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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Local History: Conducting the Ohio Underground Railroad


 

When Virginian John Randolph's 518 slaves were emancipated and a plan was hatched to settle them in southern Ohio, the population rose up in indignation. An Ohio congressman warned that if the attempt were made, "the banks of the Ohio ... would be lined with men with muskets on their shoulders to keep off the emancipated slaves."

Slavery and Ohio


When Congress established the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, one of the provisions forbid slavery in any new future state admitted to the Union, north of the Ohio River. Yet, to say Ohio afforded slaves freedom would be debatable in that blacks were denied many rights of citizenship. It is evident that Ohio abolitionists were not in the majority.

According to historian Leon F. Litwack, Ohio "provided a classic example of how anti-immigration legislation could be invoked to harass Negro residents."

The Ohio state constitution adopted in 1802, deprived blacks of the right to vote, to hold public office, and to testify against whites in court. In time, Ohio's position became even harsher when laws were passed saying that blacks could not live in Ohio without a certificate proving their free status. They even had to post a $500 bond "to pay for their support in case of want."

Blacks were prohibited from joining the state militia, were excluded from serving on juries and were not allowed admittance to state poorhouses, insane asylums, and other institutions. Some of these laws were not strictly enforced, or it would have been virtually impossible for any African American to emigrate to Ohio.

Later Congress added the Fugitive Slave Law on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free Soilers. It required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate in this law. Abolitionists nicknamed it the "Bloodhound Law" for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.

The law made it a federal crime to give aid or harbor escaping slaves. It also penalized officials who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave, and made them liable to a fine of $1,000. Adding to this were rewards paid by plantation owners to freelance bounty hunters for slaves that were returned. This made life extremely difficult for slaves, even in a free-state like Ohio.

The population of Ohio in the early 1800s held opposing views about slavery. Ohio was being settled by two basic cultures: those coming from New England, and those coming from Virginia and other southern states. In New England, slavery had long ago been abolished, and quite the opposite held true for the southern states. These two different cultures led to clashes with regards to African Americans and the issue of slavery in Ohio. Even in rural areas, one town might be pro slavery and the one just down the road a few miles would be a stronghold of anti-slavery sentiment.

A third conflict arose from law-abiding citizens that may have opposed the issue of slavery, but so revered the letter of the law, that they felt obligated to turn in runaway slaves because the law required it.

Almost anywhere in Ohio, in almost any community, about half of the population would be pro-slavery, and the other half anti-slavery. This would be especially true in the lower half of the state where citizens were more likely to be former residents of Virginia or Kentucky or be descendents of family from these states. Slavery was a hot issue in Ohio. Pro abolitionists speaking at local rallies could often turn the event into a hostile conflict.

Even with all the impediments to equality and the considerable opposition to emancipation, Ohio became perhaps the most important state on the road to freedom. Many Ohioans help secure this claim as they took part in helping escaping slaves.

It was under these conditions that caused abolitionists to form secretive networks that could help escaping slaves move along a network that was neither advertised nor written. In fact, most of the people on the network only knew a few of the other members to help protect everyone's identity. That network became known as the Underground Railroad.

Underground Railroad

The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was formed by a number of like-minded individuals that opposed slavery. Following closely the structure of the American Anti-Slavery Society that was founded in 1833, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1835 in Zanesville as an auxiliary to the American Anti-slavery Society. The members of the society pledged to fight for the abolition of slavery and establishment of laws protecting African-Americans after they were freed. Their purpose, as stated in their constitution, was, “abolition of slavery throughout the United States and the elevation of our colored brethren to their proper rank as men.” In 1836, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society grew from 20 chapters to 120 chapter covering every part of the state. By December of the same year, ten thousand Ohioans were part of the Society.

The Underground Railroad was neither underground, nor a railroad, but a system of loosely connected safe havens where those escaping the brutal conditions of slavery were sheltered, fed, clothed . . . and instructed during their journey to freedom. The term underground was used because this activity of helping escaping slaves was against the law and therefore these activities had to be concealed. The term railroad was used because those people involved in the activities used terms commonly associated with railroads, to describe different aspects of their activities.
  • Slaves were called cargo or passengers.
  • Hiding places or safe houses were called stations.
  • Guides leading the escaping slaves were called conductors.
  • People helping the escaping slaves, but not guiding them, were called agents.
  • People providing financial resources for these activities were called stockholder.
Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, even in the South, Ohio had the most active network of any other state with around 3000 miles of routes used by escaping runaways. Some sources estimate that 40,000 slaves escaped to freedom through Ohio. The reason for this is two-fold. First Ohio was bordered by two slave states: Virginia and Kentucky. That amounted to more than 400 miles of border between slave-state and free-state. In addition, of all the states involved in these underground networks, Ohio was the closest state to Canada with only about 250 miles or less from anywhere along the Ohio River to Lake Erie and freedom.

Ohio also had a large Quaker population, especially in the east and southeast portions of the state. While the Pennsylvania Quakers were largely responsible for initiating the abolitionist movement, the Ohio Quakers seemed to be more directly involved in actually moving escaping slaves on their way north and freedom in particular those fleeing slaves coming from Virginia.

The River-To-Lake Freedom Trail in Ohio memorializes one of the most frequently-used corridors of the Underground Railroad. The trail generally follows the present-day alignment of U.S. Route 23 from the Ohio River at Portsmouth, north through central Ohio. North of Marion County the trail follows state Route 4 to Sandusky on the shore of Lake Erie.

Of course, the ultimate destination for freedom was Canada (and to some degree, Mexico in the south). Yet, once there, escaped slaves still found life difficult – with no work and with strong segregation. After escaped slaves arrived in Canada, they would often return to Ohio where they could join small enclaves of freed slaves in areas that were uninhabited and try to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

The recorded history of the Underground Railroad is lacking simply because its operations were conducted in secret. Records were not kept.

Crossing at Scioto County

 


James Poindexter

Many runaways from Kentucky on the River-To-Lake Freedom Trail were aided by Rev. James Poindexter. Poindexter was born on Sept. 25, 1819, in Virginia. His father was white; his mother was black and Cherokee. He trained as a barber and moved to Columbus in 1838. His shop at 61 S. High St., across from the Statehouse, was popular with city leaders and state politicians.

Simultaneously upon apprenticing himself to a barber, he hired a British tutor to teach him. From this time, instead of letting circumstances keep him down, he made them do his bidding and besides furnishing him an income his barbering also gave him an education.

All sorts of prominent men sat in his barber chair: politicians, statesmen, doctors, lawyers, and many others :in the know” around the state capitol. Before they knew it, these men found themselves deep in complicated discussion of some question of the day and, unlike the philosopher who wanted his hair cut in silence, they came as much to listen to the arguments of a well-informed young man as they did for a haircut.

Upon reaching maturity Poindexter exercised his right to vote and was the first Negro in Columbus to use his franchise. He knew his rights and privileges. An uncle of his, George B. Poindexter, was once governor of Virginia.

In 1847, Poindexter was a preacher at the Second Baptist Church when an event split the congregation in two and Poindexter emerged as a champion of freedom.

A black family that Poindexter knew from Virginia joined the congregation. The family had owned slaves in the South and sold them before moving to Columbus. Some churchgoers demanded that the family use the proceeds from the sale to buy their former slaves from bondage. The family refused and Poindexter led forty dissenting brethren to form the Anti-Slavery Baptist Church.

That church grew to 104 members before it merged with its parent church in 1858. Poindexter was named pastor of the combined church, a post he held for the next forty years.

Poindexter also served secretly as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves escape to Canada. Risking imprisonment and fines, Poindexter and a handful of both black and white Columbus residents gave sanctuary to escaped slaves and passed them, often disguised as cargo in freight wagons, north to the next stop on their journey to Canada.

