Time to retire “woke” – posted 3/20/2022

March 20, 2022 Leave a comment

In his classic essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell made a number of still-pertinent statements. He said:

“In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. When it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinion, and not a “party line”. Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.”

Orwell went on to discuss how political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Rather than fresh, vivid expression, words degenerate into cloudy vagueness.

I would suggest that the use of the term “woke” is a prime example of both the vagueness and the lifeless imitative style Orwell warned about. Republican use of “woke” has become a party line, repeated endlessly.

It is now a defense mechanism to avoid a legitimate discussion about institutional racism.

Use of “woke” on the Right is an automatic reflex. Just say “woke”, regardless of the circumstance. Debate then shifts into “is it woke?” This is an example of the slovenliness of language and the meaninglessness of words.

Like an invasive weed, its use is everywhere now. The theme of CPAC 2022 was “Awake, Not Woke”. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says wokeness is “a virus”. On his podcast with guest Erik Prince, Steve Bannon said:

“Putin ain’t woke. He is anti-woke. The Russians know which bathroom to use. They know how many genders there are.”

Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said:

“Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

Fox host Tucker Carlson has railed against woke activism and woke generals in the Pentagon. Former President Trump has said, “Woke means you’re a loser. Everyone ultimately loses with woke”. When Republican Senator Mike Rounds from South Dakota acknowledged that the 2020 election was “fair”, Trump called him “woke” and “a jerk”.

Woke and the phrase “stay woke” actually have a long history. If anyone did a deep dive, you can go way back to long before Black Lives Matter, the 2014 Ferguson protests, and the #StayWoke hashtag. You could reference Marcus Garvey, Leadbelly’s song about the Scottsboro Boys or Erykah Badu’s song Master Teacher.

Charles Blow said that woke was a word born as a way of saying “Be aware of and alert to how racism is systemic and pervasive and suffuses American life. Wake up from the slumber of ignorance and passive acceptance”.

The history of woke is not germane to the Republican use of the term. Describing something as “woke” is a substitute for thought but it is actually worse than that. To go back to Orwell, it is a defense of an indefensible status quo. That status quo has hurt working people of all races and nationalities. The racism is a double whammy.

Use of woke to change the subject has obscured the Republican descent into authoritarianism and their acceptance of violence. It is a mistake to see “woke” outside the substitution of normal political conservatism by the Trumpist insurrectionist politics best reflected by January 6.

The attack on woke is of a piece with the assault on critical race theory. Republicans are attacking something they do not understand while creating a boogeyman. I would lay odds that if you asked rank-and-file Republican voters to explain critical race theory, nine out of ten could not give a coherent answer. Yet Trump says stopping critical race theory remains a life-and-death battle.

In his March 12 speech in Florence, South Carolina, Trump said:

“Getting critical race theory out of our schools is not just a matter of values. It’s also a matter of national survival. We have no choice…The fate of any nation ultimately depends upon the willingness of its citizens to lay down – and they must do this – lay down their very lives to defend their country…If we allow the Marxists and communists and socialists to teach our children to hate America, there will be no one left to defend our flag or protect our great country or its freedom.”

From beginning to end, Trump’s words are hyperbolic nonsense. Whether or not critical race theory is taught is not a matter of national survival. How we understand the past is a complicated matter and different ways of looking at history are protected by the First Amendment as a matter of intellectual freedom. You have to ask: why is Trump so scared of critical race theory? Could it be that it threatens his white supremacist world view? Talk about laying down lives is absurdly over-the-top.

Understanding American history is not about teaching children to hate America. It is about intellectual integrity. It is not enough for Trump to maintain a Big Lie about the 2020 election. He wants the Big Lie to extend to a whitewashed American history. He is always saying we have no choice when that is patently false.

I see the war on wokeness and critical race theory as an extension of Trump’s January 6 coup attempt. When people talk about left fascism, there is no comparability to what is going on with the extreme right. Nobody on the left tried to overthrow the government or violently attack the Capitol . January 6 was a clear warning shot and Trump and his insurrectionist allies have not backed off one bit.

Most of the media remain in denial about the authoritarian threat to democracy that is ongoing. We should be listening and paying close attention to the language being used by the Republican-authoritarians. Being anti-woke is about maintaining white supremacy.

James Baldwin once wrote, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” Instead of mandating a white supremacist version of our history, we should embrace the contradictions and teach a wide range of perspectives, including critical race theory. To my Republican friends I would say: abandon “woke” and say something original for a change.

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Sol Solomon – posted 3/17/2022

March 18, 2022 2 comments

My friend Sol died on March 2. Death ruthlessly snatched him away at age 74. The speed of it all is still shocking. He was playing tennis in January.

One of the most difficult aspects of aging is losing your friends. I saw that happen with my parent’s friends, getting picked off one by one. Sol was a very good friend, kind and big-hearted. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, and I take license, I am not resigned to this death.

Sol and I got acquainted around the end of 2018. He had reached out and organized get-togethers of some writers of Concord Monitor “My Turns” He and I often visited on the weekend.

Sol was a social organizer and he took the initiative to set up lunches with many of his friends. He had a wide circle. He loved good food and we hit spots in and around New London. He was a known quantity at the Millstone at 74 Main in New London. When you would go in they would ask, “Are you with Sol?”

Being a strong environmentalist was a major passion in Sol’s life. I remember his columns about people who see the earth as a dead rock. He most emphatically did not. He saw everything as inter-connected and having its own unique vibratory life force.

Sol was in touch with the earth as a hardcore gardener. He proudly showed me his raised beds. For forty years, he perfected his garden. He was very influenced by a book he read in 1978, The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka. Fukuoka had a minimalist approach to gardening that proved highly effective

Sol worried about our absurd carelessness with Mother Earth. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres just called the climate crisis “code red for humanity”. Sol’s attitude reminded me of a Tennessee Williams quote:

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”

He was not a fatalist, however. In his own way, Sol remained an activist.

