Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

July 31, 2016

Stop Trump article by Jonathan Smucker

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 10:32 pm

The following Smucker article is an insightful contribution to the discussions on fighting Trump and fascism. A the same time I feel the article needs to more intentionally identify racism and white supremacy, both historially and presently, as the foundation for fascism’s growth and the weakness of progressive populism. For example, the discussion of Roosevelt’s populism leaves out the fact that an alliance was made with Southern Democrats which kept the Democratic party in power for the span of Roosevelt’s nearly 16 year presidency which meant that the Jim Crow reign of terror continued in the South.

The article is also extremely vague about what happens after November 8. The return to levels of fragmentation and separation is a likely outcome. Following the recall of Walker, as part of a significant uprising in Wisconsin, the way forward has been without enough focus and alliance of forces.

Jonathan M fight Smucker 7/29/16

We want a political revolution. First we must defeat fascism.

If progressives fail to seize the populist moment, the authoritarian right will fill the void. The insurgent Bernie Sanders campaign was a big step forward in building the progressive populist political alignment we need. Now that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party nominee, we have to figure out how to keep building after the 2016 election cycle. But first we must mobilize to defeat hate, bigotry, and the growing threat of fascism.

Two populisms

We are living in very exciting times. And we are living in very dangerous times. This year I was thrilled by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. It’s remarkable how close he came to winning the Democratic Party nomination, considering the resources and organization arrayed against his insurgent campaign. Like many others, I voted for Bernie in the primary and did what I could to work for his nomination. I wish he had won for so many reasons. Obviously there’s the fact that he is genuinely progressive and willing to fight against entrenched power, including his own party’s stale leadership. He signals a potential progressive direction for both the Democratic Party and the country. As important, I think Sanders was the stronger candidate in the general election — for reasons that most in the Democratic Party leadership completely fail to grasp. Why do I think Bernie would have been more viable? For the same reason that I thought Trump had the potential to win the Republican nomination since last summer: we are living in populisttimes.

Let me be more specific than the pundits who have been throwing around the word populism willy-nilly in recent months, as if it were not much more than a bad mood swing of the American electorate. To be living in populist times is to be living in an era when political authority is no longer seen as legitimate by most people; what’s often referred to as a crisis of legitimacy. During such a crisis, populist movements and leaders emerge, from both the right and the left, in order to forge a new popular alignment of social forces. Populists explain the causes of the crisis, they name ‘the establishment’ as the problem, and they articulate a new vision forward — an aspirational horizon — for ‘the people.’ Left-wing populism and right-wing populism thus share certain rhetorical features (i.e., ‘the people’ aligned against ‘the establishment’), but their contents and consequences could hardly be further apart. The retrograde ‘aspirational horizon’ of right-wing populism tends to be in the rearview mirror: a nostalgic longing for a simpler time that never actually existed. More importantly, despite its ostensible anti-elitism, right-wing populism always punches down, unifying ‘the people’ (some of them) by scapegoating a demonized other: blacks, Jews, homosexuals, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims — take your pick — depending on the opportunities available to the particular demagogue in the given context.

“Despite displaying the trappings of anti-elitism, right-wing populism always punches down, unifying ‘the people’ by scapegoating a demonized other.”

The signs of the present crisis accumulated for a long time: The Iraq War, crumbling public infrastructure, Hurricane Katrina, growing inequality. But if any single event brought about a popular recognition of the crisis of legitimacy, it was the financial meltdown of 2008. Despite reestablishing some level of relative stability, this underlying crisis has stayed with us since then, even if often out of sight and out of the minds of the punditry and the political class. Their underestimation of the magnitude of the crisis is what has made them so useless in predicting the remarkable success of the insurgencies within both major parties in 2016.

