Amidst Anger, Fear, and Outrage there is Hope

Maybe I’m crazy. Amidst the anger, fear and outrage I feel right now, there is hope.

 

I am white and I support Black Lives Matter. I support speaking out for justice and against the abuses of governmental power. I support not only the righteous anger but the compassion for others expressed by these demonstrations. Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about the collective pain in the African American community. There is too much pain in our nation right now and the only medicine for it is justice.

 

A man, an African American man named George Floyd, was murdered by police. His video-taped cry “I can’t breathe” eerily echoed the same words spoken by Eric Garner in NYC in 2014 before he, too, was killed by police. And in Tacoma Washington, the Medical Examiner just ruled that Manuel Ellis was killed on March 3 by police. He, too, called out “I can’t breathe” before dying.

 

George Floyd was murdered last week, just about two months after another African-American, Breonna Taylor, was shot by police in her own home, and three months after Ahmaud Arbery was shot. It took three months before the murderers of Mr. Arbery were arrested.

 

All across the country protests began against this latest murder, largely peaceful protests, calling for justice. But then reports and videos of violence followed the demonstrations. Curfews were instigated, national guard activated. Chaos seemed to ensue in several cities.

 

This was frightening. Then photos were taken and shared, and peaceful Black protestors called out white instigators of that violence. It seemed these disrupters were mostly either thieves taking advantage of the protests to rip off businesses or white nationalists trying to discredit the demonstrations or instigate further violence. And one white man, a supporter of DT, drove a tractor-trailer into a huge crowd of protestors, evoking the image of a deadly attack by a terrorist driving a truck into a crowd of people in Nice, France, in 2016.

 

I feel outrage not only against the murder but that peaceful demonstrations could be twisted to serve the purposes of white nationalists and others, who represent the very deep social forces in this nation that have perpetrated violence against African-Americans and others in this country for years, since the beginning of this nation.

 

And in the background, DT fuels the flames, incites violence by his MAGA supporters, calls the African-American protestors “thugs.” Threatens to send in the military. But the armed white nationalists, who protest against the orders of Democratic Governors to stay home to keep themselves and others safe⎼ they, of course, are “good people.”

 

He is using the protests to create a new crisis and distract us from the ongoing pandemic of racism and COVID-19, which is still killing thousands. But I think⎼ or hope⎼ he has made a mistake. In the past, DT has worked to instill, in his supporters, hate of African Americans, Latinos and other people of color, Muslims, Jews, Democrats, and others, and instill fear in anyone who opposes him. (He even re-tweeted a video of a supporter saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”) What he’s done this time is turn his opponent’s frustration over continuing injustice into a conviction that the only viable choice they or we have is taking action.

 

And while the demonstrations are continuing, people are dying due to the coronavirus. Over 106,000 people have died. This virus has been made more lethal by the malignant mismanagement of the crisis by the DT government. The GOP have exploited the pandemic instead of responsibly facing it. Some have profited financially, not just for themselves but their mega-rich donors. According to Common Dreams, 41 million people have lost jobs while American billionaires grew $500 billion richer. They have readily sacrificed people to suit their own purposes, and African-Americans have disproportionately been the victims.

 

This all must end.

 

The police officer who killed George Floyd was charged this Wednesday with second degree murder. The others who stood by and aided and abetted in that crime have also been arrested. These arrests and the prosecutions that will follow, as well as changes in the operation of the police in Minneapolis, will be a tremendous first step. They are largely the result of people speaking up and taking to the streets. It is one step at a time. Changing the nation as a whole ⎼ that will hopefully follow.

 

In Minneapolis, there is at least a Democratic Mayor who has shown understanding of the history of racism this murder has exposed (although the president of the police union has not). The nation has a very different leader. For any deeper changes, DT must go.

 

So, why hope? Because we need hope to act. Because more than half of the people of this nation are sick of these injustices and are saying so. People are sick of one murder after another⎼ and sick of coronavirus deaths. Of the stupidity, injustice, and malevolence. Of the racism institutionalized into a political, economic and social system that is at the center of the malignancy that is splitting open this nation. Justice for this murder might lead to justice for other murders and abuses of government power. And then the rule of law and the civil rights protected in the constitution will be protected in the streets, the courts, and the Congress.