I do not know many members of Sol’s family but he was devoted to it. He was proud of his daughter Jen, who is an artist and his granddaughter, Eliza. He loved to show me Jen’s art. He lit up at just the mention of Eliza. He treasured his time with his granddaughter.

Sol looked to the example of indigenous people who understood their connection to the natural world and lived in harmony with it. A Native American chant captures Sol’s spirit:

“Walk tall as the trees; live strong as the mountains; be gentle as the spring winds; keep the warmth of summer in your heart, and the Great Spirit will always be with you.”

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Miscalculation and the increased risk of nuclear war – posted 3/6/2022

March 6, 2022 2 comments

One of the most unsettling aspects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the increased risk of nuclear war. At the start of the invasion, President Putin led off with this:

“To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”

That was certainly a nuclear threat. Putin told his top defense and military officials to put nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty”. It is not entirely clear what that means but it would appear to raise the nuclear threat level up a notch. Putin blames “illegal sanctions” and “aggressive statements” from countries in NATO. He has called the sanctions “a declaration of war”.

The United States and Russia continue to maintain the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. Russia has 6,000 nukes. The U.S. has 5,600. Both sides can deliver them by plane, submarine and land-based ballistic missiles. The lethal potential is a doomsday scenario where a nuclear attack would result in both sides being annihilated many times over. As has been said about this outcome, the living would envy the dead.

As horrible and as criminal as Putin’s invasion is, the world must avert far worse possible catastrophes like a nuclear war. As Noam Chomsky has said, there has been a reaction “to reach for the six-gun rather than the olive branch”.

Efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis should take center-stage, including ceasefires. We must support any diplomatic options that still exist whether through Israel, France or China. We should be looking for a face-saving off-ramp for Putin.

Nothing about the Ukraine invasion justifies a nuclear exchange. That should be obvious. Ideas like a no-fly zone or the introduction of American or NATO troops must be a non-starter because of the potential risk.

So much media discussion has centered around Putin’s “miscalculation”. And there is plenty of evidence Putin has miscalculated. It is hard not to worry that if Putin fears he is losing the war, he might miscalculate in worse ways.

America also has a long history of miscalculating. Looking back, the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were horrible miscalculations. Our leaders repeatedly told us lies to justify those wars. Our military-industrial complex has a financial stake in such miscalculations so they can sell their weapons of mass destruction and profit off of war.

History is replete with examples of nations stumbling into war or almost accidentally stumbling into a war.

The outstanding example is the Cuban missile crisis from sixty years ago. The world was incredibly lucky then when Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev miscalculated, placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. We were much closer to a nuclear holocaust than is generally known. For thirteen days, humanity teetered on a knife’s edge. As a young boy, I remember the time.

There is a story from the Cuban missile crisis that deserves our attention.

On October 27, 1962, a little-known senior officer on a Soviet submarine, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, saved the world from nuclear war and mutually assured destruction. Arkhipov was aboard the Soviet sub B-29 which was in the waters off Cuba. He was the Brigade Chief of Staff on the submarine.

Arkhipov’s sub was one of four that had been sent from Moscow. Each carried a special weapon, a single ten-kiloton nuclear torpedo, comparable in strength to the bomb the Americans dropped on Hiroshima.

The commander of each submarine had permission to act without direct orders from higher-ups in Moscow if they believed they were under threat.

President John F. Kennedy had placed Cuba under a strict blockade. When our navy became aware of the presence of Arkhipov’s sub, they sent several vessels to identify it. The U.S. Navy did not know the Russian sub was equipped with a nuclear torpedo.

U.S. forces began dropping low-explosive practice depth charges the size of hand grenades in an effort to get the Soviet sub to surface. Then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara believed the procedure would allow American forces to “actually hit the submarine without damaging the submarine”. He thought those on board would interpret the depth charges as a “warning notice and the instruction to surface’.

The crew on the B-29 sub had been incommunicado. They had been unable to make contact with Moscow for days. They were unaware of the American intention behind the use of the depth charges. Air-conditioning on the sub had failed and it was sweltering. The atmosphere on the sub was extremely tense. Lack of oxygen was leading some to think they would die.

The depth charges were interpreted as an indication war had already started.An intelligence officer on B-29, Vadim Orlov, later described the scene:

“They exploded right next to the hull. It felt like you were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a sledgehammer…We thought – that’s it – the end.”

The sub’s captain, Vitali Savitsky, panicked. He ordered the sub’s nuclear torpedo to be assembled for launch as he believed the war had started. He said, “We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not disgrace our navy!”

In order to launch the nuclear torpedo, protocol required the captain to get unanimous agreement from the two other political officers on the sub. Deputy political officer, Ivan Maslennikov, gave the green light but his second-in-command, Vasili Arkhipov, said “no”. Arkhipov was able to calm the captain down The nuclear torpedo was not launched.

If Arkhipov had said “yes”, we all might not be here now. A different political officer might have concurred with the captain. The explosion of a nuke off Cuba destroying American warships could have lit the fuse.

I think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the scariest nuclear moment since the Cuban missile crisis. The nuclear threat is too casually written off or dismissed as unlikely. In the context of the invasion, just the proximity of so many hostile troops and military hardware increases the chance of an accident or a miscalculation.

It would not take much for a military escalation. It could be a fighter plane crash or collision or an unexplained shoot-out between some macho trigger-happy soldiers. All it takes is one side misinterpreting the other side. Tough guy posturing and miscalculations could get us all killed and end life on the planet. We need the wisdom of an Arkhipov. Sanity requires we step back from the brink.

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Dr. Paul Farmer’s beautiful example – posted 2/27/2022

February 27, 2022 2 comments

We live in an age of unparalleled cynicism. Kleptocratic dictators launch invasions of sovereign nations. Authoritarianism trends internationally, gravely threatening democracy. Powerful legislators sell out for the money. Billionaires pay no taxes and think it is fine. Ethics and truth are downgraded and dismissed. Dark money and misinformation are epidemic.

