African Americans

What Has Happened To The Image Of The Police We Used To Have As Children And Young Adults?

This author and blogger grew up totally respectful of police officers, admiring them for their courage and willingness to serve the citizenry.  It was never thought that we needed to be fearful of police officers.

But that has changed dramatically in recent years, and particularly in the past few months, as we have seen numerous cases of police officers all over the nation abusing their power and position, and too quick to shoot to kill many unarmed people, many of them African American or Hispanic, but also those who are disabled, and some victims who are also whites.

These abusive police have been quick to use their tasers and their firearms in an aggressive manner, when in so many of these cases, it has been totally unnecessary to do so.  They have lost the concern for life of their victims, and instead of, if needed, shooting to wound, they have gone for the chest and the head, in so many situations all over the country!

In Ferguson, Missouri, the perpetrator of the death of Michael Brown, a police officer named Darren Wilson has not faced any charges, or detention, while a grand jury takes forever to move forward, and one cannot be sure that they will even indict  Wilson at all. A grand jury in Ohio refused to indict a police officer who killed a young black man in Walmart, who had picked up a toy gun and was shot for holding it, while Ohio allows unlimited display of firearms in any public place, but obviously really only for white citizens!

A police officer in South Carolina opened up fire on a driver who went into his car to get his drivers license, and wounded him over an issue of not wearing seat belts!  All cases lately have been white officers against black men, many of them young black men!

This situation is out of control, and makes one feel as if our police officers are, in too many cases, abusing their positions, and acting as if they are Nazi Gestapo or a Secret Police force, while Omar J. Gonzalez, when he scaled the White House fence and ran to the North Portico and was able to gain entrance to the building without being stopped before that occurred, and carrying a pocket knife, was not even shot at by the Secret Service, when such an action deserved a shoot to kill order in that circumstance!

Of course, the multitude of police officers do their job well, but the renegades are undermining the whole concept of law enforcement, and there needs, desperately, for better training of police, and the drumming out of those who are ill qualified by temperament and their performance record to keep their positions as police officers!

Attorney General Eric Holder Leaving The Obama Cabinet: A Major Loss Of One Of the Greatest Attorneys General In American History!

One of the longest serving Attorneys General in America, Eric Holder, announced today that he was leaving the Obama cabinet as soon as a successor is confirmed, probably at the beginning of the 114th Congress in January!

By then, Eric Holder will have served six years, the third longest term as Attorney General, only trailing second place Janet Reno under Bill Clinton, and William Wirt, who served longer than anyone under James Monroe and John Quincy Adams in the early 19th century!

Holder has been bitterly attacked for his performance and his own character by right wing whackos of the Tea Party Movement, and joined by Republican leaders in both houses of Congress, who have stopped at nothing to degrade him, including citing him for contempt of Congress, and threatening impeachment.

Through it all, Holder has acted with dignity  and class, just like his boss, President Obama.  Both of them have refused to take the bait and get angry, and have made their critics look what they are—prejudiced, biased, racists, and not giving a damn about civil rights and civil liberties of all of the American people.

Holder has worked to try to restore the Voting Rights Act, after the shameful reversion on much of it by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Holder has worked to promote prison reform, and to lower the prison population by freeing people who were wrongfully convicted or kept in prison way beyond all reasonable sentences.

Holder also prosecuted hundreds of terrorism cases, tackled financial fraud, and worked against violent crime and corruption, as well as working to promote the environment.

Holder was the first African American Attorney General, and he should be succeeded by retiring Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, another African American.

That will be difficult if the Republican opposition wins control of the Senate, another reason for everyone to vote in the midterm elections.  We are bound to see open racism by many Republicans if Patrick is nominated to succeed Holder, even if the GOP does not win the Senate majority!

This nation was blessed to have a great man as our Attorney General, and Eric Holder will be ranked among the top Attorneys General in American history over time!

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, “Selma” Film, And The Effect Of The Voting Rights Act of 1965: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama!

The new documentary, SELMA, about the March from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965, leading to “Bloody Sunday”, where state troopers and snipers fired on peaceful marchers demanding their right to vote, reminds us of a transitional stage in American history, when African Americans would regain the right to vote given to them in the 15th Amendment in 1870, and then denied in the South for about 75 years!

Alabama Governor George Wallace represented the worst of Southern racism, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a true hero then and now, had his head beaten and bloodied n the Selma March, but the horrible event led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965!

It is tragic that the Supreme Court allowed a reversion in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act two years ago, and that has led to new movements, and not only in the South, to make it harder for African Americans, Latinos, women, poor people, and college students to vote, and that could affect the Midterm elections of 2014!

But Lewis made the comment which is so TRUE: If it had not been for Voting Rights Act coming out of the Selma March, there likely would NEVER have been an open minded progressive Presidency of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

That would have been a tremendous tragedy, as no Republican President , whether Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or George W. Bush, made civil rights enforcement a key goal of their times in the Presidency!

