disowning Trump, GOP Apostates Must Be Accountable for History of Exploiting Political Offices at People’s Expense

Joe Scarborough, former Republican but still self-proclaimed conservative host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, has hoisted himself into media and political limelights of late with his popularizing of the moniker “Moscow Mitch” for senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has refused to bring to the senate floor for a vote a bill to fund measures to protect U.S. elections from Russian interference.

Certainly, Scarborough has positioned himself as an anti-Trump crusader, critical of both Trump and a sycophantically compliant GOP. He, in fact, publicly announced his departure from the Republican Party on Stephen Colbert’s show in October 2017.

Scarborough stands with other disaffected Republicans, such as former Florida representative David Jolly, who formally left the party, and talk show host and former member of George W. Bush’s administration Nicolle Wallace.

Wallace claims she didn’t leave the party; the party left her by changing its core platforms, saying “This Republican Party is unrecognizable to me . . . I’m not embarrassed to share a political party with John McCain or the 41st president or 43rd president.”  Her show is also known to parade other disaffected Republicans such as David Frum, Steve Schmitt, and Charlie Sykes.

There is always something unsettling about these figures’ somewhat holier-than-thou turning on the GOP, disavowing its current politics and form as though they represent a sharp break, an incongruous discontinuity with the respectable and dignified GOP with which they reverently identified.  This stance of moral indignation at Trump’s cruelty, hate, and flagrant celebrations of racism and sexism, just doesn’t sit right.

It’s not just insufficient; it’s dangerously deceptive, erasing the Republican Party’s complicity in producing Trump and in promoting the divisive, repressive, self-serving, and hostile politics characteristic of the current White House.

This week’s bombshell reporting on the newly-released tape of Ronald Reagan’s conversation with Richard Nixon, in which Reagan referred to African diplomats as “monkeys,” begins to make this point clear. Reagan doesn’t sound all that different from Trump, when he tells Nixon, ““Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television, as I did, to see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them — they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”  And Nixon laughs.

The only difference between Trump and Reagan here is that Reagan thinks nobody will hear the conversation, so his hateful racist attitudes can inform Republican policies in coded and unrecognized ways.

This m.o. is, of course, the playbook of the infamous Southern Strategy, which has been insufficiently addressed and recalled by media pundits. Michael Tomasky is one of the few, penning a piece about how the Southern Strategy has returned “with a vengeance.” And Maya Wiley, in a recent segment on Hardball, invoked it to point out that Trump, even in violating the code of the Southern Strategy, represents a continuity with past Republican politics:

“So all we`re really seeing here is a continuation.  Donald Trump blew up the southern strategy when he ran for president.  Remember, the southern strategy, which Richard Nixon perfected, which was sort of wink, wink, nod, nod, we`ll use coded language, but we`ll be very polite because we don`t think racism is okay to say aloud.  So we`ll wink and we`ll nod.  He threw the wink and the nod out already in 2016.”

But we aren’t getting enough analysis of and emphasis on this linkage between past and present when it comes to demanding accountability from these now self-satisfied, even self-righteous, disaffected Republicans lamenting the loss of their dear GOP.

Let’s remember exactly how Republican operative Lee Atwater described the Southern Strategy he crafted to get Nixon elected in 1968 and, really, move to consolidate Republican dominance in the South moving forward to the present, aiding and abetting the likes of Scarborough.

Here’s how Atwater characterized the strategy in a 1981 interview, laying bare its racist underpinnings:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “[N-word], [n-word], [n-word].” By 1968 you can’t say “[n-word]”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-word], [n-word].”  (parenthetical substitutions of “n-word” are mine.)

So what did Republicans like Scarborough support? What did the George W. Bush administration, for whom Wallace served as a Communications Director, support?  They supported vigorously positions that defended states’ rights and tax cuts—the codes for defending racist policies. States’ rights, of course, are about allowing states to skirt federal enforcement particularly around civil rights issues, enabling local governments to be as racist as they like. And Atwater neatly explained the racist dimensions of tax cuts.  Scarborough was a member of the New Federalists that advocated for states’ rights, and he had been recognized by the conservative organization Americans for Tax Reform for his support for cutting taxes.

And anyone who has seen Adam McKay’s Vice, a biting satirical “documentary” of Dick Cheney’s rise to power, or Rachel Maddow’s more serious Why We Did it, documenting the complicity of the Bush administration and oil corporations in deceiving the American people to sell the invasion of Iraq, can certainly see good reason to believe that the administration in which Nicolle Wallace participated is not different from Trump’s in the way it abused the Presidency for personal enrichment or to serve the enrichment of a good old boys corporate network at the expense of the American people.

Without accountability for this past and how it has created our present, we can’t move forward in a new direction by fully recognizing the mistakes off the past.

We can’t be fooled that restoring a GOP establishment is any less racist or harmful to the people than Trump.

We might ask Wallace, given the Southern Strategy and the corporate-sponsored Iraq war, if Trump’s GOP is really so unrecognizable.

Opinion: Nothing About Our Race Problem is Left To the Imagination

Trump leaves nothing to the imagination, including our race problem .

Back in 2016, I suggested that Trump is capable of ethnic cleansing to make America “great again” and people laughed. No one is laughing now and my only regret is being right.

