General?…. Four star bigot is more like it

The White House Chief of Staff  John Kelly was view by many as the adult in the room by many prior to his racist/sexist description of Congresswoman Wilson as an “empty barrel”. Seems like we need better quality adults.

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

TOP TRUMP OFFICIAL JOHN KELLY ORDERED ICE TO PORTRAY IMMIGRANTS AS CRIMINALS TO JUSTIFY RAIDS

A DIRECTIVE TO immigration officials across the country to try to portray undocumented immigrants swept up in mass raids as criminals came directly from then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, The Intercept has learned.

Earlier this month, The Intercept published a cache of internal emails exchanged between Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Texas in February, while the first mass raids of the Trump administration were underway.

The redacted emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by students at Vanderbilt University Law School, show that while hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up across the country, DHS officials tried — and largely failed — to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. In the emails, local ICE officials are ordered to come up with “three egregious cases” of apprehended criminals to highlight to the media.

The February raids ­— the first in an ongoing series under this administration — led to 680 arrests nationwide, including arrests of dozens of individuals who had no criminal history. In Austin, Texas, where 51 people were arrested, the majority of those arrested had no criminal record.

But while dozens of undocumented immigrants were detained, the administration sought to shape the narrative that “by removing from the streets criminal aliens and other threats to the public, ICE helps improve public safety,” according to statements by the agency.

On February 10, as the raids kicked off, an ICE executive in Washington sent a directive to the agency’s chiefs of staff around the country. “Please put together a white paper covering the three most egregious cases,” for each location, the acting chief of staff of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations wrote in the email. “If a location has only one egregious case — then include an extra egregious case from another city.”

As a reader of The Intercept pointed out, the email’s subject line — “Due Tonight for S1 – URGENT” — meant that the request had been made by the secretary of Homeland Security himself, referred to as “S1” in department shorthand.

Kelly was at the helm of the department at the time before he was appointed in July to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.

The White House and DHS did not respond to requests for comment. ICE issued a statement in response to The Intercept’s original story but did not answer questions about what officials meant by “egregious cases” and why they felt the need to highlight such cases in the media.

In Texas at least, ICE officials struggled to fulfill Kelly’s request.

A day after the original email, an agent at ICE’s San Antonio office sent an internal email saying the team had come up short: “I have been pinged by HQ this morning indicating that we failed at this tasking.”

“As soon as you come in, your sole focus today will be compiling three egregious case write-ups,” an assistant field office director at the agency’s Austin Resident Office wrote to that team on February 12, noting that the national and San Antonio offices were growing impatient. “HQ and SNA will ping us in the afternoon for sure.”

Then the agent added that a team of officers had “just picked up a criminal a few minutes ago, so get with him for your first egregious case.”

Alice Speri  – The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/16/top-trump-official-john-kelly-ordered-ice-to-portray-immigrants-as-criminals-to-justify-raids/

Top photo: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Oct. 12, 2017.
Advertisements

Mayor Cruz “mean to Trump.” “Really, Donald?” “You bitch.” – Michael Che

With most of the media afraid to call out Trump for his abhorrent  and callous racist behavior toward Puerto Rico, we can count on Saturday Night Live to do the job

Things got salty during Saturday’s edition of “Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live” when co-host Michael Che went all the way in on President Donald Trump and called the chief executive a bitch for his disrespect toward San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
Che read the president’s tweet aloud about how Mayor Cruz has “been told by Democrats” that she must be “mean to Trump.”
“Really, Donald?” asked Che drolly. “You bitch.”
He went on to call Trump a “cheap cracker” and to voice some opinions about First Lady Melania Trump’s footwear.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/whoa-snls-michael-che-called-trump-a-btch-on-live-tv/

As Racist as He Wanna Be: Trump Attacks Mayor of San Juan, Implies Puerto Ricans in a Crisis are Lazy

The President’s Tiny Twitter Fingers lashed out at the Mayor of San Juan on Saturday morning using thinly veiled racist language to disparage Puerto Ricans who are in desperate need of help after Hurricane Maria.
Trump, tweeting from a golf course in New Jersey (because where else would the president be when citizens of the U.S. are facing a humanitarian crisis?), went on a rant early Saturday morning after Mayor Yulín Cruz of San Juan desperately begged for help on Friday.
“I am going to do what I never thought I would do,” said Cruz. “I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying.”
Cruz, a member of the island’s Popular Democratic party, said Friday that federal aid was coming in too slowly, and criticized Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke for referring to U.S. response to the struggling Puerto Rico as a “good news story.”
She also accused the Trump administration of “killing us with inefficiency.”
I guess the president didn’t like her tone.
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” the President tweeted around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
He also said that there were “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
“Fantastic” would not be the word anyone would use in terms of the federal response in PR; and yet when news outlets reported these facts, the president called them “fake” (of course).

