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It’s election season, and though three weeks is an eternity a picture of the upcoming midterms is beginning to emerge. […]

It’s election season, and though three weeks is an eternity a picture of the upcoming midterms is beginning to emerge. The Blue Wave talked about for a year, may happen, but likely only in the House of Representatives. While it’s increasingly likely that the Democrats will flip the House, it’s also likely that Republicans could increase their advantage in the Senate, according to electoral number cruncher Nate Silver.

In the New York Times, David Leonhardt makes the case that the U.S. Senate is very unrepresentative of the nation as a whole. In short, it skews rural and white:

First, the states whose populations have grown the most over time, like California, Texas, Florida and New York, are racially diverse. By contrast, the smallest states, like Wyoming, Vermont, the Dakotas and Maine, tend to be overwhelmingly white. The Senate, as a result, gives far more special treatment to whites than it once did.

The second reason is even more frustrating, but it would also be easier to fix. Right now, about four million American citizens have almost no congressional voting power, not even the diluted power of Californians or Texans. Of these four million people — these citizens denied representative democracy — more than 90 percent are black or Hispanic.

His remedy for the second problem is to grant statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico. The District of Columbia, for the entire life of the nation, has had no Senate representation. D.C., by the way, was 51 percent black as per the 2010 census. That’s down from 70 percent in 1980. Five referenda have been held on statehood in Puerto Rico, most recently in 2017. The population of the island 2015 was over 3 million people. That’s larger than 21 states. With statehood, Puerto Rico might not have suffered from the terrible rescue and recovery efforts after hurricane Maria, efforts that FEMA admits were a failure.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard some variation on the phrase, “if not for the (black vote/hispanic vote) X candidate […]

Raise your hand if you’ve heard some variation on the phrase, “if not for the (black vote/hispanic vote) X candidate would have lost.” This is usually used when a Democrat wins. It’s bad enough when you hear it from a Republican operative. But when you hear it from a supposedly neutral analyst on CNN or elsewhere, it makes you want to say, “well, should we then make Black people’s vote worth 2/3rds?”

Now comes the latest round of polling about the supremely unqualified Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh. (I’m using that descriptor based on what the ABA and 1,700 legal scholars are saying, just in case you think I’m being hyper partisan.)

In the past week since Kavanagh’s off the rails performance, we’ve been treated to several polls saying that Americans are divided on him. Well, sure, Americans are deeply divided about many things. That’s nothing new, although it appears that the chasm is getting deeper. CNN reports that 48 percent of voters say they tend to believe Ford, while 41 percent believe Kavanaugh. What they and other sources miss in covering that Quinnipiac polling was that there are deep racial divides in how people viewed Kavanaugh.

The Root noticed this omission:

Those results would reveal that 83 percent of black and 66 percent of Latinx voters believe Blasey Ford, compared to a mere 40 percent of white voters. And that 80 percent of black and 69 percent of Latinx voters considered her honest compared to just 54 percent of white voters.

This gap persists even when you isolate out white women, a demographic some pundits believed would be outraged at how Blasey Ford was treated by Senate Republicans (her testimony—deemed “credible” by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—was essentially thrown out once Kavanaugh began rage-crying).

According to the Quinnipiac poll, nearly half (47 percent) of white women considered Kavanaugh to be honest. The numbers for black and Latinx voters? Just 7 percent and 34 percent, respectively. A plurality of white women did believe Blasey Ford (46 percent)—but it was nowhere near the majority, as was the case with black and Latinx voters.

Parsing out this data matters, because if journalists don’t, they can misleadingly run with narratives like the one in a recent article from the AP, which boldly declared in the headline: “Many women line up in support for Kavanaugh.”

No. Many WHITE women line up in support for Kavanagh. Although, when you look at the actual polling, “many” white women seems to be a bit of a stretch for what is actually less than half.