So thank goodness for the fortune that the sacrifices of the Selma Marchers brought us the great progress  we gained under Carter, Clinton, and now Obama!

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

The “Southern” Culture A Detriment To American Society!

We have been hearing a lot about the “Southern Culture”, recently, in detrimental ways.

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to continue to discriminate openly against African Americans, Latinos, and gays and lesbians, and not apologize one iota for Southern behavior!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to endorse abuse of women, whether wives or significant others, and give excuses for rape and smacking and beating of women if they anger men!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is for African American men, in particular, but not only them, to give very harsh corporal punishment to their children, because that is the way that African Americans in the South were taught to deal with children who are unruly and disobedient.  So it seems to be alright that football players, who as an example are often 250-300 pounds, to whip and beat their four year old sons or daughters, and claim it is acceptable discipline, particularly because these bulky football players were treated that way when they were young!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to worship football players in colleges, which put the emphasis on sports, rather than on academics, the major purpose of a university!

Apparently, part of the “Southern Culture” is to claim to be religious, “good Christians”, while not practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ, and not giving a damn for the poor, whether minority or white, and making their lives, therefore, a living hell!

It is clear that “Southern Culture” needs to be addressed as a major detriment to American society and progress!

Alarming Police Overreaction Against Blacks Nationwide, As Threat Of International Terrorism Grows Dramatically!

Many people would say that because Barack Obama was elected twice as our first African American President, that racism is gone from American society!

The statement is, of course, preposterous on its face. There are two many people of other racial backgrounds who have shown evidence of discriminatory thoughts, statements, and actions against African Americans and Latinos to be able to assert that racism has dissipated.

If anything, it is the right wing media, and the talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel, who are fueling the fires of racism, making whites feel that, somehow, THEY have been discriminated against!

But the recent spate of police officers shooting and killing African American men in St. Louis and Los Angeles, and the choking to death of an African American man by police in New York City, is particularly alarming, as if the law enforcement authorities are perceived as declaring open season on minority men, and even sometimes women, then we are on the road to racial warfare, which hate mongering groups would only be too glad to inspire.

This is a crisis of massive proportions, and no longer can be said to be a “Southern” issue, as it often was depicted even a half century ago, when Northerners wanted to feel good about themselves, and denied that they were part of the problem of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, when they most certainly were part of the problem, although more attention was paid to the Southern states.

This is a very delicate time, with growing inequality of opportunity for the poor and middle class, whether white or minority, and the growing international threat of Islamic terrorism presented by the rise of ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant. This group controls a large portion of Iraq and Syria, and threatens to slaughter large numbers of non Sunni Arabs, as well as Christians and minority religious groups, and which threatens a world wide war against the Western world and Christianity and Judaism. They already have beheaded children, raped women, and executed large numbers of people in the most brutal fashion, making them seem a threat on the level of the Fascism regimes of Germany and Italy 75 years ago.

We could be entering World War III, at a time when our internal peace and stability is being threatened by both discontented whites, but also by law enforcement elements which show no respect or rational behavior against minority members of society.

There is a sense of foreboding that America is reaching a state of condition the most dangerous since the fall of Adolf Hitler in 1945, and far greater in many ways than the conditions of the Cold War, which seem somehow, by comparison, a time when at least the Soviet enemy was rational, not fanatical, based on religion.

Mix religious extremism in the world at large alongside the racial tensions in a time when one had thought the election of Barack Obama made a post racial world, which now is shown to be a myth!

The Ambitions Of African American Republicans For The Presidency A New Phenomenon!

All of a sudden, the push is on to promote a right wing African American for the Republican nomination for the Presidency!

In 2012, Herman Cain of Georgia ran a disastrous campaign for the Presidency, using his background as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza as his qualifications as a businessman to run for President, along with his tenure on the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City for a few years in the 1990’s. He made a fool of himself, and yet is seen as potentially planning to announce his candidacy again!

At the same time, former Congressman Allen West of Florida, who served only one controversial two year term in the House of Representatives, is rumored to be planning to run for President.

Also, famed pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson of Maryland is known to be planning to run for President!

Interesting that Herman Cain, with no real substantial government experience, thought he was qualified to be President!

Also interesting that Allen West, forced out of the military for his reprehensible behavior with a prisoner of war in the Iraq conflict, thinks, based on one tumultuous term in the House, that he is qualified to be President!

Also, ironic that Dr. Benjamin Carson, with no political experience, but having the ego to think that he has divine intervention to run for the White House, is forming a political action committee, after confronting President Obama at a Prayer Breakfast a year and a half ago!

These men have nothing positive to offer, are purely negative and confrontational personalities, and will not convince the African American community, or Latinos, or women, or thinking independents, that they have the qualifications to be President of the United States. Meanwhile, white racists in the Republican Party will, seemingly, embrace them, but only to cover their tracks on their reprehensible behavior toward President Obama. One can be assured that none of them will get anywhere near the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party!