http://www.theroot.com/as-racist-as-he-wanna-be-trump-attacks-mayor-of-san-ju-1819022256

Bad news for the “White Christian Right”; history says that minority rule doesn’t last

Joy Reid: When reality sinks in, Trump fans will only have ‘white ethnic solidarity’ to fall back on

The majority of Americans are “going to have to reckon” with the white ethnic solidarity of President Donald Trump’s base, political analyst Joy Reid explained in a gripping new report.

In her latest Daily Beast column, MSNBC host of “AM Joy” predicts reality prevents long-term economic or political success of those wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.

“The world will not go back to the way it was, no matter how loudly Trumpists scream or how viciously they fight,” Joy-Ann Reid explained. “This insurgency the Christian right is waging, with their thrice-married, amoral apostate president at the vanguard, is doomed to fail.”

While demographic and economic trends prevent Trump’s base from being more than a loud minority, they won’t disappear even as their power wanes.

“Even then though, Trumpist Americans will remain,” Reid predicted. “They have existed in our country and culture from the beginning, and they aren’t going away. Their minds cannot be changed.”

“Trump’s election proved that their numbers and political potency can be plussed up via white ethnic solidarity in the voting booth including those on the higher economic rungs,” Reid concluded.

Reid explained that, “the Trumpists have made common cause with the plutocratic-libertarian wing of the Republican Party, which seeks to get as close as possible to rescinding federal personal and corporate income taxes, privatization of or even ending the social safety net and ceasing most government regulation of business.”

“Both of these wings of the American right know that their desires do not represent a majority view, and so they have also embraced draconian restrictions on the right to vote and anti-democratic legislative tactics at the state and federal level to try and maintain what amounts to minority rule,” Reid noted.

“And history’s lesson is that minority rule doesn’t last,” Reid reminded.

Trump supporters respond to pictures of black faces with anger and defensiveness: study

A new study shows that people who support President Donald Trump are angered and shift their thinking to more reactionary politics when confronted with a photo of a black man, reported Vox.com on Friday.

Researchers Matthew Luttig, Christopher Federico and Howard Lavine carried out a study about racial bias and political persuasion, the results of which will be published in the journal Research and Politics.

In the study, said Vox’s German Lopez, “the trio of researchers exposed respondents to images of either a white or black man. They found that when exposed to the image of a black man, white Trump supporters were less likely to back a federal mortgage aid program. Favorability toward Trump was a key measure for how strong this effect was.”

Individuals who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were “relatively unmoved by racial cues.”

“The study is just the latest to show that racial attitudes are a powerful predictor for support for Trump — and the newest to suggest that such attitudes play a major role in Americans’ views toward public policy,” Lopez wrote. “Previous studies have found that racial resentment was a much stronger indicator of support for Trump than views about the economy. And other research has shown that priming people to think about race can make them more conservative on a host of issues.”

Or, as The Root’s Michael Harriot wrote, “Trump voters are very complex. They are conservatives who believe big government is getting out of hand. They want lower taxes for the middle class. They believe in comprehensive immigration reform. They want an economic policy that reflects the average… Nah, I’m just bullsh*tting. They just don’t like black people.”

Lopez said the study shows that Trump has “a powerful incentive to keep people thinking about race: If his most ardent supporters just need a slight racial cue to come around to his conservative policy views, then Trump simply has to bring up race to get his supporters fired up for him.”

Researchers spoke with 700 white voters about their support for housing assistance programs, but — in a twist — the materials they were shown contained “a subtle image of either a white or a black man.”

“They found that the image of a black man greatly impacted responses among Trump supporters. After they were exposed to the black racial cue, they were not only less supportive of housing assistance programs, but they also expressed higher levels of anger that some people receive government assistance and were more likely to say that individuals who receive assistance are to blame for their situation,” said Lopez.

Favorability toward Donald Trump was directly related to people’s reaction to the image of a black man. People who view Trump the least favorably were the most unfazed by racial cues, “They were less likely to oppose housing assistance, get angry at the program, or blame the recipients of such programs for their situation when exposed to the black racial cue compared to the white racial cue.”