During the Civil War Poindexter and his wife formed the Colored Soldiers Relief Society to help give soldiers and their families’ assistance since the State of Ohio failed to support its black veterans.

When the 15th Amendment allowed black voting throughout Ohio in 1870, Poindexter began his political career. In January 1871 he led the call for a statewide convention of African American men to encourage voting. Two years later Poindexter was nominated by the Republican Party for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. He lost but in 1880 he became the first African American elected to the Columbus City Council. Reelected in 1882 Poindexter remained in the seat until 1884 when he was named to the Board of Trustees of the Ohio School for the Blind. In 1884 Poindexter was also appointed to the Columbus Board of Education and was reelected four times.

William McClain

William McClain was born in Virginia in 1807. His father, Hugh McClain, captained ships along the Ohio River. While little is known of William McClain's youth, he eventually pursued the same career as his father. He also became an abolitionist and actively protested slavery by ferrying runaway slaves across the Ohio River from the slave states of Virginia (now West Virginia) and Kentucky.

McClain usually brought the runaway slaves to J.J. Minor, who resided in South Webster, Ohio. He, in turn, would see them to the Dan Lucas or Joseph Love farms. The Lucas or Love families would take them 37 miles northwest to the PP Settlement in Pike County. This place was settled by former slaves and freed men from Virginia and North Carolina. The people here sent them to Chillicothe or to other places of safety. There, they followed the Scioto River to Waverly and to the free black community called P.P. Settlement in Pebble Township.

McClain died on September 10, 1867, in Portsmouth.

Connection to Huston (Houston) Hollow

Established in Scioto County, Ohio in 1830, Huston Hollow was a predominantly African-American community. It was located six miles north of Portsmouth, Ohio in what is now Clay Township. In 1830, whites in Portsmouth drove approximately eighty African-American residents from the city.

At the time, many white Ohioans had no desire to live near or face economic competition from African Americans. Free blacks found that it was difficult to get fair treatment, and they often formed their own communities away from whites for protection. Several of the displaced African Americans formed the community of Huston Hollow. Among the community's more prominent residents were the Love and Lucas families. Members of both of these families actively assisted runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. This was part of the River-To-Lake Freedom Trail.

Huston Hollow remained small in size during its existence, averaging less than one hundred residents. By the mid 1900s, Huston Hollow had lost its identity as a separate community. With whites increasingly showing African Americans tolerance, many African Americans began to find acceptance in traditionally white communities.

Despite the growing opposition to slavery by some whites during the early 1800s, communities, such as Huston Hollow, illustrate the prejudice that existed in Ohio during the years before the American Civil War.
 

James Ashley

Ashley was born on November 24, 1822, to John Ashley, a bookbinder and Campbellite preacher who evangelized in Kentucky and West Virginia, and his wife Mary A. (Kilpatrick) Ashley of Kentucky. near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he was four years old, his family moved to Portsmouth, Ohio. As a boy in the Ohio River Valley, Ashley saw coffles of chained slaves being walked to the Deep South, boys his own age being sold, and even white men who refused to let their cattle drink from a stream in which his father had baptized slaves. He grew to hate the "peculiar institution" (which he considered a violation of Christian principles) and the oligarchy that supported it.

He had begun helping slaves to escape as early as 1839, and late in his life Ashley relished telling stories of the families he had saved as a 17 year old.

Although Ashley's father was a bookbinder, many of his ancestors had been Baptist ministers. Ashley's father encouraged his son to pursue a career in the ministry. Ashley refused and ran away from home at the age of fourteen. He spent several years as a cabin boy and later as clerk on steamboats on the Ohio River. He then returned home to Portsmouth in 1848 where he became a journalist—first at the Portsmouth Dispatch and later editor of the Portsmouth Democrat. The following year, he was admitted to the Ohio Bar but did not practice. the printing trade.

In 1851, abolitionist activities caused Ashley and his wife to flee Portsmouth and move to Toledo to avoid prosecution under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. There, Ashley opened a drug store (which was soon burned down) and also became involved in the new Republican Party (campaigning for its presidential candidate John C. Fremont and Congressman Richard Mott.

Ashley quickly became prominent in the party and served as chairman of the Ohio Republican Convention in 1858. In that same year, Toledo voters elected Ashley to the United States House of Representatives. He was reelected four times until he lost in 1868 by fewer than one thousand votes.

An active abolitionist, Ashley traveled with John Brown's widow to Brown's execution in December 1859, and reported the event in the still-extant local newspaper, the Toledo Blade. In 1858, he led the Ohio Republican Party. As the year ended, Ashley was elected to U.S. House of Representativs of the 36th United States Congress, and took office the following year.

In Congress, Ashley championed abolitionist causes. During the American Civil War, Ashley took an active role in supporting the recruitment of troops for the Union Army. He also became a leader among the Radical Republicans, writing a bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862. On December 14, 1863, he introduced the first bill which ultimately (with Ashley as House Majority floor manager) became the Thirteenth Amendment to the United State Constitution by a 2/3 margin of 2 votes on January 31, 1865, formally abolishing slavery.

Ashley also served as the chairman of the House's Committee on Territories and helped organize Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana. Ashley strongly opposed Mormonism and polygamy, and he successfully campaigned to reduce the size of Utah to limit Mormon influence. He also played a leading role in President Andrew Johnson's impeachment. In 1867, he demanded that the House Judiciary Committee begin an investigation of the President. Ashley lost reelection in 1868 principally because of his radical views on race issues. Increasingly, white Ohioans rejected government actions that would increase equality between whites and African Americans.


Sources

James Mitchell Ashley.” biography.com.

James Ashley.” Ohio History Central.

The Crossing at Scioto County.” The Underground Railroad The Historical Marker Database.

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D. “Abolitionists & the Underground Railroad. sciotohistorical.org.

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D. “The Good and the Just': Slavery and the Development of Evangelical Protestantism in the American South, 1700-1830.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Kentucky, 2001.

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D. “James Ashley & the Thirteenth Amendment.” sciotohistorical.org.

Ann Hagedorn, Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2004.


Henry Howe. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.

Huston Hollow, Ohio.” Ohio History Connection.

Raelin Ingram. “The Life and Times of James M. Ashlety.” PDF. Cincinnati Civil War Round Table.


Rev. James Poindexter, Conductor on Underground Railway.” Columbus Bicentennial Blogspot. April 01, 2012.


Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: W. W. Norton. 1982. 
 
William McCain.” Ohio History Connection. 
 
Leonard L. Richards. Who Freed the Slaves?: The Fight over the Thirteenth Amendment. 2015.

Underground Railroad in Ohio.” touringohio.com.

The Underground Railroad in Southern Ohio.” angelfire.com. Written for Lest We Forget, published by Bennie McCrae, 1997.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

"Tied to the Whipping Post": Trump and the NFL Plantation System


 

What defines the character of a person? Can an individual escape the consequences of his wrongful words and actions by merely making excuses or claiming his behavior is not intentionally hurtful? Of course not. Any person must own his own mistakes, learn from them, and modify his behavior to strengthen character.

President Donald Trump is unable to do this. He has a long history of harboring racist attitudes, and he shows no signs of changing. Oh, he has said, “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered,” and when asked about how he would persuade those who believe he is a racist otherwise, he ignored the question and said, “I’m not concerned. Actually, I’m not concerned because I don’t think people believe it.”

However, it is ludicrous to account for his racist words and deeds by saying, “Oh, that's how he is – impulsive and provocative. He doesn't really feel that way.” Trump is the man behind his divisive behavior. Even if he doesn't completely understand how he displays prejudice, he is clearly at fault. In truth, I believe the bias is much deeper than his atrocious inability to communicate.