Nothing about our race problem is left to the imagination. As I write, children are being tortured, raped and left to sit in their own feces after their “meal” of a half thawed burrito. They live in cages like lions at the zoo. And it’s because that’s how Donald Trump perceives children with brown skin.

He describes predominantly black communities as infestations and countries governed by black people as “sh*t hole* countries. That’s the occupant of our White House. We know who he is and we knew it when millions voted for him. I’m not saying that everyone who is white is racist, but I will say that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is.

The first time Trump told us who he is was when he established a racist rental policy for his apartment buildings, and later when he took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the murder of the Central Park Five. All young black men, all exonerated of charges involving the rape of a white woman.

We knew who Donald Trump was the day he descended from that escalator, his third wife having the first of many Tammy Wynette moments. We saw the racism when he announced his candidacy and used that opportunity to call Mexicans rapists and criminals. I was horrified because I knew who Donald Trump is.

We saw it when Trump responded to Charlottesville by defending the Neo-Nazi thugs as history buffs, there to protect the historic integrity of confederate statues. There was fire in his eyes and passion in his voice when he described Nazis as very fine people. Remember his do over, where he sounded like he was reciting someone else’s words as he talked about the evils of racism. I didn’t believe him and I bet most of you didn’t either. Sure enough the fire was back when he reverted to telling us how wonderful neo-Nazis are.

We’ve suffered under Donald Trump for three years, as media pundits and his long line of surrogates apologized, spun and lied about his bigotry – trying to project it on to the people he targets, or perhaps saying it’s their fault. It’s not that different from saying a rape victim deserved it because she was wearing a mini-skirt.

We knew who he was, and I’ll tell you as much as I wanted Hillary Clinton to win in 2016. I feared that Trump would win. It’s because, America, we have a race problem.

It was evident in Trump’s rhetoric and more so in policies that included a Muslim ban, gun control in predominantly black communities, more head cracking of “trouble making” critics.

While more Americans rejected Trump, the Electoral College stepped into nullify the people’s will and put a demagogue in the White House and now we have a president who incites hatred every day from his twitter feed and with all the power of the presidency.

We never dealt with racism because while black people were beaten to death or near death fighting for the right to vote, white people were worried about the effect of recognizing their humanity on profits – and let’s be real – to the chokehold white people had on political power. Those with the least power among us, could at least point to the black man and say I’m still better off than if I was one of them.

I was a child during the civil rights era, and I looked in horror as violence was being done to black people who sought full and equal citizenship and full and equal opportunity.

And we tried to tell ourselves. They have access to “our” schools and the ballot box now. So, it’s all good. We told ourselves, we let “them” elect Barack Obama, what more do they want?

And in response to the president who rebuilt the economy that Republicans nearly destroyed, we see the smoldering embers of grievance rise up again. When Donald took Melania on their birther tour, I knew he was nuts and I’m sure my readers did too. But how many of us, had this aching feeling in our gut that Donald and his “Einstein visa” wife (I literally couldn’t type that without laughing) would persuade people for who the economy wasn’t improving. How many of those people would be convinced Obama did it, not the corporate greed that bought Republican economic policy. How many of them were convinced that Obama was bad because he bailed out the banks, but didn’t look further to see what would happen if the banks collapsed. I’m not a fan of big banks, but even if I get that if the bank holding my mortgage collapses, so does my life.

And more to the point, I do get that Republicans did this, with the Bush tax break – not Barack Obama.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that being left behind in the economic recovery from Republican policies, is in reality a useful fiction. People could shield their racism from exposure by saying the MAGA train is all about helping the people who Obama left behind.

Yeah, Trump is a bit racist, but I have to think of my future. How many people said that as they sold America’s future down the river for a few moments of seeing Trump bash the immigrant, attack John Lewis, incite violence against the Squad and blame Representative Elijah Cummings for the vermin in his son in law’s apartment complexes?

We know who he is and we know that Trump’s racism is reflected in policy. So is every other anti-American trait, such as cozying up to dictators.

Look, we’re torturing children and ending refugee status for brown people. Trump is trying for a race based immigration system, while arguing it’s about merit. He is openly attacking communities and politicians who don’t look like him from the presidential bully pulpit. If you can’t see how far we have strayed from the America we are intended to be, you are part of the problem.
2020 won’t tell us who he is. It will tell us who we are.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code Re-Defines Poverty, Racism, and Climate Change as Disasters

Trump’s controversial tweet about sending the squad of four— Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar—back to where they came from has certainly captured the media’s attention the past week, recycling seemingly endless and pointless debate about whether or not Trump is a racist

Don’t we have bigger issues of racism to address other than adjudicating if Trump is racist?

In the midst of Trump’s latest intentionally self-inspired ruckus, I viewed the documentary Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, a co-production between Kartemquin Films and Judith Helfand Productions produced by Fennell Doremus,in its Chicago premiere as it makes it ways across the nation.

While it might be ironic to say the film offers a breath of fresh air in this political climate, given the film in part treats a deadly heat wave that struck Chicago in the summer of 1995, Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, directed by Judith Helfand, does in fact offer fresh and vital perspectives for understanding and addressing racism, poverty, and climate change, doing so by asking us to re-think how we define, respond to, and seek to prevent disasters in our nation.

