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Monday, August 28, 2017

Jason Isbell: Understanding Responsibility in "A White Man's World"


If you’re still breathing, it’s not too late.
We’re all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate.”

--Jason Isbell, “White Man's World”

I attended Jason Isbell's concert at the Ohio Theater in Columbus last night and was staggered by his amazing talent. I had run into some of his recordings several years ago and almost instantly became a fan; however, seeing him perform in concert was incomparable. In today's music, Isbell and his band the 400 Unit represent a force of integrity.

As critic John T. Davis wrote, “Jason is at the top of his game and climbing... Hard-hitting sentiments, to be sure, but Isbell isn’t a doom and gloom merchant. Rather, he is selling stoicism and transcendence: marching forward no matter what, clutching the hand you’re dealt.”

Trying to categorize this Muscle Shoals son's music is impossible. The sounds in his Americana-tinged songs include folk, rock, country and blues influences. Just label the output as “great music with an emotional punch” and enjoy his stellar musicianship. I encourage all to attend a performance and discover the scope of his musical creations.

One song, “White Man's World” – the fourth single off of The Nashville Sound, drew special attention from me. Isbell wrote the song in the wake of the 2016 election. He sings it in the first person. The song addresses the privileges and disadvantages of the American system along lines of race, gender, class, and geography. Much has been written about the thought-provoking tune.

Isbell explains his motivation for writing the song …

My wife was on the road, and I was home with my daughter when that all went down. I was just very grateful that I didn’t have to explain that to her, because she was just a little over a year old. (The song) was written out of my anger and frustration. It was a way of me to process that. I was trying to get to the root of my feelings without bringing shame into it, because I don’t think shame does a whole lot of good.”

Isbell says when his daughter came along he felt he had “to tell everybody how he felt, one way or another” because that’s the father he wanted her to see. If there was any way he could make the world a better place for her, then he was determined to do it. He says it didn’t change his beliefs, but he acknowledges there are white men with daughters who are still misogynists.

Also, I’m not going to lie: I was motivated by the image I have of my audience. There are very few artists, musicians, and entertainers, that have the type or demographic of an audience that I have. Somebody like Sturgill Simpson or Chris Stapleton has it. Margo Price has it and my wife has it. It’s an interesting group of people, because it’s people who listen to a lot of different types of music. I think, for the most part, they’re people who are pretty open-minded. There is an opportunity there, however small it might be, to get people to think things in a little bit of a different way.”

(Steven Hyden. “A Long Conversation With Jason Isbell About Love, Politics, Jim Varney, And His Great New Album.” Uproxx. June 01, 2017.)

Isbell quips, “I don’t think I have a lot of Trump voters in my audience... I didn’t think there were going to be a lot of Trump voters at all. So, what the hell do I know?”

Still, the song is non-accusational, focusing on the responsibility of people who benefit from privilege to acknowledge it and to do whatever they can to help others who may be less fortunate enjoy the same comforts and assurances, rather than to attribute blame for those injustices on anyone living now.

Jason said the following about the song in an interview with Consequence of Sound:
“The song discusses my perspective on race and gender. I think its inspiration should be pretty obvious these days. I think my job is to constantly evaluate my role in the human struggle for equality without feeling guilt or shame for things I can’t control.”
(Michelle Geslani. “Jason Isbell takes our country to task on new song 'White Man’s World' – listen.” Consequence of Sound. June 01, 2017.)

Isbell sees the 2016 election as “a sort of a sneeze” from a cold that had been lingering for quite a while – a symptom of the problem of division. He believes discussing the divide in America is crucial to improving the social climate, and he feels the problem is not necessarily political, but definitely social.

In an article in Indy Week, Isbell explains ...

I don’t really see it (the problem) as politics, though. I hate that word for this purpose. I think politics is really more about how we exchange power and, and it’s about a business transaction in which we all determine who gets to make decisions on our behalf. I don’t think that’s the question here. I don’t think that how people should be treated based on the color of their skin or their gender or their identity, I don’t think those are political questions, I think those are questions of, really, ethics and beliefs. 

(Baynard Woods. “Jason Isbell Discusses Reckoning with White Southern Masculinity on His Excellent New LP, The Nashville Sound.” Indy Week. June 15, 2017.)

Acknowledging that being a white man in certain ways puts him “on the wrong side,” Isbell also thinks it gives him more responsibility.

“I’m not going to feel guilty or ashamed about being a white man. I think those are terms that people who are on the other side other argument use. The criticism I’ve received from 'White Man’s World' comes in the form of proud white men saying, 'I don’t have any shame or guilt for being a white man.'

“But nobody should really have guilt or shame about something they can’t control. I’m born a white person. The guilt and shame would come in if I didn’t use my privilege to try to make the world a better place for other people. That’s where the guilt and the shame comes in, if you’ve spent your whole life just enjoying your privilege and never actually working for it by trying to level the playing field for other folks."

When asked about growing up in the South and pretending not to hear a racial joke, Isbell admits ...

“Yeah, I didn’t do it every time. But I wish I’d spoken up every time, now. The older I get, the more I think I should have said something every single time I heard the N-word in elementary school or every time I heard someone make a joke about women or Mexicans in a bar when I was growing up in Alabama. If there’s any regrets as I’m getting older, it’s that I didn’t stand up for people as often as I could have. I really that what I’m talking about in that song is, since all these doors are already open for me, being a white man, my job is to try to hold them for the person behind me or the person in front of me, to try to open them for someone they might be locked for.”

(Baynard Woods. “Jason Isbell Discusses Reckoning with White Southern Masculinity on His Excellent New LP, The Nashville Sound.” Indy Week. June 15, 2017.)

Jason Isbell is the real deal. He uses his incredible talents to better the world. He represents his craft with great dignity and thoughtful expression. If you love music and you care enough to listen, you will find great rewards in his work. Give a listen to “White Man's World” for a taste of his artistry. Think about responsibility as you do. And, by all means, attend a Jason Isbell live performance for the full effect.

“White Man's World”

I'm a white man living in a white man's world
Under our roof is a baby girl
I thought this world could be her's one day
But her momma knew better

I'm a white man living in a white man's town
Want to take a shot of cocaine a burn it down
Momma wants to change that Nashville sound
But they're never gonna let her

There's no such thing as someone else's war
Your creature comforts aren't the only things worth fighting for
You're still breathing it's not too late
We're all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate

I'm a white man living on a white man's street
I've got the bones of the red man under my feet
The highway runs through the burial grounds
Past the oceans of cotton

I'm a white man looking in a black man's eyes
Wishing I'd never been one of the guys
We pretended not to hear another white man's joke
Oh, times haven't forgotten

There's no such thing as someone else's war
Your creature comforts aren't the only things worth fighting for
You're still breathing it's not too late
We're all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate

I'm a white man living in a white man's nation
I think the man upstairs must have took a vacation
I still have faith, but I don't know why
Maybe it's the fire in my little girl's eyes
Maybe it's the fire in my little girl's eyes

Click here to listen to the song:


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Trump Defying Reason: Transgender Ban and Arpaio Pardon

