Monday Reads: “True to our native land.”

A lone Black officer–Eugene Goodman–faced down a violent US Capitol mob and fooled them to save lives

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m a little late today. I taught all weekend and mostly on my feet so I’m a bit sore and tired and definitely feeling my age setting in.  I woke up to drink some coffee and look for things to share.   I wound up spending some time watching the New Orleans  D.A. Jason Williams take his oath of office.  He was my City Council Member and then one of the at large City Council members. He ran an ambitious campaign to be the People’s DA. The Ceremony was heart-lifting for many reasons.  It had everything that makes New Orleans special on display.  It also shows that peaceful transfer of power can occur.

What really brought me home was Glenn David Andrews performance of “Lift Every Voice'”.  You can see it on the link up there on Facebook. Here’s another version of it from Zion Hill Baptist in the Treme.     Glenn David provides some witness to his life experience and the role of his mother in his life. The song has been called “The Negro’s Anthem”  and was written first as a poem by poet James Weldon Johnson. who was an essential part of the Harlem Renaissance.  It was commissioned by the NAACP.  The song was written by Johnson and his brother around 1900. Every choir should know this song as well as they know The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  I found at a recent Funeral that I can still sing every vocal part to the Battle Hymn including a counter melody I learned in High School..

It reminds me of the last time we had to deal with Lost Causers and call for a reconstruction that actually works.  The music of the the struggle continues to invigorate us and demand of us to continue the dream of a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all.  I do not think I will ever get over seeing the Confederate Flag carried into Capitol Hill after I’ve lost blood relatives making sure that insurrection was put down like the evil  it was.

Seeing a noose hanging from platform built on Capitol Hill’s West lawn was equally shocking. I am just beginning to hear what my black friends and neighbors felt seeing those sights.  I’m pretty sure that the Georgia senate race outcomes had a lot to do with some of this imagery. It also had a lot to do with the great fear all White Southern Nationalists have which is basically all the black people in their states will vote.  The biggest symbols of the Trump and Republican losses were the absolute commitment Black American Voters made to the US Democracy.  The rest of us may have contributed or my have had a free ride but they clearly voted for democracy and freedom.

I called BB late last night near the end of my last few student hours and she shared some extraordinary links with me.  This is one that’s a very long read but I do think you should dig through it.  The American Abyss.  A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.” It’s written by Timothy Snyder who closely studies these things as a History Professor at Yale.  Here is his section on Post Truth and Pre Fascism.

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. More productively, the philosopher Jason Stanley has treated fascism as a phenomenon, as a series of patterns that can be observed not only in interwar Europe but beyond it.

My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities. It was clear to me in October that Trump’s behavior presaged a coup, and I said so in print; this is not because the present repeats the past, but because the past enlightens the present.

Mrs. Mary Crane – 82 yrs. old ex-slave, Mitchell, Ind.  Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.

Trump is the same kind of failed tinpot dictator that countries with no real rule of law or proper governance end up with.  But, the original sins of our country–genocide and theft from indigenous nations and enslaving Black Africans–will follow us down until we soundly deal with it. Trump is the result of white grievance. This is the biggest problem we need to soundly deal with is the number of white people that would enslave themselves to ensure they’re whiteness means something.

The big lie requires commitment. When Republican gamers do not exhibit enough of that, Republican breakers call them “RINOs”: Republicans in name only. This term once suggested a lack of ideological commitment. It now means an unwillingness to throw away an election. The gamers, in response, close ranks around the Constitution and speak of principles and traditions. The breakers must all know (with the possible exception of the Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville) that they are participating in a sham, but they will have an audience of tens of millions who do not.

If Trump remains present in American political life, he will surely repeat his big lie incessantly. Hawley and Cruz and the other breakers share responsibility for where this leads. Cruz and Hawley seem to be running for president. Yet what does it mean to be a candidate for office and denounce voting? If you claim that the other side has cheated, and your supporters believe you, they will expect you to cheat yourself. By defending Trump’s big lie on Jan. 6, they set a precedent: A Republican presidential candidate who loses an election should be appointed anyway by Congress. Republicans in the future, at least breaker candidates for president, will presumably have a Plan A, to win and win, and a Plan B, to lose and win. No fraud is necessary; only allegations that there are allegations of fraud. Truth is to be replaced by spectacle, facts by faith.

We need to find the lawmakers and others responsible for this and hold them to account. However, as Hillary Clinton wrote today in a WAPO opinion “But it is not enough to scrutinize — and prosecute — the domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol. We all need to do some soul-searching of our own.”   Why are so many of these folks still hanging to the idea that 90 plus courts throwing out cases because of no evidence doesn’t mean that the evidence isn’t out there?

In Isabel Wilkerson’s new book “Caste,” she cites a question from historian Taylor Branch: “If people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?” Wednesday reminded us of an ugly truth: There are some Americans, more than many want to admit, who would choose whiteness.