Donald Trump has done many things that reveal his prejudiced character. For example …

* He attacked Muslim Gold Star parents of the late Army Captain Humayun Khan and seized on Ghazala Khan’s silence to insinuate that she was forbidden from speaking due to the couple’s Islamic faith.

* He claimed a judge in his class action against the for-profit Trump University.was biased because “he's a Mexican.”

* The Justice Department sued his company, the Trump Management Corporation twice for not renting to black people in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

*Workers at Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, have accused him of racism over the years. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 because managers would remove African-American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler. A state appeals court upheld the fine.

* He refused to condemn the white supremacists such as former KKK leader David Duke, who were campaigning for him.

* He questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States.

* He treats racial groups as monoliths – calling them “the blacks, the Muslims, etc – while claiming he “loves” the group in question and ignoring that people are individual human beings.

* He encouraged the mob justice that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five by taking out full-page ads in four New York City-area newspapers. 
 
* He condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally in Alabama.

* He stood by his “blame on both sides” at Charlottesville comment even after Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., discussed with him how to improve race relations and policy issues of specific concern to communities of color. Plus, he came down squarely on the side of keeping Confederate monuments saying : “They’re trying to take away our culture.”

* He pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who implemented discriminatory policies, flouted the law, and violated the civil rights of the people he was elected to serve.

* During what was supposed to be a stump speech for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), he drifted away from campaigning to ask members of the crowd if they'd love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired’?” He also encouraged fans to boycott the league over the protests.

* He often treats African-American supporters as tokens to dispel the idea he is racist.

So, is it any wonder Trump keeps inserting himself into a debate over National Anthem protests? By making the issue about himself and not about blacks, not only does he wish to force his views about managerial power and patriotism, but also he willingly asserts his racist character. He doesn't care that the protest started by Colin Kaepernick is meant to open a national conversation about race and justice while fighting oppression through education and social activism. Trump's vision of “making America great again” is a return to a time when nonwhites were second-class citizens.

Although Trump claims his actions “have nothing to do with race,” he continues to ignore the real issues of the protest, and he has taken it upon himself as president (from a bully pulpit) to condemn those who use their right to protest in order to draw national attention to a very pressing issue.

Donald Trump knows the racial composition of the league – blacks represent 70 Percent of NFL players while the fan base is 83 percent white. The NFL has no African-Americans majority owners of a team and no African-American CEOs or presidents. In fact, Reggie Fowler, who owns 40% of the Minnesota Vikings is the sole black major ownership member.

In addition, Trump knows that “since at least 2014, owners who donated to him have consistently had fewer African-American execs, general managers and vice presidents than teams whose owners did not donate.” In fact, owners who did not give to Trump were found to be roughly 2.5 times as likely to have black general managers or vice presidents than Trump-donating owners over the past three football seasons.”

Believing that ownership would reciprocate and overwhelmingly support him, Trump exploited this inequality and essentially declared, “It's time for the masters to force a stop to all these problems on the NFL plantations.” By saying any player who didn’t stand for the anthem was a “son of a bitch” and should be fired by his team’s owner, he played to his base while using the excuse of patriotism to urge political obedience.

Face the facts – this is a time of a near unparalleled rise of racial tension. Now, the United States is experiencing the most profound demographic change since the turn of the 20th century, with minorities already comprising a majority of all students in the K-12 public school system nationwide. Demographers such as the Pew Research Center project that as soon as 2020 kids of color will comprise a majority of all Americans under 18. White Christians, who represented a majority of Americans for most of our history, fell below 50% of the population sometime around Barack Obama's reelection in 2012. And, the share of the US population that is foreign-born is on track to reach its highest level ever by around 2025.

Still, under pressure from Trump and despite promises by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the protesters would face no reprisals, NFL team owners will consider requiring football players to stand for the U.S. national anthem. Trump has even suggested using tax laws to penalize the league for players who kneel in protest of racial injustice. This from a man who has refused to disclose his own tax history.

The population is changing. Not that this would matter to Trump. The nation must practice less resistance to changing viewpoints and identities to avoid unnecessary division; however, pressure from the top down prevents a clear perspective from emerging. The ownership of NFL isn't afraid of Trump, per se. It is more that they resemble him much too much.

Author and The Nation’s sports editor, Dave Zirin, explains ...

“It’s not fear of Trump. It’s that they are Trump. Billionaires are not allies in the fight against the white-supremacist, anti-labor aims of this administration. They are the beneficiaries. This has gotten twisted in recent months, as people have been grateful for the diverse, proudly political voices that ESPN has hired in recent years, as well as the sight of NFL owners backing their players after Trump’s abhorrent Huntsville, Alabama, speech, where he called NFL protesters 'sons of bitches.'”

Trump is as Trump does. This can also be said of those who support his reckless ways. Trump is an accelerant for white supremacists and other less outspoken racists. As LeBron James said, “He's now using sports as the platform to try to divide us.” How can you not see his intent as he condemns the NFL while while, at the same time, saying he is “so proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans” for not tolerating “disrespecting our country or our flag.”

This president wants people to take sides, and, believe me, his “side” has nothing to do with equality. He may say the country needs solidarity; however, he defines any unanimity as a strict adherence to what he deems important to him and to his divisive supporters. He quickly attempts to demean opposition by encouraging an “us versus them” mentality. The single polarizing agent time and again is race.
Joe Feagin, a Texas A&M professor who has studied race relations for decades says …

“The closest comparison to Trump in recent decades may be the former Democratic governor of Alabama, George Wallace. In his presidential campaigns, Wallace was stylistically similar to Trump in his aggression on the stump; he blamed “anarchists” for disrupting his events and the country at large, much as Trump has often impugned today’s protesters. As a renowned segregationist, Wallace didn’t have to talk openly about race; instead he talked about blocking fair housing laws initiated to protect minorities...

“It’s hard to find somebody as bold and blunt as Trump is without going back to George Wallace. It’s more of a megaphone than a dog whistle...

“At the center of this seems to be a strong resistance to racial change and reform and racial justice. The bodies of black and brown people seem often to trigger a strong response in him.”

(Cathleen Decker. “At Trump's bully pulpit, it's 'us' vs. 'them,' with race often used as a device to polarize.” Los Angeles Times. September 23, 2017.)




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Whipping Out Your Man Card: Loving Guns In America


 

No other first-world nation suffers from the paranoia that Americans do when it comes to their government and the thought of revolution against it. No other country suffers from the delusion that safety comes from the abundance of assault rifles and ammunition.
And yet this isn't treated as a mental illness.

It is time to stop treating people who feel they need to stockpile assault rifles as if they are not suffering from a mental illness. It's time to stop treating those who fantasize about war against their own countrymen as patriots. It's time to stop coddling the paranoia of bitter white men as being somehow justified. It's time to stop treating fear of a fictional boogeyman politician who doesn't exist as if it is rational. It is time to stop pretending the fear and paranoia and distrust of other Americans somehow makes sense.”

--Ward Anderson, award-winning comedian, author, director, and host of the SiriusXM talk radio program "Ward and Al"

Despite numerous requests by the Center for Injury Control and Prevention, the unparalleled power of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers makes it virtually impossible for any government funds to be assigned to research on gun violence.

"Today's NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry," says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. "While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the 'freedom' of individual gun owners, it's actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory."

Thus, America continues to feed its obsession with guns and the potential violence they can inflict. The “sell” is the main force of both the NRA and its faithful contributors in the gun industry. Weapons are frequently advertised with appeals to men's machismo, sex, and military themes.