In these two insurgencies we can see the ‘two sides’ of populism and the two very different possible paths. Thus, a crisis of legitimacy is exciting for progressives insofar as it places our potential path right in front of us. It presents our underdog movements with an incredible opportunity to narrate the crisis, to reframe the premises of American society, and to organize a new progressive populist alignment capable of challenging the entrenched power of elites: in short, a political revolution. But a crisis of legitimacy is extraordinarily dangerous for a left that is not ready to take advantage of it. History shows that when progressives fail to realign popular social forces in such populist moments, reactionary authoritarians can suddenly step in with remarkable speed and horrific consequences. That is what we are witnessing with the rise of Trump in the United States, and with the related rise of fascism (leaders, movements, and political parties) throughout much of Europe. The stakes of everything we do right now are extraordinarily high.

Neoliberals, progressives, and the Democratic Party

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July 30, 2016

Prevent a Trump Victory; Stand Up to Fascism

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 8:16 am

by Larry Miller

I’ve heard and read an array of distressing statements from the left about the upcoming election.

“This election is nothing more than choosing between the lesser of two evils.”

“Fascism and neoliberalism are two sides of the same coin.”

“Social democracy is the left wing of Fascism.”

“Voting has no purpose.”

All these statements add up to not voting for Hillary Clinton. But such perspectives are ahistorical and do not address the needs of the people’s movements at this time.

The following is not a defense of Hillary Clinton and her  political positions, but instead is an argument for a strategic consideration to defend the American people against a growing fascist threat.

Donald Trump is calling for a police state in America. Trump’s call for “rounding up” 11 million immigrants, with the creation of a special police force, is a fascist act. His history of discrimination toward African-Americans combined with his vitriol toward Black Lives Matter and the Black community and his proclamation of being the “law and order” candidate make it clear that both Black and Brown communities would receive the brunt of his call for new forms of state terror.  In the not too distant past Black people in this country experienced a state of terror called Jim Crow. Under no circumstances should such terror be allowed to return.

The “We can’t vote for Hillary” arguments today do not reflect what we need to fight a growing and frightening ultra-nationalist and racist movement. A Trump victory would mean significant setbacks and unbearable obstacles for those fighting to improve the lives of working and poor folks.

I have an Iranian friend who is scared to death that Trump will win this election. She cannot return to Iran because she would be arrested by the fascist theocracy in power. She knows firsthand what it means to try and organize under a police state. She warns of the setbacks that would be faced by Black and Brown communities that already face incredible hardship.

A vote for Hillary does not equal a vote for neoliberalism. We don’t give up our own platform and demands by our vote. What we do is protect the democratic rights that we still have so we are more capable of organizing.

We need to be able to fight on more than one front. During World War II the Black community mobilized against Hitler fascism. At the same time they fought discrimination, Jim Crow laws, lynching, for voting rights, and against attacks on Black communities. African-American soldiers fought fascism in Europe, against white supremacy and segregation inside the military, and brought that battle back home after the war, leading to the great freedom struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.

Today the left should support blocking Trump from gaining the White House. This in no way calls for pulling back or watering down the demands of the important liberation movements being waged today. But it does say do the smart thing, find allies everywhere including within the Democratic Party, make use of contradictions within the ruling circles, and distinguish between enemies.

U.S. liberation movements are still weak and at early stages of development. We are without a unifying party that brings together the working class, liberation movements and communities of color. The Working Families Party and the Green Party are important to the struggle but they should not be confused with the type of political party that is needed to lead a political revolution in this country.

As Linda Burnham has pointed out in Notes on an Election, “The U.S. left is not strong enough – not nearly strong enough – to frame its own choices. Every choice that is framed for us by the center and the right will be agonizingly difficult. The key issue is whether the choices we make create the possibility to build our strength and move in the direction of a coherent strategy, or further weaken and marginalize our already fragmented and debilitated forces.”

In a recent interview on NPR, an immigrant Latino delegate to the Democratic convention, said, “Not voting against Trump is a privilege and luxury my people do not have.”

Bottom line: organize to vote for Hillary Clinton while organizing liberation and resistance movements.