Here’s another, more nuanced take on how race and gender may play out in the upcoming midterm elections, under the shadow of the Kavanagh confirmation. From the Atlantic:

For more than 40 years, college-educated white women have formed a substantive bloc for the GOP, the key constituency in establishing the party’s hold on suburbs and exurbs across the country. Indeed, the modern conservative movement was built, in part, by the very type of women who may now be fleeing the Republican Party. 

For decades, many women may have seen little difference between the two parties when it came to sexual misconduct, allowing them to prioritize other concerns. Now there’s a bright line.

On Thursday, during a break in Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, a woman called out to Senator Lindsey Graham that she had been raped in the past. “I’m so sorry,” Graham responded as he ducked into an elevator. “You needed to tell the cops.”

Such casual indifference to women’s mistreatment is visible not only in the Republicans’ endorsement of Kavanaugh, but also in the party’s general dismissal of the #MeToo movement and the president’s obvious sympathy for accused men over accusing women.

The Atlantic article focuses on white women. Because they take for granted what has been shown in poll after poll: women of color, whether young or old, married or single, are solidly against the GOP.

(photo: Zach Gibson, Getty Images)

 

 

While the discussion over immigration, legal and illegal, devolves further into a cesspool of anti-hispanic rhetoric and tantrums over building […]

While the discussion over immigration, legal and illegal, devolves further into a cesspool of anti-hispanic rhetoric and tantrums over building a wall on our southern border, a shift in who is coming to the U.S. has been in effect for a few years. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows a long-term trend is continuing: that is, more Asians are migrating to the U.S. than Hispanics.

More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. In 2016, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was India, with 126,000 people, followed by Mexico (124,000), China (121,000) and Cuba (41,000).

By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net decreasesin U.S. immigration over the past few years.

Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the U.S. by 2055, surpassing Hispanics. In 2065, Pew Research Center estimates indicate that Asians will make up some 38% of all immigrants; Hispanics, 31%; whites, 20%; and blacks, 9%.

But you don’t hear any anti-Indian or anti-Chinese rhetoric coming out of the President’s mouth or fast little twitter fingers. Not yet, anyway. And while there’s been no polling on it that we can see, it’s a safe bet that most Americans assume that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are coming from Mexico and Central America. There may be several reasons for this. First, the media, just by reporting utterances by the President (and others of his ilk) that the U.S. is being swamped by Hispanics/Latinos on the southern border, without pushing back, reinforces this myth.

And it is a myth. Perhaps it’s an undocumented issue, and far more immigrants from Mexico and Central America are undocumented than from elsewhere. Actually, no. Here, again, from Pew:

The number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border has sharply decreased over the past decade, from more than 1 million in fiscal 2006 to 408,870 in fiscal 2016. In the first two quarters of fiscal 2017, which started Oct. 1, there have been about 199,000 border patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border, compared with 186,000 for the same period in 2016. Today, more non-Mexicans than Mexicans are apprehended at the border. In fiscal 2016, the apprehensions of Central Americans at the border exceeded that of Mexicans for the second time on record.

Maybe Latino/Hispanic immigrants just have an image problem, made worse by rhetoric by the President (and others of his ilk). Because while nearly two thirds of Americans see immigrants as a boost, rather than a burden to the country, when you break down perceptions of the race of immigrants, the picture is different. From Pew:

Americans also hold more positive views of some immigrant groups than others, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center immigration report. More than four-in-ten Americans expressed mostly positive views of Asian (47%) and European immigrants (44%), yet only a quarter expressed such views of African and Latin American immigrants (26% each). Roughly half of the U.S. public said immigrants are making things better through food, music and the arts (49%), but almost equal shares said immigrants are making crime and the economy worse (50% each).

Interesting to note that Americans view immigration in general far more positively than they view any particular group of immigrants, even the most “popular” immigrant group, Asians. It would be fascinating to dig deeper into these attitudes and where they come from and how they’re reinforced.

There’s much more fascinating immigration data in the Pew report.

