The Watering hole, Monday, May 30, 2016: Will America Elect Yet Another Overtly Racist President?

America is far from perfect. We have achieved many great things in our history, but it has been despite our flaws, not because of them. And among the worst of our flaws is this country’s history of racism and white supremacy. Yes, not just the racism but the white supremacy, too. We on the Left post many words decrying white supremacists, but we rarely admit our country has elected many white supremacists POTUS, and they weren’t all Conservatives and/or Republicans and at least a few were Progressives and/or Democrats. As a Liberal, that bothers me. I want what’s best for everyone, and the color of one’s skin does not determine whether one is a human being or not. But there are many people, white people in particular, who feel this is not so; they feel that one’s skin color DOES determine how human one is. And sadly, these people often get elected to public office, where they are able to put their racist viewpoints into law. A President Donald J. Trump would be such a racist president.

It’s bad enough that Trump lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and lies, and, just for good measure, engages in promoting conspiracy theories. (This is not to mention the xenophobia, misogyny, birtherism and bullying tactics.) But Donald Trump’s overt racism is probably one of the least admirable things about him. And yet, it’s precisely the reason he is so admired among many of his supporters. White supremacist organizations of all kinds have been openly endorsing Trump, while he has renounced or even denounced so few of them. He had to lie (there’s no other word for it) and say he didn’t know much about David Duke, after the former KKK Grand Wizard publicly endorsed him, despite the fact that several years ago Trump publicly commented on David Duke and his association with the Klan. So why hem and haw over publicly rejecting his endorsement? Trump knew Duke was connected to the Klan. Is that not enough to say he doesn’t want Duke’s support? Why say he has to know more about him before commenting? And if Trump doesn’t want the support of white supremacists, why does he so often retweet their tweets? (He can’t claim he didn’t know when their screen name has “white genocide” in it.)

Many of Trump’s fans like him because, as they tell it, “He says what I’m thinking.” If that’s true of you, then you’re not thinking good thoughts. In fact, you’re talking like someone who wants to take us back to the 1940s and 1950s, when white men were generally (if often wrongly) perceived to be the most admired people in the country. (Are you Pat Buchanan, by any chance?) And you have a problem for which you should seek treatment. Trump appeals to people like you because he uses “Othering”, where all your problems are blamed on people who aren’t like you. In other words, people who are non-white, non-Christian, and non-American. Others. Others who can be scapegoated. It’s the very ugly secret behind Trump’s success to win the nomination of the party that, let’s be truthful here, appeals as hard as it can to low-information, low-effort-thinking, less-educated, and less-intelligent voters. People who have opinions not based on reality. Of course, as part of their juvenile “I know you are but what am I?”-style of debating, they accuse us of not being based in reality, because the way we see the world doesn’t match the way they see the world. I’m not just talking about the difference between the way Liberals and Conservatives see the world, I’m talking about people who believe so many things that are provably false. And they base their voting choice on who they think could best solve the problems of the world as they see them, meaning both their problems and the world. These people are either not very intelligent, or very afraid of something that isn’t going to happen to them. Do conservative voters in the Midwest states really believe ISIS is going to come to America and bring death and Sharia Law to them? Just because they’re taking over a country thousands of miles away from here, that doesn’t have the same history as our country, that doesn’t have the same religious makeup as ours, that wasn’t enjoying the same freedoms as ours, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen here. I mean, c’mon! I thought you folks loved our military. Have you no faith in their ability to defend us from whatever it is you imagine is going to happen to us? (And you are imagining it. It isn’t going to happen.) And whatever it is you fear is going to happen, do you really think an overtly racist president is the best choice to be commanding your military? Say what you will about Hillary Clinton (and many of you Trump supporters have been doing just that, even though much of it isn’t true, meaning grounded in the real reality), she doesn’t see our oversized military as the go-to solution where tact and diplomacy would work better. And neither does Bernie Sanders. And neither should you.