Our capitalist system has proven to be dysfunctional. The needs of working people are routinely disregarded by both political parties while the 1% makes out like a bandit. The system cannot accomplish absolutely needed reforms to tackle climate change, income inequality, or institutional racism. Our pandemic response was badly botched, leading to hundreds of thousands dying needlessly. It would be easy to despair.

But then the world also produces people like Dr.Paul Farmer. He proved that one determined and passionate man could defy all odds and change the world. From nothing, he almost single-handedly founded a global health movement that has provided high quality care to millions in some of the most impoverished countries on the planet.

Farmer died unexpectedly on February 21. He was only 62. Farmer had a broad vision of equity and justice for everyone. He once said:

“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”

Farmer lived that credo. He re-defined what it meant to be a good doctor. After graduating Harvard Medical School, he moved to Haiti, a country he loved. His mission was to provide high quality health care to patients from the most destitute backgrounds.

In 1987, he co-founded the organization Partners in Health. Its accomplishments are staggering. It now employs 18,000 people in twelve countries. It has helped create 230 medical facilities around the world. When Farmer died, he was in Rwanda where he helped with the creation of a hospital, a cancer center, and a medical school. He travelled tirelessly to places where there were grotesque health inequalities and he addressed that.

Partners in Health expanded to countries across Africa, Latin America, Russia and to the Navajo Nation in the U.S.. Farmer was not trying to bring basic services to the people. He wanted to bring the most sophisticated treatments.He brought HIV drugs to Haiti in the early 2000’s when that was not considered financially possible. His clinics treated drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, other infectious diseases and Ebola.

Farmer always fought for free, high quality health care. He never accepted that inequality of health care access was natural or inevitable. Part of what made Farmer so unusual was his philosophy which is up front in the Partners in Health mission statement.

“Our mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners in Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair.”

Farmer engaged communities in designing solutions to their problems. 99% of Partners in Health’s 18,000 employees are from the countries where they work. A key part of Farmer’s philosophy was what he called “accompaniment”. The idea was to keep the patient company and share their fate and not for a little while. That runs so contrary to how medicine is now practiced in America.

As a medical anthropologist (he also had a Ph.D. in medical anthropology), Farmer studied the interconnection of health and poverty which he saw as very connected. He once said:

“You have to look at what’s happening to the patient in front of you and think about ways to address social disparities. If there is food insecurity then you provide food when you provide care. Or if patients drop out of treatment, you provide transportation to the clinic, or you send community health workers to the patient.”

In his wonderful biography of Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder describes Farmer’s attraction to liberation theology. That came alive for him living in Haiti. He had an enthusiasm and joy in service to the poor. When asked what kept him in global health, he replied, “Doing hard things with friends”.

The accomplishments of Partners in Health speak for themselves. Life expectancy in Rwanda doubled in the last ten years. In Haiti, community health workers stopped people dying from tuberculosis. Something similar happened in Peru. As his colleague Dr Joia Mukherjee explained, Farmer helped to create an enormous community of people committed to a new model of social medicine. His example is also a roadmap for health care in the future.

Farmer believed health care was a human right. He also worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston part of every year and he was intimately familiar with the quality of health care in America. He said it was very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in rich countries.

He believed many deaths were “stupid deaths” and that who lived and who died depended on what type of health care system was available. To quote him:

“I was tempted to record the cause of death as ‘weak health system for poor people’, ‘uninsured’, ‘fell through gaping hole in safety net’ or ‘too poor to survive catastrophic illness’.”

When I read Mountains Beyond Mountains, I was struck by Farmer’s audacity. He had a can-do, positive attitude with an expansive vision that permeated his whole career. He called Partners in Health a “house of yes’.

Dr. Farmer inspired a generation of medical and public health workers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Although he left us way too soon, Paul Farmer more than made a difference. He pioneered what is possible as one engaged human being.

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America and some troubling Holocaust questions – posted 2/20/2022

February 20, 2022 3 comments

There are some Holocaust-related questions which have long piqued my interest. When did Americans become aware of the genocide being conducted by the Nazis? What efforts were made to grapple with it? Why were the efforts to respond so pitifully weak?

From the vantage point of 2022, it is hard to get a picture of what the European world then looked like to Americans. There was no internet or even TV. Radio and newspapers were the dominant forms of mass communication.

A new book by Daniel Green and Edward Phillips, Americans and the Holocaust, provides a wealth of helpful information. The authors collected primary sources including newspaper stories, government reports, Gallup polls, photographs, and cartoons from the 1930’s-1940’s. They offer a view of what information was publicly available to Americans as well as a window into public thinking.

Some might think that the Spring of 1945 when U.S. troops first encountered the Nazi death camps in Europe was when large numbers of Americans first became aware of the Nazi genocide. That is not the case.

There was much public information available about much of what the Nazis were up to long before 1945. In 1933, there were over 2,000 daily newspapers in the U.S.. Many households received one. Just a review of publicly available newspapers and magazines is clarifying.

The cover of Time Magazine on July 10, 1933 featured a large picture of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels above the caption “Say it in your dreams: THE JEWS ARE TO BLAME”.

In March 1933 American newspapers reported the Nazis were putting 10,000 political prisoners in concentration camps. Also in that month, the United Press reported on a nationwide boycott against Jews in Germany carried out by the Nazis. The Associated Press reported that Nazi storm troops cleared the Berlin law courts of Jewish judges and lawyers.

In May 1933, the Associated Press described mass book burnings carried out by German university students throughout the country. Books by famous American authors like Jack London and Helen Keller were pitched into huge bonfires. Any world literature that was deemed to “contravene German spirit” got torched.

Even as early as 1933, Americans in Germany started getting physically assaulted on the street. Members of the Nazi Party SA militia attacked Americans at least 35 times during 1933 alone. The U.S. counsel general in Berlin reported the attacks were unprovoked but it was thought they were brought about through the assumption those attacked were Jews.

