Showing posts with label defeating racism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defeating racism. Show all posts

Dec 16, 2013

Wisconsin Native, Peace Activist Tom Laughlin Dies at 82

Update: NYT: Tom Laughlin, 82, Star of ‘Billy Jack’ Movie Series, Dies

No cause for grief or sorrow.

Work for peace and justice, as Laughlin until his death.

In an interview by phone in 2005 Laughlin recalled to me old high school football games in Milwaukee (Milwaukee's Washington High School) during which he often got into fights during games after the opposing teams' players called his teammates, "niggers," a common occurrence in Milwaukee at the time. Laughlin never did like racists, in real life and in film.

Reprinted below is a 2005 piece, during the depths of the Iraq Invasion.

By Jackie Captain and Michael Leon

In 1951 an intense young man named Tom Laughlin was a brilliant student-athlete at UW-Madison after UW coaches talked the Milwaukee native into transferring from Indiana to play football for the Badgers the night before the Indiana-Wisconsin game in Bloomington.

Twenty years later Laughlin made cinematic history producing and starring in the anti-racism, peace film Billy Jack that for decades was the most successful independent film ever produced.

The iconic Billy Jack title character played by Laughlin became a model for the martial-arts Norris-Stallone-Seagal portrayals of the solitary hero inclined to kick the crap of all manner of bigoted, war-mongering, corporate bad guys.

Now, as the American peace movement is criticized as for its lack of vibrancy, Laughlin is producing a sequel to Billy Jack while simultaneously launching a nationwide campaign with the express purpose of alerting the nation to the dangers the Bush administration poses to the republic and halting the war in Iraq.

Before you smile inside and think “Yea, good luck,” know that the man and his people are deadly serious, and that from a marketing perspective, Laughlin is considered a pioneering whiz whose innovations in marketing the Billy Jack series have been adopted as routine by an initially-skeptical Hollywood.

“Laughlin has broken box office records on long shots. The conditions are perfect for Laughlin’s Iraq campaign. Bush politically is as weak as he ever has been. Delay and Rove are scandals waiting to explode. The majority of Americans for the first time realize they have been lied to, and even congressional Republicans are beginning to see Iraq as a political liability,” said Michael Victor, an activist hosting a meet-up of investors in the Billy Jack sequel in Madison on July 22, 23. “Laughlin can capture imaginations in a way that few artists can. And the brand value of Billy Jack is gold worldwide. The movie is a slam dunk; ending the war, no kidding, is fifty/fifty.”

The focus of a fawning June 20 New York Times 1,162-word feature by Sharon Waxman, Laughlin - reached by phone for two one-hour interviews from his California home outside of Los Angeles on July 4th weekend - sounds like one-third filmmaker, one-third peace activist, and one-third, controlled-but-very-angry citizen resembling in some ways his Billy Jack character of the 1970s.

“Let me be real clear. We are out now fighting for America. This is a war, what’s going on in this country is terrifying beyond terrifying. We are going to take this country back,” said Laughlin, emphasizing every syllable and sounding with his crisp diction like a beefy Carl Sagan.

The still-handsome 73-year-old writer activist defied industry experts 34 years ago and demolished every production and creative obstacle to his stunning cinematic success, and has dedicated his work to peace as he and his wife Delores Taylor are taking a final grand swing for the fences.

Ending the Iraq War

Laughlin and his organization plan to demonstrate conclusively to mainstream America that Bush lied America into war, launch a full-fledged, intricate campaign to end the war and hold Bush accountable for what he asserts are Bush’s lies.

Following the campaign he will release the film, and is now raising $12 million through his website BillyJack.com and EndtheIraqWar.com, where details on his peace plan can also be found.

“What we are doing is we are starting this national crusade end the war in Iraq and to bring the troops home by Christmas. To prove to the American people that it is incredibly doable, that it’s not silly, that it’s not wild-eyed. The bottom line we are doing a five-step national event program, taking full-page ads, TV spots, sending out DVDs, proving beyond any question that this war was to occupy Iraq as an oil colony,” said Laughlin.

Laughlin’ peace plan:

  • Demonstrate that Bush invaded Iraq to establish an oil colony through publishing six full page national ads of meticulously-researched facts, and an aggressive media campaign.
  • Hold a 10-million, 100-city End the War rally on Patriots Day, 9/1Hold a nationally-televised People’s Hearing on the war 
  • Consolidate the internet peace movementAnd expand outreach through the worldwide, simultaneous release of the movie “Billy’s Jack’s Crusade to the End the War and Restore America to Its Moral Purpose” 
Laughlin is preaching to the choir worldwide and the majority of Americans nationally; and his ambition is that come Christmas, public opinion will overwhelm an already-weak presidency, forcing Bush to succumb to domestic and worldwide demands.

Child Activist Becomes Intellectual and Filmmaker

Since junior-high school when he became best friends with the only black kid in school in what remains the most segregated city in America - a racist-infected Milwaukee - Laughlin has taken on the odds and befriended the underdog in what he sees as the American way.