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
--Donald Trump, January 2016
The more offensive President Trump is to the rest of America, the more popular he becomes with his core supporters. They believe he “speaks his mind” and are willing to go along with his misguided, undemocratic behavior. In fact, Trump preaches to his base that there is a enormous conspiracy against them fueled by what he calls “fake news.”
While feeding his polarized supporters, Trump goes out of his way to do what he wants to do. Since he took office, Trump – despite advice from officials in his own party – continually follows the drum of his unmeasured ego. This week he proved his impetuous behavior in two such actions.
1. Pushing Transgender People From the Military
Trump wants transgender individuals to go back into the closet to join the military. In a long-awaited directive that followed up on a series of tweets he wrote last month on the issue, he ordered the military to stop accepting transgender men and women as recruits. He also prohibited the use of government funds for sex-reassignment surgeries for active duty personnel unless the process has already begun and stopping it would put the individual's health at risk.
Trump left Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the discretion to decide whether those who are already in the armed forces can continue serving. Mattis now has six months to lay out a plan to implement Trump’s policy, weighing issues such as “military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints, and applicable law.”
Mattis appears to have little interest in devoting energy to the battle over transgender service members. The new ban reportedly stems from a fight among House Republicans over Pentagon-funded sex-reassignment operations (Little more than a rounding error in the Pentagon's annual budget – an increase of 0.04 to 0.13 percent or one tenth of the annual $84 that the military spends on medication for erectile dysfunction). But, that threatened a spending bill that included money for Trump’s southern border wall, so Trump announced transgender troops would be banned completely – though that was far beyond what the lawmakers were pushing for.
Legal experts say banning people from the military because they’re transgender is unconstitutional. The first lawsuit over the transgender ban has already been filed and many more are expected. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to Mattis containing 45 signatures that urged him not to impose a ban on transgender troops in the military – at least until he’s completed a thorough internal review.
Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke up shortly after Trump’s directive, saying that pushing transgender individuals out of the military would be the wrong move. “It would be a step in the wrong direction to force currently serving transgender individuals to leave the military solely on the basis of their gender identity rather than medical and readiness standards that should always be at the heart of Department of Defense personnel policy.”

McCain added,“The Pentagon's ongoing study on this issue should be completed before any decisions are made with regard to accession. The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to conduct oversight on this important issue.”

“Imagine, if you would, if the president tried to pull the same prank on Jewish soldiers or gay and lesbian soldiers or Chinese soldiers or African-American soldiers,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center. “To pull the rug out from under a group of service members who have been defending our country is inconsistent with two centuries of American history.”

2. Pardoning Joe Arpaio

Two weeks after Trump claimed “some very fine people” were marching in Charlottesville, Va., alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists and three days after staging a rally in Phoenix, he took it on himself to pardon controversial former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona– self-proclaimed “America's Toughest Sheriff – for a criminal contempt conviction. Trump did this without the customary advisory review by the Justice Department’s special pardons division.

Arpaio’s twenty-four-year career in Maricopa County was a direct affront to the immigrant community. He gloated over the fear he caused. More than a hundred inmates died in his jails, and there were countless lawsuits filed against him.

Arpaio reportedly brutalized Latinos, and he had flagrantly ignored a federal judge who had ordered him to stop. To the troubled community, his conviction served as proof the justice system could work – the sentence most symbolic of equality.

Lydia Guzman, an immigrants-rights advocate on the front lines for more than a decade, said, “Arpaio is no longer the sheriff, and his legacy is that he was a convicted criminal. Only criminals need pardons.”

But, Trump wanted to put his birther conspiracy buddy back on his pedestal. This is evidence Trump is more interested in protecting his allies than the people of color they harm.

Bob Bauer, a professor at New York University School of Law, said, “It all seems to come down to that: Trump disrupted the operation of the criminal justice process to score a political point, and he believes that the ‘complete power to pardon’ gives him all the space he needs for this maneuver and requires of him only the most pro forma, meaningless explanation of his action.”

And the timing of Trump's pardon must be questioned. All over the country, police are under scrutiny for the fairness with which they use deadly force on white- and non-white subjects. Latino groups, in particular, are on the alert for raids and excesses by newly energized local law-enforcement agencies and federal immigration officials. 

Racist groups will be empowered by the pardon.

“If President Trump uses his power to pardon a discredited law enforcement official who persistently engaged in illegal racial profiling of the Latino community, it will not be a dog whistle to the so-called ‘alt right’ and white supremacists, but a bull horn,” said Vanita Gupta, who previously headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “No amount of tweets or forced remarks read from a teleprompter could undo the damage.”

A pardon for Arpaio would “sow hate and division” and excuse “racist and illegal policing policies,” said Gupta, who now serves as president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Arpaio “personifies the same bigotry and intolerance we witnessed in Charlottesville,” she added, referencing the recent white supremacist rally in Virginia.

“It’s a message to the country,” Carlos Garcia, the executive director of Puente, an Arizona-based human-rights organization, told me. “What Arpaio did—that’s coming to you, wherever you live.”


Margaret Hartman. “White House Finds Solution to Transgender Military Ban: Delay, Then Let Mattis Decide.” New York Magazine. August 24, 2017
Zeke J. Miller. “President Trump Has Taken a Key Step to Implement His Transgender Military Ban.” Time August 25, 2017.
Jonathan Blitzer. “Why Trump’s Arpaio Pardon Is a Nationwide Call to Political Arms. The New Yorker. August 26, 2017.

Sandy Fitzgerald. “Arizona's Largest Paper: Arpaio Pardon an 'Insult' to Latinos.” Newsmax. August 26, 2017.

Daniel Politi. “Trump Orders Military to Start Rejecting Transgender Recruits. The Slatest. August 26, 2017.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Megan Lancaster -- The Spike Investigation


Shortly after her disappearance over four years ago, I made a promise to Kadie and Jeremy Lancaster, sister-in-law and brother of Megan Lancaster. I told them I would never give up helping search for the missing woman. It is a promise that haunts me to this day.

I have been on searches, candlelight vigils, and many other events held to facilitate bringing Megan home. I have never seen a family so dedicated to this task. They have been relentless in their search. Yet, Megan remains missing, and I wish I could help provide answers for her disappearance. I wish I could better fulfill my promise.

About a week ago, a segment of Spike TV's “The Forgotten Women of Ohio” featured Megan and uncovered information most of the public had never seen. The revealing investigation poked many accusatory fingers at figures involved in the dark underbelly of Portsmouth, Ohio. It raised many questions about who may be responsible for Megan's disappearance, and it created a beehive of new interest in the case.

I am happy that Spike aired this show – happy for many reasons.

Megan Lancaster, by all accounts, is a loving mother and a caring person who, like so many others in the county, fell victim to the opioid epidemic. She became a drug addict and turned to prostitution to finance her addiction. In doing so, Megan became a pawn in this marginalized community. She likely didn't know how her combination of good looks and drug dependency would lead to complications with enforcement and criminal elements. We now know how deep these complications grew.

As members of a community in which the drug trade devastates lives and families, we all are responsible for seeking answers to the epidemic of drug abuse. No judgments should prevent us from this task; it is a basic duty of our humanity and a fulfillment of our commitment to love and kindness.