* A Bushmaster ad declares, “In a world of rapidly depleting testosterone, the Bushmaster Man's Card declares and confirms you are a man's man, the last of a dying breed, with all the rights and privileges duly afforded

* The Patriot Ordinance Factory's ad uses the iconically sexist mudflap girl silhouette, with the company’s flagship assault rifle emerging from her breasts.

* A Remington ad says, "Attention Politicians: Over 5,000,000 sold. The world's largest army ain't in China.

Is it any wonder so many youth are raised believing in the glamor of guns while remaining indifferent to the havoc and horror they create? And, isn't it clear how fringe groups find support for their anarchic, nihilist views in the gun lobby?

The image of the "crazed psychopath" is a convenient one. It allows the average American to dismiss mass shooters as someone who just snapped one day. But, who is the mentally deficient potential mass shooter? He is very often a bitter man – usually white – with an overabundance of weapons that he thinks – in some distorted philosophy – makes him a patriot, a defender of individual rights.

The gun folk will say these crazies will use another means of delivery if guns are not available – like a truck that they can use to ram into a crowd. This represents stupid clouding of the real issue: trucks have many other uses than random assassination. They aren't designed to kill while guns are.

Or arms defenders say “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” We all understand that people with guns are much more likely to kill them … masses of them, especially while shooting lethal, assault-style weapons.

I understand the belief among Americans in the right to bear arms as an article of faith. I do not want to restrict the normal, sensible right to bear arms. However, I do want to refute the efforts of the NRA, the gun lobby, and gun manufacturers when they support unbridled freedom with firearms. These groups have perpetuated myths that encourage people to make a false, “spiritual” connection to bigger, more powerful weapons.

The gun culture is founded on a small amount of facts and a large amount of fiction and romance. Still, many people embrace political support for gun makers. It is time to change. It is time to protect the innocent from angry bullets fired by twisted, gun loving criminals.
Author and reporter Chauncey Hollingsworth wrote …

“We see gun violence - Columbine, gang shootings, this Holmes guy in a movie theater -- and we buy the rhetoric that we need to defend ourselves - with more guns, of course. We stock up on ammo, get the conceal-and-carry permit, and we complete the process of fulfilling our fears (not our hopes). In other words, we become part of the problem. And now we're standing, guns drawn at ourselves, poised in a standoff that is all too American. 

“My father died in 1997, and I think of the guns he passed on to me as family heirlooms. Yet I feel a pang when I imagine what guns might do to my own children, what movie they might be watching when a troubled loner descends on them. Two years before I was born, my dad's first wife drove out to a prairie and took her own life with one of his revolvers. In his private moments, I wonder if my father thought about the way the pieces fit together.”

(Chauncey Hollingsworth. “How I Ended My Lifelong Love Affair With Guns. The Atlantic. July 25, 2012.)


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Refusal to Address Gun Violence in America


 

After the worst national mass killing in Las Vegas, the debate on gun violence is raging once more. The gun lobby continues to argue that any measure of control infringes on the Second Amendment and the sacred right of Americans to bear arms.

However, there were at least 126 mass shootings between January 2000 and July 2014. In the face of these massacres, proponents of gun control seek new measures to prevent mass shootings. Seeking solutions, they call for smart gun laws, background checks, and more protections against the mentally ill buying guns.

A December 10, 2014 Pew Research Center survey found 52% of Americans believe the right to own guns should be protected while 46% believe gun ownership should be controlled, a switch from 1993 when 34% wanted gun rights protected and 57% wanted gun ownership controlled.

On January 16, 2013, President Obama released his plan to address gun violence titled “Now Is the Time: The President's Plan to Protect Our Children and Our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence.”

The President’s plan included:

1.Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands;

2.Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence;

3.Making schools safer; and

4.Increasing access to mental health services

Let's look at what happened to the President's suggestions:

Background Loopholes

Congress had other ideas. A bipartisan amendment to the 2013 gun control bill, sponsored by senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, which would have closed the gun show loophole and instituted background checks for internet sales, but not for sales between individuals outside of commercial venues, was defeated in the upper house by a vote of 54 to 46. Five Democrats voted against the bill. Four Republicans, including former presidential candidate John McCain, voted for it.

So, you can legally also buy a gun from a private party and never have to even show your identification. The “private sale loophole” includes guns bought at gun shows – such as those used in the 1999 massacre at Columbine high school. The New England Journal of Medicine, in a 2010 study, estimated that 40% of gun sales in the US fall into this loophole.

Military-style Assault Weapons

A new assault weapon ban, which would have been stronger than the 1994 ban and include high-capacity magazines, was introduced in the Senate by Dianne Feinstein in January 2013, less than a month after the massacre at the school in Newtown, Connecticut. It was defeated in the Senate 60 votes to 40. Only one Republican – Illinois’ Mark Kirk – voted for the bill, and 15 Democrats voted

Seven states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York – have some measure of assault weapon bans in place, and Washington DC, Chicago and Boston have city-wide measures on the books.

Connecticut and New York enacted bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in response to the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gun Violence Research

The Centers for Disease Control defied Congress with work its researchers have not done in almost 20 years: study gun violence. But the health agency balked under a threat from lawmakers, who since 1996 have funded research only on the explicit condition that scientists do not study gun violence.

Today the CDC still avoids gun-violence research, demonstrating what many see as the depth of its fear about returning to one of the country’s most divisive debates. The agency recently was asked by The Washington Post why it was still sitting on the sidelines of firearms studies. It declined to make an official available for an interview but responded with a statement noting it had commissioned an agenda of possible research goals but still lacked the dedicated funding to pursue it.

“It is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide,” CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard wrote, “but our resources are very limited.”
Congress has continued to block dedicated funding. The CDC is no closer to initiating gun-violence studies.

Mental Health Services

State-level funding for mental health provision did rise sharply after Sandy Hook, with 36 states and the District of Columbia increasing funding for mental health services. The January 2014 expansion of Medicaid in 27 states, which brought 7.5 million people access to a range of mental health treatment options, helped.

But the momentum has since slowed, a December 2014 study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) showed. Rhode Island cut over $30 million in mental health funding in 2014; Michigan cut $136 million. Nationwide funding for mental health services is still below pre-recession levels.

“Twenty-two states and DC increased funding in both 2013 and 2014 although the overall increases are not nearly enough to make up for cuts between 2009 and 2012,” the report noted, adding that “sadly, despite much talk about the mental health crisis in America since Newtown, little of substance on mental health care has been accomplished in the sharply divided, partisan Congress in the two years that have ensued.”

Research available shows that mass shootings represent national awakenings and moments when seeming political or social adversaries might come together to find common ground, whether guns are allowed, regulated, or banned. Doing so, however, means recognizing that gun crimes, mental illnesses, social networks, and gun access issues are complexly interrelated, and not reducible to simple cause and effect.

Other findings report that notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. In addition, the aftermath of mass shootings is often viewed as a window of opportunity to garner support for gun control policies, but it also exacerbates negative attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness.

The Future

We cannot continue to chalk off mass killings as unavoidable tragedies requiring no measured defensive response. Whatever steps necessary to reduce gun violence must be taken … and the sooner they are taken, the better.

Some conservatives would tell you the only way to reduce this violence is to have people acquire more guns. This is morally irresponsible and patently untrue. It is a stand that is built from fear and perpetrated by greedy gun manufacturers and the NRA.

Granted, gun violence is a complicated issue, one that will require much research and dedication to effect needed change. Yet, facing the issue and seeking answers will save innocent lives. Perhaps the first step is to convince a distrustful segment of the public that gun control does not come at the expense of personal freedoms. Reasonable policies can be found … if the American public demands action.