“For me, this is not a matter of working for peace and justice as if peace and justice were some sort of a separate arena. Peace is nothing more than respecting the rights of others,” said Laughlin who identifies himself closely with what he sees as America’s revolutionary and spiritual origins. ‘Peace is nothing more than what makes the true American. The ultimate test of what makes a true American is not freedom of speech, other countries have that. It is my determination, ‘though I detest what you say,’ as Patrick Henry said, ‘I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ Peace is the necessary dialogue that must take place with criticism and dissent in a peaceful, respectful way.”

Laughlin says that George W. Bush/Karl Rove - aligned with what he views as rapacious corporate interests and the religious right – attack dissent and criticism in a manner that comprises a threat to America more calamitous than even McCarthyism and Richard Nixon.

“I lived through McCarthy; I was at Madison during that time. But this is the worst, this is truly frightening,” said Laughlin. “We’re out now desperately trying put this together. Raising money for the film, raising money for the campaign. McCarthy was nothing compared to Bush and Rove. We’re out of time. We need patriots to act now to save this country.”

Laughlin’s sense of urgency is obvious in his voice especially when the self-taught Jungian scholar talks about George Bush personally. He sees the American president as suffering from a personality disorder stemming from inadequacy and believes Bush to be a genuinely delusional person, isolated in the presidential cocoon.

“Bush is really a paranoid personality. He has the most dangerous inferiority complex. He is a guy who is desperate to be king, but there is nothing royal in him. The ‘mother complex’ in Bush is frightening. Everything he is doing is he is trying to prove he is a man. To him, really and truly, he is so delusional that he thinks war is a video game, and he’s John Wayne. And worse is the evil Karl Rove behind Bush,“ said Laughlin.

Laughlin brands the Bush administration as anti-American politics incarnate, eroding the right to dissent in America, and the right of Americans to fulfill themselves in an era where smearing gays and peace activists is the predominant mode of communication in the Republican Party.

“I think America is the only truly liberated society on earth. By liberated, I mean you are able to develop your capacity to the fullest without interference. It is the only country in the world that was formed specifically for a moral purpose, that every person had this right. That has been taken away by a thousand forms of corruption, all that have gotten much worse under Bush. We have no time left,” said Laughlin.

As a young man, athletics came to bore Laughlin [Laughlin calls himself a “tramp athlete” back then] and so did school, and he went into filmmaking, bringing with him his commitment to protecting the rights of others honed since grade school.

Now, Laughlin speaks of his country as one of his earliest inspirations.

Jefferson Memorial
“Way back in my 20s, I had made my first film and I was in Washington showing it. I went over to the Jefferson Memorial, and I went into that monument about midnight, no one was there. I read on the top of that monument: ‘I have sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man’. That was like Paul on the way to the Damascus. I was struck dumb. I stayed there for at least three hours. I wept. I read all of the stuff and just said ‘Who is this guy? Who is this guy? He is America,’” said Laughlin.

Those wishing to contribute to the film and the peace campaign can visit the BillyJack.com and EndtheIraqWar.com websites for more information.

Nov 22, 2013

President Kennedy hated by white supremacists and states' rights advocates

MLK Jr. and JFK in 1961
Source: RollingOut.com
From 1964 Freedom Summer Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society:
President Kennedy was hated by white supremacists and states' rights advocates in Mississippi. In 1962, the state Senate passed a resolution declaring its "complete, entire and utter contempt for the Kennedy administration" and "calling upon its sister states to join in ridding this once great nation of the Kennedy family dynasty and accompanying evils." One state senator even declared,"We must win this fight regardless of the cost in time, effort, money, and in human lives." Journalist Jerry DeMuth describes the state's maverick Democrats and their animosity toward the Kennedy's in this unpublished 1964 essay: DeMuth--Jerry DeMuth papers, 1962-1987.

Reads a telling sentence from DeMuth's papers: "The one party system continues to exist because Mississippi carefully controls those who vote."

Nov 13, 2013

Wisconsin Voting Rights Trial to Be Followed by State Appellate Hearing

Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II
Coming soon for Wisconsin Voter ID Law
The federal trial on the constitutionality of Wisconsin's Photo Voter ID law will be quickly followed by a state hearing before a Wisconsin appellate court panel challenging the permanent injunction order issued in July 2012 by Judge David T. Flanagan in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker on the same Photo Voter ID law, Act 23.

Wisconsin's voter photo ID law will be under adjudication in state and federal court simultaneously, with asserted violations of the federal and Wisconsin Constitutions.

Wisconsin's (the defendants in the trial) primary expert witness, M.V. Hood III of the University of Georgia, testified yesterday in what an informed observer characterized as not a very compelling rebuttal to the plaintiffs' social scientific experts' testimony last week.

Hood's testimony and the cross-examination by the voting rights plaintiffs are described as mostly inside social scientific baseball by one observer.

Michael Sandvick, the ex-Milwaukee, racist cop, is expected to testify Thursday or Friday for the defendants, though the thrust of Sandvick's expected testimony, the 2008 report on alleged voter fraud has been disavowed and discredited.

The trial, composed of two cases, is slated to end on Friday.
 ---

Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker - permanent injunction order issued on July 17, 2012 by Judge David T. Flanagan

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II will hear the NAACP case on December 17, 2013 before a three-judge panel, the composition of which is not yet public.

District II is dominated by heavily Republican Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Fond du Lac counties, and two of the judges appear to be under the sway of the Koch brothers.