The researchers concluded, “These findings indicate that responses to the racial cue varied as a function of feelings about Donald Trump  — but not feelings about Hillary Clinton — during the 2016 presidential election.”

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/09/trump-supporters-respond-to-pictures-of-black-faces-with-anger-and-defensiveness-study/

Most oppressed group in this country today is white Christians?

Undying racism

Trump Voters Would Rather Have Confederate President Jefferson Davis Than Obama: Poll

When was America great, according to Donald Trump’s supporters? The short answer, per Trump voters surveyed by the Public Policy Polling firm, is any era when there was no chance a black guy might become president. Forty-five percent of those who voted for Trump in the last election told PPP researchers that they would rather have Jefferson Davis—the president of the Confederacy—lead the country than Barack Obama. Gives you a pretty good sense of what Trump’s base values and admires in its leaders.

Trump voters also told pollsters they believe the most oppressed group in this country today is white Christians. Queried about what “racial group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 45 percent of Trump voters say it’s white people followed by 17 percent for Native Americans with 16 percent picking African Americans, and 5 percent picking Latinos.” (For the record, that’s partly a white American outlook overall; long before Trump launched his campaign, surveys found most white people think they experience more racism than black people.) There were similarly misguided answers when Trump supporters were queried about religious discrimination. When asked which groups suffer the most bigotry, “54 percent of Trump voters says it’s Christians followed by 22 percent for Muslims and 12 percent for Jews.”

These answers jibe with what was already apparent about Trump voters. Trumpism is, at its core, a movement rooted in grievance mongering. The false victimhood of white voters apoplectic about the possibility of demographic erasure and the loss of white power fuels Trump support. For millions of white Christians who believe that diversity has rendered them the new underclass, Trump—in explicit words and terms—promises a return to an America where white supremacy was unquestioned and unthreatened. White politicians have played these games forever, and white Republicans have long been particularly good at strategy. But Trump taps into those feelings of resentment, entitlement and fear of subjugation more effectively than any politician of this modern era.

That explains why, in the immediate aftermath of the terrible events of Charlottesville and the “both sidesism” of Trump’s response, a rise in Republican support gave Trump’s approval numbers a temporary bump. Like Trump, the overwhelming majority of GOPers in numerous polls see fighting neo-Nazis as pretty much the same thing as siding with them. ABC News found that overall (the study didn’t break out answers among partisan lines), 9 percent of Americans “call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, equivalent to about 22 million Americans,” while 10 percent of Americans say they stand with the alt-right.

As of Wednesday, Trump’s approval numbers stand around 35 percent. Those Trump supporters, whose numbers may dip and rise a percentage point or two, but remain relatively fixed, will never abandon him. He says what they want and need to hear and believe. Lies, chaos, treason, firings, scandal, legislative ineffectiveness: none of these things will sway them. He really could shoot these people in the middle of 5th Avenue—or Main Street, USA—and they’d continue to adore him through the pain, even if it kills them.

Do you expect a lifelong racist to condemn or crack down on other racists?

Donald Trump Has Been a Racist All His Life — And He Isn’t Going to Change After Charlottesville

“RACISM IS EVIL,” declared Donald Trump on Monday, “and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

OK, “declared” may be too strong a word for what we heard from the president. “Stated” is perhaps a better descriptor. “Read out” might be the most accurate of all. Trump made these “additional remarks” with great reluctance and only after two days of intense criticism from both the media and senior Republicans over his original remarks blaming “many sides” for the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The words were not his own: they were scripted by aides and delivered with the assistance of a teleprompter. The president reserved his personal, off-the-cuff ire on Monday for the black CEO of Merck, not for the white fascists of Virginia.

Much of the frenzied media coverage of what CNN dubbed “48 hours of turmoil for the Trump White House” has overlooked one rather crucial point: Trump doesn’t like being forced to denounce racism for the very simple reason that he himself is, and always has been, a racist.

Consider the first time the president’s name appeared on the front page of the New York Times, more than 40 years ago. “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” read the headline of the A1 piece on Oct. 16, 1973, which pointed out how Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice had sued the Trump family’s real estate company in federal court over alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

“The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color,’” the Times revealed. “It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.” (Trump later settled with the government without accepting responsibility.)

