Category Archives: Civil Rights

Today’s GOP: Heartless and Cruel

Today Trump gave the white supremacists something to cheer about. He has spent the last month showing America who he is. First, he cheered on the KKK and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville Virginia, declaring “there are very fine people on both sides.”  He then pardoned the racist sheriff Joe Arpaio, who puts immigrants into “concentration camps” (his own words). And now, through his racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he announces that he will end the DACA program. Sessions was giddy, practically jumping up and down in his pants, when he made the announcement. (happy that he was the one to make the announcement).

For those of you who don’t know: President Obama authorized DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in June of 2012, because the Republican controlled congress would not act—holding true to their vow to block everything President Obama proposed. So Obama did the right thing.

Many of these children were brought here by their parents when they were quite young, this is the only home they have even known. And Trump wants to deport them—to where? This is their home.

In the latest opinion poll 76% of Americans want to keep the DACA program. But 15% of Americans want to end it. This is right in line with Trump’s own 35% approval rating. Who does he care about?  His base. Who is he governing for? His base.

His whole campaign, and now presidency has been to appease the racists in this country. From the moment he came down his golden elevator in Trump Tower and announced his bid for presidency, by denouncing Mexicans as drug-dealers and rapists—he shot to the top of the Republican polls. When he announced a ban on Muslim immigrants, he went even higher in Republican polling. Now, it is true that not all Republicans are racist, but it is obviously true that some are—this is his base.  Them, and the rich. This is how they plan to “make America great again”—and it is now becoming clear what this means to them.

We were warned by people who knew Don the Con, when he was cheating his contractors and workers out of money. He told us that he was going to make health care better and cheaper—that was a con. Only 17% of Americans approved of his health care plan, and he almost succeeded in shoving it through congress. This plan would have thrown 30 million people off health care in order to slash taxes for the richest Americans.

Right in sync with his ‘reality-show presidency’—he gave congress six months to act, as long as they attach it to a bill that he wants. In other words, he wants to hold these children hostage, because this is the only way he can force his agenda.

Last week one dreamer, Alonso Guillen,  lost his life in Houston saving the lives of others. We will need undocumented immigrants to help rebuild Houston. In fact, we will need these workers to rebuild the American economy—we cannot grow the economy with a shrinking population.

These people should keep this in mind next Sunday morning when they mouth the words “Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Any one who would deport these kids are simply heartless and cruel.

What will the rest of Americans do? “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

By The Way: these dreamers pay a lot more in taxes than Trump’s entire family.

 

A Brief History of Race and Politics: from the KKK to Donald Trump

If we want to understand how we got to this point in American politics we should remind ourselves of some basic history and not deny the facts.

Yes, it was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who freed the slaves. The North won the Civil War and the South still hasn’t gotten over it. From 1864 to 1964 the majority of the White South voted Democrat. Southern Democrats were not liberal in any sense of the term– but they were anti-Republican. Their resentment over the Civil War has lasted more than a hundred years. And their battle cry has always been “the South will rise again”.

The White South’s alliance with the Democratic Party, however, began to shift in 1964. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he turned to Bill Moyers and said, “we may have just signed the South over to the Republican Party for the rest of our lifetimes”. And from 1964 to 1984 – the White South turned Red. Barry Goldwater ran against the Civil Rights Act; Richard Nixon ran his famous “Southern Strategy”; and Ronald Reagan perfected that strategy. By 1984 there were very few White Southern Democrats left– they had all become Republicans.

Today’s Republican Party is not the party of Lincoln; they are the party of anti-Lincoln. They are the party of The South. If you look at a map of the Red States and the Blue States it basically still traces the Mason-Dixon line of the Civil War. There are few exceptions.

This is not to say that all Republicans are racist. But the party has aligned itself with the racially motivated elements of the South – they have accepted them in order to maintain a conservative majority. The Republican Party has, in effect, become a ‘white power’ movement. Republicans in The House of Representatives are 98% white and 95% male. And Fox ‘news’ is already pushing for a “white turnout” in the upcoming presidential election.

“Rapists and Criminals”

The Ku Klux Klan rose up after the Civil War claiming that the newly freed black slaves were criminals who were raping white women. Their stated aim was to protect “Southern Heritage”. Their underlying aim was, of course, racism. They were America’s first and foremost terrorist organization. They are still alive today. They just don’t always were white robes.

