Move to pardon Bayard Rustin will display more than apologies

The nation can count on the veil drawn aside from the discrete racism, homophobia, all the private bigotries of American conservatives and today’s Republican Party.

Ten years before the March on Washington in 1963, Bayard Rustin was arrested…Rustin — who would later go on to become one of the most prolific organizers of the civil rights movement, including as the mastermind behind the March on Washington — wasn’t booked for his activist work, however. He was arrested over his sexuality.

That January night in 1953, Rustin was having sex with another man in a parked car in Pasadena, California. He was jailed on a “morals charge,” and served about two months in jail. The offense landed him on the sex offender list.

The charge cost him jobs, and though Rustin didn’t necessarily hide his sexuality, it was used against him. Former Sen. Strom Thurmond, a segregationist, read Rustin’s arrest record on the Senate floor and used it to delegitimize the civil rights movement, calling him a “pervert.

“If that wasn’t enough, the record was reportedly supplied to Thurmond by J. Edgar Hoover, who at the time was the director of the FBI.

Now, California lawmakers are attempting to right the wrong.

RTFA for a sense of what needs to be done.

What the article doesn’t confront is the range of opposition this simple act will encounter. Please, don’t be naive and think that pulling at the thread of bigotry tied to American conservatism will only release a modicum of honesty and justice for Bayard Rustin. The stink of racism and homophobia within the minds and lives of America’s rightwing heart is only disguised, diminished in its perception – not its roots and persistence.

Racism is as American as apple pie

A number of competent economists have written of the origins of racism as a “successful” defense of slavery. In the days of slavery being one of the supports of the economy of this new nation fighting to survive disengagement from status as a British colony – a believable rationale was needed to defend the white, rural, wealthy supporters of our revolution who relied on an economic system centuries out of date that worked “well enough” to keep and maintain their political power.

It worked well enough to survive the Civil War. It worked well enough to keep Democrats in power in the Deep South for decades after that war. It worked well enough to supplant the Democrats with Republicans when the strength of the new civil rights movement challenged the core of American racism.

So, now, Trump and his followers wheedle their support for “very fine people on both sides” – a tagline that worked well enough to satisfy a majority of electors in the 2016 election, the leaders of the Republican Party ever since.


Photograph by Mark Peterson

” New York’s December 23, 2019–January 5, 2020 issue confronts America’s growing white supremacy movement through a photo-documentary portfolio by Mark Peterson and an essay by poet and National Book Award–nominated author Claudia Rankine. “It is our inheritance,” Rankine writes. “Institutionalized since the Civil War by a government that only recently, and tentatively, began to address domestic terrorism for what it is…”

” James Walsh, a writer at New York, contributed additional research and reporting in order to bring readers more context to the phenomenon. He spoke with Nate Snyder, a former counterterrorism official in the Department of Homeland Security, who notes that Trump’s rhetoric has had an impact on the movement’s rebirth. After Trump’s comments about Charlottesville, his infamous words about “very fine people on both sides,” Snyder says: “You saw activity on [neo-nazi site Stormfront] exponentially spike. “It was a validation point. You started seeing posts like ‘We now have an ally in the White House…'”

RTFA. The time to speak up on a national scale, from pages and pulpits that thrive on moderation, is overdue. Nice folks can no longer turn their back on the most vicious, reactionary stream polluting American culture.

What mass shooters have in common

❝ For two years, we’ve been studying the life histories of mass shooters in the United States for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. We’ve built a database dating back to 1966 of every mass shooter who shot and killed four or more people in a public place, and every shooting incident at schools, workplaces, and places of worship since 1999. We’ve interviewed incarcerated perpetrators and their families, shooting survivors and first responders. We’ve read media and social media, manifestos, suicide notes, trial transcripts and medical records.

❝ Our goal has been to find new, data-driven pathways for preventing such shootings. Although we haven’t found that mass shooters are all alike, our data do reveal four commonalities among the perpetrators of nearly all the mass shootings we studied…

❝ So what do these commonalities tell us about how to prevent future shootings?

One step needs to be depriving potential shooters of the means to carry out their plans. Potential shooting sites can be made less accessible with visible security measures such as metal detectors and police officers. And weapons need to be better controlled, through age restrictions, permit-to-purchase licensing, universal background checks, safe storage campaigns and red-flag laws — measures that help control firearm access for vulnerable individuals or people in crisis.

I come from a hunting and gun-owning family. The immediate generations before me – in my father’s family alone there were at least 7 who worked for firearms manufacturers. No big deal in industrial Southern New England.

I lived through periods of practically zero gun regulation. I lived through periods nearly equivalent to most of what’s asked for by people of conscience and good sense, nowadays. I’m still a gun owner.

My life and lifestyle wasn’t altered in the least by those regulations. Personally, I support a return to those strictures. Personally, I think those who use fear of regulation as an excuse for lousy politics are intellectually dishonest, deceiving no one other than themselves and their sympathizers.

The American Wall


Leonard Freed, 1961

❝ “We, he and I, two Americans. We meet silently and part silently. Between us, impregnable and as deadly as the wall behind him, is another wall. It is there on the trolley tracks, it crawls along the cobble stones, across the frontiers and oceans, reaching back home, back into our lives and deep into our hearts: dividing us, wherever we meet. I am White and he is Black.”

Leonard Freed, 1961

Trump’s dementia and racism have no limits

❝ On Tuesday morning, the President of the United States described the impeachment investigation against him as a “lynching.” This is not by accident.

Throughout his life — and especially in his latest turn as a politician — Trump has shown a willingness to weaponize race for his own gain.

❝ He has also shown that he possesses a deep and abiding victim complex, convinced he has been persecuted in ways that few, if any, people have ever endured in the history of the country.

❝ By comparing his current situation to lynching, Trump is engaging in both the weaponizing of race and his sense of victimhood. He is purposely dredging up some of the darkest images of our country to vent his anger and rally his supporters to his cause.

It is, in a word, gross.

I second that emotion. RTFA!

The 1619 Project

In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. On the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.

Here’s the link. Forgive me, but, I don’t presume that very many Americans have ever read – or studied – this tale and its effects down to this day.

Civil Rights groups oppose Comcast trying to beat civil rights law that goes all the way back to 1866


Byron AllenChris Carlson/AP

❝ A coalition of civil rights organizations this week accused Comcast of undermining Reconstruction-era protections against racial discrimination, weighing in on a lawsuit against the company that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Comedian and media mogul Byron Allen is suing the cable television provider for $20 billion under an 1866 law ensuring newly freed African Americans the same right to enter into contracts as any white citizen…

❝ Allen, who is black, alleges that Comcast discriminated against him in its refusal to carry cable channels by his company, Entertainment Studios Networks. Comcast said it made a business decision to reject Allen’s general-interest channels based on what it thought viewers want.

The question before the court is whether, as Comcast contends, Allen must show that race was the sole motivating reason for Comcast’s decision to reject his channels.

A coalition of more than 2 dozen groups committed to civil rights have filed briefs supporting Allen and his suit.

Trump had his flunkies file a brief defending Comcast.

Poverty and Racism have a dual impact on upward mobility


Click to enlarge

❝ The defining feature of the American Dream is upward mobility – the aspiration that all children have a chance at economic success, no matter their background. However, our research shows that children’s chances of earning more than their parents have been declining. 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents. Today, only half of all children earn more than their parents did.

The American Dream maintains its mythic status even as it declines steadily. Political charlatans, self-described as conservative more often than not seem to have offered the best lies. The liberal flavor [in my lifetime] can be moved by the courage of citizens to grow backbone. Sometimes.