But still, some view addicts as second-class citizens, expendable victims who brought any ill treatment – including abduction and murder – upon themselves. Don't you wonder to what great lengths an investigation into the disappearance of a prominent citizen's addicted daughter might go? I do. Megan's disappearance deserves unending, thorough investigation, something many think is lacking.

Still, there is another reason that the disappearance of Megan Lancaster is critical to the well-being of the area. Something or some person(s) from within the enforcement and justice communities has left an indelible stench that permeates the halls of judicatory integrity. It is a malodor originating somewhere between the obvious and the guarded. Many area residents have questioned its rank existence before and wondered why it hasn't been eliminated.

The “use” of Megan Lancaster – whether as an informant, as a prostitute, as a dancer – must be further investigated, no matter the collateral damage to those who employed her services. How can any of us feel transparency is being pursued when bad behaviors of lustful users are being protected? This has too long been a policy of Good Old Boy government. Was Megan an instrument of a system that protects its own at the price of innocent human life? Suspicions endure, and for good reasons.

I, for one, believe drugs, prostitution, and human trafficking are married in a large, coordinated system fueled by financial interest and by personal gratification. The perfect feeder component of the system includes officers and employees of enforcement and court communities. I do not mean to make false accusations against these trusted institutions; however, I strongly believe existing evidence is sufficient for strong internal investigation.

A beautiful young woman, sex, drugs, personal contact lists, informants – clues to the disappearance of Megan Lancaster, last seen on April 3, 2013. This case is a concern for everyone in our small community. It may also be a link in a much larger conspiracy of abuse. Solving the case will give much needed closure to a wonderful local family. Solving the case may reveal connections that threaten the future of our closest loved ones. And, solving the case may save countless lives of those trapped in a corrupt system of use and abuse.

I haven't given up on you, Megan. I pledge to keep on keeping on. 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Whitelash and White Fragility -- "Leggo of My Statue"


It is very important to research the facts whenever writing about an issue. The current debate over the public display of Confederate statues and monuments is no exception. Let's begin with the action that led to the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In February 2017, the Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the city's statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Then, in April, despite a pending court case that will ultimately determine the general’s fate, city staff also devised options for how the city might move the statue. The staff advised that the city can sell, auction off or donate the statue. 
The council directed staff to solicit proposals for a purchase of the statue. According to the resolution Councilor Kristin Szakos put forward, the buyer would be responsible for removing and transporting the statue.

As things stand, the statue does not face demolition. This should be of great comfort to all who claim the monument is an important tribute to American history. The question becomes “Where should the statue be displayed?” Perhaps such artifacts should be displayed in a museum or in a private area that truthfully documents their story. 
(Chris Suarez. “Charlottesville City Council votes to sell Robert E. Lee statue. The Daily Progresss – Charlottesville. April 17, 2017.) 
Why are we experiencing the huge reaction to state and local concerns about racism? In recent years, we have seen a greater push for racial justice. That has led to pushback from the other side that some sociologists have called “whitelash.”

But the term whitelash describes a historical reality. Dramatic racial progress in America is inevitably followed by a white backlash, or "whitelash." Reconstruction in the 19th century was followed by a century of Jim Crow. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s was followed by President Ronald Reagan and the rise of the religious right. And time follows this pattern. 
Another term describing reaction to the movements for racial equality is “White Fragility.” Robin DiAngelo, consultant and trainer for over 20 years on issues of racial and social justice, described the phenomenon in a 2011 paper:
“White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility.
“White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”
(Robin DiAngelo, PhD. “White Fragility.” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, Vol 3. 2011) 
We must realize and recognize the “insulated environment” of white America. Society has historically given whites advantages. Who could doubt that? Yet, after their racial security has been challenged by such modern developments as the election of the the first black president with Barack Obama and the great rise in the minority population, many fear resentment and eventual loss of control.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nonwhites are expected to become the majority of the nation's children by 2020. And, the bureau projected that America will have a “non-white” majority by 2044. (In the Census Bureau’s projections, children with one Hispanic, Asian, or black parent are counted as minority (that is, as Hispanic or nonwhite.) This spells the demise of the white majority and its loss of power.

Call it “whitelash” or call it “white fragility,” the movemnt is upon us. This is evidenced in the last presidential election. The widespread support for Donald Trump in the 2016 election and campaign demonstrates that the changing racial demographics of America contributed to Trump’s success as a candidate among White Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity. Racial concerns caused these people to support anti-immigrant policies and greater opposition to political correctness.

(Branda Major, Alison Blodorn, and Gregory Major Blascovich. “The threat of increasing diversity: Why many White Americans support Trump in the 2016 presidential election.” Sage Journals. October 20, 2016.)

Charlottesville represents just one of many localities dealing with deep differences in cultural understandings. Public statues and monuments to the Confederacy all over the country have become focal points and objects in jeopardy of removal. Where should these tributes be displayed? Each community must decide how best to serve the population … not just serve the white population, but serve the ever-changing population of America.

Another fact is very important to understanding the historical significance of these symbols. Most of these Confederate monuments were built during the onslaught of the “Lost Cause” revisionist histories when there was a resurgence of white supremacy organizations like the KKK and during the time Jim Crow reigned safely throughout the South. Their creation was undeniably a sign that they were meant to explicitly represent white supremacy in the South. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports whenever the country appeared to have made some racial progress, cities and states – mostly in the South – responded by erecting such monuments.


People can still argue the statues are meant to be respectful, honorable reminders of Southern culture, yet doing so feeds a myth – a myth and a fact. Most of them were explicitly created to accompany organized and violent efforts to subdue blacks and maintain white supremacy in the South.

Karen L. Cox, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, says ...

"On the surface, they were memorials to the Confederacy and their heroes. Yet, they were also built during a period of racial violence and strong beliefs about Anglo-Saxon (i.e. white) supremacy. The fact that they were placed on the grounds of county and state courthouses was intentional. The message: white men are in charge."

(John Kruzel. “Did Confederate symbols gain prominence in the civil rights era?” Punditfact. August 15th, 2017.)

I hope that now you know “destroy” is not necessarily a part of “removal from public areas,” you understand how a compromise on preserving and displaying Confederate monuments may be reached. In addition, I hope the facts give you a greater understanding of the symbolism and creation of these tributes. I think we all agree that white supremacy is an evil that is still alive in this country. If we are ever to achieve racial justice, we must deny a bleached, revisionist history and the lies that sustain its beliefs.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Donald Loves Joe Arpaio: "Criminals and Self-Promotion"


 "All people, even prisoners, deserve basic respect and human dignity. But Tent City in particular is a jail -- you might be there because you were charged with a crime you didn't commit. Or you might be there for a low-level crime, like driving under the influence. 

"To make a place like that into your own personal "concentration camp," as Arpaio has done (his words), is more for self-promotion than for anything related to criminal justice."