By now it’s clear that the current administration has whipped up fears – that were already there lurking under the […]

By now it’s clear that the current administration has whipped up fears – that were already there lurking under the surface – and, anger – about the decline of whites as a percentage of the U.S. population (and, by extension, the decline of white’s perceived cultural power). Witness that two weeks ago, just as Trump’s “fixer,” Michael Cohen, fingered his boss as an co-conspirator in a crime to get elected, the President’s fixation was about the Criminal Mexicans – his favorite refrain – coming across the border to kill white people. It just so happened that as Cohen was singing, it was learned that an undocumented worker had killed a woman in Iowa. Guess which was the top story on Fox news that week?

A New York Times opinion piece by the fantastic Thomas Edsall suggests that the rise of Trumpism came along at just the time when projections showed a declining white majority and a rising non-white population (the way these are phrased are important in how threatened people feel about these demographic changes, as it turns out).

Some of those I contacted suggested that only Trump and his fellow Republicans have the power to change the anti-immigrant, anti-minority tone of the political conversation. Nathan Kalmoe, a political scientist at Louisiana State University, argued, for example, that

“Politicians and other opinion leaders play an important role in helping citizens make sense of the threats and opportunities they face. I expect the views of many white Americans would shift if President Trump and other leaders who deploy ethnonationalist messages collectively changed their tune, at least in terms of attitude intensity and priority.”

In the highly unlikely event that that happened, “prejudices wouldn’t vanish, but they would be less politically potent for most people.” More realistically, Kalmoe wrote, “as long as prominent leaders continue to mobilize white fear and anger on the issue, citizens who trust them will follow.”

Having a leader with a more inclusive – and less incendiary – view of race and demographic changes in the U.S. would help to mitigate some of the anti-immigrant and anti-white animosity, but it wouldn’t completely erase it (Edsall doesn’t say that it would). It’s a problem we’ve been bumping up against for the entire history of what we call the U.S.

Edsall also surveys many other academics regarding demographic changes in the U.S., covering issues such as who identifies as white – a growing number of people with mixed heritage think of themselves as white – and whether the U.S. Census binary non-Hispanic white-minority division may be stoking the anxieties of whites fearful of a majority-minority America.

The bottom line is what I’ve been expressing for years: America has a race problem. What we’ve learned in the past three years is, a leader who tells white Americans “the other” coming to kill their daughters, take their jobs, take their prestige, only makes the problem worse.

Regarding the Iowa woman who was murdered, Mollie Tibbits, the family is fed up with anti-immigrant mouthpieces using her daughter’s murder to score political points, calling them “heartless and despicable” and racist. Where’s the reporting on that, Fox News?

  Photo credit Greg Nash   The U.S. Senate has lost one of its lions, and, predictably, the coverage of […]

 

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Photo credit Greg Nash

 

The U.S. Senate has lost one of its lions, and, predictably, the coverage of John McCain’s death ranges from hagiography to screed to everything in between.

That middle ground is most interesting. For those who aren’t familiar with McCain’s long Senate career, they’re surely aware of his 2008 Presidential run against Barack Obama. And a now-iconic moment involves pushing back against a racist woman who called Obama an Arab town hall.

McCain grabbed the microphone from her, cutting her off. “No, ma’am,” he said. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

He could have added, “and even if he were an Arab, or a Muslim, he’s still an honorable American, because Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans can be decent family men too.” But that’s a bit of a quibble. Especially considering how toxic the political environment has become in the past decade. And considering we have an open racist in the White House now.

You may remember the Reverend Wright controversy in the 2008 campaign. That’s where video of Obama’s longtime reverend surfaced with him saying “God damn America,” but lacked the context of why Wright said this in a sermon (Wright was denouncing America’s foreign intervention and its original sin, slavery). Campaign watchers point out that in 2008 McCain declared it verboten to mention Reverend Wright or anything about Obama’s religion. He wouldn’t play the religion card. He wouldn’t play the race card. It’s the decent and statesman-like stance to take, but can you imagine that happening in a Presidential campaign today?

