Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Cliven Bundy is a Powder Keg, Will The GOP Light the...

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Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite GOP columnists at the Washington Post, wrote a cautionary column last Sunday asking fellow Republicans to be more careful in picking their allies.  She was of course referring to the enthusiastic backing of rancher Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle on federal land and threatened Bureau of Land Management agents with armed resistance.  At first, delighted tea partiers and their conservative fellow travelers in Congress, state governor's mansions, and on a major TV network rallied around Bundy.

But it didn't take long for Fox's Sean Hannity, Senator Rand Paul, and Governor Rick Perry to walk back their support when Bundy claimed that blacks were better off under slavery.

Although Parker handled it with a light touch, making fun of the trio of embarrassed Republicans and tried to make it seem like flawed logic for liberals to conclude that the Republican Party was racist.  No, she bravely soldiered on.  This was a failure to vet Bundy properly, and she made the call that her party needed to do a better job of choosing their friends.  That's all.  Merely a zany and embarrassing misunderstanding.  

It was a nice try from an embarrassed and decent but loyal Republican.  But as the ever perceptive Dana Milbank argued in another column on the editorial page, Republicans, while probably not all racist, should not have been at all surprised by Bundy's racism.  He pointed out the long history that the anti-government, anti-tax fringe movement has had with racism. He correctly cited their roots in the 1970s Posse Comitatus Movement and the 1990s Montana Freemen Movement, among others.  He also pointed out that Perry, especially, has "flirted with secessionists" in Texas.

Tragedy and Travesty

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A friend of mine posted four words on her FB page shortly after the Zimmerman verdict Saturday night, "Sad I'm not stunned."  

I have two children, a 39 year-old daughter and a 16 year-young son whom I have talked to about the Zimmerman case several times.  We've talked about why the police let Zimmerman go without a thorough investigation in the first place; about why there had to be pressure initiated by the community for police to do their jobs; about why this young man, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, was treated differently than my son would have been; why justice for my son would have been different.  

My son amazes me with his maturity one moment, and bewilders me with his immaturity the next.  Odd for a child this age?  Of course not, it is absolutely normal for him, passing from man-child to manhood is a slow, methodical, frustrating process. Young men at this age make coherent, sometimes brilliant decisions one moment, and mind-boggling less than prudent decisions the next.

Outrage over Mecklenburg GOP’s racist photos goes national

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Following the Washington Post's breaking news of racist photos posted by the Mecklenburg County VA GOP on Facebook - offensively targeting President Obama - outrage has spread across the Commonwealth and into the national spotlight. Last night, on the same day the story broke, the Rev. Al Sharpton covered the offensive photos on his MSNBC show PoliticsNation.

Today, following this attention and pressure from their own state party, it appears as though the Mecklenburg County Republican Party has taken down their Facebook page entirely.

“I’m Dreaming of a White President”

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Randy Newman crafts a new anthem for those other guys.

"[F]or me it's a reaction to the Republican Party, which seems to have drifted farther to the right than a major party has drifted in my lifetime in any direction," added Newman. "It seems to have become almost a radical party. The hate and . . . I don't think it'll last. That kind of thing doesn't seem to last."

Reflections on Dr King and The State of The Dream

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"We will live in peace.  We will live in peace.  We will live in peace one day.... Oh, deep in my heart I do believe we will live in peace one day." ("The last verse to We Shall Overcome," which we sang on Dr. King's birthday.

Each time I sing those words, I am moved (sometimes to tears) by the the distance yet to go juxtaposed to the promise of equality and peace. This year I am not so hopeful. It has been a year of national backsliding.  No matter what, we try to keep the dream alive. No matter what, we believe that we can make progress toward the dream.  In many was we have.  But in important other ways we have not.

We have an historic president.  But the truth is that the institutions of America have found subtle and un-subtle ways to sabotage this presidency and our national progress on race. Racism is alive and not well.  And it makes the accomplishments of this President against such constraints all the more remarkable. Lowkell has enumerated many of these accomplishments on this front page today. Nonetheless, we have substantial racism in 2012 America.