Two of the four judges in District II, Paul F. Reilly and Mark D. Gundrum, are self-identified Republican partisans.

Judge Gundrum is a former state representative (R-New Berlin, 1999-2010) and was appointed by Scott Walker in 2011. Gundrum was elected in April 2012 to a six-year term.

As noted by Badger Democracy Judge Reilly may be more ideological than Gundrum:

Reilly is a known Republican. In the 2010 election, Reilly received the endorsement of the heavily Republican-conservative Wisconsin Family Action PAC, applauding his bringing "...respect for the law and the separation of powers to this key judicial position." The twisting of "separation of powers" meaning was key to conservatives in defending the overreach of Act 10 enactment, and their legal opining that courts could not intervene - even in light of constitutional challenges. According to Judicial Education Commission staff, Reilly "pushed hard" for Henry Butler's seminar on Law and Economics to be included in the 2009 program. A non-partisan judge, lobbying for a seminar created, and paid by Koch Industries in 1995, focusing on Friedman principles of "free-market economics." Butler moves from one university to the other with private funding. In 2009, the program was at Northwestern University. Now, the Law and Economics program resides at George Mason University - but always under the direction of Henry Butler.

Henry Butler is a known conservative and free market proponent-economist. Butler had a long affiliation with the American Enterprise Institute, having been the former director of the "Judicial Education Program." In 1992, Butler left George Mason University to accept the "Koch Distinguished Professor of Law and Economics" at the University of Kansas - funded entirely by a generous grant from the Koch Foundation. While at the U of K, Butler developed his course, with money, support, and influence on policy from the Kochs. In its formative stages, U of K received over $2 million dollars in private endowments from the Koch Foundation for the "Judicial Education" Institute (pgs. 18-20 of the document).

A report by Bruce Green prepared for the Koch Foundation in 2004 (pgs. 18-28 of the document) discloses that Butler, with Koch support and money, began developing, publicizing, and teaching a course with the intent of influencing state judicial opinion - with the express goal of gaining "free-market" supporting decisions at the all-important state level. Bruce A. Green at that time was the Stein Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law and the director of the Louis Stein Center of Law and Ethics. The original study conducted by Green, upon which this report was based, was based on the following report: Bruce A. Green, Ethics of Judicial Education: An Analysis of Private Charitable Gifts for Judicial Learning (Oct. 15, 1999). The report was prepared for three foundations-the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, which retained the author to render, on a compensated basis, a report on the propriety of private foundation support for judicial education programs. ...

Henry Butler, heading the Law and Economics program now at George Mason, keeps the espoused principles grounded firmly in the conservative principles of an unrestrained, free market capitalism – without regulation getting in the way. The reading list for the program is indicative of that bias – many of the readings are required reading for the American Enterprise Institute. The video introduction of the program gives a synopsis of the mission – train judges to rule in favor of  in matters of particular interest to big business, monopolies, trusts – the Kochs of the world. ...

As an academic, he certainly has the ability to move in the right corporate/wealth sectors, and he belongs to the organizations which are able to attract money from those who wallow in it. He has received grants/fellowships from the Koch, Olin, Coor and Scaife-funded organisations, and he currently serves on the:
  • Legal Advisory Council of the American Enterprise Institute’s Legal Center for the Public Interest, 
  • Advisory Council of Atlantic Legal Foundation, 
  • Legal Policy Advisory Board of the Washington Legal Foundation
Indeed, Butler ran as a Republican for Congress (Virginia) in 1992, and lost – despite a $1000 contribution from David Koch. Quietly, Koch political dominance has emerged over the past decade. According to the Wisconsin Judicial Education staffer, Judge Reilly had seen Butler deliver his program in Chicago – likely true, as Butler was at Northwestern at the time. Being a lifetime conservative ideologue, Reilly would have known the premise of the “Law and Economics” program, as well as Butler’s reputation and connections with Koch Industries. If Reilly was on a scouting mission to vet the program for presentation in Wisconsin, it is merely conjecture – Reilly three times refused comment on the subject, in requests for interviews.

When one considers the role ideologically conservative judges have played in the power grab in Wisconsin this past year – especially those in and influenced by Waukesha County politics; the genius and deviousness of the Koch plan is apparent. The influence of Henry Butler and Koch ideology on some justices cannot be overstated – and will continue for years to come, until this program is rejected by academia and universities as unilaterally political propaganda – not legal study, and Judges like Reilly are exposed for the political ideologues they are – not members of a non-partisan judiciary. Next time a Republican screams judicial partisanship about a “radical” Dane County Judge, ask them about Henry Butler and Koch Industries, and Paul Reilly.
Dane County Judge Flanagan found as fact after a 2012 trial that over 300,000 Wisconsin citizens lack GOP-mandated IDs necessary as a condition to vote under Act 23.

Scott Walker, the GOP Wisconsin Attorney General and Wisconsin Republicans argue that obtaining the approved type of photo ID is not an undue burden. The Koch brothers agree.