Sources

Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, Deanna Pan, and Maggie Caldwell, "US Mass Shootings, 1982-2012: Data from Mother Jones' Investigation," www.motherjones.com, December 28, 2012.
"Growing Support for Gun Rights." www.people-press.org. Pew Research Center. December 10, 2014.
E.E. McGinty, D.W. Webster, and C.L. Barry. “Effects of news media messages about mass shootings on attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies.” Am J Psychiatry. May 2013.

Jonathan M. Metz., MD, PhD and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD. “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms.” Am J Public Health. February 2015.

“Supreme Court rules on states' assault weapons ban.” CBS News. June 20, 2016.

Alan Yuhas and Nicky Woolf. “What happened to President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence?” The Guardian. December 04, 2015.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Marketing Mass Murder: Assault-Style Weapons Are a Distinction Without a Difference


 



America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. Some of these weapons are now known as “the gold standard for mass murder.” Compared to other firearms, assault-style rifles make it fairly easy to kill or injure many people within a short period of time. They are being employed to do just that.

Even before the recent deadly attack in Las Vegas in which Stephen Paddock employed up to 17 firearms to kill at least 59 people and injure hundreds more, the 10 mass shootings with the highest number of casualties – killed and wounded – in the U.S. included seven that involved the use of an assault-style rifle. Agents with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have yet to determine if Paddock modified mechanical components to a semiautomatic rifle to make it fully automatic.

Paddock also could have used a legal modification like an attachable crank to simulate automatic fire, which depresses the trigger faster than a finger and can be bought online for as little as $40.

It should be noted that some states, such as California, regulate the size of magazines used in these weapons, but Nevada – the home of Stephen Paddock – does not. A trained shooter can easily remove one magazine from the weapon, load another from a tactical vest or pocket, and continue firing within seconds.

It is true that semiautomatic guns may not be legally modified to automatic. Anyone who wants to buy an automatic weapon must undergo the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives background check and registration process.

Yet, there are plenty of automatic weapons available for sale on the Internet.

In addition, guns made before 1986 may be owned by anyone who passes a background check and registers the gun. A letter from ATF to the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association last year indicated that there were 490,664 automatic weapons in ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record system.

The ease of purchasing guns in the U.S., even ultra-powerful ones designed to kill many people in a short period of time, is a pressing problem. Of the 79 mass shootings since 1982 for which Mother Jones was able to determine purchasing information, 63 were committed with guns purchased legally. Most states don't require background checks for firearms purchased via private sales at gun shows. And, most states don't require showing ID to purchase a firearm from a private seller.

The Rage For Assault-style Arms

With the decline of the civilian firearms industry in the United States, the David Bohnett Foundation and The Joyce Foundation conducted a study in 2010. The research found the industry enjoyed “periods of temporary resurgence,” usually primed by “fear marketing” – encouraging people to buy guns by stoking fear of crime, terrorism, violent immigrants, or government control.

Therefore, selling militarized firearms to civilians – i.e., weapons in the military inventory or weapons based on military designs – has been at the point of the industry’s civilian design and marketing strategy since the 1980s. Militarized weapons such as semiautomatic assault rifles, 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles, and armor-piercing handguns define the U.S. civilian gun market and are far and away the “weapons of choice” for groups like organized criminals, drug traffickers, and violent extremists.

The research found this flood of militarized weapons exemplifies the firearms industry’s strategy of marketing enhanced lethality, or killing power, to stimulate sales. They now try to appeal to the “soldier within” who wants new and more lethal designs. The resulting widespread increase in killing power is reflected in the toll of gun death and injury in the United States – a relentless count that “every year takes 10 times the number of lives as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Semiautomatic assault weapons—especially inexpensive AK-47 type imports are increasingly popular, and the lax regulation and easy access to these relatively inexpensive military-style weapons has resulted in “their being smuggled on a large scale from the U.S. to criminals throughout the Western Hemisphere – including Mexico, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America – as well as to points as far away as Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Africa.”

The gun lobby has spent three decades trying to “rebrand” civilian assault rifles as mere sporting guns. The recent studies refute the gun lobby’s recent attempt to “rebrand” semiautomatic assault weapons civilian versions of automatic military assault rifles (like the AK-47, the M-16, and FN’s high-tech P-90 and automatic military assault pistols like the UZI) – as “modern sporting rifles.”

Key Points About Assault Weapons:


* Although civilian assault weapons are not machine guns, this is a distinction without a difference in terms of killing power.

Civilian semiautomatic assault weapons incorporate all of the functional design features that make assault weapons so deadly. They are arguably more deadly than military versions, because most experts agree that semiautomatic fire is more accurate than automatic fire.

Semiautomatic weapons can also legally simulate automatic fire with “bump” modifications to the stock that reduces recoil and lets the shooter hold the weapon in a way that allows rapid fire.

As the U.S. Army’s Rifle and Carbine Training Circular notes, “Automatic or burst fires drastically decrease the probability of hit due to the rapid succession of recoil impulses and the inability of the Soldier to maintain proper sight alignment and sight picture on the target.”

* The distinctive “look” of assault weapons is not cosmetic.

It is the visual result of specific functional design decisions. Military assault weapons were designed and developed for a specific military purpose—laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone.

* Civilian assault weapons keep the specific functional design features that make this anti- personnel function easy.

These functional features also distinguish assault weapons from traditional sporting guns.

* The most significant assault weapon functional design features are: (1) ability to accept a detachable high-capacity ammunition magazine, (2) a rear pistol or thumb-hole grip, and, (3) a forward grip or barrel shroud.

Taken together, these are the design features that make possible the deadly and indiscriminate “spray-firing” for which assault weapons are designed. None of them are features of true hunting or sporting guns.

* Although the gun lobby today argues that there is no such thing as civilian assault weapons, the industry, the National Rifle Association, and gun magazines enthusiastically described these civilian versions as “assault rifles,” “assault pistols,” and “military assault” weapons to boost civilian sales throughout the 1980s.

The industry and its allies only began to use the semantic argument that a “true” assault weapon is a machine gun after civilian assault weapons turned up in large numbers in the hands of drug traffickers, criminal gangs, mass murderers, and other dangerous criminals.

Coming to Grips With Reality

The gun industry is not just a “sporting” industry. It never has been. It now generates huge profits from militarized weapons sold to the public. We must see their marketing as it really is. That marketing underwrites mass shootings as it exploits fear – racial fear, ethnic fear, and political fear. Assault-style weapons kill innocent people. They are what a mass murderer desires to commit insane national tragedies. They are far too available. Yes, the gun DOES play a role ... a most deadly one.

Sources

“Bullet Hoses—Semiautomatic Assault Weapons: What Are They? What’s So Bad About Them?” www.vpc.org/studies/hosecont.htm. Violence Policy Center. May 2003.

Alex Horton. “The Las Vegas shooter had 17 guns. Here’s what we know about them.” The Washington Post. October 02, 2017.

Christopher Ingraham. “Assault rifles are becoming mass shooters’ weapon of choice.” The Washington Post. June 12, 2016. 


Tom Jackman. “Some automatic weapons, as possibly used in Las Vegas shooting, are legal but heavily regulated.” The Washington Post. October 02, 2017.

“Key Points About Assault Weapons.” Violence Policy Center. www.vpc.org. 2016.

“The Militarization of the U.S. Civilian Firearms Market.” The David Bohnett Foundation and The Joyce Foundation. Violence Policy Center. June 2011.