Over the next four decades, Trump burnished his reputation as a bigot: he was accused of ordering “all the black [employees] off the floor” of his Atlantic City casinos during his visits; claimed “laziness is a trait in blacks” and “not anything they can control”; requested Jews “in yarmulkes” replace his black accountants; told Bryan Gumbel that “a well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market”; demanded the death penalty for a group of black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a jogger in Central Park (and, despite their later exoneration with the use of DNA evidence, has continued to insist they are guilty); suggested a Native American tribe “don’t look like Indians to me”; mocked Chinese and Japanese trade negotiators by doing an impression of them in broken English; described undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; compared Syrian refugees to “snakes”; defended two supporters who assaulted a homeless Latino man as “very passionate” people “who love this country”; pledged to ban a quarter of humanity from entering the United States; proposed a database to track American Muslims that he himself refused to distinguish from the Nazi registration of German Jews; implied Jewish donors “want to control” politicians and are all sly negotiators; heaped praise on the “amazing reputation” of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has blamed America’s problems on a “Jewish mafia”; referred to a black supporter at a campaign rally as “my African-American”; suggested the grieving Muslim mother of a slain U.S. army officer “maybe … wasn’t allowed” to speak in public about her son; accused an American-born Hispanic judge of being “a Mexican”; retweeted anti-Semitic and anti-black memes, white supremacists, and even a quote from Benito Mussolini; kept a book of Hitler’s collected speeches next to his bed; declined to condemn both David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan; and spent five years leading a “birther” movement that was bent on smearing and delegitimizing the first black president of the United States, who Trump also accused of being the founder of ISIS.

Oh and remember: we knew all of this before he was elected president of the United States of America. He was elected in spite of all this (yet another reminder that “not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker”).

Some had hoped that Trump would be moderated by office; there was much talk of a presidential pivot. It was all utter nonsense and wishful thinking from lazy commentators who have found it difficult to cover, and call out, a president who regularly traffics in racially charged rhetoric while surrounding himself with an array of race-baiting advisers. Since entering the Oval Office, Trump has appointed Steve Bannon — former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which has stories tagged ‘Black Crime’ — as his White House chief strategist, and Jeff Sessions — who was once accused of calling a black official in Alabama a “nigger” — as his attorney general; he has claimed, without a shred of evidence, that millions of immigrants “voted illegally” for Hillary Clinton; and, perhaps most shocking of all, he has publicly and repeatedly belittled Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed Native American heritage, as “Pocahontas.”

This is Racism 101 from a sitting U.S. president. And it is the stark and undeniable truth, and key context, that is missing from much of the coverage of the political fallout from Charlottesville. Journalists, opinion formers, members of Congress, and members of the public continue to treat Trump as they would any previous president — they expect their head of government to come out and condemn racism with passion, vigor, speed, and sincerity. But what do you do if the president is himself a long-standing purveyor of racism and xenophobia? What then? Do you still demand he condemn and castigate what is essentially his base? Do you continue to feign shock and outrage over his lack of shock and outrage?

Yes, the U.S. has had plenty of presidents in recent decades who have dog-whistled to racists and bigots, and even incited hate against minorities — think Nixon’s Southern Strategy, Reagan and his “welfare queens,” George H.W. Bush and the Willie Horton ad, and the Clintons and their “super-predators” — but there has never been a modern president so personally steeped in racist prejudices, so unashamed to make bigoted remarks in public and with such a long and well-documented record of racial discrimination.

So can we stop playing this game where journalists demand Trump condemns people he agrees with and Trump then pretends to condemn them in the mildest of terms? I hate to say this, but it is worth paying attention to the leader of the Virginia KKK, who told a reporter in August 2016: “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”

So can we stop pretending that Trump isn’t Trump? That the presidency has changed him, or will change him? It hasn’t and it won’t. There will be no reset; no reboot; no pivot. This president may now be going through the motions of (belatedly) denouncing racism, with his scripted statements and vacuous tweets. But here’s the thing: why would you expect a lifelong racist to want to condemn or crack down on other racists? Why assume a person whose entire life and career has been defined by racially motivated prejudice and racial discrimination, by hostility toward immigrants, foreigners, and minorities, would suddenly be concerned by the rise of prejudice and discrimination on his watch? It is pure fantasy for politicians and pundits to suppose that Trump will ever think or behave as anything other than the bigot he has always been — and, in more recent years, as an apologist for other bigots, too.

We would do well to heed the words of those who have spent decades studying this bizarre president. “Donald is a 70-year-old man,” Trump biographer David Cay Johnston reminded me in the run-up to his inauguration in January. “I’m 67. I’m not going to change and neither is Donald.”