In the case, Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker, Judge Flanagan's order and opinion reads in part:

Conclusions of Law – Constitutionality of the Photo ID requirements of Act 23

This matter is being decided based upon Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. This court need not and does not reach the claims asserting denial of substantive due process and equal protection in violation of Article I, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. The court hereby adopts the following conclusions of law
a.
The cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a DMV Photo ID is a significant burden upon the opportunity of Wisconsin citizens to vote.
b.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 impose a substantial burden upon a significant proportion of the Wisconsin citizens who are already registered to vote.
c.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 impose a substantial burden upon a significant proportion of the Wisconsin citizens who are not yet registered to vote but who are legally eligible to register.
d.
The cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a DMV Photo ID is a substantial burden which falls most heavily upon low income individuals.
e.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 are entitled to a presumption of constitutionality.
f.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 include no back-up mechanism to examine or to verify the qualification of an eligible Wisconsin voter who, through indigency or other sufficient cause, appears to vote at an election without the required Photo ID
g.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 are unlikely to protect the electoral process.
h.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 are not narrowly tailored to achieve a goal of voter
verification.
i.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 constitute a substantial impairment of the right to vote guaranteed by Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution
j.
The Photo ID requirements of Act 23 are inconsistent with, and in violation of Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

Nov 3, 2013

GOP: In-person 'Voter Fraud' Is Real, Voter Obstruction Is Unreal

Update: Scott Ross:  Memo to Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislators: Voters are not the enemy

A research report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute (Pawasarat. June 2005) shows many racial minorities would be obstructed by a 2011 Wisconsin GOP-passed law "requiring (a photo ID) as a condition for voting."

Good, says the GOP.

In the Wisconsin Voting Rights trial slated to begin November 4, the Republican Party is attempting to legitimize its years-long project to disfranchise voters who vote the wrong way.

Lots of pre-trial motions over who will get to testify, including a racist ex-Milwaukee cop who really hates black folks casting votes against the Republican Party.

The nerve of those people in the most segregated metropolitan area in the United States.

Wisconsin GOP political operative, retired Milwaukee police detective Michael Sandvick, has been fighting a crime that never happened: Massive voter fraud that can only be stopped by the GOP's Photo Voter ID law, he says.

Sandvick has been chasing black voters in Milwaukee for years.

In fact, the Milwaukee cops set a special unit to drive around black neighborhoods (replete with a command center) until the unit was later disbanded.

Sandvick and his GOP colleagues are the frauds, and their crusade against non-GOP-voting Wisconsin citizens continues.

In 2004, the GOP made "allegations" of voter fraud, none of which (though proven false) could have been prevented by a photo voter ID anyway.

Facts are mere barriers to be overcome by Sandvick and GOP voter obstruction operatives in Wisconsin as they attempt to obstruct the African-American community in Milwaukee County, screaming 'voter fraud.'

Stopping Milwaukee County (urban types) is a project the GOP and Sandvick have no intention of giving up as they seek to introduce into evidence at the Wisconsin Voter ID trial a discredited, disavowed, unofficial, and partisan "Special Investigations Unit, Milwaukee Police Dept., Report of the Investigation into the November 2, 2004 General Election in the City of Milwaukee (2008)."

Writes Justin Levitt, counsel for the Brennen Center for Justice in trashing the unsanctioned report:

On February 26, 2008, the Milwaukee Police Department released a report on that election, with what appears to be a painstaking investigation of the facts, and policy recommendations offered with less care and disavowed by the Milwaukee Police Chief.[41]  The department's careful factual investigation primarily revealed administrative mistakes and, occasionally, negligence.[42]  It showed that much of what had originally been identified as potential fraud was in fact due to clerical error.[43]  It also uncovered several votes by potentially ineligible individuals, including some who were allegedly nonresidents, and some who had allegedly been rendered ineligible due to convictions.[44]  The report revealed only one potential vote that might have involved in-person impersonation fraud, with no documentation verifying that the vote in question was actually cast.[45]
So, according the 2008 report, there were zero in-person voter fraud cases prosecuted. But there were lots of innuendo and allegations, playing on racial prejudice that the GOP appeals to in its base.

Sandvick and the GOP should spend their time persuading people to vote Republican and not trying to obstruct people who have the right to vote in America any way they please.

The two cases to be heard in a federal court trial November 4 are:

The two cases have been consolidated for trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The two federal civil rights cases—Frank et al. v. Walker, and League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger—will challenge the Scott Walker administration and the Republican Party's Wisconsin photo voter ID law under Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, in the League case.

In the Frank case,  plaintiff argue: "The photo ID law imposes a severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; violates the Twenty-Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as an unconstitutional poll tax; and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in arbitrarily refusing to accept certain identification documents."

Sep 3, 2013

Republican Racism: Full Speed Ahead

Labor Day weekend is for many reasons a mirth-filled holiday.

This particular weekend began with the American observance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech.

To anyone with the slightest respect for civil rights and those who have given their lives, marking King's address was inspiring.

Republicans have a different view on civil rights; they're against them and racism remains as Republican as opposing a woman's choice.

While some Republicans cynically pay lip service to critical care for the Voting Rights Act, Republicans are reinvesting in racism, exclusion and disenfranchisement.

Locally in Wisconsin, the GOP's Christian Schneider dove deeper into the sewer, deciding that mocking MLK's address in a deplorable video posted by Schneider in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Purple Wisconsin is acceptable to his GOP audience.