But McCain had other, more complex – and some might say troubling – conflicts regarding race. During his first run for the Presidency, in 2000, the Confederate flag was a controversial issue in the pivotal South Carolina primary. At first, McCain said that the flag was a symbol of “racism and slavery,” but it up to each state to determine whether to display it or not. His rival, George W. Bush, had essentially the same position, without excoriating it as a symbol of slavery and racism. McCain lost that primary to Bush, for a variety of reasons, including a smear campaign against him suggesting he had fathered a bi-racial child. After the race, he went back to South Carolina and clarified his position and apologized for putting political interests ahead of candor.

“I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary,” the Arizona senator who named his campaign bus “The Straight Talk Express,” said at a luncheon in the state’s capital city. “So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.”

His Confederate forefathers in Mississippi, McCain said, “fought on the wrong side of American history.”“I don’t believe their service, however distinguished, needs to be commemorated in a way that offends, that deeply hurts, people whose ancestors were once denied their freedom by my ancestors,” he continued.

He didn’t have to make that statement. It didn’t gain him anything. But it shows that, when political considerations are put aside, McCain was more likely to be progressive in terms of race.

But he was a Republican, running in a state with a very conservative base (Arizona). So, sometimes politics won. Like in the 2010 primary, where he was facing a challenger from the right. He responded by releasing a TV ad blaming immigrants for home invasions and saying the U.S. needed to “complete the danged fence” on the border.

This is the same man who co-authored – with another Senate lion, the liberal Ted Kennedy – a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2005. The bill failed, scuttled by hardliners in his own party. But it remains the benchmark for immigration reform efforts, still.

We could assume that the real McCain was the bipartisan reformer he showed in the immigration bill efforts, rather than the “complete the danged fence” angry old man of 2010, at least when he didn’t have to face his base.

In 1983, as a new Congressman, he voted against making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. Years later he said he changed his position, he evolved.

So, a complicated history. But he was willing and able to admit when he was wrong. This is something that stands in stark contrast to his party today, and the leader of his party.

If you are one of the people who rolls their eyes when they see a juxtaposition of “Trump” and “reelection” […]

News-Press

If you are one of the people who rolls their eyes when they see a juxtaposition of “Trump” and “reelection” – because he can’t run for office from jail – just take a minute and consider an alternate scenario. A scenario where not only is he not sentenced for conspiracy, but also one where a majority of Americans actually like some of his policies, whether they’ll admit it or not.

Consider this op-ed from the San Francisco Chronicle, which posits that his cruel and obviously racially motivated will not deter people from voting for him in 2020, but will make them more inclined to vote for him:

As far as Trump’s Democratic and progressive opponents are concerned, they have failed to understand that as righteous as it is to attack Trump’s positions on immigration, they are playing right into his hands by engaging him on one of the few public policy issues in which public opinion is clearly to the right of the elite consensus of both parties.

If you pull together a focus group of Democratic voters and ask them to design a new immigration system from scratch, they will very likely design one far more restrictive than our current immigration system. In the Harvard/Harris poll of January 2018, 72 percent of Democratic voters support scrapping our legal immigration system and moving to one that emphasizes skills over family reunification. The poll found 31 percent of Democratic voters support cutting down legal immigration levels by more than 75 percent, from 1 million a year to fewer than 250,000 immigrants a year. And, when it comes to the infamous Trump barrier/border wall, 30 percent of Democrats (along with 54 percent of independent voters) support its construction.

The article suggests that Americans are angry at politicians of both parties for abandoning citizens while inviting in immigrants. In other words, you’ve got to put your house in order before inviting over company. The article also centers on one key poll, and as we know with polls, it all depends on how you frame the question.

For example, there is also a recent poll showing three quarters of Americans believe immigration is a net-plus to the nation.

But it’s worth considering that just as Americans are, and have been since forever, conflicted about race, we’re also conflicted about immigration, which is, of course, tied up in race. Possibly we could take a look at what’s happening in Europe. Progressives in the U.S. were shocked that Brexit passed in 2016 – in many ways it was a precursor to the (electoral college) victory of Trump. Many English people outside London still favor Brexit, though many Londoners are horrified by it.