The real need is to support and engage with communities that are resisting, organizing and seeking power — do door-knocking in poor and working-class communities; stand at a factory entrance during shift change; march with Black Lives Matter; march for immigration rights with groups like Voces de la Frontera; organize to elect progressive candidates locally; fight Islamophobia; organize for Palestinian rights; organize to oppose militarization and use of drones – all while calling on people to do everything in their power to stop Trump.

Those of us who are white need to find ways to talk to white co-workers, neighbors and others to expose why this billionaire who built his empire on union-busting, exploitation, discrimination and misogyny, is the last person to be the voice for working people.

Power to the People!

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2016

Understanding Trump: George Lakeoff

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 7:01 am

Understanding Trump

07/22/2016 George Lakoff Author of Don’t Think of an Elephant! | UC Berkeley Professor of Linguistics | Founder of Reframe America

There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

As a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

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July 24, 2016

Misogyny and male privilege: Time to take a stand

Filed under: Elections — millerlf @ 4:37 pm

View from the Heartland  Sunday, July 24, 2016

By Barbara J. Miner — Honoring the Wisconsin tradition of common decency and progressive politics.

Misogyny and male privilege: Time to take a stand

Dear Bernie supporters: We need to talk. Specifically, we need to talk about misogyny and male privilege.

If there was even the slightest doubt, the Republican convention has made clear that Trump will use no-holds-barred misogyny to try and take down Hillary. And it will get quite ugly — perhaps even uglier than the Republicans’ race-based attacks on President Obama.

Chris Christie’s Salem-Witch-Trial “lock her up” speech at the Republican convention was perhaps the most menacing and demagogic speech I’ve ever seen at a convention.

Unfortunately, there are disconcerting signs that some Bernie supporters are willing to take up the “lock her up” chant.

It’s especially important during the coming months that Bernie and his supporters take a stand against misogyny — both blatant sexism a lá the Republicans, and also the more nuanced and subtle forms of male chauvinism and privilege.

The Black Lives Matter movement has done an admirable job of raising consciousness around issues of racism and white privilege. But calls to discuss misogyny and male privilege among Sanders supporters have, too often, been dismissed as an overreaction to legitimate criticisms of Clinton. That’s a mistake. Such concerns need to be taken seriously.

Learning from feminist consciousness-raising of the 1960s and 1970s, the left/progressive movements need 21st Century discussions that explore how misogyny and male privilege are far more nuanced and complicated than raw, intentional sexism. For instance: when out-of-control anger and rage is disproportionately directed at a woman, that’s bullying. That’s male chauvinism. And, to many women, it’s downright scary.

My sincere hope is that Trump loses in November, the Republicans are forced to focus on rebuilding their party— and progressives harness the energy and ideas of the Sanders campaign to strengthen existing movements for social justice and to create new ones.

As we build and strengthen our movements, we need to ensure that race and gender are not merely subsumed into calls for economic equality. One need merely look at Europe to see how economic populism, on its own, is not enough.

Precisely because Sanders has proclaimed socialist ideals, I hold him to higher standards. Similarly, because Sanders supporters will be part of any new left/progressive movements, I hold them to higher standards.

“Hillary the child-eater”

I’ve been concerned about sexist strains among some Sanders supporters for months, but it never seemed the right time to bring up the topic. But when, in the midst of the Republican convention, some pro-Bernie Facebook pages remained focused almost exclusively on criticizing Hillary — sometimes with memes that differed little from the Republican onslaught of attacks — I realized that there is never a good time to talk about such a complicated and emotional subject.

At the very time that Trump was speaking at the convention, one of my Bernie Facebook pages had pictures of Hillary eating a baby, of a George Washington meme saying he would “bitch slap all of you,” and calling for people to “grow a pair of nuts and take back your government.”

Yes, the examples are extreme, and maybe they were put up by Republican trolls. But that’s a poor excuse, because posts on the page have to be approved by an administrator before they go public.