I'm betting Republicans are wrong in calculating racism's politcal efficacy. Racist efforts will ultimately fail.

But it won't be for lack of trying.

Jul 14, 2013

Obama Needs to Launch Massive Federal Action in Wake of Zimmerman

Update: Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic: "What the verdict tells us is, to the astonishment of tens of millions of us, you can go looking for trouble in Florida, with a gun and a great deal of racial bias, and you can find that trouble, and you can act upon that trouble in a way that leaves a young man dead, and none of it guarantees that you will be convicted of a crime."

As black and brown Americans work to recover lost ground just to vote in America, President Obama should urge the federal Dept of Justice to pursue a violation of civil rights case against George Zimmerman, for beginners.

This is precisely what the NAACP is advocating in gathering 100,000 signatures in hours a national petition to urge Atty General Holder to move in a civil rights action against Zimmerman.

Broadly, President Obama needs to make a national address specifically on the Zimmerman case, and speak with Americans on the imperative for government to fight for equality and justice under the law.

And President Obama needs to act fast ... with all deliberate speed.

America is losing ground fast in racial justice, and it's coming on the watch of the first black president.

Losing ground because the Republican Party has effectively declared itself a white party, and they are not backing away.

Racism is here, it's in the heart and actions of George Zimmerman stalking and killing Trayvon Martin.

It's here in Wisconsin with too many tragic examples echoing the racist killing of Bo Morrison by Adam Kind in Washington County last year.

It's in the Republican Party, as the national and local Republican parties are doubling down on its whites-only electoral strategy as Republicans continue to demonize and disenfranchise people of color.

Killing of black folks has become an all-too-common occurrence, as modern-day lynchings (often accomplished by local police, see Fruitvale Station for one gruesome example) are carried out with only whispers of community disapproval.

Fight racism peacefully where you see it, you won't have to look very long.

No cause on the Zimmerman verdict to launch recriminations against the jurors; jurors need to be free from recriminations for the 'justice' system to function at even a minimal level.

But by no means should we respect the verdict in Sanford, Florida, the end result of a racist society, worse in Florida.

The verdict needs to be condemned in the most broad action in the most harsh tones.

We do need to ask ourselves what the media mean when they refer, idiotically, to "unrest" after the Zimmerman verdict reaches all of America.

Unrest, as opposed to lassitude?

Jun 30, 2013

Target: Black People and Brown Hispanics in Campaigns 2014-16

Neo-NAZI Group Acts in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Gathering of Hispanics and Latinos in 2009
The Southern Strategy on steroids, with red meat thrown to the white working class, and dog whistles to the most extreme idiots in our union

As a lifetime civil right worker, I do wish this above headline were some kine of sick hyperbole.

It's not. Republican racial bigotry was awful this last campaign, but you have not seen anything yet.

It's the coming Republican electoral strategy to deny black people the sacred right to vote, and inflame racial tensions like we have never seen before in this country, and that is saying a lot.

It's only been six days since the infamous Shelby County v. Holder, (Voting Rights Act decision.)

As Jamelle Bouie notes: Just look at what's already happened since the [Voting Rights Act] decision was announced--the GOP is launching voter-suppression drives in six of the nine freshly liberated (southern) states," as Mike Tomasky points out.

Racism is a necessary Republican strategy for the GOP to hang on to power, it is believed by Sean Trende, a GOP strategist and pollster, and as Tomasky further points out, GOP racism is only going to get uglier.

Sean Trende, the conservative movement’s heavily asterisked answer to Nate Silver (that is to say, Silver got everything right, and Trende got everything wrong), came out with an analysis this week, headlined “Does GOP Have to Pass Immigration Reform?,” showing that by golly no, it doesn’t. You can jump over there yourself and study all his charts and graphs, but the long and short of it is something like this. Black turnout and Democratic support have both been unusually high in the last two elections, which is true; Democrats have been steadily losing white voters, which is also true; if you move black turnout back down to 2004-ish levels and bump up GOP margins among whites (by what strikes me as a wildly optimistic amount), you reach White Valhalla. Somehow or another, under Trende’s 'racial polarization scenario,' it’ll be 2044 before the Democrats again capture 270 electoral votes. Thus is the heat of Schlafly’s rhetoric cooled [GOP does not need Latino votes, it just needs to build up the white vote] and given fresh substance via the dispassionate tools of statistics.
Concludes Tomasky:

And here’s the worst part of this story. If the House Republicans kill immigration reform, and Republican parties across the South double down to keep blacks from voting, then they really will need to jack up the white vote—and especially the old white vote—in a huge way to be competitive in 2016 and beyond. Well, they’re not going to do that by mailing out Lawrence Welk CDs. They’re going to run heavily divisive and racialized campaigns, worse than we’ve ever seen out of Nixon or anyone. Their only hope of victory will be to make a prophet of (Sean Trende) who advocates a more racially polarized national race for the GOP—that is, reduce the Democrats’ share of the white vote to something in the mid - to - low-30 percent range. That probably can’t happen, but there’s only one way it might. Run the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable.

Republicans running the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable? I can imagine.

I can also imagine violence appealing to the most unhinged, racist elements of American society. [See above right.]

And violence is a predictable consequence of racially inflamed campaigns.