Remember Donald Trump’s announcement speech. When he came down that “golden elevator” from on high, the first thing that he said is that Mexicans are “rapists and criminals”. And he was going to “build a wall” to keep them out. Next he went after the Muslims– calling for a ban of all Muslim immigrants to this country. He immediately shot up to number one in the Republican primary.

We have seen this happen before. And not just in our country. We should keep in mind that Adolf Hitler’s campaign slogan was “Make Germany Great Again”. The same thing that Hitler said about “the Jews”– Trump says about Mexicans and Muslims.

This is not to say that all Trump supporters are racist. But all racists are Trump supporters. They have unmasked the most insidious elements of the Republican Party. They are once again speaking out– they hate “politically correct” speech. They want to “make derogatory language great again”.

Racists are fueled by hate, and they wear their emotions on their sleeves. What, in the past, has been “dog-whistle” politics has now become a fog horn. Much of this has been the language of “States’ Rights”.

“States’ Rights” was used before the Civil War to protect slavery. “States’ Rights” was used after the Civil War to protect segregation and suppress voting rights. And “States’ Rights” are being used today to re-suppress voting rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the LGBT community.

In fact, it was the Civil Rights Act which limited the ability of “States’ Rights” to undermine Human Rights. And that is why the South has always hated it.

Trump is galvanizing the South. His rallies are an emotional hotbed, fueled by rage. He has a brand of white ethno-centric nationalism and he is now courting fundamentalist Christians. Sinclair Lewis declared that “when fascism comes to the U.S. it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross”.

Now Donald Trump is running as “the law and order” candidate. This was how Richard Nixon described himself– and look how well that turned out!
The Trump campaign knows that they cannot win-over even a small minority of the Hispanic vote.

The vast majority of African-Americans will never vote for him. Their strategy is thus to get out the white vote and suppress minority voting. Is this the democracy that we really want? To win elections by racial division and voter suppression.

That is where we are headed in American politics. No wonder so many Americans believe that our country is headed in the wrong direction.

As I said before: I am tired of remaining silent on these matters. Though I struggle with feeling that there is nothing I can do about it, I am going to be speaking out more– whether it has the desired effect or not.

 

When Nationalism Takes Hold: Brexit Should Wake Americans Up to the Reality That Trump Could Win

This is what happens when nationalism goes to the polls.

Like many Americans, I paid little attention when the British went to the polls to decide if they should leave the European Union. So what?! What did it mean to me? And, furthermore, what could I do about it? On Friday morning I woke up– Brexit was all over the news. The U.S. stock market had tanked as the Dow dropped over 600 points in one day, and many of us lost money in whatever pension or retirement account we are lucky enough to have.

I now understand what Brexit means to me.  But more importantly, I understand what it means for the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In order to understand any major political event, we must understand what motivated it. The exit vote in Britain was driven by right-wing nationalism. The white working-class was feeling left behind by globalization, and to those in Britain, globalization had a name — the European Union. In all too familiar a fashion, the British complained that immigrants were taking their jobs. In Britain these people were “Pro-Brexit,” and here in the U.S., these very same people are “Pro-Trump.”

We should take note of who has applauded this exit decision by the British voters. Vladimir Putin, Iran, and ISIS have all loudly proclaimed their support. Right-wing nationalists across Europe were cheering on Brexit, right along with Fox ‘news,’ and of course, Donald. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. But is it really that strange? All of those rejoicing have one thing in common: right-wing nationalism.

We should remember that Hitler’s campaign slogan was “Make Germany Great Again.” Hitler appealed to right-wing working class populism to create a white ethnocentric nationalism which scapegoated the Jews. Trump has simply substituted “Mexican” and “Muslim” for “Jew”– though the rest is the same. Before we dismiss this bigotry, we must remember that there were two world wars fought in Europe which were driven by right-wing nationalism.  This movement is not a joke, it’s a cancer.

Yet we should also be clear that the vote in Britain was very close: only 52 percent voted to exit the European Union, and many of them are already experiencing voter’s remorse. Since Friday there have been over 3 million signatures on a petition for another election. Whether the British citizens will get a “do-over” is unclear. But what is clear is that American voters will not get a “do-over” in our own upcoming presidential election.