It’s sobering that many people were unsurprised by what occurred last week, particularly people of color, for whom a violent mob waving Confederate flags and hanging nooses is a familiar sight in American history. Consider what we saw last June, when Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully demonstrating in Lafayette Square were met with federal officers and tear gas. If the first step toward healing and unity is honesty, that starts with recognizing that this is indeed part of who we are.

Removing Trump from office is essential, and I believe he should be impeached. Members of Congress who joined him in subverting our democracy should resign, and those who conspired with the domestic terrorists should be expelled immediately. But that alone won’t remove white supremacy and extremism from America. There are changes elected leaders should pursue immediately, including advocating new criminal laws at the state and federal levels that hold white supremacists accountable and tracking the activities of extremists such as those who breached the Capitol. Twitter and other companies made the right decision to stop Trump from using their platforms, but they will have to do more to stop the spread of violent speech and conspiracy theories.

The Biden administration will need to address this crisis in all its complexity and breadth, including holding technology platforms accountable, prosecuting all who broke our laws, and making public more intelligence and analysis about domestic terrorism.

I’ve seen twitters of crying white guys in airports insisting they love each and every one of of and whining about being called a  ‘a fucking domestic terrorist” and that the law is “messing up his life”.  What all the felonies he committed mean nothing?  How do you get to a point of believing evidence that doesn’t exist per over 90 courts plus the Supreme Court with the Trumpy Appointments?  How do you get to a point where you think they’re messing with your life when you join in an insurrection riot?

The real heroes of the day are folks like US Capitol Officer Eugene Goodman pictured up top and in the tweet below.

At first glance, the video is both scary and startling. A lone Black lawman momentarily facing down an angry mob of white rioters before retreating, giving ground to their fury. As we have now learned, there is a bigger story to be told.

Seeing that they were heading towards the open Senate chambers, Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman took control of the mob, giving its leader a shove to get his attention and then drawing them away in pursuit. In short, he tricked them, willingly becoming the rabbit to their wolf pack, pulling them away from the chambers where armed officers were waiting, avoiding tragedy and saving lives. Lives which include their own.

An Army veteran who spent time in Iraq, Goodman’s actions bring a measure of honor to a police force that saw some of its members acting in a questionable manner. Calls have come for him to receive national commendation for his actions, perhaps even the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Now, that’s not my call to make, but this man deserves far more than our praise and thanks. Maybe our soon to be President will award a medal to someone other than a radio talking head, sympathetic politicians, or a few golfers. And also, maybe a little pay increase.

We saw the worst of our nature on display Wednesday. Many people immediately stood up and said, “This is not who we are!” History tells us, this is exactly who we are. Running from this fact won’t change it. But at the same time, we’re also Eugene Goodman. A people who will put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. Even those that wouldn’t do the same for us. It’s a constant fight for the soul of this nation.

Here’s hoping that this example by Eugene Goodman, one of our better angels, can serve as a reminder of what we can be, and help lead us in that direction. Thank you for your service sir.

There are more of this situations coming to a State Capitol near you.  ABC news reports “Armed protests being planned at all 50 state capitols, FBI bulletin says”.

Starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol, according to an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump.

“The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,” the bulletin read. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur.”

Federal law enforcement officials have advised police agencies to increase their security posture at statehouses around the country following the riot at the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

WPA mural in Coit Tower

One of the newest folks in Congress is Congresswoman Jayapal of Indian Descent.  “I was closing my eyes and praying’: Washington’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal describes sheltering in place as mob breaks into Capitol”.   BB also suggested I read her story.  Can you imagine the trauma and the PSTD all of the public servants that lived through this will experience most likely throughout their entire lives?  This Seattle Times article describes what was going on with many of its representatives and senators as well as Governor Inslee.

“We were there when shots began to be fired into the chamber, we saw, from where I was sitting, I could see Capitol Police with their guns drawn,” Jayapal said.

Another House member began to pray. Jayapal and others joined in. “I was closing my eyes and praying to whoever was listening that there would be peace, that there would be no violence.”

The congressmembers were asked to lie on the floor as protesters faced off with Capitol police — a feat that was difficult for Jayapal, who recently had a knee replacement and was walking with a cane.

Jayapal laid the blame for the unprecedented attack on Congress at the feet of Trump and senators and representatives who have backed his efforts to overturn the election victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“There is no question in my mind that the finger should be pointed directly at the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and everybody that played along with him,” she said.

The chaos at the U.S. Capitol was mirrored, albeit at a much smaller scale, at Washington’s state capitol. In Olympia, demonstrators jumped a gate and broke into the grounds of the governor’s residence. After a standoff with the State Patrol, they backed off. Gov. Jay Inslee was kept safe at an undisclosed location, according to the patrol.

 

I’m pretty certain the next few weeks are not going to be easy.  I’m staying at home.  I will be working. I will also reflect on what I can do to make us all a more perfect union.   We will be here throughout the continuing struggle.  I love my Sky Dancing Community.  Please stay safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?