Even John McCain admirably put the breaks on racist appeals when his staff began to believe things were getting out of control in 2008.

The Republican campaign will be centered in the South and Appalachia, and becoming loosed on white people the nation-over reaching rural Wisconsin, anywhere white people live.

Hate will beget violence and bombings. It's an old story.

If the Republicans run the most racially inflamed campaign imaginable, there will be blood.

I ask again why then would Sean Trende consider such a despicable course of action? What does he believe the consequences would be?

The words of Ralph Mcgill will once again prove prophetic 56 years after the 1957 bombing of a synagogue by "rabid, mad-dog minds" called to action once again, deranged in 1957 by the desegregation decision:

For too many years now we have seen the Confederate flag and the emotions of that great war become the property of men not fit to tie the shoes of those who fought it. Some of these have been merely childish and immature. Others have perverted and commercialized the flag by making the Stars and Bars, and the Confederacy itself, a symbol of hate and bombings.

For a long time now it has been needful for all Americans to stand up and be counted on the side of law and the due process of law - even when to do so goes against personal beliefs and emotions. It is late. But there is yet time.
Due process of law, equal protection. Republicans are out to destroy these foundations of America.

One thing Trende underestimates is that a racial polarization campaign will run into a determined group of allies who will work against racism—a blowback that only those without a sense of history could overlook.

The young, the tens of millions of Americans dedicated to equality, blacks and the browns are going to mobilize into a coalition like Trende has never seen.

Trende does offer over a passing notice to "white" Americans dedicated to equality: "Now, there is a theoretical maximum for Republicans among whites; sooner or later you run into Madison, Wis., and Ann Arbor, Mich." (p.3)

Yes, you do.

There are many living in highly educated cities who find Trende's idea of a racialized campaign to be repulsive. Americans will stand up and be counted.

Let's hope for more work in 2014-16 like that of Sen. John McCain's who pointedly countered racist views by audience members towards Sen. Obama in October 2008. See video below.

Jan 21, 2013

MLK Fought for Voting Rights

"So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Republican and Tea Party agree.

And they wish to obstruct, suppress and prevent the right to vote of those who would dare vote non-Republican.

This is an attack on democracy itself: Such is the Republican Party. Cantor, Walker, Ryan—sick and cowardly as those in the Party who go along with the attack on civil rights for the sake of political convenience.

The anti-equality party lost the war on civil rights, on liberty.

But the civil rights of America remain under attack.

King would suggest we defend these rights and that decent people in the Republican Party join, rise up and condemn the attacks.

As any sentient American can see, the civil rights movement today will find very few allies—can we name one—in the Republican Party.

Jan 11, 2013

Stop-and-Frisk Violates Fourth Amendment, Fed Court Says

Being African-American and Latino doesn't mean you lose your Fourth Amendment rights.

That's the effect of an injunction issued by a New York federal court.

The case is: Jaenean Ligon et al v City of New York, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, (No. 12-cv-2274).

From Amy Goodman at Democracy Now:

A federal judge has ruled that New York City police are not allowed to routinely stop pedestrians outside of private residential buildings in the Bronx. The stops are part of the so-called Clean Halls program, which has prompted allegations of police harassment by some residents who say they are being accosted outside of the buildings in which they live. Previous data on the New York Police Department’s 'stop-and-frisk' policy has shown African-American and Latino men make up a hugely disproportionate share of those stopped.

Oct 25, 2012

GOPers and Tea Partiers Are Cowards and Racists

The Republican Party-Tea Party's grand appeal to racism—locally up to the presidential race—is often noted as the last stand against the brown-yellow-black hoards taking over America.

Changing demographics in fact do make a national racist appeal politically untenable in the coming decades.

But from the local politics of Madison-Fitchburg in Wisconsin to Tommy Thompson (fear the extremist opponent and tell lies stoking the fear) to Mitt Romney, the message is clear: Be afraid.

Best Cleaners - They're Pussies
Here in Madison-Fitchburg, we see a group of black youth and the owner of Best Cleaners in the Meadowood Shopping Center crying about how his rural, white customers won't come around anymore. [the dry cleaning place is not so popular with the brothers.]

But don't look for a message of come-on-down from Best Cleaners; no, it's easier (and more destructive) to take a racist shot; like David Blaska, like the Tea Party, like each and every GO-Tea Partier encountered. It's a surprise this guy gets any business with the marketing skills he apparently possesses.

It doesn't matter that a group of black kids are heading home from an after-school class they just took at the Meadowood neighborhood center; some people just don't like the optics of black people—breathing, laughing fellow human beings who ought to go somewhere else.

The fact is Best Cleaners, Tea Partiers, GOP, your hatred and bigotry is at base: fear. That makes you cowards. That makes you worse than cowards, in my book.

Sep 20, 2012

Racism Is Bad for Business

Update: Paid a lunch-hour visit to the Chinese take-out joint (superb) at Meadowood. Numerous black men about, none of whom attacked me on sight. In the some 11 years I've lived in this area, I've made in the 100s of drop-ins to Meadowood and I'm batting a 1,000 in crime-free visits. Reading the description of the prospective Ace customers fearing for their safety, I'm guess I'm pushing my luck.
---
Three young black men joked and laughed outside Meadowood Barber Style Shop on Raymond Road and Whitney Way in Madison, Wisconsin early this morning.