And yes, it may be a small percentage of Bernie’s supporters who make such attacks. But misogynistic anger, rage, distortion and double standards need be condemned forthrightly whenever they occur. To turn a blind eye allows such a culture to fester and potentially infect the entire movement.

Go back to October 2015, when a post on the official Sanders campaign website called for a “Bern the Witch” event to watch a debate a few weeks before Halloween. Anyone could register a campaign event on Sanders’ website and to its credit, the Sanders campaign took down the notice (but not until five months later, in March.)

Joe Smith, who posted the event, was asked if he thought “Bern the Witch” was sexist. “No, not at all,” he said.*

Fast forward to May and the infamous Nevada Democratic Party caucus.

Did Bernie supporters throw chairs at Hillary supporters? I don’t know. I’m one to discount Facebook facts unless I can independently verify the information. But I did see more than one on-line video where “bitch” was shouted at Barbara Boxer. And it was impossible to not see the many articles about the harassing texts and voicemails sent to Nevada State Democratic Party chair Roberta Lange, reportedly ranging from name-calling (“cunt,” “bitch” and “criminal”) up to and including death threats.

Days later, Sanders released a statement on the tumultuous events in Nevada. Oh how I wished he would have forthrightly condemned the out-of-bounds behavior by his some of his supporters. Instead, he began by saying that the Democratic Party needs to understand “that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics.”

Then, after all-but condoning rage, he half-heartedly distanced himself from the Nevada ugliness. In a nearly 500-word statement, his only reference to the name-calling and threats was, “Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.” It was one of the most disappointing moments of Bernie’s campaign.

And now we see some Bernie supporters echoing the Republican mob mentality and demanding, “lock her up.”

Bernie and his supporters need to take a stand against misogyny — both blatant sexism, and the more nuanced and subtle forms of male chauvinism and privilege. The time is long past.

More Examples of Trump’s Racism

Filed under: Elections,Fascism — millerlf @ 4:31 pm

Is Donald Trump a Racist?

Nicholas Kristof JULY 23, 2016 NYTimes

HAS the party of Lincoln just nominated a racist to be president? We shouldn’t toss around such accusations lightly, so I’ve looked back over more than 40 years of Donald Trump’s career to see what the record says.

One early red flag arose in 1973, when President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department — not exactly the radicals of the day — sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals.

I’ve waded through 1,021 pages of documents from that legal battle, and they are devastating. Donald Trump was then president of the family real estate firm, and the government amassed overwhelming evidence that the company had a policy of discriminating against blacks, including those serving in the military.

To prove the discrimination, blacks were repeatedly dispatched as testers to Trump apartment buildings to inquire about vacancies, and white testers were sent soon after. Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental.

A former building superintendent working for the Trumps explained that he was told to code any application by a black person with the letter C, for colored, apparently so the office would know to reject it. A Trump rental agent said the Trumps wanted to rent only to “Jews and executives,” and discouraged renting to blacks.

Donald Trump furiously fought the civil rights suit in the courts and the media, but the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate.

In fairness, those suits date from long ago, and the discriminatory policies were probably put in place not by Donald Trump but by his father. Fred Trump appears to have been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927; Woody Guthrie, who lived in a Trump property in the 1950s, lambasted Fred Trump in recently discovered papers for stirring racial hatred.

Yet even if Donald Trump inherited his firm’s discriminatory policies, he allied himself decisively in the 1970s housing battle against the civil rights movement.

Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the “Central Park jogger” case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested.

Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch’s call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect, they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds.

As Trump moved into casinos, discrimination followed. In the 1980s, according to a former Trump casino worker, Kip Brown, who was quoted by The New Yorker: “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. … They put us all in the back.”

In 1991, a book by John O’Donnell, who had been president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump as criticizing a black accountant and saying: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” O’Donnell wrote that for months afterward, Trump pressed him to fire the black accountant, until the man resigned of his own accord.

