By Doug Porter
The TV networks and printed media are all making a big deal as I write this morning about a battle flag of the Confederacy being removed from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse.
I’m glad the stars and bars is coming down. It was first raised at that location back in 1961 as a symbolic reaction to efforts at desegregation. Now its removal is a symbolic reaction to racism run amok in a Charleston church.
It would be really nice if we could get beyond the symbolism in South Carolina and get to the heart of the matter. Even as Gov. Nikki Haley was preparing to sign the resolution bringing the flag down, what Salon.com described as a racism tantrum was going on at her Facebook page.
Now if removing the pervasive pollution of racism in the US were so easy….
Shape Shifting Racism
Here’s Shaun King’s analysis at Daily Kos:
Today, racism has shape-shifted. African Americans are still called niggers and threatened to be hung from a tree, police officers in at least seven states, including respected captains, have been caught calling African Americans niggers and monkeys and apes, and racist white men with guns are walking into black churches and killing people, but the main outlet for American racism may be the deep inequities in our so-called justice system where young black men like Kalief Browder are locked up for years and years without ever being charged, then unceremoniously released. And in Kalief’s case, only to commit suicide in the wake of it all.
To be clear, no single vote, no single action, no single piece of legislation could ever end American racism, but today we chipped away at it a little bit. Today, by bringing down the Confederate flag from the state grounds of the South Carolina capitol, racism didn’t end, but it was just made a little more difficult and a little less celebrated.
The Struggle Continues in South Carolina
Here’s one concrete thing the South Carolina legislature could do: they could agree to even consider legislation impacting the State’s poor and minority residents.
The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people gunned down at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, fought long and hard as State Senator for a minimum wage law that never made it out of committee, despite polling showing 68% of state residents favoring an increase over the federally mandated $7.25 an hour.
South Carolina does not even have a minimum wage law of any sort. The legislature passed a bill back in 2002 (similar to legislation being promoted nationwide by the American Legislative Exchange Council) prohibiting localities from enacting minimum wage ordinances. Nearly 6% of the state’s population works for minimum wage.
In North Carolina the NAACP led a “Mass Moral Monday March for Voting Rights” in Winston-Salem as legal actions commence seeking to overturn restrictions on voting enacted by the state legislature shortly after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
The Trump Card
Meanwhile the Republican Party continues to struggle with Donald Trump, who has doubled down on his remarks about immigrants. The ugly reality–it will be ugly once the primaries are over–is that Trump and his defenders are playing the race card because it resonates with much of GOP base.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a group with deep historical ties to racists and nativists, is being freely quoted as an expert source on mainstream media reports to bolster these claims. And polling released today says The Donald is leading the pack of Republicans seeking the presidency.
In California, Democrats in the State Senate introduced a resolution this week denouncing Donald Trump and fellow GOP candidate Sen. Ted Cruz.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The resolution, which does not have the force of law, starts by lauding the contributions that immigrants make to California’s economy and culture. It goes on to lambaste Trump and Cruz for recent comments about immigrants.
“Presidential candidates including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have unfairly demonized and falsely blamed undocumented immigrant families for a range of problems and challenges facing the United States,” the measure reads.
The resolution, SR 39, also calls on the state and private companies to divest and disassociate from Trump-affiliated businesses.
They Can’t Fire Trump
The Donald is also fanning talk about running as a third party candidate should the GOP establishment reject his overtures.
From the New York Times:
It turns out, interviews show, that the mathematical delicacy of a Republican victory in 2016 — and its dependence on aging, anxious white voters — make it exceedingly perilous for the Republican Party to treat Mr. Trump as the pariah many of its leaders now wish he would become.
Even as a cascade of corporations and business partners — from NBC and Macy’s to the chefs at two planned restaurants — rush to sever their ties with Mr. Trump, Republican leaders seem deeply torn and paralyzed by indecision.
A few weeks ago, those divisions were on vivid display at a regular gathering of top Republican elected officials, strategists and the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Over dinner at the Hay-Adams Hotel opposite the White House, some argued for a swift response, fearing Mr. Trump would mar the coming Republican presidential debates with his needless provocations. Others counseled a hands-off approach, fearing attempts to rein him in would only turn him into a political martyr and, worse, tempt him toward that third-party run.
Nancy Pelosi Pulls a Fast One
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), put Republicans between a rock and a hard place yesterday with a resolution that would have forced Mississippi’s state flag, which includes the Confederate flag, to be removed from the House side of the Capitol.
On Thursday, GOP House Speaker John Boehner failed to accomplish what Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley did: he couldn’t rally his caucus behind a bipartisan decision to take down the Confederate flag, in this case from federal property.
How did it end that way, when earlier this week Boehner seemed to be playing the statesman? He told reporters he supported the flag’s removal, and Tuesday night House Democrats introduced an amendment to a spending bill that would take down the flag from federal property and ban its sale or display at national parks or cemeteries, which passed unanimously. When white Southern GOP members belatedly figured out what happened, as is often the case, they rebelled. Then Boehner, unbelievably, canceled a vote on the appropriations bill that contained the flag provision. “I do not want this to become some political football,” he declared.
And party leaders wonder why they have a Donald Trump-sized problem with race.
We’re Safe for Now, Says FBI
In the wake of reports circulated throughout both local and national media outlets warning about terror attacks over the holiday weekend, the FBI has given the all-clear signal.
From the Union-Tribune:
More than 10 people inspired by Islamic State militants were arrested in suspected terrorism-related plots during the four to six weeks leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday.
“I do believe that our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4th,” Comey said in a briefing session with reporters at FBI Headquarters.
Not-so-fast, says Esquire columnist Charles P. Pierce:
I hate to be this cynical, but I’ve now lived through damned near 15 years of this stuff, so I’m not buying the rap wholesale any more. My government, and the people working in it, have found fear far too useful…
…Bollocks. Coming hard on the heels of the news that, during the unrest in Baltimore, law-enforcement engaged in a fairly thorough disinformation campaign, I’m going to need a lot more than than Comey’s word on this…
…Show me the evidence. Bring them all to trial. Until then, what is the point in telling us anything at all? If the attacks were thwarted, we really don’t have to know about them, do we? Unless, of course, your point in releasing this information is to keep the fear level high enough so that you can aggrandize your own power a little more.
— Jeremy Addis-Mills (@JAddisMills) July 10, 2015
On This Day: 1916 – The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce held a mass meeting of more than 2,000 merchants to organize what was to become a frontal assault on union strength and the closed shop. The failure of wages to keep up with inflation after the 1906 earthquake had spurred multiple strikes in the city. 1965 – Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” was released. 1984 – Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden, of the New York Mets, became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game as a pitcher. He was 19 years, 7 months, and 24 days old.
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