What if this article is correct, and there are parallels in Europe? I and many of my colleagues and friends think immigration and multiculturalism are beneficial to a country’s economy and quality of life. Others do not. The question is the relative sizes of the two sides. It’s hard to get an idea of the size of each group because we all naturally surround ourselves with people who share our views. And, it is difficult to tell how many Americans hide their true anti-immigrant feelings because they feel that their viewpoints are not acceptable outside of their political or social groups. Like I said, Americans are conflicted.

Two years is an eternity in politics. And, you know, there may be indictments coming. But leaving Trump out of the picture, I would be saddened to think that a majority of Americans are eager to scapegoat immigrants because they feel – accurately – that the middle class, even in this time of full employment, continues to fall behind. If that is the case, then it should leave an opening for a smarter and more humane politician than Trump to take on real immigration reform (not Trump’s immigration reform), and, just as importantly, some of the issues that really trouble the U.S.

A Philadelphia Starbucks protest (Mark Makela/Reuters) Let’s review some recent racial bias incidents in the U.S., ranging from the outrageous […]

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A Philadelphia Starbucks protest (Mark Makela/Reuters)

Let’s review some recent racial bias incidents in the U.S., ranging from the outrageous to the ridiculous. There were incidents where cops were called on black men in Starbucks, on black people having a barbecue in Oakland and on a girl selling water in San Francisco. Earlier this month, three black Airbnb guests in Southern California were detained after a white neighbor called the police.

Moving on to the outrageous, there was the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a parking lot in Florida. Yes, there was a dispute over a parking space that turned aggressive. But guess what, the man who shot Markeis McGlockton Sr. won’t be facing charges. Due to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, cops can’t even arrest the shooter.

You may be familiar with Florida’s stand your ground law. It means anyone can shoot anyone else if they feel they’re physically threatened, without facing charges. But as we’ve seen with many officer involved shootings of unarmed black men, what constitutes feeling threatened too often stems from the race of the “perpetrator.”

Several psychological studies in the past decade have showed extreme racial bias toward, and abject fear of, black men. More than one study showed that participants were more likely to shoot targets depicting black people than those depicting white people. That’s a bigger problem in states like Florida and others with lax gun laws.

Now, it should be no surprise that new polling shows nearly two thirds of Americans say that racism exists and is a big problem. Interestingly, 30 percent said racism exists but isn’t a big problem (I wonder what race they are).

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From NBC News:

Pluralities of Americans said race relations in the United States are getting worse (45 percent) and think that too little attention is paid to race and racial issues (41 percent).
Overall, a 30 percent plurality think race is the biggest source of division in America today, up from 26 percent in February. Racial tensions can be tied to large national events, but the poll also finds stark differences by race focused on everyday experiences.
Four in 10 African-Americans say they have been treated unfairly in a store or restaurant because of their race in the last month, compared to a quarter of Hispanics and only 7 percent of whites….
The poll also found that Americans are split on how often they personally engage in discussions about race with family and friends. A bare majority of Americans (51 percent) say they often or sometimes talk with their friends and family about race relations, while 47 percent say they rarely or never have these types of discussions with friends and family.

I think that last point is significant. If there is a way out of our seemingly intractable race problem, it’s more and better dialogue about race.

(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images) June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it […]

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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images)

June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it from the radio silence on the matter, two years running, from the White House. It’s been celebrated every year in June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the U.S. on LGBTQ rights in my lifetime. Heck, even in the last five years, despite, of course, the retrograde attitude of the White House.  Younger people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, are less likely to identify as gay or lesbian. And not because they’re closeted, as was the case back in the day. It’s because, thanks to the rights being won for LGBTQs and the idea among this cohort that sexuality is no big deal, therefore why claim to be anything?

But I don’t think we’re in a post-gay world – remember the post-racial world we had apparently entered a decade ago? And I don’t think that Pride parades are a relic of the past. Not yet. And neither does this op ed writer for USA Today.

Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world…

Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.

Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.