Trump eventually denied making those comments. But in 1997 in a Playboy interview, he conceded “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

The recent record may be more familiar: Trump’s suggestions that President Obama was born in Kenya; his insinuations that Obama was admitted to Ivy League schools only because of affirmative action; his denunciations of Mexican immigrants as, “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists”; his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States; his dismissal of an American-born judge of Mexican ancestry as a Mexican who cannot fairly hear his case; his reluctance to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview; his retweet of a graphic suggesting that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual figure is about 15 percent); and so on.

Trump has also retweeted messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers, including two from an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the American Nazi Party’s founder.

Trump repeatedly and vehemently denies any racism, and he has deleted some offensive tweets. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi racist website that has endorsed Trump, sees that as going “full-wink-wink-wink.”

(Update: After this column was published, the Trump campaign emailed me the following statement: “Donald Trump has a lifetime record of inclusion and has publicly rebuked groups who seek to discriminate against others on numerous occasions. To suggest otherwise is a complete fabrication of the truth.”)

My view is that “racist” can be a loaded word, a conversation stopper more than a clarifier, and that we should be careful not to use it simply as an epithet. Moreover, Muslims and Latinos can be of any race, so some of those statements technically reflect not so much racism as bigotry. It’s also true that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.

And yet.

Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.

 

July 15, 2016

Important analysis of BlackLivesMatter movement by Linda Burnham

Filed under: BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 3:46 pm

Follow LeftRoots at: https://leftroots.net/baton-rouge-falcon-heights-dallas/

Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas

by Linda Burnham July 11, 2016

A thick strand in the history of U.S. policing is rooted back in the slave patrols of the 19th century. Patty rollers were authorized to stop, question, search, harass and summarily punish any Black person they encountered. The five- and six-pointed badges many of them wore to symbolize their authority were predecessors to those of today’s sheriffs and patrolmen. They regularly entered the plantation living quarters of enslaved people, leaving terror and grief in their wake. Together with the hunters of runaways, these patrols had a crystal clear mandate: to constrain the enslaved population to its role as the embodiment and producer of massive wealth for whites and to forestall the possibility that labor subordinated to the lash might rebel at the cost of white lives.

How far have we come, really? Having extricated ourselves from a system of bottomless and blatant cruelty we have evolved a system that depends on the patty rollers of today to constrain and contain a population that, while no longer enslaved, is ruthlessly exploited, criminally neglected and justifiably aggrieved. Ruthlessly exploited by the low-wage industries that depend on ample supplies of cheap labor, by the bottom feeders of capital – pay-day loan companies and slumlords come to mind –­ by the incarceration-for-profit industry, by the municipalities that meet their budgets by preying on poor people, generating revenue by way of broken taillights, lapsed vehicle registrations and failures to signal.

Criminally neglected by policy makers – 152 years’ worth and counting – at every level of government. And so our education policy appears to be: starve the public system until it collapses and to hell with the children whose parents have no alternative. Housing policy stubbornly stacked against the development and maintenance of low-income housing. Jobs policy that, against an ideological backdrop that touts personal fulfillment and prosperity through honest effort, reduces grown men to selling loosies and cd’s on street corners to provide for their families.

Justifiably aggrieved because we still must assert, against the relentless accumulation of evidence to the contrary, that Black lives matter.

And all this on top of the foundational failure to financially repair or compensate the formerly enslaved or their descendants.

So today’s patty rollers are expected to contain any overflow of bitterness and anger on the part of the exploited, neglected and aggrieved, maintaining order in a fundamentally – and racially – disordered system. Their mandate is as clear as that of their forefathers: to constrain a population whose designated role is to absorb absurdly high rates of unemployment and make itself available for low-wage, low-status work without complaint, much less rebellion. Those who fear a spiraling descent into disorder, know this: we are merely witnessing the periodic, explosive surfacing of entrenched disorders we have refused to face or fix.