These men have no credentials to be our Commander in Chief, other than their own egos, and their nasty, aggressive personalities and lack of concern for working families is troubling, sending the wrong message to those less fortunate, whether white, African American, Latino, Asian American, or Native American!

It will also be interesting to see, if all three, or even two of them end up running, how they will treat each other in their mad dash to outdo each other in their ambitions for the Presidency!

A Revolutionary Idea: Two Democratic Women That Could Lead To Massive Democratic Victory In 2016 And Beyond!

The assumption is that Hillary Clinton has the great advantage for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, but there is great concern that she could have opposition on the Left of her party, and needs shoring up of the base on issues such as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts represents—attack on Wall Street greed, and advocacy of relief of student loan interest rates, the minimum wage battle, unemployment compensation extension, and other populist issues.

Warren has shown strength in campaigning in “Red” states such as Kentucky and West Virginia, as she supported Alison Lundergan Grimes and Natalie Tennant in their Senate bids.

Warren is a lightning rod who inspires people in states where the masses of the population have suffered under uncaring Republican Governors, Senators and House members, and many people have gravitated to her when they hear her message of speaking for the average American of all backgrounds, somewhat reminiscent of Robert F. Kennedy nearly 40 years ago!

The question is whether Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren could co-exist and work as a team for a national campaign and in an administration after victory.

The question is why not, and while their ages in 2016, 69 for Hillary and 67 for Elizabeth are not the best scenario, it could open up the possibility of one term each for both women in the White House, OR two terms for Hillary with Elizabeth a willing participant in the Vice Presidency.

The two would be a dynamic team, and would inspire women, working class whites, African Americans, Latinos, labor, and progressives, liberals, moderates, and independents in such a manner as to turn “Red’ states “Blue”, leading to a massive victory nationwide and a long term Democratic dominance!

Why cannot America accept two women as their leaders? It is about time to do just that, and it would motivate and inspire the largest voter turnout in American history!

One could project that the so called “swing” states of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida would all be ‘Blue”, but so, likely, would be Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and some possibility in Texas and Arizona, as well!

That would leave only the Great Plains states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma); the Southern states of South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi; the Mountain States of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah; and Alaska as remaining “Red” states.

It is time to consider the revolutionary change of two women leading our government, two talented women of great competence and brilliance—Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren!

President Warren G. Harding Love Letters Revealed After Nearly A Century!

This author and blogger has taught at the college level now for 42 plus years, and one of his favorite discussions was of the Presidency of Warren G Harding (1921-1923), generally acknowledged as the worst President of the 20th century, and close to the bottom of all Presidents on any ranking, sharing that with James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce.

Harding is not remembered for very much, but he was the President who appointed former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice; pardoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs from prison; had his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who had been the Republican Presidential nominee in 1916 against Woodrow Wilson, negotiate the Washington Naval Conference that promoted naval disarmament; established the first federal child welfare program; supported the idea of an eight hour work day; advocated an anti lynching bill to protect African Americans; and created the Bureau of the Budget.

He also had the greatest popular vote victory for a first term President in American history, and the percentage of the vote was only later surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon after already residing in the White House!

Despite these accomplishments, Harding is best remembered for the scandals of his administration in the Justice Department, the Interior Department, and the Veterans Bureau (all of these generally known as the Teapot Dome scandals); and also, even more notably his sexual liaisons in and out of the White House years, most notably with Nan Britton, with whom he had an illegitimate daughter; and with Carrie Phillips, who he shared love letters discovered in the 1960s, but banned from revelation and publication at that time to avoid embarrassment.

Well, now those love letters, originally held by the Ohio Historical Society, are opened to scholars and journalists, and are the most extensive set of love letters ever discovered about any President! Much of it is x rated, and a bit shocking to many, as he describes his private parts as “Jerry”, and is extremely descriptive in his sexual language.

So one of the stories I told my students, that they would have to wait decades to learn about in detail, is open and available, revealed this week at the Library of Congress!

It will bring more attention to the 29th President, but is unlikely to raise him from the basement of rankings of Presidents of the United States!

Fear, Racism, Hatred Toward Latinos And Muslims: New Generation Of What Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Jews, Catholics Faced In Earlier Generations!

The fear, racism, and hatred now being exhibited toward Latinos and Muslims in America is part of the same right wing nativist mentality so much a part of American history!

In the past, it was Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Jews, and Catholics who suffered from such despicable mistreatment! Sadly, much of that same mistreatment often exists for members of these groups.

There seems to be something in the American psyche that we need to place our fears, racism, and hatred on one different group after another, and often it is people of earlier groups who have been discriminated against, who end up mouthing and mimicking much of the same behavior, sort of like the psychological trick known as “transference”.

This author has heard people who have voiced disgraceful statements and prejudice toward people of Spanish ancestry, and of the Muslim faith, stereotyping whole groups of people, rather than making judgments based on behavior of individuals!

Only education and good parental upbringing can overcome this promotion of fear, racism, hatred, and stereotyping, but unfortunately, there is so much work that needs to be done in this regard!