I really, really hope our country is better than to elect a crass, petulant, childish racist as our president. We deserve the consequences if we do.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 20, 2015: Blame Anything But Racism

By 1852, the State of South Carolina was fed up with the Government of the United States and voted to secede from the Union. They forbore exercising the right of secession they claimed “in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States.” That was from the first sentence of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession. They felt that Slavery was one of their “domestic institutions” and that the refusal of the Northern States to return runaway slaves, as actually required by the Constitution, constituted a breach of the agreement of the original thirteen colonies to be governed under it. So they declared their Independence in much the same manner (and at times quoting) as the Colonies did in our famous Declaration of Independence. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Nicholas Cage stole it once and pinned the theft on another guy.) There is no question that Slavery was a part of the Southern Heritage they defend to this day. And to defend Slavery is to defend the idea that some people, in particular black people, are less than human and can be treated morally and legally as property. That heritage is represented to this day by the Confederate Flag, in one form or another. (The “Stars and bars” come in various forms. One was the official National Flag, while another variation formed the Battle Flag.) To many of us, when you proudly display the Confederate Flag, you are insisting that the South was right on Slavery and the North was wrong. This is why the South has the reputation it does for being the home of racists. That does not mean, nor does anyone in the North truly believe, that everybody in the South is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. It does mean that racists can live in the South and not be bothered over their views.

So when a young white supremacist decided to callously murder nine unsuspecting, unarmed black citizens in one of the most famous landmark black churches in American history just because they were black, and for no other reason, the conversation ought to include the subject of racism, and why it is so acceptable to so many people in the South. (Whether or not examples of racism can be found in other parts of the country is completely irrelevant and beside the point. The discussion needs to be about the openly accepted racism in the South.) But conservatives are trying to divert from that topic and blame anything but racism as the reason Dylann Storm Roof killed all those people. People who hadn’t done a thing wrong to him. People who let him sit among them before he told them, “You have to go.” Once pictures of him wearing flags of the white-ruled nations of South Africa and Rhodesia went public, there was no doubt in any right-thinking person’s mind that this massacre was motivated by racial hatred. So it should come as no surprise that Conservatives reject the racism motivation and cling to their guns and bibles, to borrow a phrase.

[NOTE: FTR, what I am about to write I fully intended to write before I sat down to watch Friday night’s Bill Maher show. I didn’t get the idea from him any more than he got his idea from me.]

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” [President Obama] said at the White House. Besides the clearly displayed racism shown in the massacre, guns are another issue the Right Wing refuses to discuss openly and fairly. But we can get to what the National Rifle Association (NAMBLA) has to say another time.

And quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after four black girls were killed in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala., 52 years ago, he said the lessons of this tragedy must extend beyond one city and one church. He cited Dr. King’s words that their deaths were a demand to “substitute courage for caution,” and urging people to ask not just who did the killing but “about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

It seems Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece and Fox News Channel contributor, Alveda King, would disagree. [NOTE: Full disclosure/confession/cry-for-help. For reasons surpassing all logical thought, Alveda King decided to follow me on The Twitter. I’m guessing after I questioned her there she’ll be re-thinking that decision. Cool.] She made a truly bizarre leap of logic to conclude that the Charleston Massacre was linked to abortion. You heard me right. Abortion. Okay, maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe you heard a voice in your head you thought was mine. You should get that checked. And Alveda King should get hers checked, too. Is there something they’re serving in the green rooms at Fox that makes their contributors come out and say bat shit crazy things on live television?

There is no doubt at all that this massacre was motivated solely by racism. None. Zero. But Rick Perry cautions us to wait, we don’t have all the facts. It may turn out drugs were involved. You heard me right. Drugs. (Maybe the drugs are why you can hear me. I know that’s why I can hear you.) That’s after he “misspoke” and called the massacre an “accident”.