Helfand’s brilliance in Cooked: Survival by Zip Code is precisely the way she shifts and re-orients our entire social mentality and approach to thinking about racism, poverty, and disaster. She asks us to think about and re-define racism and poverty as, indeed, disasters.

The film argues that if we devoted as much political will as well as social energy and resources to addressing poverty and racism as we do to preparing for so-called “natural” disasters, those disasters would inflict much less devastation on human lives and, more importantly, the quality of human life and the humanity of our culture overall would be exponentially increased for the better. Indeed, we could effectively eliminate poverty and racial disparities, if not racism itself, through more socially conscious, thoughtful, and intentional use of resources.

Opening with Helfand’s personal and family experiences preparing for Hurricane Sandy, underscoring the financial resources individuals require to prepare for a natural disaster, the film moves quickly into the heat wave that struck Chicago in the summer of 1995, accounting for deaths of 739 residents.

Her representation of the disaster and city’s response puts in stark relief the film’s perspective, provoking us to re-think conventional, yet deeply embedded, ways of thinking about death and disaster.

At one point, we see Mayor Richard Daley speaking at press briefing on the heat wave, and we hear him give an update on the number of “nonviolent” deaths resulting from the heat.

Helfand, of course, pressures this characterization of these deaths as “nonviolent,” as the film demonstrates that many of these deaths weren’t so much the result of heat but of poverty and racism; and Helfand moves us to understand poverty and the effects of racism as preventable forms of violence. (On leaving the theater, I was able to pick up a postcard to send to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, asking her to declare a racism a disaster; declaring an event or phenomenon a disaster can qualify a city to receive funding to address the damage done.)

The film expands its scope to provide detailed analyses of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, particularly those inhabited by people of color, to highlight the racial disparities at work in the city. We see neighborhoods that have little access to healthy food (sometimes called “food deserts”) or healthcare, or that don’t receive the same upkeep and services from the city such that they become havens for crime and unsafe. We learn about the racist effects of redlining that prevented African Americans from owning and keeping up homes to create stable neighborhoods.  The lack of safety in neighborhoods prevented people from opening windows and going outside during the heat wave, and the lack of an overall healthy environment weakens a body’s ability to withstand the impact of intense heat.

In contrast to these representations of poverty and racial disparities, Helfand documents how resources are used to respond to and prepare for disasters. For example, in one scene she depicts how Chicago had to rent several enormous refrigerated trucks to store all the corpses during the heat wave, while the living received little help from the city to cope with the heat, highlighting the ridiculously inhumane and racist devaluation of life, particularly Black lives, evident in the way social resources are allocated. This point is compounded in a later moment when Helfand attends an event celebrating a nearby city’s receipt of a grant to prepare for such future disaster.  She provides images of enormous vehicles that cost millions of dollars, including vehicles to refrigerate corpses (that one person interviewed calls “victim containment units”), underscoring the illogical use of resources to deal with the effects of a disaster rather than address the present disaster of poverty and racism.

Indeed, in one scene, we learn that Chicago received a $250,000 grant to deal with tornado relief, even though over the past six decades the Chicago area averages one death per year due to tornadoes (30 years ago a tornado hit a southwest suburb causing 60 deaths). The film compares this number to the 3200 African America women who die of breast cancer in this region annually, highlighting the horror of our priorities and, again, the inefficient and inhumane allocation of resources.

She also highlights the millions of dollars the government spends to prepare for a Midwestern earthquake along the New Madrid fault line extending from Illinois, though Kentucky and southward.

Throughout, Helfand attends conventions for the burgeoning disaster-preparedness industry. As she asks people if they’ve ever thought about poverty as a disaster, we see that people just haven’t thought about it, largely because our cultural narratives condition us to blame individuals for poverty, not larger structural or systemic processes.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code urges us to rethink poverty, to re-define disaster, and to explore—and insist on—allocating resources to support all lives, to challenge racism and its effects, and really deal with these everyday disasters we have not had the mentality to yet define and address as disasters.



Rampant Misogyny and Racism Challenge the Working of Our Representational Democracy

In the first round of Democratic primary debates, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke up strongly not just in favor of women’s democratic rights but in favor of the necessity of having women representing themselves both on the political stage and in the proverbial political back room in advocating for their own interests.

The second part of Gillibrand’s insistence, that it’s not just that women’s interests need representation but that women need to be the ones representing them, reinvigorates an important challenge to our representational democracy, highlighting a tension that has historically vexed—and continues to vex—our system: how effectively can representatives really advocate for the multiple constituencies they supposedly represent? And can they even adequately understand them?

Trump’s Presidency makes this crisis of representational democracy clear with a vengeance, as his approach to “governance” of seeing winners and losers already signifies that he is not out to advocate for the best interests of all but to defeat those he categorizes as his opponents.  He doesn’t even exercise the typical political courtesy in pretending that he views his policies as best for all in the nation; he has been fairly clear that he seeks to play to and represent only his “United Base of America.”

But the content of Trump’s character, its thorough-going racism and misogyny, has for the most part always been pretty evident.  He hasn’t hidden it; rather, he has celebrated it, making it his chief campaign platform.

