We need art to be brave and tell the truth:
We need art to be brave and tell the truth:
Nov. 7th is the 100th anniversary of Jeannette Rankin’s being elected to the House of Representatives, the first woman to win federal office, several years before women could even vote.
Tomorrow, we may reach another milestone.
It is a picture of America’s future..
God Bless you folks.
To me, it’s painfully ironic that this eve-of-the-election weekend is also the opening weekend for “Loving,” a film about Mildred and Richard Loving, a Virginia couple who, in 1958, were dragged out of their bed, arrested, and sentenced to a year in prison. Their crime? They got married. However, Richard was white and Mildred black, and that was against the laws of the not-so-long-ago day when women and men of different races were, in some states, forbidden to do so.
The actual charge: “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.”
Their sentence was suspended on the condition they leave Virginia. They eventually took the case to the Supreme Court, where, in a unanimous decision, the justices struck down Virginia’s law. (We’ll let the point about the heavy hand of the state interfering with people’s private lives pass for the moment.) In his opinion, Chief Justice Warren specifically noted that laws like Virginia’s were obviously “designed to maintain White Supremacy.”
Despite the Court’s ruling, laws forbidding interracial marriage remained on the books for decades. Alabama was the last state to purge this racist concept from its state constitution . . . in 2000.
Irony is a term to describe an event that presents the opposite of what one might normally expect, and that is in full flower this year. The Loving’s case represented a triumph of love over hate, hate that was institutionalized in law. I happened to think that, in the 49 years since that decision was handed down, my country might have made more progress against hatred, and I say this as a man who grew up in the midst of it and who was not completely immune to it in his early years. See this post from March of last year if you want more details.
This election has proven me wrong. I certainly was not so naive as to think we’d banished racism, bigotry, misogyny, and other forms of hate, but I really did believe they were no longer the norm, and surely a national political campaign could not be driven by them, at least not obviously. But this election, more than any other I’ve seen, at least since 1968, is driven by hate, and by racism.
Donald Trump’s campaign began with a racist message, couched in anti-immigration language. All the familiar elements were there, including his claim that Mexico’s government was sending “rapists” and other criminals to the U.S. It’s a stock racist technique to emphasize rape, with the clear implication that brown or black men are going to force themselves on white women. He was still at it more recently, with the fear-mongering claim that Hillary Clinton was going to bring 600,000 Syrians into the Land of the Free.
In this, Trump is really only practicing a louder, coarser, and more obvious example of a core Republican strategy going back decades. As a young Republican in the late 60s, I vividly recall Nixon’s Southern Strategy (a direct appeal to white racists, in an attempt to blunt George Wallace’s appeal across the South). Then there was Reagan’s first campaign stop, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three young Civil Rights workers were murdered in 1964, and declaring his belief in “states’ rights.” And who can forget Bush the Elder’s Willie Horton ad? The Younger Bush’s administration made suppression of minority voters, in the name of stopping non-existent vote fraud, a priority, and a Republican-dominated Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Trump himself called for his supporters to watch polling places for fraud, by which he meant they should do whatever they could to intimidate minority voters. A federal just just slapped him down for that.
What was particularly horrifying to me was the gleeful sense of relief expressed by millions of Americans that their racism could now be voiced openly, encouraged by their candidate. “He says what we’ve all been thinking,” or words to that effect, marked many news stories on the subject of Trump’s appeal.
That hatred took another form, aimed at Hillary Clinton herself. I saw a recent poll that reported 51 percent of Trump voters surveyed were voting against Clinton, and the rhetoric, in the Trump campaign and among his supporters, has been far beyond mere criticism or disagreement with her policies. It’s been ugly, misogynist, and violent. There are threats on her life. So millions of Americans are willing to put a race-baiting, bigoted, lying sexual predator into the Oval Office to satisfy their hatred.
And they may well succeed.
I had this uncle who paid for a genealogical study of my family and found that we had a motto: finem respice, Latin for “consider the end.” By that, it means, think of the consequences of your actions.
The consequences, in this case, should be terrifying. There is already more than enough hate-spawned violence abroad in the land. Consider how that escalates if the president of the United States encourages it. If you are African-American, Hispanic, Muslim, or gay, Trump is working people who hate you and may commit violence against you into a froth. Now that it’s out in the open, after January 20th, it may be open season on you.
Back in my Zen days, I came up with this little mindfulness exercise: when things seemed to be on the edge of disaster, I’d breathe and tell myself, “When Time is running out, slow down.”
This came back to me on the train home as I was reading about the FBI letter announcing they found some more Clinton emails they are going to research. This, doubtless, had Clinton supporters reaching for the Mylanta or the bourbon, and my Facebook feed is already populating with the gleeful cheers of the Right who once again think they will finally get to dance on the grave of Hillary Clinton’s political career, bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah.
To all of you, I advise: breathe.
First up, Director Comey’s letter says the FBI discovered emails that “appear to be pertinent to the investigation” (we assume he means the one into whether Sec. Clinton might have broken any laws through her use of a private email to handle official email. He goes on to say there’s no way, at this point, to determine whether anything in these emails is “significant.” Now, I was a journalist for a long time, and I’ve been in D.C. long enough to know that’s not going to matter, Nuance is for sissies in our current world. The letter is being blown up all over as though the emails must, must have what all the Clinton haters, right and left, have been waiting for: proof she’s guilty of something.
Second, keep in mind the FBI has stumbled over more emails more than once before. There’s never been anything in them worth the fuss, and they haven’t changed public opinion. We’ve been hearing about her emails for 18 months, an outgrowth of the Benghazi (BENGHAZI!! BENGHAZI!!) “investigation” that even the Republicans admit was a trumped-up (pun certainly intended) attempt to cripple her candidacy. The public knows all about her emails. Perhaps this will blunt her recent surge in the polls, perhaps not. We’ll know more, probably by the middle of next week. The stock market didn’t take it well, I know; investors are terrified at the thought of a Trump presidency (let that one sink in).
Third, news reports are indicating the new emails didn’t come from Clinton’s private server or that they were deliberately withheld from investigators or that they were even from Clinton herself.
Finally, even if this dents Clinton’s momentum, consider the political math. She needs to win 270 votes to become president. Yes, it would be great, from her supporters’ point-of-view, if she got to 300+ to really put a stamp on the election and help with the Dems making gains in Congress, but she needs 270 to win. Her overall chances of winning are about 80 percent or better, depending on whose crystal ball you’re reading. In the states she must win, there’s only one – New Hampshire – where she’s below 85 percent. She does not need to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, or Nevada. Of the states she needs to win, perhaps Trump might gain ground in Michigan or Pennsylvania or New Hampshire or Maine, but he’s pretty far behind in all of those, and, like I said, we’ve heard all this before. And don’t forget, early voting has been underway for some time. There are indications that Dem voters are turning out in force and the Clinton is peeling off Republican women. Donald Trump has convinced so many people he is as dangerous as he is odious that emails may not matter.
I know it’s throwing sand against the sea, but let’s hold off until November 1st or 2nd before we make too much of this.
Game 6, Rangers up in the Series, 3-2. They had the Redbirds down 7-5 in the bottom of the 9th. David Freese, with two outs and two strikes on him, triples into right, tying the game. Lance Berkman in the same situation, ties it in the 10th. Then Freese hits the walk-off in the 11th to win one of the most amazing World Series games ever.