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/15/donald-trump-has-been-a-racist-all-his-life-and-he-isnt-going-to-change-after-charlottesville/

It can’t happen here, right? (Civil War? update)

While “wanna be dictator” Trump fans the racist flames of unrest……………….

A group of national-security experts set chance of civil war at roughly 35 percent

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria reports that in the New Yorker, Robin Wright considers the fragility of “the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy.” She cites a Foreign Policy survey that found a consensus among a group of national-security experts of a roughly 35 percent chance of civil war breaking out in the next 10 to 15 years, and interviews one of those experts, Keith Mines, a former diplomat, who puts the chances of civil war at 60 percent.

“We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,’ Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville,” Wright writes.

“Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the ‘in’ way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.”

“The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence,” Wright writes.

The full Robin Wright story;

After the brawling and racist brutality and deaths in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe asked, “How did we get to this place?” The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, St. Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.

America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.

“We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,” Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville. The pattern of civil strife has evolved worldwide over the past sixty years. Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.

Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

To test Mines’s conjecture, I reached out to five prominent Civil War historians this weekend. “When you look at the map of red and blue states and overlap on top of it the map of the Civil War—and who was allied with who in the Civil War—not much has changed,” Judith Giesberg, the editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era and a historian at Villanova University, told me. “We never agreed on the outcome of the Civil War and the direction the country should go in. The postwar amendments were highly contentious—especially the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides equal protection under the law—and they still are today. What does it mean to deliver voting rights to people of color? We still don’t know.”

She added, “Does that make us vulnerable to a repeat of the past? I don’t see a repeat of those specific circumstances. But that doesn’t mean we are not entering something similar in the way of a culture war. We are vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.”

Anxiety over deepening schisms and new conflict has an outlet in popular culture: in April, Amazon selected the dystopian novel “American War”—which centers on a second U.S. civil war—as one of its best books of the month. In a review in the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Trump era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions . . . both poignant and horrifying.” The Times book reviewer noted, “It’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.” The book’s author, Omar El Akkad, was born in Egypt and covered the war in Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, and the Ferguson protest as a journalist for Canada’s Globe and Mail.

Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”

“So,” he said, “watch the parties” as an indicator of America’s health.

In the eighteen-fifties, Blight told me, Americans were not good at foreseeing or absorbing the “shock of events,” including the Fugitive Slave Act, the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, the John Brown raid, and even the Mexican-American War. “No one predicted them. They forced people to reposition themselves,” Blight said. “We’re going through one of those repositionings now. Trump’s election is one of them, and we’re still trying to figure it out. But it’s not new. It dates to Obama’s election. We thought that would lead culture in the other direction, but it didn’t,” he said. “There was a tremendous resistance from the right, then these episodes of police violence, and all these things [from the past] exploded again. It’s not only a racial polarization but a seizure about identity.”

Generally, Blight added, “We know we are at risk of civil war, or something like it, when an election, an enactment, an event, an action by government or people in high places, becomes utterly unacceptable to a party, a large group, a significant constituency.” The nation witnessed tectonic shifts on the eve of the Civil War, and during the civil-rights era, the unrest of the late nineteen-sixties and the Vietnam War, he said. “It did not happen with Bush v. Gore, in 2000, but perhaps we were close. It is not inconceivable that it could happen now.”

In a reversal of public opinion from the nineteen-sixties, Blight said, the weakening of political institutions today has led Americans to shift their views on which institutions are credible. “Who do we put our faith in today? Maybe, ironically, the F.B.I.,” he said. “With all these military men in the Trump Administration, that’s where we’re putting our hope for the use of reason. It’s not the President. It’s not Congress, which is utterly dysfunctional and run by men who spent decades dividing us in order to keep control, and not even the Supreme Court, because it’s been so politicized.”

In the wake of Charlottesville, the chorus of condemnation from politicians across the political spectrum has been encouraging, but it is not necessarily reassuring or an indicator about the future, Gregory Downs, a historian at the University of California at Davis, told me. During the Civil War, even Southern politicians who denounced or were wary of secession for years—including Jefferson Davis—ended up as leaders of the Confederacy. “If the source of conflict is deeply embedded in cultural or social forces, then politicians are not inherently able to restrain them with calls for reason,” Downs said. He called the noxious white supremacists and neo-Nazis the “messengers,” rather than the “architects,” of the Republic’s potential collapse. But, he warned, “We take our stability for granted.”

He dug out for me a quote from the journalist Murat Halstead’s book “The War Claims of the South,” published in 1867. “The lesson of the war that should never depart from us,” Halstead wrote, “is that the American people have no exemption from the ordinary fate of humankind. If we sin, we must suffer for our sins, like the Empires that are tottering and the Nations that have perished.”