In November 1938 mobs of Nazis launched pogroms against Jews all over Germany. The Nazis destroyed hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish-owned shops. Nearly 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and were sent to concentration camps. These events were widely covered and came to be known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass..

A Gallup poll in November 1938 found an overwhelming percentage of Americans (94%) disapproved of the Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany. However, awareness of mistreatment did not lead to any willingness to act on behalf of Jewish victims. When asked if a larger number of Jewish exiles from Germany should be allowed to come to the United States to live, 72% said “no”. Only 21% of Americans favored admitting more Jews into the U.S..

The 1924 Immigration law greatly restricted Jewish immigration to America. There was only a small quota allowed in every year. That gap between awareness of Nazi evil and unwillingness to support immigration reform remained a constant throughout the war. Undergirding the law was a vicious anti-semitism that was entrenched in America during the period.

Influential “scientific” racists like Madison Grant and Edward Ripley saw Jews as one of the most racially inferior European immigrant groups coming to America. Their view that Jews were a “deficient” race of immigrants was widely shared. Grant raised the spectre that Americans of “Colonial stock” could be replaced by racially inferior people.

A February 1939 bill jointly sponsored by Democratic Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Republican Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts proposed admitting 20,000 German refugee children under the age of 14. I am assuming the bill sponsors believed children would be the most sympathetic potential immigrants. The bill got nowhere and never made it to the floor of Congress for a vote.

Opponents of increasing Jewish immigration argued that more refugees would cause Americans to lose jobs. In the case of children, they argued that America’s first duty was to feed, clothe and educate the millions of children living in poverty here.

As the Nazis expanded the war in Europe, they made it harder for reporting to occur in the areas they occupied. They banned Western press. Still, some stories emerged about Jews being forced to wear badges as well as their being concentrated into walled ghettos. It was not until late 1942 that word of the physical extermination of Jews seeped into public consciousness.

After Japan attacked the U.S. on December 7, 1941, public attention shifted to the broader war effort against the Axis powers. What later became known as the Holocaust became a background event set against broader carnage.

There was some superb reporting. In the December 22, 1942 issue of the New Republic, Varian Fry wrote an article entitled “The Massacre of the Jews”. He accurately depicted the genocidal project and exactly how it was being carried out. But Fry was an isolated voice. Reports coming from Fry or the handful of Jews who escaped were discounted as unreliable. As Fry noted, “There are some things so horrible that decent men and women find them impossible to believe”.

In a war in which fifty or sixty million died, the death of six million Jews did not register as a central event. A Gallup poll from November 1944 asked Americans to estimate how many people may have been murdered by Germans in concentration camps. 36% answered 100,000 or less. Another 16% guessed between 100,000 and a million. 11% guessed two million to six million. 5% guessed six million or more.

Efforts by the Jewish community, led by Rabbi Stephen Wise, a founder of the American Jewish Congress, failed to gain much traction. President Roosevelt would not commit to supporting any rescue operation. He remained worried about domestic repercussions for a policy perceived as pro-Jewish. No efforts were undertaken to bomb crematories or death camp facilities.

William Shirer described the American frame of mind as “a silly sort of super-cynicism and super-skepticism”. There was a failure to grasp the truth of the genocide.

Call it fatalism, anti-semitism, xenophobia or dehumanizing the other – all were at play. Inside the honorable struggle against fascism was the tragic abandonment of the Jews of Europe. Americans, broadly speaking, failed to connect the dots about fascism’s crimes, leading to devastating inaction.

There are no death camps now but when desperate people from Latin America seek asylum, we still use exactly the same excuses that Americans used in the 1940’s to keep out the Jews who were trying to escape persecution. You have to wonder how much we have learned, if anything.

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The coup plotting never quit – posted 2/13/2022

February 13, 2022 2 comments

As we keep learning more about the events between the 2020 presidential election and January 6, 2021, it becomes clearer that Donald Trump remained entirely focused on one goal: staying in power. For Trump, that time period was about desperate ploys.

With his legal strategy failing, Trump and his circle crafted a succession of shady schemes. Desperation led to consideration of wilder ideas. As he acknowledged in his Conroe, Texas speech, his goal was to overturn the election.

Trump and his lawyers, John Eastman and Jenna Ellis, had plans to throw out the electoral votes from swing states. The idea was that if enough states contested the election, Biden would end up short of the 271 electoral votes needed to win because these states could not be counted as in the Biden column. Then the presidency could be thrown back to the House pursuant to the 12th Amendment. The Republicans had the edge there in state delegations and they could then anoint Trump the winner.

Even though he lost the vote tally, Trump wanted state legislatures in swing states to declare the election in their states null and void. Having electors sign fake electoral vote certifications was part of the plan. The hope was that the creation of uncertainty about the election would justify a pretext for delay and not counting electoral votes.

84 Republicans from 7 states signed similar bogus documents claiming Trump won their state and they sent electoral college certification forms to Congress and the National Archives. It would appear this was a coordinated effort coming out of the White House but we are still learning more about who were the plan architects.

I would expect the January 6 Committee will be seeking to find out how much pressure Trump placed on local Republicans to create false certifications and how much originated from the grassroots.

A related scheme has been described by former Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro. Navarro called his scheme, jointly authored with Steve Bannon, the Green Bay Sweep. The scheme was named after a football play designed by legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi where a Packers running back pounded the ball into the end zone behind a “phalanx of blockers”.

Navarro wanted members of the House and Senate to raise challenges to the electoral vote count in six swing states on January 6. The challenges would force up to two hours of debate per state. During that time, Navarro hoped to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to hold off on certifying the election. Navarro has claimed that Trump was on board with his strategy as were more than 100 Republican members of Congress.

