Monday Reflections on Martin Luther KingPosted: January 15, 2018 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: "shithole countries", Martin Luther King, Racism 20 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Today’s the day we celebrate the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King and the inspiration of his life, sacrifice, and commitment to civil rights.
I woke up today thinking about the country and neighborhood that I was born into and grew up in. My father was a Ford Dealer in small town Iowa and I spent my first nursery and grade school years there. Eisenhower was president when I was born. JFK was the first president I remember. I was in second grade when he was assassinated. My second grade teacher came into our classroom with tears to announce it. The first election I remember was between LBJ and Goldwater.
I remember watching two things on the nightly news that was a ritual for our family. The struggle for civil rights unfolding in the south and the reports of the Vietnam war occupied much black and white air time. Both were horrifying. I ended my pre-college years in Omaha across the river spending the last years of high school watching the Watergate hearings. I graduated and shortly thereafter, the president resigned. This is the time line of a baby-boomer born right in the middle times.
The most clear thing that stood out to me as I was growing up and into adulthood where I took my place in the women’s movement and then in the fight against AIDS and discrimination against GLBT was that at the very heart of everything was our creed that all were ‘created equal’ and endowed with ‘inalienable’ rights. No one’s life was lived with that creed more in mind than the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. I also remember the day he was assassinated and trying to get to my grandfather’s place in Kansas City the long way around the riots. Some time it takes more sacrifice and anger than we should have to muster to realize those rights. That was 50 years ago.
Looking back at the Obama presidency and the hope I had that Hillary would also be a first, I remember those days as a kid when the holiday we celebrated was President’s day. We celebrated Lincoln who saved the Union and freed the slaves. We celebrated George Washington who could not tell a lie. Through all of this, my young heart got the message that Presidents could be flawed but the great ones did not lie. They sought the freedom and dignity that all of us deserved. They fought in the war against NAZIS and fascism to preserve and establish freedom and dignity for others. They sent Federal Troops to places in America where black men were murdered and black people were denied their basic rights as US citizens because that’s what moved the fight for freedom and dignity along in this country.
The Presidents we celebrated as children were honest and true to our values. They were celebrated for their humble beginnings, their military service, and–in many cases–their great minds. They established national parks to protect our nation’s lands and created the EPA. Nixon went to China. Reagan sought out the Soviets to decrease the threat of annihilation by nuclear weapons. Barack Obama stands in many ways as a monument to the work of King but will most likely be seen as a bright and moral man who led us out of dark economic times with a level head while seeking the establishment of health care for all.
We most often associate Dr King with his “I have a dream” speech and his letters from the Birmingham jail. But, this was also a man who fought for the dignity of garbage collectors to have a living wage for an honest day’s work. Our patriotic days celebrate traits of Presidents and heroes fighting for and establishing our shared values. We celebrate their establishment and furtherance as much as we celebrate the men themselves. (This is also why we need a few more patriotic holidays that enfranchise our women heroes and our indigenous peoples. Hint: NO MORE COLUMBUS DAYS)
The deal is this, I always thought that when they told us those stories of “anyone can become” president that it didn’t mean that it was an anyone that “lied”, avoided military service, ruined relations with allies, praised fascists, and gave speeches vilifying those among us that couldn’t join the Klan and recognizing goods on sides for which good does not exist in the American framework.
My children are grown and I no longer have to pass along the country’s folklore. I’m glad because what we see in the placeholder in the oval office today is anathema to all those lessons I learned during the celebration of President’s day in my grade schools and that both my daughters learned in their grade school classrooms during the celebration of MLK day. Kremlin KKKaligula chops down cherry trees every day and lies about it. Kremlin KKKaligula seeks to send our minorities back into servitude. His speeches are of Dreams of White Supremacy. He is way beyond a flawed man. He daily violates our shared values and looks towards their destruction.
He has to go. One way or another. Many people sacrificed so we could vote and this is the year that we show Martin Luther King that his fight to get voting rights and that his sacrifices were not in vain. I usually think of my grandmothers when I vote because I know they could not vote until well into their middle age. This November, I will hold up the promise of Dr Martin Luther King’s Dream and vote for everything that he lived and died for. Join me and get others to do so too. We need not just a blue wave. We need a rainbow wave. We need a colors of the earth wave.
Here are some reads that you might like.
From Electric Literature: “11 Incredible Books by Writers from ‘Shithole’ Countries. Let’s celebrate just a few of the amazing authors the president says he wouldn’t want in the U.S.”