Gillibrand’s position makes us wonder in deeper and subtler ways if we are at a moment yet when we can rely simply on the content of one’s character in choosing a leader to represent us.  I, as a white man, like to think that I have progressive views and care about equal rights and dignity for women, people of color, transgender people, gays and lesbians, disabled people, rural and urban populations, and so forth.

But is content of character enough to represent the interests and understand the experiences of such diverse and different constituencies, especially when we’ve seen in the past few days the remarkable lack of agreement on whether or not telling a group of American citizens to go back where they came from constitutes racism?  And especially when we know that bias and prejudice are often, perhaps mostly, not consciously recognized. Nobody, even Klansmen, really thinks they are racist or sexist.

The power of Gillibrand’s debate commentary lay precisely in the fact that she addressed not what happens in the open but what happens behind closed doors in those smoke-filled rooms with men wielding big cigars.

When the issue of abortion rights came up, she took control of the microphone. “I want to talk directly to America’s women and to men who love them,” she said. “When the door is closed and negotiations are made, there are conversations about women’s rights, and compromises have been made on our backs. That’s how we got to the Hyde Amendment,” she elaborated, referring the amendment which bans federal funding for most abortions.

“When we beat President Trump and Mitch McConnell walks into the Oval Office to do negotiations, who do you want when that door closes to fight for women’s rights?” she asked. “I have been the fiercest advocate for Roe v. Wade, and I promise you when that door closes, I will guarantee your reproductive rights no matter what.”

When that door closes . . .

These closed doors take many forms, including the closed doors in our minds which blind us to our own biases and prejudices.

I am reminded of the words of the mid-19th-century American writer Sarah Margaret Fuller, a proponent of women’s rights and suffrage.  In her work Women in the Nineteenth Century, she speaks directly to the need for women’s voting rights precisely because of this problem of representation I’m addressing.

She writes,

As to men’s representing women fairly at present, while we hear from men who owe to their wives not only all that is comfortable or graceful, but all that is wise in the arrangement of their lives, the frequent remark, “You cannot reason with a woman,”—when from those of delicacy, nobleness, and poetic culture, falls the contemptuous phrase “women and children,” and that in no light sally of the hour, but in works intended to give permanent statement of the best experiences—when not one man, in the million, shall I say? No, not one in the hundred million, can rise above the belief that Woman was made for man,–when such traits as these are daily forced upon the attention, can we feel that Man will always do justice to the interests of Woman?

Fuller’s answer, of course, is “no.”  And she highlights how views that demean and infantilize women are built into our language and deeply embedded in our cultural assumptions such that men don’t even recognize them.

Trump’s overt racism, doing away with the racist coding Lee Atwater coded when devising the Southern Strategy to consolidate Republican power by concealing the racist dynamics of policies and campaign strategies, shows us to some extent what lurks behind the closed doors of the dominant cultural and political mind in America.

But there’s more for us to see and understand in terms of the prevalence of misogynistic and racist dynamics at work in U.S. culture and society which highlight an abiding crisis in our representational democracy, one Fuller pointed out a century and a half ago.

Gillbrand urges us to see that it’s not just the content of our characters that matters; it’s also the bodies that house that content and that shape the content as well which matter.

The diversity of Democratic candidates gives us a chance to reflect more deeply, wisely, and carefully about how best to represent the interests of all in our faltering democracy in need of repair.


Opinion: Patriotism Means Rejecting Trump’s Sh*t hole Vision for America

Trump citizenship question

The most patriotic thing an American can do is reject Donald Trump’s sh*t hole “vision” for America. It’s not because Donald Trump proposed it. It’s because his “vision” consistently brought war and political instability every time it was tried by ordinary countries in history who were trying to achieve the exceptionalism that America already has. Exceptionalism doesn’t mean perfection.

The founding fathers realized that. It’s why the Constitution includes the right to seek redress of grievances from the government.

Anyone who is an immigrant and has engaged in the political process of their chosen country has heard someone tell them to “go back to wherever it is you came from.” Typically, the people who say this envision a country that is racially uniform, practices the same religion and has a monolithic voice. It even eats meatloaf every Monday, and does its laundry on Tuesdays. Of course, that country never did exist, but that doesn’t stop cons like Donald Trump from promising a “return” to that country.

In the end, people of this mentality will tell any immigrant, regardless of their skin color, to go back to where they came from if they propose actually making the American dream possible. I know it, because I’m a Jewish, white immigrant and people have said it to me. Between you and me, they are such snowflakes!
I understand the privilege aspect of my identity. My skin color gives me privileges that are denied to American citizens who have more pigment in their skin than I do. This troubles me. We saw how ugly privilege makes us when Donald Trump said of four American citizens that they should “go back to where they came from.”

I also live in the world of the immigrant. Anyone who knows I wasn’t born here and reads my articles or discusses politics with me will often say, if you don’t like it why don’t you go back to where you came from,

I don’t owe them answers just as the Squad doesn’t owe Donald Trump an explanation. They do owe it to their district to represent their wishes and fight for their rights.