Somebody call the police!

Better yet, don't call the police. More on that later.

These three young black men are doing nothing but being black and being young. Not a crime in this part of the country, and nothing to fear.

News that the Meadowood Ace Hardware on Madison's southwest side is closing (Adams. Wisconsin State Journal) has a lot of people talking in the Madison and Fitchburg neighborhoods around here.

The Ace owners on Raymond Road in a small shopping mall about 20 yards from the Meadowood Barber, point to declining sales, attributed to crime and a "troubled" neighborhood, the WSJ piece reports.

The evidence cited in the piece:
  • A 2007 homicide in the neighborhood
  • Gunfire from a passing car this last August
  • More gunfire in an area northwest of the shopping center also this last August
Ace Hardware's owners are known as candid people.

No doubt their sales are down as they reluctantly close their doors here; but perhaps the worst drought in this area's recorded history and the economy might account for some of the drop in sales at the hardware store.

But another contributing factor is racism, fear of black people in the neighborhood driving away people who are not regular customers.

In fact, chatting with a local business neighbor of Ace's, word is that the regular Ace customers with Ace Hardware reward cards who live in the area are not dropping away as customers. Rather it is drive-by customers and other customers from out of the area who are not coming by as often.

This data is tracked by Ace reportedly, says a neighboring business man.

There's some black dudes; run away.

I pick up things at the Walgreen's in the shopping center, and regularly use the Meadowood Library and the barber as well. And I have never seen any crime, other than young black men being black.

As for these three black men in the lede. One of men is meeting with a U.S. military recruiter today and wanted to look sharp so he had a hair-cut at the barber's; and his two buddies were joking with the guy for wearing such short hair. Real threats to society, these guys.

Racism remains a pernicious pathology and social injustice. Racism is also plain ignorance and stupidity.

And it's bad for business. Ask the folks at the Meadowood Shopping Center.

Mar 29, 2011

Milwaukee Is Still Number One in Segregation

Segregation now, segregation forever?

Seems that way; American apartheid lives. And Milwaukee is number one ... again. (Denvir. Salon, citing John Paul DeWitt of CensusScope.org and the University of Michigan's Social Science Data Analysis Network)

Some 45 years ago, Karl Taeuber, Professor of Sociology, Emeritus (University of Wisconsin-Madison [Off campus]) and Alma F. Taeuber devised a method to measure racial segregation: The Taeuber index.

The Taeuber index was a momentous intellectual break-through, quantifying racism and providing a means of delivering rigorous social scientific evidence for many housing discrimination law suits in the 1960s-70s-80s when fighting racism was a pursuit taken up by many sectors of American society.

Now-a-days, as likely as not, if one reads about the Taeuber index, the cite is likely from some rightwing think tank taking issue with the existence of segregation, the method of measuring it in housing, and the proposition that racism is the cause.

Fighting racism remains a long fight, for academics like the Taeubers, for all of us.

As Taeuber said to me some six years ago after the death of Kenneth Clark [whose work on racism is cited in Brown v. Board of Education]: The branches on the tree of racism extend high, and the roots run deep.

True, but as I consider giants in fighting racism like the Taeubers, the Panthers, SNCC, and our children today: Total victory over racism remains certain.

Aug 4, 2009

Innocence Is No Defense

Update: See GOP Returns To "White Voter Strategy" for a look at why profiling and racism plays.

Oh yeah, Henry Louis Gates Jr is an innocent man. An insignificant detail not mentioned by those who cheerlead all the progress we have made in race relations and defend the cop who persecuted an innocent man.

Bob Herbert reminds us this morning of this minor detail of Prof Gates' innocence and the propensity of cops to target people of color.

No one is immune. Colin Powell told Larry King that he had been profiled many times. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke last week about how humiliated he felt as a college student when a cop made him stop his car and open the trunk so it could be searched for weapons.

Young, old, innocent as the day is long — it doesn’t matter. Your skin color can leave you perpetually vulnerable to a sudden and devastating criminal injustice.
Well, Gates like Colin Powell and Attorney General Eric Holder is black; so I guess he had it coming. We just need to ignore such distasteful facts like the man's innocence and understand the perpetrator because he wears a uniform and a badge.

May 29, 2009

Mike Nichols Is Clueless on Racial Profiling

Update: See also Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling ... , Amnesty International ... Wisconsin's protection from racial profiling: "None".

Rightwing columnist Mike Nichols has made it clear: There is no racial profiling in Wisconsin and certainly not in Milwaukee suburbs.

Collecting data that might support or disconfirm this conclusion is a waste of time.

Nichols is shocked, shocked by Pedro Colón's (D-Milwaukee) "startling accusations" that dark-haired, dark-skinned people are pulled over while driving with dark hair and dark skin.

You might think Colón and Rep. Tamara Grigsby's (D-Milwaukee) (pictured above) defense of a new requirement approved by the Joint Finance Committee mandating police tracking of the race of the people they pull over is a no-brainer.