If you doubt that, you have only to look at all the institutional efforts to purport that quotas are required under Affirmative Action (they are not only not required but forbidden unless there is a court order).  Yet the myth is professed to rile white America.  You have only to look as far as Prince William County and its codified xenophobia.  You have only to look to the shrinking enrollments of African Americans in some universities or the incredibly (even staggeringly) high unemployment among African American youth.  You have only to look at our prisons and the prison industrial complex's unwillingness to move beyond the faux justice ("need" for "finality") in favor of real justice of getting the right person in criminal cases. The incarceration of so many people of color should make all Americans reflect.  My reflection brings me to the point of resolving to work in some capacity on innocence and sentencing reform projects.  They are the civil rights problems of our time.

Yes…Times Change But History Doesn’t

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There was a time in Virginia when a man named Walter Plecker, the state registrar of vital statistics, had the power to decide whether a person would be treated as a citizen or as a person who "polluted" the "racial purity" of America. There also was a time when a man who was deeply involved in the passage of the law that gave Plecker so much power had his name on a building at Radford University. Finally, justice has been done and John Powell's name will no longer grace that building.

A recent vote to strip Powell's name from Radford's arts and music building was the result of a unanimous vote of the school's board of visitors, five years after Radford history professor Richard Straw and his class discovered that John Powell wasn't merely a composer and musician but also was an important white supremacist, the man who founded the Richmond chapter of the Anglo-Saxon Club of America. Powell was instrumental in the passage of the 1924 legislation that gave Walter Plecker the authority to decide who was "undesirable," "feeble-minded," or a "mongrel."

For example, using the power of that act, Plecker reclassified all members of Virginia Indian tribes as "colored," thus excluding them from then-segregated public schools and other state institutions.

The Radford University building wasn't named for John Powell in the Twenties when racist eugenics policies were fairly common in America. Instead, it happened in 1967, the year when the state 1924 Racial Integrity Act was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia, the court case that also outlawed any state prohibition against inter-racial marriage. However, when it was in force, the Racial Integrity Act didn't simply refuse equal marriage rights to all state citizens. It resulted in actions by the state far, far worse...

What’s Behind the AZ Immigration Bill (Part 2)

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Yesterday I wrote of some of the subtext underlying the AZ bill, the Brewer role in the GOP plot to lop off millions of voters across this land.  In AZ hundreds of thousands have been wrongly purged from the voter roles, most of them brown-skinned.  Today I address some of the more obvious issues, which nonetheless bear repeating. First, let it be said, that I vigorously oppose the new Arizona immigration law.  Should it spread to other states, and to the nation at-large, it would further a human rights outrage.  This is so because it targets people by domestic law enforcement without probable cause.  Most of all, asking American citizens, legal immigrants and, yes, even undocumented persons, to produce their "papers," hearkens back to the days of Nazi Germany or the heyday of the USSR. We do not want to go there.  Combined with the 2010 Census questions honing in on Hispanic country of origin, with specificity not afforded any other ethnicity, the AZ law must seem threatening to Hispanic peoples.  The hostile climate will ill serve all Americans.

Most Americans believe some immigration reform is necessary.  That is not inherently racist.  It is how we conduct ourselves, for what reason, and what we seek to achieve that define who (and what) we are inside. How we behave and rationalize what we do forms a figurative charcoal sketch of our national character.  In one state, at least, citizens-at-large (on average--actually 73-75%) are flunking the character test.  I do not say all Arizonans do so.  Far too many fail, however.  They will tell you how horrible it is there (It isn't).  They will tell you that the death of a single rancher justifies the overarching hysteria in recent weeks.  They, even many Obama supporters, will blame President Obama, who's only been in office a little over a year, for the problems arising over three decades of neglect, as literally tunnels were built in a vast lattice-work at our southern border, even as almost everyone else has at some time been frisked/patted down in random airline searches.  They will say this new AZ immigration law is better than nothing, when in fact it is far worse.