And no, I’m not going anywhere. I have a right to call out corruption. I have a right to call Trump a stupid, racist and misogynistic gas bag. The Constitution says so. I listen to the Constitution, not Donald Trump.

As someone wise pointed out, when I walk down the street, I can “pass” as a “real” American. I’m also someone with a platform. That means I have to use my voice responsibly in defense of people who are often targeted and blamed for the world’s problems. I also have an obligation to call out the personal failings of Donald Trump and his supporters.

I’m not here to detract from the fact that immigrants who are people of color get treated especially badly by those for whom assimilation really means accept being treated worse than we would treat animals and shut up.

I am here to unequivocally condemn Donald Trump and the sh*t hole vision he has for this country. But I’m also here to say that we don’t solve anything by asking why white people aren’t put in cages when the objective is to condemn putting any human being in a cage.

The America we want, the one that is multicultural, multi-racial and democratic is still an aspiration. But we won’t get there by discouraging participation in the work of solving our problems and of improving life for everyone who lives here.

Unlike most people who adopted America as their home, I have a platform to defend the America that really is great. It’s the America in which everyone has the right to free speech and redress of grievances under the Constitution.

There are no qualifiers restricting those rights to Mayflower Americans, Americans who were born here or even recently naturalized American citizens. Those rights belong to every person who lives in America.
So when Mr. Trump resorts to the ancient trope of telling critics to “go back where they came from,” if that really is his logic, he (and his Slovenian born third wife) should go with it.

If Melania is so unhappy with an America that elected Barack Obama, no one is stopping her from going back to Slovenia where the majority decide what, if any, civil rights the minorities in their population are allowed to have. Back in 2015, Slovenians rejected marriage equality by referendum. They’d probably like Trump’s way of seeing things on other minorities. In America, though, marriage equality is a right because the Constitution says so. It’s not a privilege to be bestowed on same sex couples only if the majority population votes for it.

Both appear to be unhappy with the America most of us embrace. They are rich, (thanks to the America they think isn’t that great) and could live very well in Russia, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else they may wish to live.

Most of America rejected Trump’s sh*t hole “vision” for America that literally takes the worse moments of world history and the worse political models and wraps them up into one Trumpy horror picture show.

But now, I ask myself and everyone who shares my sentiments regarding the Trumps, have we solved anything? Has telling people who point to things we could improve on to “go back to where they came from” given a single mother a better paying job or, if needed, the skills to make doing that job possible? Is college more affordable? Is healthcare more accessible? Have we stopped climate change, the epidemic of gun violence or the corruption that the Trumps exploit every day?

Are we any closer to seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns? Are we any closer to stopping the war Russia wages on our democracy every day? Are we any closer to getting Republicans to either grow spines or get out so that someone with a spine can replace them?

Americans want answers to these and many more questions. Americans want government to solve these problems and many more. Whether those Americans were born here or somewhere else, citizens or residents, every one of us has a Constitutional right to demand the government that works for us, do its job. Mr. Trump still doesn’t understand that as president of the United States, he is employed by every one of us. We’re the ones who get to make demands and judge his performance. He doesn’t have a right to say that

Americans who oppose his policies have to leave. That may be how it works in the countries he admires; that’s not how it works in America.

We don’t have to agree with the Squad on anything else, but we owe it to them and to America to defend their right to speak out and work to represent the hopes and aspirations of the people in their districts. We also owe it to the America that is based on ideas – not bloodlines.

By Trump’s belief system, when Europe sent us Donald and Melania Trump, it’s very clear it didn’t send us its best people. It sent us people with the problems of narcissism, racism, misogyny, greed, laziness and corruption.

It sent us people who hate America because it is a country of ideas. They want a country of bloodlines. The Trumps think they have a right to reduce us to the very thing that makes other countries ordinary. By Trump’s logic, Germany is his country. Trump’s country caused two world wars and Melania’s country was on the sidelines of the worst genocide in Europe since World War II. She knew what ideas made that genocide possible and she brought them with her when she immigrated to America.

Loving America means wanting it to do better than Germany did under Hitler and Slovenia did when it was part of the former Yugoslavia.
It doesn’t mean telling Americans to “go back to where they came from” no matter where they came from or how recently.

Those of us who look like we can “pass” as “real Americans” owe our country better than silence when Donald Trump reaches into his bag of racist tropes to attack any member of Congress, indeed any citizen or resident.
In fact, we owe what so many demand of all Muslims when one Muslim commits a terrorist act.

We must condemn white supremacy and those who advocate it. We must stand up with the people they target. We must condemn misogyny and those who defend it. We owe it to ourselves, to the America that is great, to stand with those who they target.

We must condemn those who hate the fact that our diversity is our strength. And we must stand together in opposition to their sh*t hole “vision” for America that replaces exceptionalism with an ordinary failing state.

Playing upon American Hatred of Working Class, Trump Can’t Represent Workers’ Interests

In a tweet last March, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to the elitist assaults on her that attempt to diminish and discredit her intellect and governing abilities based on her working-class roots and identity:
“I find it revealing when people mock where I come from, & say they’re going to ‘send me back to waitressing,’ as if that’s bad or shameful. It’s as though they think being a member of Congress makes you intrinsically ‘better’ than a waitress.”