The Green Bay Sweep was fundamentally about delay with the expectation that Pence would buckle to their pressure. Navarro was unable to access Pence whom he says was walled off from him by Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff. Pence obviously had other ideas. He would not go along.

Trump was also enamored with the idea of seizing voting machines. Even after his Attorney General William Barr refused the plot because there was no credible voter fraud and no probable cause that any crime had been committed, Trump improvised with new schemes.

Always anxious to get others to break the law for him, Trump schemed to have the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security confiscate voting machines.

Trump advisors drafted two Executive Orders around this idea. One plan centered on using the President’s emergency power under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to permit the Pentagon to seize voting machines. It is not clear who drafted the Executive Orders (possibly Sidney Powell) but Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell aggressively advocated for them at a contentious White House meeting on December 18, 2020.

Flynn and Powell pitched conspiracy theories at Trump. They argued the Chinese Communist Party, Iran, former Venezualan President Hugo Chavez (deceased in 2013), Dominion Voting Systems and George Soros were all hacking voting machines. They wanted the Department of Defense to use soldiers to commandeer the voting machines so that there could be a recount or a new vote.

Flynn wanted Trump to declare martial law in the post-election period. He wanted to serve as “field marshall”. He floated the idea of Trump seizing all voting machines in the country and then deploying the military to swing states Trump lost. The plot also included a proposal that Trump appoint Sidney Powell as “special counsel” to oversee election integrity. Those things never happened. Trump staffers Pat Cipollone, Mark Meadows and Eric Herschmann pushed back hard against Flynn and Powell.

When Trump got resistance on using the Pentagon, he called on Rudy Giuliani to ask acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli from the Department of Homeland Security if that agency would seize voting machines. Giuliani made the call although supposedly he was opposed to the idea of the military seizing voting machines. On behalf of Homeland Security, Cuccinelli declined to participate. Trump did not sign the Executive Orders.

According to the New York Times, we also know that in December 2020 Trump attempted to persuade Michigan and Pennsylvania legislators to have local law enforcement agencies seize voting machines in their states. State lawmakers nixed Trump’s request.

I would suggest there was a method to the madness. Republicans saw creating chaos as their best way forward after losing the presidential election. With enough delay, uncertainty, and contestation, maybe somehow Trump could be re-installed.

Imagine the shock and chaos that would have been created if Pence had buckled or if Trump had gone forward in seizing voting machines. Where would the voting machines have gone? What would have been done with them?

It would have provoked an unprecedented constitutional crisis. The Trump forces knew that. It is safe to assume that Democrats would have flipped out. Likely the mess would have provoked huge demonstrations and street violence. Resolution would have probably landed at the U.S. Supreme Court, also a possibly promising result for Republicans.

The clock ran out on the Republicans and they could throw no more Hail Marys but they are, no doubt, studying the lessons for 2024. Looking back, democracy had a very close call. Forces opposed to democracy almost found a way to circumvent the will of the voters. As Rep. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts described it, Trump was a “constitutional wrecking ball”.

In the last week, we found out more about Trump’s spoliation of evidence and his pattern of destroying presidential records. He had a habit of tearing up documents at the end of meetings.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reports that White House staff repeatedly found upstairs White House toilets clogged with wads of printed papers. It was apparently Trump’s preferred method of document destruction. He also had burn bags and he removed more than a dozen boxes of White House documents to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House. Some were marked “top secret”. We also know that phone logs on January 6 are missing.

For those who remember Watergate, it was the eighteen minute White House recording gap that did in Nixon. Trump’s destruction of evidence makes Tricky Dick look like a minor leaguer.

On Twitter, I saw a picture of a golden commode with a sign on the wall that said, “Notice Please do not flush paper towels, cigarettes, sanitary items, or classified government documents”. That is a perfect metaphor to describe the Trump presidency.

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Censoring Maus is part of the mass forgetting of history – posted 2/6/2022

February 6, 2022 Leave a comment

In January, the McMinn County School Board located in east Tennessee removed Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Maus from the school curriculum. Maus was an anchor text for an eighth grade module on the Holocaust.

The book is a graphic memoir about Speigelman’s parent’s experience during the Holocaust, including their imprisonment at Auschwitz. Spiegelman also tells the story of his very difficult relationship with his father, Vladeck. Although Spiegelman’s father survived the war, he was not an easy man.

In the book, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Germans are drawn as cats. The visual aspect of the book is unique and highly original. The book has proven to be a powerful learning tool for young people.

The school board said they did not object to teaching about genocide but they objected to the book’s profanity, nudity, violence and the depiction of suicide. The book contains a visual of Spiegelman’s mother’s suicide. The school board voted unanimously 10-0 to remove Maus. One school board member explained his reasoning:

“It shows people hanging. It shows them killing kids. Why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff.”

As Spiegelman told the New York Times, it seemed that these school board members were asking “why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?”

The removal of Maus is part of a wave of book challenges at schools around the country. The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom says there have never been so many people challenging books. According to the Association, just in the period between September 1, 2021-December 1, 2021 there were as many requests to remove books as in all of 2020.

The majority of targeted books focus on race, sexuality and gender. Interestingly, Spiegelman inscribed Maus with a quote from Adolf Hitler: “The Jews are undoubtedly a race but they are not human”.

I do think the book bannings, including the removal of Maus, need to be placed inside the context of the increasing authoritarianism and incipient fascism reflected in the Republican Party. Republican-controlled state legislatures are passing laws to make it easier to remove books deemed “divisive”. Forgetting the Holocaust figures into this project.

In getting rid of Maus, whatever the school board members say, the objective is removing a book that highlights bigotry and the danger of fascism. Anyone who censors Maus is actively opposing Holocaust education and denying Jewish history.

A 2020 survey by the Commission on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that almost two-thirds of young American adults did not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. 23% of young American adults believed the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated. As we get farther away from the time and there are fewer Holocaust survivors, mass forgetting becomes a bigger problem. Today’s fascists do not want young people to know this history.