Sweater vest aficionado and Presidential Delusions-Filled former Senator Rick Santorum believed it was an attack on our religious liberty, even though at the time he said that it was known this was a purely race-motivated attack. US Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, currently running for First Lady, sat down with other women on The View to stress the shooting was an attack on Christianity (it most certainly was not), though he seemed to express doubts about whether or not race had anything to do with it (it most certainly did).

Fox & Friends invited Bishop E.W. Jackson who jumped to the conclusion that because this happened in a church, it’s clearly an attack on Christianity. They completely ignore the comments the killer made prior to opening fire on almost everyone in the church (reloading several times) and cold-bloodedly telling one survivor that he was letting her live so she could tell everyone what happened. Which she did. And she said he did it because they were black, and for no other reason.

Also believing the motivation was unknown, SC Gov Nikki Haley emphasized the fact that the shooting took place in a house of worship, without mentioning the racism openly displayed by the killer. NRA Board Member Charles Cotton even went so far as to blame Pastor and SC State Senator Clementa Pinckney for the dead saying his opposition to guns prevented them from being saved. The leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Rev Pinckney.

But none of these people on the right want to blame the murders on Racism. Some allow that it may or may not have been a factor (Yes. It clearly was. The killer himself said so to the person he let live so she could tell us why he did it.), but they always reach for something else to blame. And the only logical reason I can think of for why they do it, is because deep down, they don’t want to admit they feel the same way Dylann Storm Roof did. They sympathize with Roof’s racist rantings, but they can never say so publicly. Others probably will. (I’m guessing Rush Limbaugh is going to cross the line on this one sooner or later.) Because they don’t want the South’s history with Slavery and their undying support of it, their view of it as one of their domestic institutions, to come under scrutiny again.

South Carolina still proudly flies the battle flag their army followed when they killed more US Soldiers than any other army in our nation’s history. Maybe we should reconsider our decision to stop them from seceding. And they can take all those people who think racism isn’t a problem with them. The United States will recognize the birthright citizenship of any SC citizen who wishes to remain here in the states. Racists need not apply.

UPDATE: The Perry campaign insists that from the context, it’s clear Governor Perry meant to say “incident,” not “accident.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Racism or any other topic you want, in case that one is a little too uncomfortable for you.

Add Your Voice

Earlier today, Crooks and Liars reported that after Katrina, white militias in Algiers Point, Louisiana hunted down and killed and injured any black people who dared to venture into their ‘hood.

Color of Change adds:

A new report in The Nation[1] documents what many have claimed for years–for some Black New Orleanians the threat of being killed by White vigilantes in Katrina’s aftermath became a bigger threat than the storm itself.

After the storm, White vigilantes roamed Algiers Point shooting and, according to their own accounts, killing Black men at will–with no threat of a police response.

“It was great!” said one vigilante. “It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.”

The Nation’s article tells the story of Donnell Herrington, Marcel Alexander, and Chris Collins–a group of friends who were attacked by shotgun-wielding White men as they entered Algiers Point on September 1, 2005. As they tried to escape, Herrington recalls, their attackers shouted, “Get him! Get that nigger!” He managed to get away. Alexander and Collins were told that they would be allowed to live on the condition that they told other Black folks not to come to Algiers Point. Herrington, shot in the neck, barely survived.

And there’s the story of Henry Glover, who didn’t survive after being shot by an unknown assailant.[2] Glover’s brother flagged down a stranger for help, and the two men brought Glover to a police station. But instead of receiving aid, they were beaten by officers while Henry Glover bled to death in the back seat of the stranger’s car. A police officer drove off in the car soon afterward. Both Glover’s body and the car were found burnt to cinders a week later. It took DNA analysis to identify the body.

1. “Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” The Nation, 12-18-2008
http://www.colorofchange.org/link/?id=2058-152642&cat=nation&link=1

2. “Body of Evidence,” The Nation, 12-18-2008
http://www.colorofchange.org/link/?id=2058-152642&cat=nation&link=2

Take a moment and go here to voice your call for justice.  Ask that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, and the U.S. Department of Justice–to conduct a full investigation of these crimes and any police cover-up.