--Ted Hesson, ABC News

President Trump suggested he will pardon Joe Arpaio, the Arizona lawman who once proclaimed himself “America’s toughest sheriff.” Trump's defense of Arpaio is typical of his misguided leadership and his twisted stance on immigration. With his careless diatribe, the president encourages the troubling racial divide in America.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt. His conviction came after years of implementing discriminatory policies, flouting the law, and violating the civil rights of the people he was elected to serve. The ACLU was one of the groups that brought the lawsuit against him. The 85-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced October 5 and could face up to six months in jail.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty for defying a judge’s 2011 court order to refrain from racially profiling Latinos during patrols and turning them over to federal immigration authorities – a practice that had led to the detention of some Latinos who were citizens or legal residents.

Arpaio, himself, admitted in a Univision interview in March 2012 that he was still targeting people based on immigration status.

Arpaio has been a stanch Trump supporter. In 2012, both men were proponents of "birtherism," the claim that President Obama was not born in the United States.

(Melissa Etehad. “Joe Arpaio, former sheriff in Arizona, is found guilty of criminal contempt.” Los Angeles Times. July 31, 2017.) 

Mr. Trump’s expression of support for Mr. Arpaio has ignited a debate about the tactics used to crack down on Latinos. Brian Tashman, strategist of the American Civil Liberties Union, gave five reasons Arpaio should not receive a presidential pardon ...
  • In traffic stops, workplace raids, and neighborhood sweeps, Arpaio ordered deputies to target residents solely based on their ethnicity, often detaining people without reasonable suspicion that they were violating any laws that his office was allowed to enforce.

         In their 2011 investigation, the Department of Justic found in Arpaio's jurisdiction that   
         Latino drivers were from four to nine times more likely to be stopped by law enforcement 
         than non- Latinos. One-fifth of his office's immigration traffic stops violated Fourth   
         Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. 

  • The people of Maricopa County paid the price for Arpaio’s pursuit of illegal immigration enforcement policies, suffering damage to community safety. In 2011, the Associated Press found that Arpaio’s office ignored hundreds of sex crime cases, including cases of alleged child abuse. One officer told the AP that many of those cases involved the children of undocumented immigrants.

  • In Arpaio's Tent City, which he called “the tent where all the Mexicans are,” people were purposely mistreated. They were typically put into chain gangs and subjected to humiliating practices like public parades.

    Women of color in Arpaio’s jails were particularly mistreated. The Justice Department discovered cases where Latina detainees were “denied basic sanitary items” and were “forced to remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation” or were put into “solitary confinement for extended periods of time because of their inability to understand and thus follow a command given in English.”

  • People in Arpaio’s jails were subject to substandard health care, sometimes to the point of extreme suffering, even death. The ACLU challenged Arpaio over his failure to meet the health needs of the people in his jails, and won in court when a federal judge agreed that the deficient and dangerous health care system violated detainees’ constitutional right to adequate care. Detainees with mental illnesses were especially victimized in Arpaio’s jails.

    The Phoenix New Times also discovered that “people hang themselves in the sheriff’s jail at a rate that dwarfs other county lockups,” comparing the medical care found at county jails to those of prisoner-of-war camps.

  • Arpaio was known to intimidate supposed enemies, including a judge's spouse, a political rival, a country official, and a reporter. The Justice Department also found that his office “engaged in a pattern or practice of retaliating against individuals for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech,” as deputies tried “to silence individuals who have publicly spoken out and participated in protected demonstrations” against Arpaio.

    In one infamous case, people working under Arpaio staged an assassination attempt against him in order to boost his popularity – framing an innocent man in the process. He spent four years in jail waiting to clear his name and eventually received a $1.1 million settlement.

(Brian Tashman. “Five Reasons Racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio Should Not Receive a Presidential Pardon.” ACLU. August 22, 2017.)

So, Trump is in favor of pardoning a man who has repeatedly violated court orders and continually engaged in violations of human and civil rights. He evidently does not care Arpaio's jails were inhumane and violated the Constitution. Our president proudly supports a law enforcement office in which officials referred to Latinos as “wetbacks” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Mind you, Trump calls Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff” and “a great American patriot.” After all, Trump supports racial profiling, too. He, like Arpaio, does this for self-promotion. And that is a major problem Americans must face about this president. In October 2016, then candidate Trump made it clear ...
“They [police officers] see somebody that’s suspicious, they will profile,” Trump said. “Look what’s going on: Do we really have a choice? We’re trying to be so politically correct in our country, and this is only going to get worse.”
(Ed Kilgore. “Trump Pondering Pardon for Racial Profiler Joe Arpaio. New York Magazine. August 14, 2017.)
And, by the way, under DOJ regulations, a presidential pardon cannot be issued until five years after a criminal conviction. This doesn't seem to matter to Trump although he calls himself a great defender of law and order.

Donald Trump has gone out of his way to side with Arpaio and with the cause of blatant, vicious racism. When he wants something, he is willing to ignore the law. I'm sure white supremacists and other racist groups love the president for his stand – a stand that clearly shows he is incapable of viewing nonwhites as “American patriots.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Daniel Webster, Black Soldiers, and Statues of Division


“When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood!

“Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign (flag) of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full and high advanced... not a strip erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterwards”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart – Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!”

–Senator Daniel Webster in the Senate, second speech on Foote’s resolution, January 26, 1830

I hear people saying, “Leave the history and the remnants of the past alone. Monuments and statues of the Confederacy are tributes to those who fought with an undying devotion to their home states and a true sense of honor and duty. These are memories that should be preserved.”

Indeed, let us remember history. However, in the case of the American Civil War, let us consider not just the romanticized, sympathetic views of the Lost Cause and the Confederacy. We must possess the wisdom to separate fact from fiction to determine what or what not should be revered; why or why not it should be honored; and where or where not war memorials should be displayed.

The quote above is part of a speech made in 1830 by Daniel Webster in the United States Senate. Of course, Webster spoke these words long before the South succeeded from the Union. Now, they serve as a lantern to illuminate some of the darkest hours of American history.

The debate in 1830 began with a proposal by a Connecticut senator to limit federal land sales in the West but shifted over the course of nine days to the concerns of slavery and the nature of the federal Union.

The speech is widely considered the most famous senate speech in history. And, for good reason.

South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne entered the debate as a surrogate for Vice President John C. Calhoun. Hayne agreed that land sales should be ended. In his opinion, they enriched the federal treasury for the benefit of the North, while draining wealth from the West. At the heart of his argument, Hayne asserted that states should have the power to control their own lands and – to disobey or "nullify" federal laws that they believed were not in their best interests. Hayne continued that the North was intentionally trying to destroy the South through a policy of high tariffs and its increasingly vocal opposition to slavery.

In a packed Senate chamber Daniel Webster rose to Haynes challenge. The gifted orator began a two-day speech known as his Second Reply to Hayne. In response to Hayne's argument that the nation was simply an association of sovereign states, from which individual states could withdraw at will, Webster thundered that it was instead a "popular government, erected by the people; those who administer it are responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and modified, just as the people may choose it should be."

The editor of Webster's papers wrote that until 1830, the United States was "a loosely-knit confederation of states, the division of power between them still unclear despite the valiant efforts of Chief Justice John Marshall. After January 27 the United States was a nation, no longer a plural but a singular noun." While many historians would contend that such a result was only achieved by the Civil War, Webster may have planted a seed that bore fruit later.