Recently The Economist magazine rated a Trump election as one of the top 10 threats to our economy. More importantly, they said it was a larger threat than Britain leaving the European Union.  To repeat, however bad Brexit is going to turn out to be, Trump would be much worse. But of course, Trump voters want to “shake things up.” They want to see a major change in American politics, but given their choice of candidate, it seems that they want change even if it means change for the worse. The hardcore Trump supporters will never reconsider their choice. But moderate and liberal Americans should re-consider this entire election very carefully.

While it is true that 70% of Americans think that our country is headed in the wrong direction (and I am one of them), we should think more deeply about what we really mean when we say this.  Much of the Brexit vote was driven by populism versus the experts. The economic experts were warning that the Brexit vote could trigger a recession. But ‘the people’ thought that they knew better. They were tired of ‘the experts’ telling them what to do.

This is just another instance of the same song and dance which climate change deniers do in the face of scientific consensus. So they, along with the Brexit-ers, Donald Trump, and his supporters are rejecting what ‘the experts’ are saying. As is always the case, however, we reject the wisdom of those who know more than us at our own peril.

Britain may or may not get their do-over, but if Trump wins in November, we certainly won’t, and we will be forced to pay for our complacency for many years to come.

a note: I cannot remain silent any longer. I am greatly concerned with the direction of our country, and I also believe the Trump would be one of the greatest disasters to ever befall our nation. Over the next four months I am going to speak out to anyone who will listen– because we have to do more than merely defeat Trump, we have to discredit (crush) his entire ideology! In order to do this, we have to understand it, and what is driving it.

Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part III – Impartial Rights

What if you didn’t get to choose your parents? Well, I guess you didn’t. But, who you are born to will greatly dictate your life. Such luck seems incredibly unjust.

Lottery

We have already explored two other arguments for open borders (the greatest good for the greatest number and libertarianism). We are now at our final argument – the argument from impartial rights. I ask for your patience; this one is a bit complex, but I believe it to be by far the most important, powerful, and profound.

John Rawls thought we should think of society as a group of people who want to cooperate for mutual advantage. To ask what justice requires is to ask what sort of hypothetical contract would free and equal persons agree to as the terms of cooperation. This is our tool for figuring out what justice demands.

But contracts are apt to be unfair in favoring one of the parties because of either ignorance or a superior bargaining position. That is why, when asking what contract we would agree to, we should imagine ourselves behind the “veil of ignorance.”

Behind this veil, we do not know who we will be in the hypothetical society – so we don’t know our race, wealth, health, intelligence, religion, gender, age, etc. We could be anyone in the society we create.

Continue reading

The “Good” Slave Owner’s Hypocrisy: Betting on Animal Rights

Will there be a day when the rights of animals are taken as seriously as the rights of humans? Maybe. And if this is the case, what does this say about us?

Am I not a man and a brother

Despite going very slowly, it seems undeniable that human kind is moving towards ever expanding concern for others. Yes, there are parts of the world where this isn’t the case, but it nonetheless seems that, on the whole, we are slowly moving forward.

Just in the short history of the U.S., there was a time when only white, property owning men were recognized as full citizens of the nation. People of color, women, and the disabled had to fight long and hard for legal recognition, and unfortunately, the struggle continues for these groups to secure full and equal freedom.

Only very recently has the gay community been widely accepted into general society, though the fight for equality continues.

Struggles for recognition are ongoing, but when we compare America today with America of 200 years ago, there is an obvious expansion of our concern for our fellow human beings.

It is not only people who we are beginning to be concerned with, though. Animal rights have made slow progress, and at this point it is uncontroversial to condemn the suffering of animals. We love our pets, support organizations like the ASPCA, and react violently when we see animal abuse (although legal punishments for such abuse are still usually mere slaps on the wrist).

Continue reading

Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part II – Libertarianism

Will Rand Paul be calling for open borders? Not likely; but perhaps, as a libertarian, he should.

Rand Paul

Few of us have ever stopped to consider whether a country is justified in limiting who can enter its borders. However, it actually may be the case that justice demands open borders.

Libertarianism, a popular political movement at the moment, exemplified by much of the Republican party, actually implies that border control as we understand it is a massive violation of our rights. This is the second part of a series of blogs based on Joseph Carens’s “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.”

The foundation of libertarianism is that the state does not have any rights which an individual does not have in a situation without government. For instance, imagining a time without government, I have no right to take your property and distribute it as I see fit, so the state does not have such a right either – which is why libertarians fight against welfare programs. To redistribute property, on the libertarian account, is a violation of rights.

Continue reading