Category Archives: Civil Rights

A failure of moral leadership

Franklin D. Roosevelt on the presidency: “It is preeminently a place of moral leadership” (quoted in The New York Times, Sept. 11, 1932).

I watched an interview with Bill Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard, who said that he has “given up” on Donald Trump ever being capable of moral leadership. Donald Trump has no interest in providing moral leadership. Kristol called on Republican governors, mayors, civic and religious leaders to fill the void of moral leadership lacking from Donald Trump.

Kristol, as well as many Republican elected officials and political pundits, have been highly critical of Trump’s failure to condemn White supremacist groups for their violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.

Trump’s reticence was because these white supremacist groups are a key constituency of his base. It was a crass political calculation.

Former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke appeared at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, saying that the event represented fulfilling the promises of President Trump. David Duke: Charlottesville protests about ‘fulfilling promises of Donald Trump’.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do,” Duke said.

Trump condemned the violence on Saturday without specifically calling out white nationalist groups during a press conference Saturday afternoon. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sideson many sides,” Trump said.

Duke responded to Trump’s weak tweet on Saturday:

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It’s Not the Haters; It’s the Enablers of their Enabler

Yes, the White Supremacists in their Klan regalia, displaying Nazi symbols, are despicable. Of course we should denounce them.

But they will always be there. Their numbers will fluctuate. They will be brazen at certain times and keep to the shadows at other times. Sometimes their hatred and anger will simmer, noticeable only to those looking closely. Other times, it will boil over, in disgusting displays like what we saw in Charlottesville.

We’ll never change them. The issue is whether they will change us.

And over the course of a slow, half-century long march that has not yet reached its end, they have. Continue reading

White supremacists riot in Virginia, President Trump blames violence ‘on many sides’

I made the point a little more than a week ago that “if Ret. General John Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, really wants to right the chaos in the Trump administration, he should dismiss the nativists Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller. He will not, because Trump caters to his nativist racist base.” White nationalists making immigration policy in Trump White House.

This weekend, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascists, Neo-Confederates, Ku Klux Klan and various and sundry other white nationalist organizations — key constituencies of the Trump political base — held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the planned removal of a statute of General Robert E. Lee.

Hundred showed up for a Friday night rally with Tiki torches ablaze that called to mind images of Ku Klux Klan cross burnings in America, and Hitler propaganda rallies in Nazi Germany (really the point they were trying to make).

Alt-RightRally

The Washington Post reports on the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va.:

Chaos and violence turned to tragedy Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members — planning to stage what they described as their largest rally in decades to “take America back” — clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 others injured.

Note: If the driver had been identified as a Muslim, Trump would have been tweeting about Islamic terrorism as he watched it live on cable TV. Domestic terrorism from a white supremacist … silence.

Hours later, two state police officers died when their helicopter crashed at the outskirts of town. Officials identified them as Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., who was the pilot, and H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., who was a passenger. State police said their Bell 407 helicopter was assisting with the unrest in Charlottesville. Bates died one day before his 41st birthday; Cullen was 48.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who had declared a state of emergency in the morning, said at an evening news conference that he had a message for “all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today”:

“Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together. Think about the patriots today, the young men and women, who with wearing the cloth of our country.

“Somewhere around the globe they are putting their life in danger. They are patriots. You are not. You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. My message is clear, we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

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The GOP’s descent into authoritarianism

This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.

They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.

Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.

Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?

Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?

Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.

They actually believe Trump’s spiel

According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.

Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.

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White nationalists making immigration policy in Trump White House

Donald Trump played to nativist and racist fears in the 2016 campaign by focusing heavily on illegal immigration: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.

However, Trump’s alt-right campaign advisors, Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller, are also opposed to legal immigration.

On Wednesday, Trump, GOP senators reintroduced a bill to slash legal immigration levels (this is a modified version of a bill submitted in February that went nowhere):

Trump appeared with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) at the White House to unveil a modified version of a bill the senators first introduced in February to create a “merit-based” immigration system that would put a greater emphasis on the job skills of foreigners over their ties to family in the United States.

The legislation seeks to reduce the annual distribution of green cards awarding permanent legal residence to just over 500,000 from more than 1 million.

The bill also gives a preference to those who speak English.

The bill faces dim prospects in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and would have difficulty reaching 60 votes to fend off a filibuster. But the president’s event came as the White House sought to move past a major political defeat on repealing the Affordable Care Act by pivoting to issues that resonate with Trump’s core supporters.

White House alt-right advisor Stephen Miller attended the White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explain and defend the bill, and wound up being the story with his outrageous behavior.

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Justice finally comes for crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio

The wheels of justice turn slowly, and it often comes too late, but justice finally came for “America’s most corrupt sheriff” crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio on Monday. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guilty of criminal contempt of court:

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s own words were the linchpin in the case against him, his quotes cited more than 20 times in a federal judge’s ruling that found him guilty of criminal contempt of court.

In a verdict filed Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said evidence demonstrated Arpaio’s “flagrant disregard” for another federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups.

The sentencing phase will begin Oct. 5. Arpaio, 85, faces up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor.

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