For millions of people in 1861, Webster's words were a driving motivation: Liberty (ending slavery), and Union (keeping the nation intact). Pursuing that double objective resulted in over 600,000 American lives being lost and an additional 410,000 maimed and crippled, making it by far the bloodiest war in American history.

Those words speak to the heart of the matter of the great conflict. Although many acknowledge the need to honor the Confederate dead and preserve Southern culture, we must consider how this may denigrate the sacrifices of those who fought to preserve liberty and union … for all, not just for some.


Understanding Union Service

Frederick Douglass was of the opinion that the future of the American Republican experiment itself rested on the triumph of the black soldier and the freed slave. For Douglass, the evil of slavery had corrupted the white man as much as it had degraded the slave, and the Civil War was an opportunity not just to end the institution but to rededicate the nation to the principles set out in the Declaration of Independence.

Douglas said, “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."

Black Americans were not just spectators in the Civil War. They were active participants in battles and in running the Underground Railroad.

In addition, many blacks – including women – worked as nurses, cooks, laborers, and blacksmiths. Some were spies and scouts. And, this was not the beginning of their American service: they also fought in the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812.

At first their service in the Civil War was denied. Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812). By mid-1862, however, the escalating number of former slaves (contrabands), the declining number of white volunteers, and the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army pushed the Government into reconsidering the ban.

As a result, on July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army. Two days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States, and on July 22 President Lincoln presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. After the Union Army turned back Lee's first invasion of the North at Antietam, MD, and the Emancipation Proclamation was subsequently announced, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. In fact, two of Douglass's own sons contributed to the war effort.

Many black soldiers became American heroes, displaying great courage and deep Christian faith. Sixteen black soldiers won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their brave service in the Civil War. Some scholars believe the infusion of black soldiers may have turned the tide of the war.

Black soldiers faced additional problems stemming from racial prejudice. Racial discrimination was prevalent even in the North, and discriminatory practices permeated the U.S. military. The treatment of most colored soldiers was sub-standard, and they often bore the brunt of ridicule and violence

Discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, with an optional deduction for clothing at $3.00. In contrast, white privates received $13.00 per month plus a clothing allowance of $3.50.

Black soldiers and their officers were also in grave danger if they were captured in battle. Confederate President Jefferson Davis called the Emancipation Proclamation the most execrable measure in the history of guilty man” and promised that black prisoners of war would be enslaved or executed on the spot. (Their white commanders would likewise be punished—even executed—for what the Confederates called “inciting servile insurrection.”)

Despite the ever-present dangers, nearly one in ten soldiers in the Union Army were African American. The compiled military service records of the men who served with the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War numbered approximately 185,000, including the officers who were not African American. And, there were nearly 80 black commissioned officers.
Blacks fought in 449 Civil War battles. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war – 30,000 of infection or disease.

Yet, soon, the American nation had all but forgotten that black troops had ever played a major role in the Civil War. The popular image of the Civil War was that it was “a white man's fight.” It is almost inconceivable that the black regiments’ service was long remembered as a small part of the Civil War, especially with the U.S. military remaining strictly segregated until 1948.

In the Grand Review of the Armed Forces which followed the end of hostilities very few blacks were represented. In these reviews, black veterans were relegated to the end of the procession in “pitch and shovel” brigades or intended only as a form of comic relief. Neither the free black soldier not the former slave was accorded his deserved role in this poignant national pageant.

The Civil War was fought for Union and Liberty. In his famous address of 1830, Daniel Webster defended the case for an enduring federal union, and he found slavery “one of the greatest evils, both moral and political.” The preservation of the Union during the Civil War led to the end of slavery. If it were not for the service and sacrifices of black Union troops, the Union may have fallen and slavery might have survived until who knows when.

Confederate monuments and statues symbolize both the institution of slavery and succession from the United States. How do we preserve these tributes and, at the same time, show proper respect for black America? The decision must reflect right, not concerns for the preservation of the culture of the Old South. We are bound to a commitment to do what is correct.

If such memorials remain, they should take their proper place in a setting that defines their dark roles as they relate to the history of liberty and union – those concepts forever “dear to every true American heart.”

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on. 

"Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on."


“Black Soldiers in the Civil War.” National Achives. October 03, 2016.
“Black Troops in Union Blue.” Constitutional Rights Foundation.
“The Civil War: Honoring Courageous Soldiers.” Wallbuilder Report. Black History. 2006.
Paul D. Escott. What Shall We Do With the Negro?: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War. 2009.
“The Most Famous Senate Speech.”
Senator Daniel Webster in the Senate, second speech on Foote’s resolution, January 26, 1830. The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster, vol. 6, p. 75. 1903.
Susan-Mary Grant. “Pride and Prejudice in the American Civel War. History Today. Volume 9 September 1998.
Budge Weidman. “Black Soldiers in the Civil War. National Archives. 1997. A&E Television Network 2017.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"What Trump Meant to Say" -- Making Excuses for Incivility

He’s just rough around the edges…” “What he meant to say was…” “He didn’t mean it…” “I don’t agree with what he said…what he did…but…”

Are you welcome in President Donald Trump’s world? You think so? Well, be careful not to question or oppose any of his policies, or he may direct his stock line “You're fired!” in your loyal direction. You see, Trump's sense of self-worth is sustained by public adoration and his sense of values is set to respect only those things that serve him.

I recently read an article written by Tricia Spencer for the Huffington Post. In the piece, she calls President Donald Trump the “Pied Piper of Division.” This title is well-deserved.

After all, Donald Trump used the “divide and conquer” strategy to build a base that somehow takes pride in being without a moral compass. He finds it impossible to remain civil, and yet his crowd is quick to make excuses for his every unwarranted behavior.

Let's explore some of Trump's indecent actions:
  • He physically mocked his opponents, the disabled, and anyone with different viewpoints he frankly did not understand.

  • A five-time military deferrer who once equated his challenge of avoiding sexual STDs to being a soldier fighting in Vietnam, he still insisted he knew more that the U.S. military generals.
  • He derided nearly every ethnicity, religion, ideology, or belief that was outside of his realm of his comprehension or beyond his capacity for compassion.

  • He brought his true views and his treatment of women front and center with ugly, personal derision and inexcusable sexist remarks.

  • He managed to divide his own party, sending scores of lifelong Republicans bolting from the fold and wondering about any party loyalty.

  • He put many questionable people in key advisory and cabinet positions, then after touting his own great sense of loyalty, he fired them or forced them to resign.

  • He refused to support inquiries into the hacking of the election while making Putin his trusted friend.

  • He continually practiced bullying and name-calling. With his juvenile “hurt me and I will hurt you more” revenge mindset, he sanctioned revenge and even violence.

  • With chants of “build that wall,” unfair immigration orders, and personal racist business dealings, he promoted his prejudiced policies about who is fit to belong in America.

  • He has declared his support for the use of torture and advocated wholesale discrimination against a religious minority, Muslims.
Oh, by the way, the man who took such pleasure in calling Hillary Clinton an untrustworthy liar during the presidential campaign proves himself to be Fabricator #1. The truth is here for all to see ...

“Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-partisan 'truth' watchdog group, documents, that as of this writing (October 16, 2016), Trump lied to the American people nearly three times more than Clinton, and his most egregious lies outpaced hers 8 to 1. Labeling her the liar was the Trump camp’s biggest, most successful lie of all. Politifact even awarded Trump’s body of lies its 2015 Lie of the Year Award.”

(Tricia Spencer. “Donald Trump’s Political Legacy: Pied Piper of Division.” Huffington Post. October 31, 2016.)

If you haven't noticed, Trump likes to punish people who disagree with him. He sues journalists, bans members of the press from covering him, kicks political leaders from their posts, and verbally tongue-lashes everyone who doesn't shout his praises. His small mind houses an ego that constantly spouts insulting tweet-fart after tweet-fart. He enjoys this blabbering power play.

Lastly, I dare you to tell me you haven't witnessed the Leader of the Free World in meltdown. Complete lack of control. Did you witness the latest at Trump Tower in New York? Trump unloaded about the fallout from the protests by the alt-right activists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville ...

“Gesticulating with his right hand, Trump blasted what he called the 'alt-left,' protested that he had already condemned neo-Nazis and parroted far-right talking points on the Confederacy.

“On the substance, it was a performance that quickly emboldened white nationalist groups and appeared certain to heighten racial tensions and fear in the country ...

“But the tone and the spectacle of Trump's unchained performance was equally stunning.The unapologetic, stream-of-consciousness style of delivery left no doubt at all: This was the real Trump, not the scripted version who appeared in the White House on Monday and tried to clean up his initial failure to condemn white supremacists after the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

“His anger emerged in a torrent, as he obliterated any benefit of the doubt he earned on Monday, thought piling on thought, in a style the nation has become accustomed to from his Twitter feed.”

(Stephen Collinson. “A Trump Meltdown for the Ages. CNN. August 15, 2017.)

This display certainly raised questions about the suitability of Trump's temperament for the presidency. The overall impression of Trump's performance was that of a president out of control. Even his new Chief of Staff John Kelly expressed disbelief at Trump's emotional outbursts.

Those of you who insist Trump is a great leader and a moral voice of the nation must answer this question: Is this president a present danger? And, you must not speculate as to what Trump is “really meaning” as he makes his daily faux pas. He wanted the job, and it is evident he was not qualified to take the office. Perhaps you should ask yourself why Donald Trump decided to run.

Trump has been serving less than eight months, and he continues to show disregard for whomever he chooses. Why? Is Trump simply depressed? Can't he stand the immense pressure of the office? Or, is he terminally narcissistic with a completely flawed sense of fairness, justice, and judgment? I know what I believe.

Make America great again? In his mind, the Donald is“great” in all respects. To the country, his judgment of his own importance is precisely what is so troubling. If you continue to make excuses for him, you only add to the widening gap of political division. Moreover, you condone the danger. He is very suspect, and if he remains unchecked, he, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, may lead unsuspecting innocents to their demise. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Lost Cause: Confederate Symbols Misstating History


"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind."

                               --Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind  

The Lost Cause is an interpretation of the Civil War that seeks to present the war, from the perspective of Confederates, in the best possible terms. This amelioration is a myth developed by white Southerners, many of them former Confederate generals, in a postwar climate of economic, racial, and social uncertainty. It romanticizes the “Old South” and the Confederate war effort, distorting history in the process.

From its beginnings, many white Americans accepted the Lost Cause, largely as a tool in reconciling the North and the South. The Lost Cause endorses the virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the American Civil War as an honorable struggle for the Southern way of life, while minimizing or denying the central role of slavery. This distorted view still receives wide acceptance.

Yale University history professor Rollin G. Osterweis summarizes the content that pervaded "Lost Cause" writings:
The Legend of the Lost Cause began as mostly a literary expression of the despair of a bitter, defeated people over a lost identity. It was a landscape dotted with figures drawn mainly out of the past: the chivalric planter; the magnolia-scented Southern belle; the good, gray Confederate veteran, once a knight of the field and saddle; and obliging old Uncle Remus.
All these, while quickly enveloped in a golden haze, became very real to the people of the South, who found the symbols useful in the reconstituting of their shattered civilization. They perpetuated the ideals of the Old South and brought a sense of comfort to the New.”
(Rollin G. Osterweis. The Myth of the Lost Cause, 1865–1900. 1973.)
Movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind, along with countless late-Victorian and 20th-century books, have been dedicated to this revisionism.

Caroline E. Janney, author and professor of history, lists six tenets (assertions) for the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War:
1. Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War.
2. African Americans were "faithful slaves," loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom.
3. The Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources.
4. Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly.
5. The most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee.
6. Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones.

(Caroline E. Janney, "The Lost Cause." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, July 27, 2016.)

Of course, some of these tenets are obviously false and some are, at least, partly true. Without question, the most disturbing falsehoods relate to slavery. These lies misstate history, distort the national memory, and continue to influence hate groups today. Slavery in America ranks with the greatest evils in modern history. In no manner should this servitude ever be placated.

What is the real issue of any view of slavery? Slavery, as a system, legalized and codified the slaveholder’s control over the enslaved person’s body.

Not only did slavery strip away all personal freedom from its victims, but also it routinely condoned murdering these human beings as a matter of economic policy. Edward E. Baptist – American academic, writer, and associate Professor of History at Cornell University – explains ...

“The worst thing about slavery as an experience, one is told, was that it denied enslaved African Americans the liberal rights and liberal subjectivity of modern citizens. It did those things as a matter of course, and as injustice, that denial ranks with the greatest in modern history.

“But slavery also killed people, in large numbers. From those who survived, it stole everything. Yet the massive and cruel engineering required to rip a million people from their homes, brutally drive them to new, disease-ridden places, and make them live in terror and hunger as they continually built and rebuilt a commodity-generating empire – this vanished in the story of a slavery that was supposedly focused primarily not on producing profit but on maintaining its status as a quasi-feudal elite, or producing modern ideas about race in order to maintain white unity and elite power.

“And once the violence of slavery was minimized, another voice could whisper, saying that African Americans, both before and after emancipation, were denied the rights of citizens because they would not fight for them.”

(Edward E. Baptist. “We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture.” Salon. September 07, 2017.)


Now, we struggle with the remains of the Lost Cause. Symbols of the Confederacy still dapple the country, especially the South. They stand as remnants of American history and the storied Old South though their very existence is undeniable linked to a period of shame – a time when the evil of slavery was a reality.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, public lands hold 1,500 symbols memorializing the Confederacy. These include 718 monuments and statues and about 200 public schools, cities, counties and U.S. military bases named for Confederate icons.

Should we take down all Confederate statues and monuments, and should we rename these public institutions? Do such memorials belong on public land? Are they more than just commemorations to historical figures? Do these symbols of the Confederacy continue to divide the American public and encourage White supremacy?

Supporters of the works claim they represent Southern heritage, which perhaps should be more thoroughly examined in the light of the Lost Cause. It’s difficult to imagine memorials to other enemies of the United States existing anywhere inside our borders. After all, Confederate leaders fought against the Constitution, against unity and in support of slavery. 
How can we heal together? Bishop E.W. Jackson, founder and president of Staying True to America’s National Destiny, said he supports the effort to relocate Confederate monuments to museums and other educational institutions, where they can be celebrated in private by those who wish to honor their ancestors.