Ocasio-Cortez here addresses a much larger tendency in U.S. culture, one which, as a culture and society, we talk about much less than, say, we do racism or sexism. Don’t get me wrong, the practices and ideologies that devalue and attribute inferiority to people on the basis of skin color and sex are alive and all-too-well in U.S. life, deeply ingrained in both our institutions and, frankly, in the minds of many.

But we do talk about it as a culture, even if not enough and not in the most productive ways. And these practices and ideologies are subject to scrutiny and redress in the legislative arena, even if that legislation is highly contested and thus far grossly insufficient to remedy and combat the deeply-rooted prejudices, indeed hatred, informing social and economic practices of discriminating against women and people of color.

And a good number of Americans, whether or not they fully walk the walk, agree that racism and sexism have no place in a society that aspires to an egalitarian ideal.

Much less questioned is the practice of devaluing people, economically and culturally, based on what, occupationally speaking, they do in the world. Few challenge whether the burger-flipper at McDonald’s deserves as much pay—is worth as much—as the CEO, whether the school custodian deserves as much as the principal, whether the postal carrier or grocery store clerk deserves as much as a lawyer or doctor, and so on. Because of our nation’s dominant belief in meritocracy, these inequities make sense, even though McDonald’s could not produce wealth without the burger-flippers and the school could not run without the custodian.

And these economic valuations carry with them social and cultural valuations of people as well. On the whole, U.S. culture looks down on the working class, attributing inferior intellectual ability and simply less importance to working-class people.

Obviously, sexism and racism play a role here too. Women’s work and women workers have historically been devalued because women have been seen as physically and intellectually inferior; and people of color, obviously, have been labeled as intellectually inferior and often less than human and thus undeserving.

Ocasio-Cortez, though, is taking on this less-talked about form of supremacist or hierarchical thinking, which at times is referred to as “classism,” an “ism” of which she is often the victim in her congressional seat.

Donald Trump, for example, recently attacked the Green New Deal she proposed as “the craziest thing.” But look at how he presented it, linking it to her previous employment: “The Green New Deal, done by a young bartender, 29 years old. A young bartender, wonderful young woman.”

He doesn’t assess the Green New Deal on its merits. And he certainly doesn’t assess Ocasio-Cortez on the content of her character and intellect, which is formidable.

Rather, he dismisses the ideas based on her working-class identity and history, as do others.

She is just a waitress, just a bartender. Therefore, her ideas must have no worth because “those people” are less intellectually able.

Addressing this discrimination, this hatred, really, is important for challenging the anti-egalitarian elements of U.S. culture.

I’m brought back to Kurt Vonnegut’s classic 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five, as Vonnegut really puts his finger on this damaging ideological hate—and self-hatred—animating U.S. politics and culture. His character Howard Campbell, an American who has become a Nazi propagandist, writes a monograph about American culture, in which he diagnoses the hatred of those who make less money—a hatred that is also internalized. The monograph reads:

America is the wealthiest nation on earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand—glued to a popsicle stick and flying from the cash register. read more

Opinion: Trump Immigration Policy Is a Reality Horror Show

In Donald Trump’s world, immigrants provide two essential services:  as free or nearly free labor and as a political piñata.

Of the long list of people and groups of people Trump hates, immigrants have had the most exposure to Trump’s authoritarian aspirations.

By his own admission, Trump’s immigration “policy” is about deterring asylum-seekers in particular because in Trump’s world, asylum is just a con-job. But the horrors are not limited to asylum seekers, as we see due process under attack in immigration courts. This should matter to every American, because once due process is weakened for one group of people, the precedent is there to weaken them for everyone else.

I can only say thank God that when my mother was a refugee in World War II she was greeted by a more compassionate government in a more humane country than the one Trump is trying to create.  Still, when I look at Trump’s horrific and dehumanizing immigration policies, it feels personal.

Just this past week, we learned about the result of Trump’s efforts to criminalize asylum. Migrants being “warehoused” in a garage  and under a bridge  because the influx is well beyond the ability to provide acceptable shelter.

The images of children behind barbed wire, in cages, and in prison speak more to the barbarity of Trump’s immigration policy than words can adequately describe.

Despite that and Trump’s hate inciting rhetoric about anyone who isn’t white, who wasn’t born here, or both, people from Central America would prefer everything he can dish out over what they left.  Trump’s policies designed to terrorize and deter are an abject failure, as more people are crossing the southern border than for quite some time.

And newsflash, Mr. President:  even if you could close the border this week  — which you can’t — and even if you could get someone to throw money away on your vanity wall, neither of these will stop people from seeking asylum.  Moreover, threatening to cut aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador will only make the problem you created worse.

You’ll never know the horrors these people experienced at the hands of their own government and to some degree as a result of U.S. policy.  Thankfully neither do I.

In the case of parents, it’s selflessness – a concept you’ll never understand – that drives them to endure that long journey and every cheap, inhumane jab you can dish out.  Parents do this in an attempt to take their children to safety from something far more traumatic than transferring from one private school to another in the middle of the school year.  As someone who dishonestly blames parents for the neglect by his own agencies that resulted in deaths, you wouldn’t know courage if it served you a big Mac.