Our narratives and debates about good cops and rogue cops, better training and community policing are important but entirely insufficient. No doubt the patty rollers of the 1850s could have been trained to reign in their brutality. Given the gloriously diverse dispositions of our human family, patrollers likely ranged from the breathtakingly cruel to the queasily reluctant enforcers of patent injustice. All that is, at bottom, beside the point. Whether cruel or kind, restrained or rogue, their job was to police – and by policing, maintain – a barbaric system.

Today’s police can be better trained to recognize implicit bias, to dial back on aggression and deescalate tense encounters. All to the good, as far as it goes. But none of it changes their core mandate in poor Black communities: to control and contain, by any means necessary, a population that has every reason to be restive and rebellious.

*                                  *                                  *

“Was he colored?” That’s what my grandmother would say whenever she heard news about a criminal act. She knew that if the alleged perpetrator were “colored” his criminality would be read not simply as the act of an individual, but as an expression of an ingrained racial tendency. Somehow being Black meant that the actions of every random thief, rapist or murderer who was also Black redounded to you and your people. I imagine most Black families had a version of “Was he colored?” And I wouldn’t be surprised if Muslim American families have an equivalent expression today. Untying the knot of individual culpability and the consequences of racial belonging is nowhere near as straightforward as it might seem.

I was on a dance floor on Thursday night, desperately trying to shake off the news from Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. My phone was in my back pocket and, like an idiot, when it buzzed with an incoming text, I left the dance floor and stepped outside to the news from Dallas. Though the action was still unfolding, I immediately surmised that the shooter was “colored,” and that he had been trained by the U.S. military.

It has fallen to President Obama, time and again, to make sense out of the incomprehensible and bind the wounds of a nation apparently bent on self-destruction. In the aftermath of Dallas, Obama quickly condemned the despicable violence of a demented, troubled individual. The president’s intent was clear and laudable. He sought to defuse tensions by definitively asserting that the shooter’s action was not associated with a political movement or a particular organization, that his murderous deeds should in no way be linked to African Americans in general. He struggled to shift the focus from “Was he colored?” to “Clearly he was crazy, right?”

But before boxing Micah Johnson up and setting him aside as deranged and demented it’s worth asking a few questions. Honestly, good people, did anybody in their right mind – that is, not troubled or demented – think that the police could continue to pick off Black people at will and on camera without producing a Micah Johnson? And is troubled and demented shorthand for “traumatized by repeated exposure to the graphic depiction of the murder of people who look just like me?” Or for “agonized by the fact that the officers of the law who placed a handcuffed man in the back of a van and snapped his spine in an intentionally “rough ride” were neither held criminally accountable nor labeled troubled and demented?” Or for “depressed beyond imagining and haunted by the ghosts of the men and women whose lives were snatched by the side of the road, down back alleyways, and in precinct stations from one end of the country to the other before the era of cell phone video?” Or for “pierced through the heart by the voice of four-year-old Dae’Anna, comforting her mama?” Because if demented and troubled is shorthand for any of that, then Micah Johnson may have been a lone gunman, but he is far from alone.

That whoosh you heard on Friday morning was the sound of people rushing to condemn the Dallas shootings, or to extract condemnations from others. There is, of course, no moral justification for gunning down police officers. And, retaliatory violence aimed at the armed representatives of the state, beyond being a suicidal provocation, also shuts down all avenues for advancing the cause of racial justice.  But there is a lot of room for reflection between the cheap polarities of condemn or condone.

So here we are, once again, with calls from all quarters for dialogue across the racial divide. But if the long years before the emergence of the various movements for Black lives have taught us anything, it is this: our purported partners in dialogue simply turn their backs and leave the table as soon as the pressure is off. This moment calls for the vigorous defense of our right to continued protest and the intensification and elaboration of multiple movements for Black lives – for the sake of our ancestors and the generations to come. And for the sake of this country that is our home.

 

Linda Burnham has worked for decades as an activist, writer and strategist focused on women’s rights, racial justice and national politics.