Monday, September 25, 2017

Department of Defense: "Simon Says The NFL Must Stand For Paid Patriotism"


 

A professional football player stands in respect for his country during the National Anthem as he proudly makes a simple statement in support of freedom and equality. With his simple gesture, he believes he honors those who gave their lives in defense of his America because they paid the ultimate sacrifice for his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
 
Or …

A professional football player refuses to stand during the National Anthem as a form of silent protest in a country still struggling to achieve its promise of freedom and justice for all. With his simple gesture, he believes he honors those who gave their lives in defense of his America because they paid the ultimate sacrifice for his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


I believe both of these players are within their rights while using their moral consciences as true patriots. I know many fellow countrymen disagree and say a player should be made to stand for the anthem and take his personal protest somewhere off the field.


However …


National Football League players first began being required to come onto the field for the National Anthem in 2009 when the government began paying them to stage patriotic displays to boost military recruitment. Prior to 2009, players always had the option of standing on the sidelines during the national anthem or remaining off the field – whether or not to appear on the field for the anthem was mainly left up to teams’ discretion.

On September 14, 2016, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith referenced Tom E. Curran's Comcast Sportsnet New England report, adding a “paid patriotism” element to the mix:
“The players were moved to the field during the national anthem because it was seen as a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic. The United States Department of Defense paid the National Football League $5.4 million between 2011 and 2014, and the National Guard [paid] $6.7 million between 2013 and 2015 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies as part of military recruitment budget-line items.”
Among the paid events were on-field color guard presentations during the national anthem, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, the unfurling of a giant flag by members of the military, and ceremonial first pitches.

While many teams held such tributes for the military free of charge, 50 pro teams received money for them, according to the report.

On April 30, 2015, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released a statement chiding the New Jersey Army National Guard for paying between $97,000 and $115,000 to the New York Jets for a series of promotions involving military personnel. That November, Flake and fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain issued a report stating that the Defense Department had been paying for patriotic displays in football and other sports between 2011 and 2014.

And, indeed, Commissioner Roger Goodell said an audit uncovered that over the course of four seasons $723,734 "may have been mistakenly applied to appreciation activities rather than recruitment efforts." So, the NFL reimbursed U.S. taxpayers this amount in so-called "paid patriotism" money that the teams took from the military to allow things like color guard displays and video tributes at pro football games. It was decided that the activity was a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic … and a very questionable practice.

The Rules


The NFL Rulebook makes no mention of the national anthem. But the Game Operations Manual, which governs the conduct of home clubs to ensure they protect players and provide the conditions for a fair and fan-friendly contest, does. It states …

“The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.
“During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
The proffered wording states that players must “be” on the sideline for the national anthem, not that they must “stand” on the sideline (the latter is listed as something players “should” do). It also states that players “may” (not “shall”) be penalized for not observing the regulation.

Depending upon how you view the use of players – either as pawns of patriotism or free and independent entities – requiring their presence on the field during the National Anthem has little to do with the sports contest. Requiring them to stand, not kneel, is even more judgmental of their intentions and an intrusion into their hearts and minds.
How can I say this with confidence? Look at the lyrics of the “Star Spangled Banner.”


The Song


Below are the lyrics from the rarely sung third stanza of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 – recognized as a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

Then, the country had overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. And, by the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. As as an article (2014) in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:
“Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. … The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.”
Whole slave families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Corps of Colonial Marines, one of two units of black slaves recruited between 1808 and 1816 who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then, on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry. Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So, when Key wrote “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It may be very hard to swallow; however, the reality was that slaves – American human beings denied their birthrights of freedom – were really courageous fighters on the side of the British during the War of 1812 – brave soldiers who sought human rights. “The Star-Spangled Banner” – in this stanza – glorifies America’s “triumph” over them.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused. Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

While those offensive words have been omitted from the National Anthem (at least in popular settings), this is how we still salute our troops – by playing the “Star Spangled Banner.” Is it wrong to question both the anthem and the state of racial affairs in 2017 America?

NFL football player Colin Kaepernick questioned this and his response was to not rise for the national anthem. Surely, it is his civic right to choose this nonviolent form of protest, especially given the advent of paid patriotism, the contradictory rules imposed by the NFL, and the history of the National Anthem.

Who is the better patriot – the player who stands or the player who kneels? I say neither is the worse. Let us never forget that those we honor with the powerful symbols of our flag and our anthem fought and died for ideals that have yet to be realized. Some of us understand that “incomplete” condition much better than others.

People might say just forget the bad things of the past and accept them without question. Yet, how does this view validate the sacred American promises of equality and justice? How does this improve the glaring inequities and hypocrisies of the present? I believe a person can support his country by protest and by encouraging positive change … even if he does it from his knees.

Sources:
 
Robin Blackburn. The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848. 1988.

Alan Taylor. American Blacks in the War of 1812. From The Routledge Handbook of the War of 1812. 2016.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Spiked-Up Interest in Megan Lancaster: Some Facts Overlooked


 

Since Joe Berlinger, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning documentarian, featured a segment on the disappearance of Megan Lancaster on his “Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio” Spike TV series, local residents have renewed speculation on what may have happened to Megan. The case is now over four years old, yet so many of us remain hopeful of finding the young lady.

It is easy to overlook possible clues to Megan's disappearance. If you are watching the Spike series, you already know some of the facts about the case. I have written blog entries about many other details that could be important. Today, I would like to list several more reports in hopes of providing important evidence. Remember, one clue may lead to unraveling the whereabouts of Lancaster.

It is my hope that someone who knows something – anything, no matter how seemingly trivial – can be the key witness to establishing the truth. God bless Megan Lancaster and her faithful family. We all must be responsible for finding this woman. By continuing our search, we pledge to be keepers of our own. Use these clues and facts – let's work together to find Megan.

Did you know …
  • Megan was last seen in Wheelersburg on April 3, 2013 (although her car was discovered at Rally's in Portsmouth). “At the time, investigators said they believed she was in extreme danger.” 

    Who saw her where in Wheelersburg? Why did invesigators believe she was in “extreme” danger already?
(“Update: Relatives of Missing Woman Still Looking for Answers. WSAZ. September 09, 2014.)

  • On April 5, 2013, family became concerned after not hearing from Megan in a couple days and her mother went to her apartment to check on her. “Later that evening, Megan’s drug dealer showed up at her mother’s house concerned. He told the family he knew something was wrong because not only had he not talked to her, he had seen her car parked at Rallys in Portsmouth for the past several days.

    Who was Megan's drug dealer and exactly why (besides her abandoned car) did he think “something was wrong”?

    (Nikki Blankenship.Spike TV brings attention to missing women.” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 21, 2017.)


  • “The family went down (to Rally's) and discovered the car was in fact Megan’s. Kadie Lancaster, Megan's sister-in-law, said that the family immediately called the police, who rather than take the car in as evidence, told the family to have the car towed to Megan’s mother’s house. There it sat until fall. A list of items collected from the car is dated October 2013.


    Why did the police have the car towed to Megan's mother's, and why did it sit un-investigated until October?
     
(Nikki Blankenship. “Spike TV brings attention to missing women.” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 21, 2017.)

  • The family says Lancaster’s wallet was found in the passenger seat of her car. “When they've tried to call her, Lancaster’s phone goes to voicemail.”

    Why did Megan leave her wallet in the car (when she evidently went to Wheelersburg)? Can't her phone be traced to cell towers?

    (Update: Relatives of Missing Woman Still Looking for Answers. WSAZ. April 09, 2013.)

  • When reporting on the possible connection Megan may have had with women missin in Chillicothe and Columbus, “Portsmouth police did not return 10TV’s calls for information on Megan Lancaster's case but Chillicothe Police said they want to hear from anyone with information on any of these cases.”

    Why didn't Portsmouth police answer?