The story of one of Donald Trump’s employees  being deported to Romania shows that regardless of legal status, immigrants’ legal rights are under constant assault.  He is being deported because decades ago he was convicted of a crime in absentia.

It’s a sad statement not only because of how Trump can so easily dispense with loyal employees, but also because America used to frown on the violation of a most basic right known in every democratic country: the right to be tried in person and to put on a defense.

It’s a long standing principle under our law, as reflected in an 1884 ruling by the Supreme Court and reiterated by an Arizona court in 2004.

In Hopt v. Utah  the Supreme Court said,

“The legislature has deemed it essential to the protection of one whose life or liberty is involved in a prosecution for felony, that he shall be personally present at the trial, that is, at every stage of the trial when his substantial rights may be affected by the proceedings against him. If he be deprived of his life or liberty without being so present, such deprivation would be without that due process of law required by the Constitution.”

In the 2004 ruling in State v. Whitley,  the Arizona Court of appeals held:

“A voluntary waiver of the right to be present requires true freedom of choice. A trial court may infer that a defendant’s absence from trial is voluntary and constitutes a waiver if a defendant had personal knowledge of the time of the proceeding, the right to be present, and had received a warning that the proceeding would take place in their absence if they failed to appear.” (My bold italics)

Things were bad enough before Trump, with a broken immigration system and the elimination of legal rights for immigrants in general. Other rights like the right to counsel  and children having an adult represent their rights did not apply before Trump took a sledge hammer to immigration policy. Before Trump,

children were left to defend themselves read more

Anti-Worker Venom also Fueled the Government Shutdown

Though the U.S. government has opened for business again, it is worthwhile to understand the anti-worker venom that perhaps motivated and certainly prolonged Trump’s Republican-backed government shutdown, which has the notoriety of being longest shutdown of the federal government in American history.

Justifiably, the lion’s share of the media coverage and political debate around the shutdown has focused on Trump’s anti-immigrant racism embodied in his obsessive insistence on, desire for, funding to build that infamous wall, whether literal or metaphorical. This insistence he rationalizes and roots in a mythical border crisis he has rhetorically manufactured, which, saner minds show us, bears no relation to reality, as even some Republicans admit.

An undercurrent to the shutdown that has received little to no attention, however, is the anti-worker venom that fueled and even possibly played some role in motivating the shutdown. Indeed, while Trump often frames his anti-immigrant racism as support for the American working class, recycling the hackneyed argument that “illegal” immigrants drive down wages and steal jobs from “real Americans,” we actually need to understand Trump’s anti-immigrant racism as working hand in hand with his assault on the U.S. working class as a whole.

The shutdown, if we listen closely to the loudmouth Trump whisperers, reveals these links.

Certainly, there has been coverage of the way the shutdown constituted an effective assault on workers as well as workers’, and particularly unions’, responses to the injustices the shutdown perpetrated on workers, such as forcing certain groups of federal employees to work without pay. Articles have covered in detail Trump’s complete lack of concern for workers, revealed in his repeated lies that he would somehow prevent plant closings.

And certainly the callous responses from voices in the Trump administration made clear both their thorough ignorance of how the average worker lives in America, such that they couldn’t comprehend the devastating impact of the shutdown on people’s lives, as well as their complete lack of clear. This combination of ignorance and carelessness was clear in Wilbur Ross’s dismissal of people’s hardships in suggesting workers just take out loans to survive the shutdown; in Lara Trump’s assertion that the “little bit of pain” workers were enduring was worth the sacrifice for the bigger racist ideal; in the glib characterization of the shutdown by one of Trump’s economic advisor as a lovely “vacation” for workers; and in Trump’s blithe assurance that he, of course, could relate to the struggles of those going out with pay during the shutdown and that he was confident that, as always, workers would “make adjustments.”

I’m talking, though, about more than this lack of care and this severe ignorance of how the other 99% of people in America live.  I’m talking about an anti-worker venom that enabled and perpetuated the shutdown and the suffering.

This anti-worker fuel and possible motivation for the shutdown became clear when self-proclaimed Trump whisperer Ann Coulter revealed in a recent interview the content of some of her conversations with Trump and her attitudes about federal workers.  In this interview with Michael Moynihan of Vice News, Coulter insisted, “I’ve been advising the President on twitter, in columns, in conversations you don’t get to know about since his election.”

More interesting than her revelations about her advisory role to the presidency were her comments about shutdown.  She declared it ridiculous that Democrats would hold up funding the government “while they’re weeping for the federal employees with much better benefits, retirement plans, and vacation and sick leave than anyone watching this program.”

Hmmm. The seeping out and stoking of this type of resentment toward well-remunerated workers suggests another layer and another method behind the madness of the government shutdown besides the substantial anti-immigrant racism of the insistence on a wall.

Sure, it’s plausible that Coulter just doesn’t want to miss the opportunity a good crisis presents to resurrect the stale rhetoric of demonizing public sector workers as a way of speciously dividing workers as a whole, making it seem like fat-cat government workers are responsible for other workers’ substandard wages and benefits and not an exploitive ruling class. (Of course, just to be clear, we all know from the many testimonials from federal employees waiting in breadlines, facing evictions, and otherwise living paycheck to paycheck, that Coulter is peddling the well-worn myth of the fat-cat public sector employee, not a reality.)