And, still, vast numbers of White Americans hold romanticized, twisted views of plantation days. We have been indoctrinated into accepting slavery as less than the evil it was by watching technicolored scenes of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler and the pleasant life of the “darkies” at Tara. We glory in this story of survival in the Civil War and Reconstruction, and we feel losing it somehow robs us of a storied myth.

Yet, it is fiction. More than that, it is cruel, potentially dangerous fiction that still generates adulation of a wicked Lost Cause.

Bob Cesca, Managing Editor of The Daily Banter, leaves us with some food for thought that is sure to rankle the digestive system of proponents of this Lost Cause ...

“It seems overly obviously to say this out loud, but men like Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Beauregard were willing traitors against the republic – officers who took up arms against the United States after an illegal act of secession. And they did so in the name of preserving slavery, the backbone of the Southern economy built upon the subjugation of men and women who were considered subhuman at that time. I hasten to note, though, that Lost Causers still to this day believe the war was fought over 'states’ rights,' begging the question: States’ rights – to do what, exactly? To own slaves, of course."
(Bob Cesca. “Tear down those Confederate monuments! Maybe we can finally cure America’s Civil War hangover.” Salon. May 22, 2017.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

David Duke and Trump: "The White Americans"


Sometimes the truth comes from offensive sources. And, this time the most despicable spokesman imaginable put us face to face with a very dark understanding about the leader of the free world.

President Trump's initial unwillingness to condemn the hate groups behind the deadly protests in Charlottesville raises many questions about his beliefs and affiliations. After blaming the violence "on many sides" Saturday, Trump stayed silent for close to 48 hours before finally condemning the actions of the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups.

When Trump did directly call out and condemn white supremacy, former KKK leader David Duke reacted. “It’s amazing to see how the media is able to bully the President of the United States into going along with their FAKE NEWS narrative,” Duke tweeted.

In another tweet, Duke openly warned the president against calling out white nationalists.“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” he wrote.

Trump has a long history of being quick to condemn anyone he doesn’t like. He is often blunt and very harsh. But, he did not initially denounce the hate groups. It appears he was, as Duke contends, “bullied” into submission. By whom? The media certainly applied immense pressure on him, but so did the public as well as politicians from both political parties.

This time the pressure to take action was well warranted. One must wonder why Trump chose to use such an irresolute, passive statement about the riots in the first place. Since he is held in high regard by the kind of people who attended the rally in Charlottesville, his resistance to speak out against white nationalism looks very convenient. His call for blame “on many sides” confirms his true feelings: he was also condemning the counter-protesters.

Even if Trump did not name the counter-protesters, it is apparent he made his broad reference intentionally vague on purpose. It is as if he was saying, “Here is the 'cup of blame.' Fill it up with any and all demonstration participants you choose.”

There is also evidence that before he spoke Saturday, Trump's own team of advisers warned him to sharply criticize the white nationalist protesters …

“At the center of the discussion was Mr. Bossert (Thomas P. Bossert – White House Homeland Security Adviser), who laid out the situation on the ground, including a description of provocations by both protesters and counter protesters, according to a White House official.

“Two hard-edge economic populists – Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser – spoke with Mr. Trump repeatedly on Saturday, the person said, although it was not clear if Mr. Bannon had offered him advice on his comments.

“Mr. Trump listened attentively, according to another person familiar with the discussions, but repeatedly steered the conversation to the breakdown of 'law and order,' and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence.” 

(Glenn Thrush and Rebeccar Ruizaug. “White House Acts to Stem Fallout From Trump’s First Charlottesville Remarks.” The New York Times. August 13, 2017.)

Bannon and Miller and Bossert and Trump – what an excuse for a team of advisors …
  • Bannon, once the executive chair of Breitbart News, the platform for the alt-right and the loose network of individuals and groups that promote white identity and reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.
  • Miller, the man who had the heated exchange with Jim Acosta regarding support for the RAISE Act to sharply limit legal immigration and favor immigrants with high English proficiency.
  • Bossert, spear-phished by a British hacker into thinking he was Jared Kushner by sending an email to Bossert.

In the end, any and all measured response by Trump to the actions of the hate groups was calculated to raise the love of Trump as it is seen in the eyes of Trump, himself. He lives for the praise of his adoring crowd and wants to maintain the “biggest” exaltation possible. He needs all of this to feed his monstrous ego.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Supremacy From Plymouth Rock to Trump


 E pluribus unum -- “out of many, one” 

This Latin phrase is a 13-letter traditional motto of the United States of America. It appears on the Great Seal of the United States and was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. The meaning originates from the concept that out of the Thirteen colonies emerged a single nation.

Although never codified by law, E Pluribus Unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.
The phrase “e pluribus unum” is a pledge of unity. While American residents originate from all nations around the earth, this amalgamation of people pledges their allegiance to the one country founded on the promise of equality, justice, and freedom for all.

However, not all Americans adhere to the ideals of equality. In fact, white supremacy has always occupied the landscape. White supremacists follow a racist ideology based upon the belief that white people are superior in many ways to people of other races and that, therefore, white people should be dominant over other races.

Beliefs in white supremacy have plagued America from the beginning of European settlement. Long before the American Revolution, early colonists began to dispossess Native Americans. Then, fueled by faith in manifest destiny, settlers traveled to new frontiers with goals of “redeeming” the west in the name of their own particular immigrant groups.

Of course, slavery was also instituted in America as early as 1555, and African-Americans have suffered bondage, oppression, and racism in the United States for hundreds of years. Throughout the history of the United States race has been used by whites for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion of blacks. Slavery and racism are ugly stains in American heritage.

And yet in 2017 we still wonder if we will ever truly “come together” before we “come apart.”

Once more racial superiority has come out of the shadows – this time in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK, Neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups have been energized by the “Make America Great Again” movement of President Donald Trump, and the racists have boldly taken the stage to promote their evil agenda.

Is it any wonder? After all,
  • Trump panders to white nationalists, bigots, and anti-Semites. Fearing he would lose their votes, he has refused to distance himself from these hate groups
  • Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, formerly ran the right-wing Breitbart News while advocating the alt-right movement.
  • Through his fear-mongering views that immigrants and other so-called “second-class citizens” are taking jobs and bringing crime, Trump has continually preached that some people are simply not fit for democracy.
  • Trump is the same man who spent years questioning the birthplace of President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president. What were his motives for such a witch hunt?
  • Trump is also the same man who in 1989 encouraged the mob anger that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five. Most remember the vengeful full-page ads.
  • Trump's incessant, incendiary, half-baked tweets and comments fuel feelings of division and hatred. His words fall woefully short of encouraging diversity. Short on wisdom and long on judgment, Trump often allows his life of privilege to rule his mouth.

Seemingly every day, Trump's people must edit, interpret, and repair tweets and statements made by the president. His words are often pointed and more than often sophomoric. Seldom measured and calculated, Trump wins the approval of those who favor confrontation and blatant opposition – those like white supremacists. A model of blathering unrest, Trump has emboldened the racists.