About Maus’s removal, Spiegelman also said, “It’s part of a continuum and just a harbinger of things to come”. Book banning has a long record as a fascist tradition. Bannings were a prelude to book burnings. I know there are those who will says I am overreacting but denial of the fascist trend is dangerous. There is a desire to normalize events and pretend there is no fascist threat.

Last November, Texas officials, including Republican Governor Greg Abbott and State Rep. Matt Krause issued directives against “obscene” books in local schools regarding books about gender, sexual orientation, sex education and race. Rep. Krause put 850 books on a watch list, most dealing with human rights, sex education and mention of LBGTQ people.

The San Antonio School District pulled 414 books from its libraries in response to pressure from Texas lawmakers and angry parents. Rep. Krause said he was opposed to books that might generate ‘discomfort, guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress because of a student’s race or sex’. This is language from Texas House bill 3979 which is an anti-Critical Race Theory bill.

I am reminded of a famous quote from Franz Kafka:

“If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? So that it shall make us happy? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. But what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen within us.”

If like Rep. Krause, you are opposed to books that generate “discomfort”, it is fair to say you are opposed to education. Reading is supposed to be challenging. Literature, like Maus, is about exploring the unfamiliar and life experience outside our own.

Maybe parents or educators who censor books like Maus are afraid of the effect the reading experience will have on their children. Would reading Maus teach empathy? Or opposition to racism and anti-semitism? Would it make young people more-open-minded and less bigoted? In the guise of protecting children, the school board makes them ignorant.

The Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole writes:

“As a society the American people are being habituated into accepting cruelty on a wide scale. Americans are being taught not to see other people as human beings whose lives are as important as their own. Once that line has been crossed…then we know where that all leads, what the ultimate destination is. There is no mystery about it. We know what happens when a government and its leaders dehumanize large numbers of people.”

The definition of what is “inappropriate”, “obscene” or “distressing” is political and depends on point of view.

Americans need to refuse to live in a fascist world. The book banning like with Maus, is not normal. Historical memory matters and we must do much better in remembering oppression. Otherwise, we are more likely to repeat what has been forgotten.

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Understanding MAGA fascism – posted 1/29/2022

January 29, 2022 Leave a comment

Back in 2015, I started writing about the threat of fascism represented by the Trump/MAGA movement. Unfortunately, I believe the seriousness of that threat is still poorly understood.

Part of the problem is the lack of clarity about the word fascism. “Fascist” is often hurled as an insult, almost an expletive. It remains fuzzy what fascism means.

Fascism has a shape-shifting quality. It embodies different manifestations in different locations. People talk about Germany or Italy or other places that have experienced fascism. Sometimes I have seen checklists with a number of defining characteristics about authoritarianism, like items on a menu. If you have a certain number, bingo, you qualify as fascism. Checklists may have value but the definition remains vague and ill-defined.

There are some good definitions of fascism. Jason Stanley, the author of the book, How Fascism Works, has offered several. The best one states:

“Fascism is a cult of the leader who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by minorities, leftists, immigrants, feminists and the LGBT community.”

Stanley goes on to say that a fascist leader “promises that only he can protect the nation, protect its traditions from their threat and restore lost glory”.

I think this definition captures the MAGA phenomenon. There is a cult of personality around Donald Trump. He has explicitly said since he knows the system better than anyone, he is the only one who can fix it.

Unlike most conventional political parties, the Republican Party came out of its 2020 convention with no political platform. That is because the party stands for whatever Trump says. If Trump says we support the Big Lie of election fraud, followers acquiesce. More than agreement in public policy, agreement with the Big Lie is the most important determining factor in whether Trump will support other Republican politicians.

When Trump was president, we watched his cabinet members humiliate themselves with their fawning tributes and flattery to Great Leader. There is a reason Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. It may not be Jim Jones-level, drink-the kool aid devotion but MAGA reeks of cult. The loyalty to Great Leader partly explains January 6.

Making America Great Again is a seeming movement of national restoration although it is never explained what period in American history was “great”. Fascism typically evokes a mythic past destroyed.

As for the enemies cited in Stanley’s definition, MAGA has demonized and dehumanized each group. White supremacy is MAGA’s calling card. MAGA allegedly speaks for the dominant ethnic group, disgruntled white people, worried about their Great Replacement by minorities and immigrants.

Trump treated Black Lives Matter, an overwhelmingly non-violent movement, as a symbol of hate. He sided with those who wanted to maintain Confederate monuments, a posture consistent with 1950’s southern segregationists.

Immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, registered as objects of hate-mongering. Remember Trump saying Mexico is not sending its best. It is sending rapists and criminals. Contrary to the MAGA narrative sold to the public, immigration into the U.S. plunged in 2021 because of a decline in international travel brought on by COVID-19 restrictions and restrictive immigration policies.

For anyone paying attention, there is a major labor shortage in the United States. The truth is that low immigration has made the labor shortage worse.

The term “radical leftist” as used by Trump has been emptied to mean any Democrat. Trump has rendered “radical leftist” meaningless because people like Biden are anything but leftist.

Antifa is another boogeyman that is a joke. As someone who identifies as a leftist and a democratic socialist, Antifa is a tiny sect with an inconsequential following that does not represent people on the left. Attacking Antifa is bogus because Antifa is a straw man and virtually a mirage.

Feminists and LGBT people do stand in opposition to the toxic masculinity represented by Trump. This is a person who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by over 20 women but MAGA apparently forgives the sins because Trump has worked so dutifully to take away women’s freedom of choice.

Republicans generally have stoked fear of transgender people. Beating up on a little-understood, despised minority is their shameful good politics.

Fascists historically have panicked about any deviation from the traditional patriarchal family, rigid sex roles, and gender hierarchy. Women are supposed to stay in their place, having babies for the cause. Fascism is rooted in male supremacy.