Eric Foner, the Columbia University historian, won the Pulitzer Prize, in 2011, for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” Like the other scholars I spoke to, Foner is skeptical that any future conflict will resemble America’s last civil war. “Obviously, we have some pretty deep divisions along multiple lines—racial, ideological, rural versus urban,” he told me. “Whether they will lead to civil war, I doubt. We have strong gravitational forces that counteract what we’re seeing today.” He pointed out that “the spark in Charlottesville—taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee—doesn’t have to do with civil war. People are not debating the Civil War. They’re debating American society and race today.”

Charlottesville was not the first protest by the so-called alt-right, nor will it be the last. Nine more rallies are planned for next weekend and others in September.

 

Robin Wright is a contributing writer for newyorker.com, and has written for the magazine since 1988. She is the author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.

The arrogant and obnoxious Bill Maher gets taken to the woodshed; about damn time!

 

In the long history of Bill Maher on TV there has never been a more real time moment on Real Time than last Friday’s episode. I struggle to think of another major TV host who responded to a national firestorm by allowing people to come on his show and beat him up over his own transgressions. It’s like Maher went to the town square, locked himself in the pillory, and let people have at him for an hour. But strangely, the courage to have Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Ice Cube and Symone Sanders take him to the woodshed did not lead to the best version of Maher. He was contrite—at least early on in the show—but he was also defensive, excuse-heavy, mentioned the omnipresence of the n-word in culture (as he’s done before), Kathy Griffin, a litany of America’s historical atrocities (groan), and the fact that we’re all evolving. What?

Maher’s conversation with Dyson was weird; at times, it seemed like they were speaking different languages. My friend Dr. Dyson missed the mark by over-intellectualizing in a moment of pain—Dyson surrounded some solid questions to Maher with so much verbal cogitation that the comedian was able to avoid really answering them. On the other hand, Ice Cube was direct, emotional, and powerfully plain-spoken. He forced the conversation to its true center as Maher grew grumpy. But Cube is right: the problem is that Maher thinks he has a pass.

By “a pass” I mean he feels that he can do things that other white people can’t—things that are culturally reserved for Blacks. The pass is both I’m unique among whites and I get special privilege from Blacks. Many of us have known someone who thinks they have a pass. That guy who dates only Black women, or has lots of Black friends, or really, really loves hip-hop, or mastered some Black cultural skill (dancing, hooping, rhyming, whatever) and thinks that means he’s an honorary Black person. Cube alluded to this right off the bat: “there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they a little too familiar… Guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two that made them Kool-Aid every now and then, and they think they can cross the line. And they can’t.”

Cube’s talking about bad ally behavior. Maher’s sin may be rooted in loving Blackness too much but it is still a cultural sin because there is no such thing as a pass. There’s nothing that a white person can accomplish that makes them become Black. The notion of a pass—of over-identifying with Blackness—is so problematic and so painful because it objectifies Blackness. It posits Blackness as akin to something one can learn their way into. Blackness cannot be earned like a Boy Scout badge. And people who think they have a pass use it only to access the fun and joyful side of Black culture. They want Fun Blackness: The parties, the style, the rhythm of mama Africa. They don’t want to grapple with the fact that Blackness also comes with a whole lot of pain.

Don’t tell me you’re Black without having felt the pain of having ancestors who were enslaved and cousins who are imprisoned and brothers and sisters who were named Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Philando Castile. Don’t tell me you’re Black without having had to navigate a system designed to crush you. Don’t tell me you’re Black without knowing what it is to think your country hates you, without knowing how it feels to have doors shut in your face, without knowing that any basic traffic stop could be the end of your life. Black people know what it is to fear what white privilege will do to you or your family. Black people know what the lash of white supremacy feels like. People who think they have a pass never use it to access that stuff.

Maher offered the notion of comic privilege as one of his many excuses but I don’t think that’s what this is about. Yes, comics often craft jokes that are meant to offend and it’s valuable for society to allow comedians to explore taboo subjects. But this wasn’t that. This was a knee-jerk reaction that showed that Maher, given just a second to think, would reveal that he sees himself as analogous to a house slave. This rich and famous white man may be over-identifying with Blackness a bit much. I am not in the camp that believes Maher should be fired but I do think he should spend some considerable time engaging in introspection and find the space to support racial justice, love Black culture and be a true

TOURÉ

Huffington Post