It was said the Trump presented his comments “in a direct pipeline to the American people” allowing him to “put his thoughts out and hear what the people are thinking in a way no one's ever been able to do before.” This is true, but far from a being a good thing. He sees himself as a champion of a white world, a world comprised of the base of his “take the country back” supporters. His conservatism goes far beyond beliefs in limited government intervention and free markets. His philosophy empowers groups that pose threats to civil liberties and individual and human rights.

I don't know if President Trump is a racist. I hope not. I do know, however, that he is a mouthpiece – knowing or unknowing – for dangerous exclusion. He has chosen to maintain and even strengthen this position in his cabinet choices and in his own words. Since he has fueled this position with hardcore rhetoric and imprudent actions, he continually paints himself in the corner of ill-considered behaviors.

Be it in response to happenings in Charlottesville, Virginia, or in Pyongyang, North Korea, Americans look toward a leader in the White House with a wise, experienced, farsighted head. And, in my limited opinion, the chief executive that possesses those qualities is not home … even when he is “in the building.” You can bet he is busy … somewhere … promoting himself. So, I guess, he is practicing his own kind of “e pluribus unum” – expecting others to anoint him the “one.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The First Family of Scioto County Pioneers -- Meet the Marshalls


In American history, being the first is most often a distinction of honor. It is so with trailblazing pioneers. In settling the American frontier, those who established the first permanent habitations showed unbridled courage, grit, and industry. They truly had the qualities that define American heroes.

Who were the very first brave pioneer settlers in Scioto County? I wonder how many present-day residents could even venture a guess. Considering the limited resources for verification, the notability may be up for some dispute; however, ample documentation exists that gives evidence that greatly limits the field.

The noted historian of Scioto County, Mr. James Keyes, often considered the historian of Scioto County, stated that Samuel Marshall, Sr., the father-in-law of Thomas McDonald, built the first cabin at a point about two miles above the site of Portsmouth in February 1796. He had passed down the river the year before in company with General Anthony Wayne, who was sent out by President Washington to conclude a treaty with the Indians.

Keyes points out that others may have “built a cabin and stayed a year or two, but it was not their intention to stay in this county.” People such as the French, who settled at the mouth of the Scioto River in 1756 at the time the French held Canada, stayed for a brief time then moved on.

Henry Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio (1847) gives Thomas McDonald credit for building the first house in Scioto County. But Keyes says McDonald did not build a house or have a long stay, instead he “went up the Scioto and settled at or near Chillicothe.

But, Keyes notes, those who came after the Indian War settled here, remained here, and assisted in developing the resources of the county. This means they and their descendants remained long enough to establish a civil government and, thus, maintain a permanent home.

Keyes claims Samuel Marshall Sr. was followed in March, by John Lindsay. Both Marshall and Lindsay had moved up from Manchester where there was a small picketed fort with a few settlement houses.

Keyes acknowledges these two, separated by just a month, were “probably the first permanent settlers in Scioto County.” Keyes also states that Samuel Marshall put in the first crop of corn in the county; that the first person married there was a daughter of his (Lord knows who served as justice of the peace.); and that the first child born in the county was another of his daughters.

Samuel Marshall, Sr.

Samuel Marshall, Sr. was born June 29, 1750, in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and after serving in the Northwest Indian War with General Wayne, Marshall sold his property in Pennsylvania for about ten thousand dollars and took his pay altogether in continental money. He wanted to take this small fortune and invest it in government lands, but surveying in the lands northwest of the Ohio had yet to be done. And, he evidently loved the area he had seen while on his journey with General Wayne.

Therefore, Marshall left for Ohio and waited in Manchester for a treaty to be made with the Indians. It is written he “wanted to be on the ground when Congress lands should come into market.” By that time he had a large family of children, some already grown up. In fact, he had three married daughters. One was wed to Thomas McDonald, a brother to the celebrated hunter and Indian scout Col. John McDonald.

General Wayne then negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States, which was signed on August 3, 1795. The treaty gave most of what is now Ohio to the United States, and cleared the way for that state to enter the Union in 1803.

So, in February 1796, 46-year-old Samuel Marshall loaded his family and his goods in his perogue and moved to a point about three miles above the Scioto River, nearly opposite the mouth of Tygart's Creek. Here, he built his house. This is a brief account of the new settlement:

“Marshall built his house out of pickets or puncheons split out of the body of a tree, three or four inches thick, and as wide as the tree would make. He dug a trench in the ground and set these pickets in so as to include a space of eighteen or twenty feet square and covered with the same material. He banked the earth up around the outside, to keep out the cold winds, and used the ground for a floor. Into this he moved his family, consisting of four children, himself and wife. (Two of his daughters remained behind.)”

Keyes offers this image of the land …

“Grand primeval forest surrounded them on every side with gigantic trees from four to six feet in diameter rearing their heads 80 to 100 feet without a limb and as straight as an arrow. Huge grapevines dangling from their branches gave the scene an awful (yet) grand appearance. The tops of the trees being so interwoven with grapevines that the sun never penetrated to the earth while the trees and the vines were clothed with leaves.”

So it was that Samuel Marshall Sr. came to live in an area that would become known as Scioto County – a place at the time where it was said “not another human being was living – white, black, or red.” However, the land was plentiful with buffalo, bears, elk, deer, turkeys, panthers, catamounts, beaver, and otter.

Yet, the Marshalls were not alone for long. Soon, John Lindsey came from Manchester and built a log cabin at the mouth of the Little Scioto, and this dwelling became the first regular built log house within the present limits of Scioto County.

The settlers had no horses, cattle, hogs, or sheep, so there was no need to build fences. But, the pioneers cleared off pieces of ground for raising corn. They remarked how the corn grew very large – much larger than what they were used to seeing in Pennsylvania.

It was actually Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Marshall who gave birth to the first white child born in the county. Fanny was born here later in 1796. Later, she would marry George Shonkwiler. She died in 1870 and was buried in Bennett Fairview Cemetery in Minford.

Marshall had another daughter, Mary “Polly,” who married John H. Lindsey. Commonly called “Captain Jack Lindsay.” The first marriage known to have taken place in Scioto County. She died in 1860 and was also buried in Bennett Fairview Cemetery.

And, what about that fortune of $10,000?

When Samuel Marshall tried to buy government land with his money, his currency was “not worth a cent.” Although he made several improvements on Congress lands, other men “turned him out of his improvements” At that time, there were no pre-emption laws. It was said that the money lay “in piles and rolls around the house for many years” -- basically just trash.

Marshall eventually leased a school section on the Little Scioto. (Land Ordinance of 1785 – Section 16 in each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools.) There he made improvements that could not be taken from him. He lived on his land until he died in 1816. Marshall was buried on top of one of the hills surrounding Scioto Furnace now known as Scioto Furnace Cemetery in South Webster.

Frances Mary Hazelrigg Marshall, Samuel's wife, died in 1830 and is also said to be buried in Scioto Furnace Cemetery.


Andrew Feight, Ph.D. “Connecting Local History to American History in Friendship, Ohio.”

James Keyes. Pioneers of Scioto County. 1880.

Kay L. Mason. “History of Lower Scioto Valley Ohio. U.S. GenWeb Archives.