But consider that last December, shortly after the shutdown commenced, Trump issued an executive order freezing pay increases for federal workers, claiming the government could not afford it, despite the fact the government could afford a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans, not to mention the $11 billion the shutdown cost, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

This executive order seemed like salt on the wound, like an oddly-timed piling on.  And while reported in the media, the story was quickly swallowed up by coverage of the stand-off over funding the wall.  We should keep this in mind when considering Coulter’s January 16 interview and her advice to Trump to stay the course and focus on immigration. “As long as people are talking about immigration, you’re winning,” she addressed Trump in the interview.

Analyzing the shutdown and Trump’s freezing of federal employee wages through the lens of Coulter’s interview, we have reason to believe the shutdown wasn’t just about the wall and anti-immigrant racism; it was also likely about Trump’s larger agenda  of assaulting workers by attempting to destroy gains made in the passage of the Affordable Care Act to ensure working Americans could access health care, by undermining unions by appointing Supreme Court Justices who would eliminate declare fair-share dues unconstitutional, by opposing federal minimum wage standards, and more.

This is what the persistent attack on public sector workers has been about. Think about Coulter’s rhetoric.  She pretends to side with non-governmental worker, bemoaning that the federal employees reap so much more than they do.  Notice that she doesn’t encourage non-government workers to realize they deserve decent healthcare and benefits, a vacation, and a dignified retirement and to demand this justice for all workers. Rather, she urges these workers to resent federal employees, to see them, and hence all workers, as undeserving of humane remuneration, benefits, and basic dignity.

She invokes the strategy popularized by former Republican Governors Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Mitch Daniels (Indiana) of blaming public sector workers and their wages and benefits for the woes other workers are suffering and for austere state budgets.  This mantra was their rhetorical sledgehammer for attacking workers’ rights and power.

Daniels, for example, called state workers “the new privileged class,” and on his first day in office in 2006 rescinded their collective bargaining rights.

To justify gutting the bargaining rights of state employees to the public back in 2011,

Walker read more

Majority of Americans Think Trump Encourages White Supremacists

Presidents are supposed to unify our country and bring Americans together for a common purpose. But the majority of people believe we currently have a president who fosters division and promotes white supremacy, according to a new poll.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll published Monday found that 54 percent of respondents think Trump’s decisions and behavior as president have encouraged members of white supremacist groups.

This is compared to 39 percent who say Trump’s behavior has had no effect and five percent who say he has discouraged these groups.

More than two-thirds of black Americans (72 percent) and Hispanic Americans (68 percent) say Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups. White Americans, however, are less likely (45 percent) to hold this view.

Whites with a college degree are much more likely than whites without a degree to say Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups (58 percent vs. 38 percent).   

The poll also found that a large majority of Americans do not approve of the president. According to the poll:

Across a wide array of measures, a majority of Americans disapprove of the president and his conduct in office. read more

How the GOP Is Using Racism, Bigotry and Fear to Try To Win the Midterms

It is very clear that all Republicans, but especially President Donald Trump, are growing increasingly desperate as the midterm elections grow near.

While they had initially planned to base their November campaigns on the great economy and the wonderful benefits of their tax plan, they have discovered that those ideas aren’t working.

Most American voters know that neither the economy nor the tax plan benefit them, but instead benefit big corporations and the super-rich.

This has left Republican candidates grasping at straws to find issues and messages that resonate with swing voters. And what they are left with is their main fallback issue: racism. 

The GOP has met with great success when they use racism, bigotry and fear to motivate voters. Because of this they have been able to sell average Americans on their programs which actually hurt average Americans economically.

The most recent example of this is the great danger (according to Trump) that Americans are facing from the “army” of migrants who have left Central America in a caravan, heading to invade the United States. If you listen to Trump and others on the right-wing you’d think that a few thousand poor refugees were threatening the very safety of the United States, with its 325 million people and a $20 trillion economy.

Trump has been tweeting about the dangers of the caravan almost nonstop. And he has been blaming Democrats for everything, and saying they need to pass new immigration laws. Of course he is ignoring the fact that the entire federal government — and two-thirds of state governments — are controlled by Republicans.

One tweet this morning illustrates Trump’s approach, and shows that he thinks race-based fear will help the GOP in this year’s elections:

“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.”

Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally. read more

Opinion: Either Americans Unite Against Trump or Divided We Will All Fall

Trump hugs American flag

Trump has cleverly enlisted the help of closeted bigots who gleefully embrace his Jim Crow idealism and ushered them into the light. Racism is now front and center in our country, and the maestro of this mayhem is the President of the United States of America. However, if our fate as a country is left in the hands of Mr. Trump, these states will no longer be united and divided we will all fall.

Trump Goes On Racist Rant, Says Peacefully Protesting Black NFL Players Scare People

President Donald Trump said on Fox News's Fox & Friends that (note: mostly white) owners of National Football League teams are afraid of their (note: mostly black) players.

Claiming that he is friends with many NFL owners, Trump said, "They say, 'we are in a situation where we have to do something.' I think they're afraid of their players, you want to know the truth. And I think it's disgraceful."