 

And inside the anger there are tears. When everyone took a knee at a demonstration  yesterday protesting the death of George Floyd, the sadness over his death, over so many lives taken, suddenly hit me, hit everyone. But instead of crying I write this.

 

Only voices united in opposition can reveal and expel that malignancy and create the social and legal situation where a guilty verdict against police is possible. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the Lincoln Memorial about “the real promises of democracy.” He said, “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” He spoke of his hope. His dream. It is illustrative of this moment that DT has stationed troops at the Lincoln Memorial to drive away the hope and the dream. He won’t succeed.

 

So, after the fear, anger, and outrage⎼ and the sadness⎼ the hope shyly follows.

 

*This post has been syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

*The photo is from Gary Bercow.

Are We All in this Together? Sketches of A Future Drawn in the Present

I wish I had at least a vague idea of what the future could look like in a year, or even a month, but I don’t. When the world is threatened, the urge to know can become overwhelming. Usually, we at least know what the usual is. But now, for many of us, aside from what the inside of our homes looks like, we don’t even know that. Too many changes.

 

Every 10 days or so I drive into town. The roads and buildings are the same as before the pandemic, and I imagine once this crisis is over, we can simply return to our “normal” lives.

 

But then I notice all the restaurants and stores with closed signs. I hear on the radio that news outlets have been losing so many workers (except Fox) they can barely function. Accurate news reporting could be threatened. Or, on the positive side, NPR reported that pharmacy companies, previously known for putting CEO and shareholder profits above everything else, are joining together to find vaccines and treatments for the virus.

 

One prediction I can make is that more people in the future will want to become doctors, nurses and other first responders, the heroes of this time.

 

What I mainly have are questions. On the tv and radio, in advertisements and public service announcements, the meme “we are all in this together” keeps getting repeated. It is a sentiment I agree with and one that has become a powerful force for creating pressure to improve our overall health care system and for legislation to protect most Americans, not just the rich and corporations, from the harmful consequences of the pandemic.

 

It expresses a dynamic truth. With an illness that is so destructive, that can be deadly and spread so easily, with many people infected but showing no symptoms ⎼ anyone can get it, even the powerful, rich, and famous. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain, got the illness and wound up in the ICU. Many celebrities, athletes, politicians have been infected. Too many have died. Over 158,000 people worldwide have died so far from it.

 

So if anyone can get it, we are all in this together.

 

But some are more likely than others. The poor more than the rich. The people who work in the fields or production plants and can’t stop working, either because their job is too essential or they can’t afford to stop. For example, one of the Smithfield food processing plants was closed only after the mayor of Sioux Falls forced them to. 350 of its workers had tested positive for the virus. The pandemic is exposing social inequities that have existed for years and have been getting worse. The racism. The poverty. These have always threatened people’s lives and they are doing so now….

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

We Need to Believe Our Eyes and Ears: We Have A Manchurian President

The Manchurian Candidate is a classic movie from 1962 in which Russian Communists initiate a plot to use a brainwashed American soldier as a sleeper agent to kill the candidate for American President. Evidence would be revealed to show the Russians were responsible. The Vice-Presidential candidate, someone controlled by the Russians, would then succeed him and be able to assume dictatorial powers to safeguard the nation.

 

In the reality we face today, there is no brainwashed sleeper agent (I think), no Presidential candidate that is killed. However, as the Mueller Report made clear, a Democratic candidate and our electoral process was attacked and undermined by Russian agents to sow discord and put into office a man who now serves their interests. Many of the facts about T acting in Russia’s interest against our own have been in the news repeatedly. But it is so devastating a picture it is hard to accept. We have a Manchurian administration.

 

Just imagine what the Russian government would want from an American President. They could not defeat us militarily, so they would have to attack us from the inside. They would not just want to end our sanctions on their government but would try to destroy our democracy and turn us into an ally or puppet state.

 

They would do this by dividing our nation so much that we would be in a near civil war. They would instill fear of violence in our gathering places and schools. They would create fear in one group of all others, so this group would feel under attack and they would strike out, de-stabilizing the social fabric of the nation. And they would undermine efforts to prioritize combating domestic terrorism.

 

They would undermine the rule of law.