Stanley offers a second definition of fascism: ultranationalism in the service of the financial elite. America First perfectly expresses fascism’s ultranationalism. Stanley describes democracy as the mother of fascism and he says every democracy is vulnerable, particularly when extreme economic inequality becomes the norm. Then elites may opt out of support for democracy, concluding fascism will better protect their money.

We have seen this opt out on the American Right with their glorification of authoritarian strongman Victor Orban of Hungary. Orban effectively junked democracy and rules as a one party state dictator without check and balances. Orban conducts blatant anti-semitic campaigns against George Soros and FOX personalities like Tucker Carlson have no problem with that.

Fascism is not a coherent set of ideological doctrines or a type of government. It rejects democratic values like the rule of law, individual rights, and multi-cultural pluralism. It is the failure of elites that leads to fascism. Fascists use racism and xenophobia to split apart the public to protect the 1%.

Fascists talk about “draining the swamp” while hiding their own rampant corruption. The fascist stew includes anti-intellectualism, disregard for the truth, anti-science, hostility to a free press, proliferation of paramilitary groups, gun mania, conspiracy theories, book banning, racism and hate.

Readers can judge for themselves whether the Republican Party is closer to the picture I have painted or closer to a normal political party competing for power. Whatever happens to Trump, his MAGA movement has opened Pandora’s Box. If a movement like MAGA comes to power in 2024, we are very likely to never see another democratic election.

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MLK history is not well-remembered – posted 1/23/2022

January 23, 2022 Leave a comment

Another Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has come and gone but I don’t think America is close to celebrating the real Dr. King. We have gotten too far away from the history which isn’t even that long ago.

I wanted to recommend a documentary, MLK/FBI, that recreates the history and grapples with King’s thirteen years of activism from 1955 to 1968. The movie shows how King became the moral leader of the nation by forging a non-violent movement dedicated to overturning segregation and combating poverty.

Instead of welcoming King’s leadership, the American power structure feared him and opposed change. And it was not just the powerful. It is forgotten how many Americans reviled King. In 1966, a Gallup poll determined that 63% of Americans held a negative view of King while only 32% had a positive one.

The FBI was alarmed by King’s charisma and his success in mobilizing people. The FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, worried about the rise of a Black Messiah who could electrify the masses. The FBI worried that King was that man.

Hoover’s number two at the Bureau, William Sullivan, said that MLK was “the most dangerous negro in America” and that “the FBI had to use all means to destroy him”. Sullivan suggested the FBI handpick a new leader to replace King. The FBI waged a vicious, secret campaign to neutralize King. The Bureau had been stung by King’s criticisms about their failure to protect civil rights leaders from racist attacks.

Hoover was the FBI Director for 48 years from 1924-1972. He turned the FBI into his private secret police force. Hoover had been raised in a repressed and reactionary segregationist milieu where white supremacy dominated. Along with being racist himself, he was convinced the civil rights movement was influenced by Communists. He saw King as uppity and a major threat to national security.

As the civil rights movement got stronger, Hoover became obsessed with King. The FBI put King under surveillance 24/7, including using informants, wiretaps, and hidden microphones to spy on him. Initially, the justification was King’s close association with Stanley Levinson, a friend who had some past association with the Communist Party USA.

Hoover, who was an expert at gathering dirt on people, tried to force King to break off his relationship with Levinson. He enlisted President Kennedy and then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to get King to disassociate from Levinson. King told JFK he would break off contact but he ultimately did not. King did not believe the FBI’s allegations and there has never been any evidence that the Communist Party had any influence on King.

King’s actions infuriated Hoover who saw him as a liar and a deceiver. Things between the two men spiraled in a bad direction. Hoover expanded the surveillance on King. FBI wiretaps revealed that King had a non-monogamous private life. They gathered recordings of King having sex with a variety of women who were not his wife.

In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize but Hoover remained totally offended by King’s sexuality. Hoover was probably jealous. He started referring to King as a “moral degenerate “ and a “tomcat”. He publicly called King “the most notorious liar in the country”.

Hoover shared the white southern fear of black sexuality. He treated private sexual conduct as an indicator of virtue. King pushed his buttons.

Hoover fit into the racist tradition of white men who lynched black men for alleged sexual improprieties but instead of killing King, he tried to push King to kill himself. The FBI compiled a taped greatest hits of King’s sexual exploits and sent it to King’s wife. Along with the tape was a letter urging King to kill himself.

The FBI continued to spread stories about King’s sexual indiscretions. It pressured universities not to award him honorary degrees. Knowing what we know now about JFK’s affairs and Hoover’s secret sexuality, hypocrisy is all over the map.

After the JFK assassination, King and LBJ had an alliance of sorts. Voting rights and civil rights bills got fast-tracked but the Vietnam war eventually blew that alliance apart. Long troubled by the American role, King spoke out against the war in a speech he gave at Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967. King said,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The speech freaked out the liberal establishment. King was ahead of his time on Vietnam. The majority tide had not yet turned against the war. The New York Times, the Washington Post and even the NAACP rebuked King for opposing U.S. intervention in Indochina.

Later in 1967, King gave a speech in Chicago at the National Conference on New Politics. He stated:

“We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew in prosperity out of the Protestant Ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on this exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.”

King’s last political acts were the Poor People’s Campaign and his campaign to organize sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

In the Riverside Church speech King called for a “radical revolution in values” in which “we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society”. King was a radical and a democratic socialist who always sided with poor and working people.

James Agee, in his book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, wrote:

“Every fury on earth has been absorbed in time, as art or as religion or as authority in one form or another. The deadliest blow the enemy of the human soul can strike is to do fury honor.”

With Dr. King, official acceptance has meant a relentless effort to water down his message. Gone is King’s critique of capitalism and militarism. In its place is mush. So many tributes to King are phony, insincere and forced. What James Agee described is exactly what has happened with Dr. King.