Quite true. So we can scoff at Pride parades as being commodified by corporations. And there’s some truth to that. But remember when it was a big win when the first corporations co-sponsored Pride events? I do. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Rights are granted, and they can be taken away. I think it’s not a bad idea to remember that and celebrate them. And for the young or not so young LGBTQ person to find others like him/herself, proudly marching, it can be a transcendent experience.

Next time someone sneers and suggests a Straight Pride month, feel free to roll your eyes. Or, feel free to politely educate the people suggesting this. See also: Why Black Lives Matter – Why Not All Lives Matter.

 

  Robert Kennedy, building a Rainbow Coalition Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, […]

 

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Robert Kennedy, building a Rainbow Coalition

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, minutes after he was projected to win the California primary and was – maybe, we’ll never know – on a path to securing the Democratic nomination for President. It’s just anecdotal, but in my experience, people who were alive and aware at that time, and who were Kennedy supporters, still tear up when they speak of him. Even more so than the reaction of those who remember where they were when his brother, JFK, was killed. They believe that hope was killed on that June day in 1968.

There’s an excellent documentary on Netflix right now, “Bobby Kennedy for President,” which chronicles RFK’s awakening to racial issues of the 60s. The film makes note that he started off that decade as his brother’s Attorney General, wiretapping Martin Luther King and being highly resistant to making overtures to communities of color. Near the end of the decade, and his life, he strongly embraced Black and Latino communities. We can credit Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders for his change of heart. But whether it was political calculation or a sincere evolution – many historians come down on the latter – he was the first politician running for President to not ignore communities of color or at least pay them lip service. Historian Richard Kahlenberg superb has written an excellent paper, “The Inclusive Populism of Robert Kennedy,” making the case that RFK was building an alliance of working-class whites and minorities, a coalition that just might have won.

Fast forward to 2018. Where are working class whites now? Oh yes. They helped propel Donald “Mexicans are rapists” Trump to the White House.

Remember when Presidents of both parties, at least in words, tried to appeal to our better natures? What happened? Was a half-century of progress wiped out with one divisive campaign and one highly divisive and bigoted President. Yes, some of it, at least, we can hope, temporarily.

A recent Washington Post editorial stated that everything we’ve witnessed recently, from the ugly Roseanne tweet that ended her show, to the rise in open racists running for office, are predictable and predicted byproducts of the hate spewed from the resident of the Oval Office:

Can I prove that Trump’s hate-mongering is infecting the culture? No, I can’t, but it stands to reason — and there are signs that it is. This year, there are at least 10 white supremacists running for office — and that doesn’t count failed West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who excoriated “China people,” and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams, who campaigned in a “deportation bus.” Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and the Southern Poverty Law Center report that the number of hate crimes and hate groups has increased since Trump became president.

I can’t prove that the rise in overt racism is a direct result of Trump’s hate-mongering. But if not that, then what has precipitated it’s ugly rise?

I think reasonable people can agree on a few things. Racism never really left the U.S. It’s just that many racists and bigots were, for a while, afraid to say what they really thought. During that shining illusory interregnum in blatant racism –how quaint the term post-racial society sounds – people with racial animus – as opposed to racial bias, which, sadly affects a much wider swath of America – became resentful about feeling like they had to moderate their views. What was happening was, they were keeping the views out of sight, but within their bubbles, they were free to not only say what they wanted, their sense of white victimization grew. Hey, bubbles reinforce beliefs, don’t they?

Speaking of bubbles, we all live in our own. Here in southern California, a melting pot, salad, whatever metaphor you want to use, of every race, bigotry is generally not cool. Because I live in this region, which is relatively free of overt racism – oh it’s likely there, but tamped down by social norms – I’m left astounded and a little depressed every time I see support for Muslim travel bans, racist rallies, and polls where whites say they’re victims of discrimination.