 

They would suppress the vote, undermining our democratic election process in fact as well as our faith in that process, and create so much chaos and confusion, fear and anxiety, that the American people would eventually want to turn to a dictator just to get some peace.

 

They would undermine our democracy further by having the President talk about not leaving office after a second term or claim violence would ensue if he lost an election or was removed from office. He’d spread lies of a cabal working against him from the inside, manipulating the election, so we wouldn’t recognize the Russian manipulators and their agents. They would begin this process by not acting to secure our own electoral integrity from Russian and other hackers. And they would get their supporters in Congress to obstruct bills requiring that contacts between politicians and foreign agents be reported to the FBI.

 

They would undermine the economy through chaotic trade policies, take away economic power from the middle class and direct it to a small group who would work with Russians for their own gain. They would act with a lack of fiscal responsibility, including running up a massive debt so the government would not be able to flexibly meet a recession or other crisis. They would politicize the Federal Reserve Board so it serves as a functionary of the T family.

 

They would undermine the free press, install propaganda networks to control information, accuse protestors of being a violent threat to law and order and thus make protest illegal.

 

They would spread so many lies they would undermine the possibility of discerning truth from fiction so Americans would not believe that what was happening was really happening.

 

They would attack anyone who opposed them, calling them treasonous, in order to create the impression traitors were patriots, and establish a de-facto dictatorship.

 

They would undermine our standing in the world, undermine the idea of democracy itself, and undermine our traditional alliances so we were isolated and distrusted. They would sing the praises of dictators, in Russia and North Korea, for example, and ally us with the same.

 

If you look at our nation today, everything above is exactly what has been happening since T was elected.

 

A Review of A Few of the Details:

 

On February 27, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many have suspected ever since T was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

 

As the Mueller Report makes clear, the President clearly asked for and accepted Russian aid in the 2016 election. He also, once in office, cut sanctions on Russia, for example, on Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin. In Helsinki, while standing next to Vladimir Putin, T sided with Putin against our own intelligence community,, claiming the Russian dictator spoke strongly in denial of the claim Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The President tore up the notes of his discussions with Putin.

 

According to Admiral Rogers, the head of the U. S. Cyber Command, Trump failed to even ask NSA how to protect our election system from hackers. The New York Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, before resigning as head of the Department of Homeland Security, became increasingly concerned about Russian activity in the US. But she was told by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring this up with Mr. T. As a consequence, she never met with the different cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect our elections, nor did she inform Americans of the latest version of Russian attacks on our nation.

 

And “Moscow Mitch” has blocked any bills aimed at protecting our elections from coming to a vote in the Senate. FBI director Christopher Wray announced he shifted resources to counter the Russian threat, largely without any White House support.

 

Instead of going after the Russians who attacked us, the Mueller Report reveals T tried to get the Department of Justice to prosecute political rivals in the U. S., most notably Hillary Clinton ⎼ to avenge or protect himself, not the nation.

 

The Mueller Report documents10 times T may have obstructed justice. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

Mr. T has driven wedges between the US and our allies and has lowered the standing of the US in international affairs. He has failed to adequately staff and support the state department and other non-military agencies meant to protect our national security. He has also granted security clearances to people with compromised histories despite being warned of the danger these clearances could pose to our security. All of this has made us more vulnerable to attack.

 

We could go on and on with T’s criminal behavior, and behavior that threatens our democratic institutions and our humanity. T has clearly used hate to divide our nation to a disturbing degree. A Pew Poll shows that we are more divided now than in the early 1990s, maybe more divided than any time since the Civil War. He has attacked Hispanic people, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ, and women, especially powerful women, like journalists or members of Congress.

 

The wealthiest among us are now so rich that 3 individuals own more wealth than half of the population. And the GOP tax cut is only making income inequality worse. T promised the 2017 tax cut would pay for itself, create a surging economy, increase wages, repatriate money hidden in foreign countries, decrease middle class taxes, but little of that has proven true. In fact, it has reduced federal income to a degree that it might threaten our economic stability and security.

 

So, if the President isn’t a Manchurian President or consciously working as an agent of Russia, he is certainly weakening our democracy and our nation. We know this, or most of us do, but we can’t let our anxiety or anger get in the way of doing all we can to sweep him out of office, by the ballot box or by criminal proceedings.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.