July 12, 2016

Wisconsin State Senator Says MPS is the Cause of Poverty and Crime in Milwaukee

Filed under: Right Wing Agenda — millerlf @ 8:54 am

State Senator Vanggaard says MIlwaukee Public Schools is the cause of poverty and crime in Milwaukee. He calls for increased funding to lockup more Milwaukee youth.

Read his commentary at:

http://tinyurl.com/huqszm6

Rocketship Revisited

Filed under: Rocketship — millerlf @ 8:54 am

Rocketship Milwaukee: Another view

Posted: 11 Jul 2016 by Barbara Miner

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s article on Rocketship Milwaukee on July 11, 2016 omits essential information. The following is a feature I wrote for the December 2014/January 2015 issue of The Progressive. For more information, check out the analysis of Rocketship Milwaukee by the Economic Policy Institute.

MILWAUKEE, Wis — Like most principals, Brittany Kinser is a cheerleader for her school. “I just want to make sure you’ll be positive,” she says when I visit the Rocketship charter school in Milwaukee.

Looking younger than her 37 years and with the physique of a long-distance runner, Kinser has a seemingly endless supply of energy, enthusiasm and commitment. It’s hard not to like her. Following one of the school’s axioms — Dress for Success — she is wearing a magenta pencil-skirt that nicely sets off her black sweater, tights and four-inch stiletto heels. Her Dress for Success message is clear: I am competent and I am in charge.

At the same time, Kinser is nervous about my visit. It’s understandable.

For almost a quarter century, I have criticized using public tax collars to fund private voucher schools and privately run charter schools. Rocketship, an entrepreneurial network of charter schools based in the Silicon Valley, has become a national poster child for the privatization of public education. It is particularly known for its bare-bones curricular focus on standardized test scores in reading and math, its use of computer-based “learning labs” that cut down costs, and its promotion of the Rocketship brand — including a daily pep rally where students chant that they are “Rocketship Rocketeers.”

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View Shonda Rhimes and Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Alicia Garza addressing recent issues of Black Lives matter

Filed under: BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 8:53 am

Shonda Rhimes Shuts Down Black Lives Matter Critics After Dallas Shootings

http://www.thewrap.com/shonda-rhimes-shuts-down-black-lives-matter-critics-after-dallas-shootings/

 

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Alicia Garza: We Can Grieve For Dallas And Still Demand Accountability

See her interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-lives-matter-alicia-garza-dallas-shooting_us_578105c4e4b0344d514f834c

Michelle Alexander Addresses Need for Transformative Change in Light of Recent Killings

Filed under: BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 8:53 am

Michelle Alexander: It’s Not Enough to Just Deplore Horrific Violence

We need a profound shift in our collective consciousness in order to challenge an entrenched system of racial and social control — and build a new America.

By Michelle Alexander / BillMoyers.com July 10, 2016

I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. Thursday night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?

I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. I know that I am not alone. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. But they knew they had to walk. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. And so do we.

What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places. I am asking myself what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage. It’s a question that requires some time and reflection. I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. What is happening now is very, very old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well. In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all. I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country. Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. A profound shift in our collective consciousness must occur, a shift that makes possible a new America.

I know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations — resulting in thousands of dollars in fines — before his last, fatal encounter with the police.

Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by. He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record. His act of survival was treated by the police as a major crime, apparently punishable by death.

How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.

This is not hyperbole. And this is not new. What is new is that we’re now watching all of this on YouTube and Facebook, streaming live, as imagined super-predators are brought to heel. Fifty years ago, our country was forced to look at itself in the mirror when television stations broadcast Bloody Sunday, the day state troopers and a sheriff’s posse brutally attacked civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma. Those horrifying images, among others, helped to turn public opinion in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the images we’ve seen in recent days will make some difference. It’s worth remembering, though, that none of the horrifying images from the Jim Crow era would’ve changed anything if a highly strategic, courageous movement had not existed that was determined to challenge a deeply entrenched system of racial and social control.

This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won.

Michelle Alexander is a legal scholar, human rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

 

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