And now, here we are, in a time where racism, for the time being in at least in a too-large part of the population, is normalized again. We’re a much more diverse nation than 50 years ago, and on the verge of, as you’re probably aware, of becoming a nation where whites are not the majority. And yet, we have an occupant in the White House who has, time and again, shown more racial animus than any major candidate for President since George Wallace, a man who doesn’t use coded dog-whistle terms to speak to racists, but rather, a bullhorn. It should be noted that George “Segregation Forever” Wallace didn’t come close to winning any of his Presidential races. Pendulums swing back and forth. We may be seeing a certain percentage of the white population unleashed and angry that they’ve had to keep their racism under wraps for so long. But it’s pretty clear that Trump gave them the freedom to unwrap it.

Still, America is changing, and it will not become whiter. I fear that America will always have a problem with race. But with more time, and with leaders who, at the very least, accept that this is a multicultural nation, we’ll keep making progress.

While I’m on the RFK-Trump comparison, one more thing. Charles Blow, opinion columnist in the New York Times, has an excellent piece today outlining what he sees as the darkness in Trump, and concludes:

He always disguises his hatred, often as a veneration and defense of his base, the flag, law enforcement or the military. He hijacks their valor to advance his personal hatred.

So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.

Surely RFK had his detractors. But I seriously doubt anyone made the case fifty years ago that he was a “hater.” Maybe that’s why he’s still beloved by so many who were adults at the time. And I’m trying not to be mean here, but I can’ help wondering how many people get weepy at the memory of Gov. George Wallace, who, to be fair, recanted on much of his racial animosity at the end of his life. And I can’t help wondering, after all the ways Trump has taken us backward into bigotry, after he’s gone, how many people will choke up at the memory of him?

 

 

 

 

Does it seem like every day this month you’ve heard about people, white people, calling the cops or security on […]

Does it seem like every day this month you’ve heard about people, white people, calling the cops or security on people of color sitting in Starbucks (more than once), coming out of their Air BNBs, sleeping in the common area of their dormitories, trying to return a circuit cutter at Hobby Lobby? Well, that’s because there’s been a new incident almost every day. There may be a new one today.

This open bigotry and xenophobia has been going on for decades. And it happens because white people, generally, feel they have the police on their side.

But thanks to the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and social media, we’re getting an idea of just how widespread the fear of The Other is in the U.S. Mostly this fear and animosity is directed at Black Americans. Sometimes it’s at Latinos or other people of color, like the NYC lawyer who threatened to call ICE because people at a restaurant were… gasp, speaking Spanish. Can you imagine? In a video shared by Edward Suazo and first reported on by Latino Rebels, that fuming lawyer, Aaron Schlossberg, excoriated a Fresh Kitchen employee for not interfering in people’s conversations en Español.

“Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” he said. “Every person I listened to, he spoke it. He spoke it. She’s speaking it. It’s America… So I will be following up, and my guess is, they’re not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money. I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do, the least they can do is speak English.”

For those who don’t see the U.S. as a white homeland, these incidents can provide anger and outrage. And that’s natural. These are outrageous instances. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be furious with these people. And, surely the killing and beating of People of Color for no reason is absolutely a reason to get mad.

But there is also something that the internet does well: ridicule and mock those that so deserve it.

Take the incident last weekend in Oakland, California, where a white woman called the police on a black family who had the temerity to barbeque in a public park.

Yes, she used the N word. Then she started crying when the police arrived, acting like she’s the victim of the encounter. Merry pranksters online are responding with humorous memes.

Like this one:

 

And this:

Also:

And a big party was planned in that park, supporting people who have the nerve to picnic while Black.

In light of rampant – but at least not violent, in these cases – injustice, sometimes you just have to laugh instead of crying. That is precisely what meme creators have done. As for that angry racist lawyer, Schlossberg, it looks like he will be enjoying the music of several Mariachis, right at his office, gratis. No, thank you, internet-based pranksters.

Schlossberg, by the way, appears to have a history of bizarre and offensive racial outbursts. This is beyond mere racism, in my opinion. I’m not a doctor, but this guy has some serious mental issues. He needs help. In the meantime, he deserves all the scorn and ridicule he’s getting (though I hope it doesn’t make him worse).

Outrage has its place. But there’s also something to be said for responding to racism and bigotry with style, art, humor and love. The best response to others inhumanity is to embrace your own humanity.