    (Glenn McEntyre. “Police Checking Possible Connection In Missing Scioto County Woman With Chillicothe, Columbus Cases.” 10 TV WBNS. June 05, 2015.) 

     
  • Kadie Lancaster says that “Megan was always very open about her drug use and her illicit career. She remembers seeing Megan going out in public dressed in lingerie. When Kadie would ask where she was going, she remembers Megan telling her that she was dancing for a party or going out for the night with a local businessman.”

    Isn't it time to explore what parties and what businessmen were involved?

    (Nikki Blankenship. “Spike TV brings attention to missing women.” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 21, 2017.)

    • Kadie also “went on to explain that everyone always loved Megan, who had always been very social. In high school, Megan earned a scholarship to Shawnee State University (SSU) to play softball. Then, as a junior in high school, Megan got pregnant. Kadie explained that Megan continued to play softball until she was five months into her pregnancy. She soon lost her scholarship but attended SSU after high school.”

      What friends or associates at Shawnee could shed any light into Megan's life and disappearance?

      (Nikki Blankenship. “Spike TV brings attention to missing women.” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 21, 2017.)


    • It was reported: “Portsmouth Police Officer Lynn Brewer even arrested Kadie on persistency-disorderly conduct (a minor misdemeanor punishable by a $150 fine) after she publicly approached him about her sister-in-law’s case. According to Portsmouth Municipal Court records, Kadie was charged on May 18, 2016. She was arrested, jailed and later released on bond for a non-jailable offense. The case was dismissed in court. She added that the police refuse to speak with any member of the family about Megan. They have not contacted Megan’s mother in two years despite her continued effort to contact them.”

      Why the arrest and why do police refuse to speak with any member of the family about Megan?

      (Nikki Blankenship. “Spike TV brings attention to missing women.” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 21, 2017.)


    •  “Case Type STALKING PROTECTION Case Status: CLOSED File Date: 10/12/2010 DCM Track: Action: STALKING PROTECTION ORDER Status Date: 10/12/2010 Case Judge: MARSHALL, WILLIAM T”
    • “Case Type STALKING PROTECTION Case Status: CLOSED File Date: 06/07/2012 DCM Track: Action: STALKING PROTECTION ORDER Status Date: 06/07/2012 Case Judge: MARSHALL, WILLIAM T”

      Public Record: What has ever been investigated about possible threatening connections?
      (CourtView. eAccess http://sciotocountycpcourt.org/eservices/;jsessionid=88C0B60476A7DB805B9BC155EFA194B9?x=nogzZ2vf7rvOLKYBDKuVsQ)



Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Lumping Labor" and Blaming Immigrants for Taking American-born Jobs


 

Proponents of limiting immigration contend immigrants take jobs from U.S. natives. The truth, as it usually is found to be, is far more complicated than this generalization. Immigration may seem to be displacing more expensive American-born workers while undercutting their wages, but in actuality, most Americans benefit from immigration. The evidence suggests U.S. labor markets are sufficiently flexible to absorb immigrants without greatly depressing low-skilled Americans' earnings.

Who Are the Mexican Immigrants?

According to the 2016 Current Population Survey (CPS), immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 84.3 million people, or 27 percent of the overall U.S. population.

In 2014, more than 11.7 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of the 42.4 million foreign-born population – by far the largest immigrant origin group in the country. However, Mexico is also no longer the top origin country among the most recent immigrants to the United States. In 2013, China and India overtook Mexico as the most common countries of origin of immigrants who have resided in the United States for one year or less.

Furthermore, more Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico than have migrated to the United States since the end of the 2007-2009 Great Recession, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. The decline in Mexican inflows results from a mix of factors including weakened job opportunities in the United States, tougher border enforcement, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates, and the improving Mexican economy.

Mexican immigrants are primarily concentrated in the West and Southwest, and more than half live in California or Texas. In 2015, the top five states of residence for Mexican immigrants were California (37 percent of all Mexican immigrants), Texas (22 percent), Illinois (6 percent), Arizona (4 percent), and Florida (2 percent).

About 69 percent of the 11.2 million immigrants from Mexico ages 16 and older were in the civilian labor force in 2015. This represents a slightly higher labor force participation than for the overall foreign-born population ages 16 and older (66 percent of 41.4 million) and the native-born population ages 16 and older (62 percent of 214.8 million).

Undocumented immigrants hold more white-collar jobs and fewer blue-collar jobs today than they did before the national recession of 2007-2009, but most remain concentrated in lower-skilled, low-paying jobs, “much more so than U.S.-born workers,” according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

Among the 4.9 million Mexican-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 38.8 percent reported working in construction, extraction, and transportation, and 22.8 percent reported working in services. By contrast, 25.9 percent of all foreign born reported working in construction, extraction, and transportation and 17.4 percent reported working in services.

Among the 2.2 million Mexican-born female workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 38.6 percent reported working in service occupations and 14.9 percent in manufacturing, installation, and repair occupations. By contrast, 25.7 percent of all civilian employed immigrant women age 16 and older worked in services and 8.5 percent worked in manufacturing, installation, and repair occupations.

The Undocumented

It is reported that undocumented immigrants hold more white-collar jobs and fewer blue-collar jobs today than they did before the national recession of 2007-2009, but most remain concentrated in lower-skilled, low-paying jobs, “much more so than U.S.-born workers,” according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center. They remained hampered by language barriers, poor education and legal status.

The report, based on a five-year study from 2007 to 2012, found that the size of the illegal immigrant workforce has remained at 5.1 percent of all workers, even though the total number of illegal immigrants has fallen from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 to about 11.2 million in 2012.

The Pew report found that far higher percentages of illegal immigrants than U.S.-born workers now hold jobs with the least desirable conditions, such as crop picking and animal slaughter. In 39 states and the District of Columbia, the largest number of illegal immigrants work in service jobs, but in 34 states, they hold the largest share of all farming, fishing and forestry jobs (26 percent of the workforce).

A particular contrast between undocumented and U.S.-born immigrants is especially dramatic. Only 0.5 percent of U.S-born workers are employed in farming, fishing or forestry, while 4 percent of unauthorized aliens work in those fields.

Nationwide, unauthorized immigrants are clustered in a few other occupations (besides farming, fishing and forestry) – building and grounds (17 percent), and construction and mining (14 percent). They comprise 24 percent of all groundskeepers, 23 percent of domestic workers and 20 percent of those in clothing manufacture.

 


Effect on U.S.-Born Wages

A large body of academic economic research has found that immigration has a relatively small effect on U.S-born American wages and their employment prospects. For wages impact, the estimates are that immigrants either lower the wages of some American workers by about 2 percent or raise them by about 2 percent in a dynamic economy.

Most studies suggest that immigrants have had, at most, a small negative impact on the wages of Americans who compete with them most directly, those with a high school degree or less.

"Immigrant arrivals have hardly distorted the relative fraction of college-equivalent workers in the economy and have therefore had little impact on the college-high school wage gap," he writes. David Card National Bureau of Economic Research.

Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the Cato Institute minces no words. He says the idea that immigrants take the jobs of American-born citizens is “something that virtually no learned person believes.” He thinks this belief is, instead, a basis for class warfare.
Nowrasteh says ...
“If immigrants 'take' jobs from Americans, then so must any new entrant in the workforce also take a job from another American. If the number of jobs is fixed and adding new labor just increases unemployment—which would be the logical conclusion to this argument – unemployment should increase over time as the population grows. The reality is the precise opposite.

History supports the Nowrasteh's claim. From 1948 to 2012, the size of the U.S. labor force went from 60 million to 156 million—a two-and-a-half-fold increase. This 90 million net gain in jobs since 1948 is impossible to explain for people claiming that immigrants 'take jobs' from Americans.