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The untold story of anti-Chinese racism in America – posted 1/17/2022

January 17, 2022 Leave a comment

On New Year’s Eve, Yao Pan Ma, a 62 year old Chinese-American man, died. Eight months earlier, in April 2021, he had been collecting cans on the street in New York City to try and pay rent money. Ma was a kitchen worker and a cook and he had lost his job when the city went into pandemic lockdown. Out of the blue, a man approached Ma from behind, stuck him in the back and knocked him down. He then stomped Ma, kicking him repeatedly in the head.

Ma was grievously injured and went into a deep coma. Over months, his health deteriorated and he finally succumbed to the beating. Ma was the latest victim of the pandemic scapegoating and hate crimes that became epidemic in 2020-2021. Asian-American violence erupted around the United States. Between March 2020-February 2021, Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative supporting Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, reported nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S..

The pandemic hate crimes are not an isolated event in Chinese-American history. They are only the most recent episode of a much longer-term experience. Maybe of any racial group in America, the Chinese experience is least well understood. The history of racism and xenophobia directed against the Chinese is staggering and has generally been left out of the history books.

Going back to the mid-nineteenth century, hostility toward the Chinese pervaded America, not just the west coast. Newspapers across the country inveighed against allowing Chinese into America but there was a demand for labor in the west and, in particular, for railroad workers. There was tremendous excitement about the introduction of coast to coast railroad. In their book, To Serve the Devil, Paul Jacobs, Saul Landau and Eve Pell write:

“The transcontinental railroads were desperate for workers willing to endure the terrible hardship, the burning desert sun, freezing mountain snows, landslides, back-breaking hours with pick and shovel, and the isolation from cities, for months at a time. And all this for low wages. Few white workers were willing to take on these jobs, and, in desperation, the railroad builders turned to the Chinese.”

At the same time, the Chinese workers were needed for their labor, they were also the objects of a national phobia. Americans imagined a yellow horde of poor, diseased, filthy, illiterate coolies pouring off boats. There was a popular belief that Chinese people were criminal, dirty and carried disease.

In that era, white supremacy was an extremely powerful force. Many white people believed that their first duty was to maintain America’s racial purity. Chinese did not speak the same language or adopt white manners or customs. Beating Chinese was considered a form of amusement and offenses committed against Chinese were not considered important nor were they generally prosecuted.

Neither Congress nor state legislatures protected the Chinese. On the contrary, they passed much anti-Chinese legislation. In 1858, California passed a law prohibiting Chinese and Mongolian immigration to the state. Congress followed with a law in 1862 forbidding U.S. ships from transporting coolies. In 1870, Congress approved a Naturalization Act barring Chinese from obtaining U.S. citizenship.

This was followed by the Page Act in 1875 which barred Asian women who were suspected of prostitution. The Page Act was a template for the more influential 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which established the right to regulate foreigners into the country, including their exclusion and deportation.

In 1892, the Geary Act extended the Chinese Exclusion Act and required all Chinese residents in the U.S. to carry a resident permit at all times. Failure to carry the permit was punishable by deportation or a year at hard labor.

The historian, Erika Lee, in her book, America for Americans, shows the pathbreaking significance of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The law categorized Chinese as the ultimate example of the dangerous, degraded alien. Lee wrote:

“No other group had been officially singled out for immigration exclusion or banned from naturalized citizenship based on their race and national origin before. Moreover, the only other immigrants to be similarly banned from the country in 1882 were convicts, lunatics, idiots and any people considered to be public charges.”

The Chinese Exclusion Act exempted professional and elite classes from exclusion. It specifically barred Chinese laborers. The Exclusion Act remained in effect for 61 years. In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt repealed the Act because China was then our ally against the Japanese.

Courts, both state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, failed to protect the Chinese. In 1854, the California Supreme Court held that Chinese people could not testify in court. In 1878, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the denial of allowing Chinese to become naturalized citizens and later, in 1889, it upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act itself.

In the late nineteenth century, xenophobia directed against the Chinese was out of control and resulted in many atrocities committed against Chinese people. A bad economy in the 1870’s particularly led to anti-Chinese hysteria that Chinese labor would take scarce jobs.

When the Chinese did not voluntarily leave the country, xenophobes resorted to violence and removal, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. In 1885, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a mob murdered 28 Chinese and burned hundreds out of their homes. Only federal troops prevented mass murder of Chinese in Seattle in November 1885.

Also, in 1885, Tacoma Washington witnessed a pogrom. Tacoma’s Chinatown was burned to the ground. City leaders marched the Chinese population of Tacoma through pouring rain to a railroad station located miles outside the city. They forced the Chinese into boxcars with their goods and shipped them to Portland. A similar scenario played out in Seattle. In February 1886, the entire Chinese population in Seattle was forced out of the city.

Lynchings and incidents of organized mass brutality were not unusual. Anti-Chinese vigilantes had no fear of punishment..

Into the twentieth century, the American tradition of welcoming immigrants was not extended to the Chinese. The Yellow Peril racist ideology infected too many minds. Books like Lothrop Stoddard’s, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, published in 1920, reflected the popular racist and anti-Chinese attitude.

Chinatowns that sprouted around America were more a product of racial segregation and redlining than of any desire to self-segregate.

Winston Churchill once said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”. In the case of Chinese-American history, the victims did not get that opportunity. This past remains whitewashed and not accessible to mass audiences.

The events I cited have been written out but not entirely. When former President Trump talked about the “China virus”, he connected to the nineteenth century belief that Chinese carried germs and diseases. The legacy of xenophobia and racism remain very alive.

It should be clear by now that there is a narrative war going on about American history. I think all the efforts like opposing critical race theory and divisive concepts legislation are really about an opposition to truth-telling about our ugly racial history. They demonstrate a lack of intellectual integrity.

Whether about Chinese-American, African-American or Native American history, we need to increase the consciousness of wrongdoing. We seem addicted to fairy tale history. If we are ever going to move past racism in America, we first have to face it honestly. That has not happened with Chinese-American history.

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