But not to Nichols, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist, who can't be troubled with innocent people being persecuted. [See Bill Christofferson's Should we admire prosecutor who sees crime where there is none in which Nichols defends the prosecution of the innocent Georgia Thompson. See also The proven-innocent Georgia Thompson and Biskupic tried to 'squeeze' Georgia Thompson for additional background on the prosecution.]

Writes Nichols at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI):


I think this is going to be interesting because it sounds like Pedro Colón doesn’t just have one name [of a minority being pulled over], he has lots of them. After all, he says, 'all the guys' complain. Everyone knows what’s going on. That’s 'just the way it is.'
In reality land every dark-skinned, dark-haired person who I know takes it as a fact of life that police pull you over if you're dark-skinned and dark-haired in a white community. It's a humiliating and abusive experience that's painful to talk about.

How far removed from reality is Nichols that he doesn't know this? That he smirks and repeatedly ridicules the notion in his column?

But a rigorous empirical investigation is called for, i.e. collecting data. As Nichols demonstrates many lily-white Republicans are clueless that racial profiling actually occurs.

Nichols demands names and data. But data is exactly what Colón and Grigsby are mandating. So what is Nichols' objection with collecting data?

Noting the race of the person next to the sex police field report on a statewide basis is not a hardship for anyone who cares about defeating racism.

You just have to wonder how someone like Nichols can be so isolated to what is common knowledge in minority cultures and progressives fighting racism. Is this guy really that dumb?

And what is he and GOP afraid of and whom are they are protecting? I'll stand with the darkies.

Apr 4, 2009

Pride

Pride, In the Name of Love (U2)

Support the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

"I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: 'A time comes when silence is betrayal.' That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam."

"... Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, one year before his assassination.

Apr 2, 2009

Salon Looks at 1960s Civil Rights Movement

Lauren Hermele has a photo essay on 1960s civil rights veterans in Salon. Great stuff.

A lot of the people comprising the civil rights movement have names that history will not record.

And quite a few live in Wisconsin today.

Registering voters, demanding jobs, risking their lives, enforcing democracy; that's what they did.

Today's Republican Party, like Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen, and know-nothing GOP bloggers still don't get why so many were incensed by last year's voter suppression efforts. It's likely that they never will.

The American civil rights movement lives on today, knowing that they changed the course of history and stood up for their brothers and sisters.

Some were killed, blinded for life, maimed, but they put their bodies on the line against racists and know-nothings and we salute them today.

Feb 14, 2009

SPLC: Extremist/Racist Threat to Obama

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is expressing concern over a rise of hate activity that they link to the presidency of Barack Obama.

Writes the SPLC: "President Obama's election and the deepening economic crisis are creating the perfect storm for white supremacists intent on swelling their ranks."

Also reported by the SPLC:

Racist Extremists in the Military
SPLC urges enforcement of zero-tolerance policy
A recent search of a U.S. Marine's barracks turned up a journal containing white supremacist material and a plan to kill President Obama. The incident is the latest disturbing account that suggests extremists are infiltrating the military — even as officials deny there's a problem. SPLC President Richard Cohen recently urged the Department of Defense to uphold a zero-tolerance policy against white supremacist activity.

Jan 9, 2009

Neo-NAZI Acts at Fond du Lac Gathering on Hispanics and Latinos


Update: Washington Post - Bad Economy May Fuel Hate Groups, Experts Warn

Michael Leon

A social diversity event held last night at the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Public Library entitled "¡Hola! Hispanic and Latino Experiences in Fond du Lac" was marred by a card left on the car windows of several participants by a neo-NAZI "Aryan Wear" group asking if the car-owners had "had enough diversity?"

The card is pictured above-right and was obtained by e-mail from Ken Hall, director of the Fond du Lac Public Library.

The card was left on the car window of a highly-placed Fond du Lac City official, Hall said he heard this morning.

Hall was an event attendee who also had the card left on his own car window last night.

Fond du Lac Police are interested in and actively investigating the incident, according to a police official contacted by phone this morning.

Hall estimates that some 70 people showed up at the event.

"Inside, there was a good discussion going on, a nice group of people exchanging views, And outside there was some coward in the night, sad. He would have been welcome to come in and talk," said Hall by phone this morning.

Another event attendee, a long-time Fond du Lac resident who parked just outside the Library on Portland Street, said, "Fondy has its racism in the past, I'm not surprised, but I feel bad to have that kind of hate staring you in the face."

A similar anti-Obama, racist flyer was left on car windows during the election, reports a Fond du Lac resident speaking on background.

The site, Aryan Wear - Aryan Wear, White Power T shirts, Nationalist Clothing, features various "white power" and NAZI paraphernalia, including a link to an audio recording of the racist fantasy book, the Turner Diaries, and patches and other body wear. [Pictured below are some of the hate links from the Aryan Wear site.]




Nov 6, 2008

Wisconsin Leads Way for Obama

Since the Feb. 17 primary that catapulted Obama as the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary with solid appeal to the white working class, Wisconsin has reclaimed its maverick status demonstrating a propensity to support political progressives.

As Paul Maslin writes in Salon today, "In my home state of Wisconsin, Obama's margin mushroomed to an extraordinary 13 points. Just look at any of the electoral maps of the Badger State and realize that all that blue was produced by nearly all-white rural counties and small towns that many thought would never support an African-American candidate."