But it’s a good reminder to celebrate the work of writers from Africa, and from Haiti, El Salvador, and other protected-status countries. As writers, readers, and human beings, we would all be intellectually impoverished by the lack of these voices. Here are some of our favorite novels, memoirs, and poetry by authors from the countries Trump disdains, many of whom celebrate their complicated homelands in their work.
And, from a patron of the Seattle Public Library: “Sh**hole Countries”: a Reading List.”
Our sh*t-for-brains 45th President doesn’t read, but you do! Explore some of the places and cultures he’s maligned, learn history he’s ignorant of, and see the world through the eyes of people whose lives he regards as worthless. Resist hate-mongering and race-baiting, and experience the world and your fellow human beings in ways that only someone not wholly devoid of curiosity, empathy, and functional literacy truly can! *Note: This list is not a publication of the Seattle Public Library, nor intended to be presented on its behalf. It was created on a patron account, outside the library, in the same manner that any library patron can do. (I encourage library patrons everywhere to create and share their own lists!) The Bibliocommons software tags all such lists with its creator’s home library. I apologize for any confusion: it was never my intention to present this list on the Library’s behalf.
From New York Magazine and the Jonathan Chait: “Why Republicans Love Dumb Presidents”.
Rather than segregate questions about Trump’s brain away from the broader partisan debate, they dissolve the former into the latter. They believe that Trump’s being called dumb by the intellectual elite is intimately connected to his political identity. This belief is largely correct. As it has moved farther and farther right, the Republican Party has grown increasingly anti-intellectual. Trump’s base adores him, not despite his obvious mental limitations, but because of them.
Two caveats are in order. First, many intelligent people have conservative values, and rationally support the Republican Party. Second, while Trump’s lack of mental aptitude may be similar to that of previous Republican leaders in kind, it is very different in degree. That said, Trump’s flamboyant ignorance and disdain for intellectual standards are very much in keeping with modern conservative politics.
From the SF Chronicle: “Airbnb loses thousands of hosts in SF as registration rules kick in.”
Thousands of San Francisco hosts on Airbnb and rival home-stay sites have stopped renting their homes and rooms to tourists. Many others are scrambling to register their vacation rentals with the city as a Tuesday deadline looms for Airbnb and HomeAway to kick off unregistered hosts.
From the NYT:
Trump’s Racism, a definitive list. (
The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.
Trump is a Racist, PERIOD. (CHARLES M.BLOW)
Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.
The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.
Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.
The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial (IBRAM X. KENDI)
Mental health experts routinely say that denial is among the most common defense mechanisms. Denial is how the person defends his superior sense of self, her racially unequal society.
Denial is how America defends itself as superior to “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere, as President Trump reportedly described them in a White House meeting last week, although he has since, well, denied that. It’s also how America defends itself as superior to those “developing countries” in Africa, to quote how liberal opponents of Mr. Trump might often describe them.
Mr. Trump appears to be unifying America — unifying Americans in their denial. The more racist Mr. Trump sounds, the more Trump country denies his racism, and the more his opponents look away from their own racism to brand Trump country as racist. Through it all, America remains a unified country of denial.
The reckoning of Mr. Trump’s racism must become the reckoning of American racism. Because the American creed of denial — “I’m not a racist” — knows no political parties, no ideologies, no colors, no regions.
So, what do we tell our American children? What does the world tell theirs about US?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Lazy Saturday Reads: This Is Our Reality NowPosted: January 13, 2018 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: "shithole countries", Baby Doc Duvalier, birtherism, Chris Matthews, Dick Durbin, Donald Trump, haiti, Hillary Clinton, immigration, Jame's O'Keefe, misogyny, money laundering, patient dumping, Pete Hoekstra, Racism, Sexism, Sexual harassment, The Netherlands, white supremacy 50 Comments
The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.
This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.
In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.
The Cut: Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.
On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian, some of them got addicted to drugs so they went to a rehab center from firststepbh.com.) They consulted xarelto lawsuit after the incident.
“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”
Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.
Back to The Cut:
Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”
We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”
Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:
That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.
And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.
The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.
Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.
Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”
Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.
Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.
Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”
Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.
Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”
More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.
These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.
Please go read the whole thing.
Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?
Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?
Back to the Post article:
According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.
His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.
These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….
Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.
Again, please go read the rest.
On the Trump scandal front:
Raw Story: Haitian government claims ousted dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier laundered stolen money through Trump Tower.
More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.
Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.
Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….
According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.
Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.
Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.
I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.
CNN: James O’Keefe says Trump asked him to go on birther-linked mission.
Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.
O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]
According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”
O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”
Read more at CNN.
The Washington Post: After drubbing by media, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands apologizes for anti-Muslim remarks.
The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.
Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.
“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”
Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.
“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”
Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.
So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.
What stories are you following?