Nowrasteh continues …

“The large increase in the size of the U.S. labor market has been due to two phenomena: the increased entry of women into the labor force, and immigration.

“During this time the proportion of the U.S. population that is employed has increased by 2 percentage points. Furthermore, the labor-force participation rate, the percentage of Americans employed or looking for a job any given month, is 5 percentage points greater in 2012 than it was in 1948—an astonishing increase considering our moribund economy.”

Immigrants, like native-born American women and men, create jobs by starting businesses and consuming and producing goods and services. According to the Kauffman Foundation, immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans.

Nowrasteh claims, “Immigrants’ skills often complement American ones, meaning that when immigrants and natives work together, both produce more and earn higher wages than if they were working in separate countries. Immigration does not divide a fixed pie of wealth; it increases wealth, incomes, and job opportunities for everybody.”
Many other experts agree. The Brookings Institution's Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney wrote “on average, immigrant workers increase the opportunities and incomes of Americans.” Foreign-born workers don’t affect the employment rate positively or negatively, according to a 2011 analysis from the conservative American Enterprise Institute. And a study released by the liberal Center for American Progress suggests that granting legal status to undocumented workers might even create jobs.
Giovanni Peri of the University of California at Davis explains how immigrant workers affect the domestic labor market …
“An extreme example of this would be if you have an engineer and you add a construction worker. With the engineer by himself you’re not going to do much. But with an engineer plus a construction worker, you can build a building. Therefore, the productivity of the engineer goes up a lot. And the wages for both workers increase.”
Peri's analogy is known as complementarity – a relationship or situation in which two or more different things improve or emphasize each other's qualities. The labor of the engineer and the labor of the construction worker each complement the other. Immigration economists argue that immigrant labor likewise complements native-born labor. Peri says, "Immigrants expand the U.S. economy’s productive capacity, stimulate investment, and promote specialization that in the long run boosts productivity. Consistent with previous research, there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States.”
And, consider this – wage decline and job displacement drive natives to shift to higher-paid sectors. No wage cuts, no job displacement. No jobs displaced, no benefit to natives. Economists don't deny that immigration pushes wages down in the jobs that immigrants take. Instead, they join their celebration of immigration’s wage-cutting effects with a prediction about the way that the natives will respond.

Peri says, "Large inflows of less educated immigrants may reduce wages paid to comparably-educated, native-born workers. However, if less educated foreign- and native-born workers specialize in different production tasks, because of different abilities, immigration will cause natives to reallocate their task supply, thereby reducing downward wage pressure.”

Shifting is a natural occurrence. Consider how such things as language and specialization affect needs. For example, when a contractor expands into roofing, he will not just need a bunch of cheap immigrant roofers. The contractor will also need an American supervisor and maybe an extra clerk. The skilled native is able to focus on the most valuable tasks, while the immigrants help bring the price down for the overall project (it costs a lot to pay a highly trained carpenter to sweep up a work site).

Immigration can actually produce domestic jobs. Consider immigrants who work in restaurants and allow the restaurants to exist. Native waiters and hosts owe their jobs to the underpaid illegal immigrants in the kitchen. The reality is that many small operations could not exist without the cheap labor.

Other studies find that immigrants increase labor supply and demand for goods (and labor). The vast agricultural industry in the Central Valley of California might not exist without cheap immigrant farm workers who make it profitable. Those who insist fields should be harvested by well-paid Americans ignore the fact that without the cheap foreign labor, there might be far fewer American fields. Chances are, it would be cheaper to import the same fruits and vegetables.

The National Agricultural Workers Survey of U.S. Farmworkers, 2000-2002, showed that roughly half of all workers and three quarters of new hires in agriculture were undocumented Mexican immigrants. In California, the numbers are even starker: 93% of new hires were undocumented Mexican immigrants.

Lastly, statistics show the nation's immigrants also collectively pay more in taxes than they consume in public services and benefits, according to a National Research Council study. A high proportion of them work and pay federal, state and local taxes. Many return to their home countries before retirement and never claim Social Security payments or Medicare coverage.

Current estimates show immigrants illegally in the U.S. collectively contribute nearly $12 billion each year to state and local tax coffers. The study from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy found that immigrants in the U.S. without legal permission kick in their billions in the form of income, property, sales or excise taxes.

The institute's report estimates the average tax rate for immigrants in the country illegally is higher than the rate paid by America's top earners.

"Undocumented immigrants' nationwide average effective tax rate is an estimated 8 percent," the report said. "To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent."

Research into this subject reveals a consensus: over time, immigrants and their descendants collectively provide more to the federal government in taxes than they receive in benefits. For example, a report by the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 found that a typical immigrant and his or her descendants will pay an estimated $80,000 (in 1996 dollars) more in taxes than they will receive in combined local, state, and federal benefits over their lifetimes.

 

Conclusion

Immigration actually fuels the economy and creates jobs. Expanded work forces increase business flexibility, allowing companies to quickly respond to changing demands. Larger labor forces also encourage specialization. Labor productivity rises as companies adjust to larger work forces and invest in employees.

Immigration also makes the United States less globally isolated by increasing the understanding and respect for diverse cultural backgrounds. The melting pot of the country insures strength and unity.

Understanding the tremendous contributions of immigrants is paramount before building walls and exporting Dreamers. Instead of blindly accepting the “they're taking American jobs” philosophy, U.S. citizens must look at all sides of this broad issue. Leading economists agree that immigrants bring long-term benefits at no measurable short-term cost. A recent University of Chicago poll of leading economists could not find a single one who rejected the proposition.

The chief logical mistake is called the Lump of Labor Fallacy: the erroneous notion that there is a fixed amount of work to be done and that no one can get a job without taking one from someone else. The belief in the Lump of Labor feeds protectionism and lower levels of immigration. When the public believes the economy cannot create new jobs, they will demand that the country protects old jobs from new competitors.

However, skilled immigrating workers can bring capabilities that are not available in the native workforce, for example in academic research or information technology. Additionally, immigrating workforces also create new jobs by expanding the economy and creating further jobs either directly by setting up businesses (therefore requiring local services or workforces), or indirectly by an increased population. As an example, a greater population that needs to buy more groceries will increase demand on shops and therefore require additional shop staff.


Sources

David Card. “Immigration and Inequality.” NBER Working Paper No. 14683. Issued in January 2009.

Pamela Constable. “Majority of undocumented immigrants work in low-skill jobs, report finds.” The Washington Post. March 26, 2015.

Adam Davidson. “Debunking the Myth of the Job-Stealing Immigrant. The New York Times Magazine. March 24, 2015.

David Frum. “Does Immigration Harm Working Americans?” Atlantic. January 05, 2015.

Timonthy Kane. “The Economic Effect Of Immigration” Hoover Institute. February 17, 2015.
Dora Mekouar. “Most Common Jobs Held by Immigrants in each US State. Voice of America News. August 24, 2015.

Ethan Lewis. “The Impact of Immigration on American Workers and Businesses.” Choices First Quarterly. 2007.

Alex Nowrasteh. “Immigrants Did Not Take Your Job.” National Journal. Cato Institute. March 4, 2013.

Alex Nowrastch. “Immigration’s Real Impact on Wages and Employment.” CATO Institute. September 15, 2014. 
 
James P. Smith and Barry Edmonston, ed. National Research Council,The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. 1997.

Andrew Soergel. “Undocumented' Immigrants Pay Billions in Taxes.” U.S. News. March 01, 2016.

Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova. “Mexican Immigrants in the United States.” Migration Policy Institute Spotlight. March 17, 2016.