Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro is a much needed lesson in our history

The following post was written about eight years ago, but seems even more relevant today as there are too many who do not want the bad part of our US history taught. This is not a new phenomenon, as a key part of our history is to mask these ugly truths. I am in my sixties, but I never read or heard about what happened in Tulsa, OK and Wilmington, NC until the the last few years. Names like Emmitt Till and Rosa Parks, must be remembered just like those of Martin Luther King and John Lewis.

Yesterday, I had some free time in the Greensboro, North Carolina area and decided to revisit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Why Greensboro? For those of you are old enough to remember or know your history, the museum incorporates and builds off the actual Woolworth’s lunch counter where four African-Americans started a movement of non-violent sit-ins. The story of this daily sit-in helped bring about change along with many other efforts. Our tour guide whose mother used to bring her to Woolworth’s to shop, said the operative word they had to overcome was “separatism.”

In an attempt to protect the whites from the significant misconceptions about African-American citizens, “separate, but equal” laws were passed to allow discrimination to continue under the guise of the law. These Jim Crow laws, as they were called, came about to show that society need not have to integrate to give rights to its African-American citizens. The ugly truth is separatism was not very equal and continued to put down and discriminate against African-Americans in perceived legal and moral ways. There were some whites who spoke out before the overt discrimination became more apparent, but we had far too many leaders in business, government and faith communities who perpetuated this maltreatment.

The list of examples in the museum of discrimination and the fight to alleviate it are significant in number and impact. It makes you feel ashamed, disillusioned and angry that our fellow citizens were treated this way. The bombings, the lynchings, and the beatings are well documented and illustrated. The separate, but very unequal, train station terminals where whites had bigger waiting rooms, restrooms and easements are eye-opening. The separate, but unequal restrooms in stores, where our guide said her mother would tell her to go at home before they went to the store, are indicative. Sitting in the back of the bus, yielding your seat to white person and even the leather straps for standers in the back of the bus versus cushioned straps in the front showed the lack of equality. The Coke machine with two sides, one for whites at 5 cents with the opposite side for African-Americans at 10 cents is separate and very unequal. The voter laws that made it so very difficult for an African-American to register and vote were definitely not equal. And, so on and so on.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) pushed through the Civil Rights Act in the United States. The next year he followed up with the Voters Rights Act. These key pieces of legislation changed the long term and horrible course of inequality America was on. Forced busing to allow for fair and equal education was passed in 1970 sixteen years following the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. LBJ helped change the future in response to the efforts of many from Martin Luther King to John Lewis to Rosa Parks. It was critical that LBJ, a white southerner working with a coalition across political parties was able to shame leaders into doing something for America.

We are much further along than before, but our work is not done. We each need to be mindful of our biases and prejudices we have to various groups of people. We need to be active to voice our concerns over recent state actions by conservatively led states (ironically and sadly like the one in NC) to limit the voting rights of people who are primarily African-American, under the disguise of doing something against voter fraud. Rampant voter fraud has been proven not to exist, even as recently as last week with touted data in an attempt to show it does. Some of these laws have been ruled unconstitutional and others are being sued for such as of the time of this post. Make no mistake, these laws are designed to suppress voters who tend not to vote with the conservative side of the ledger. This is masked cheating, which is straight out of Jim Crow book.

What makes this further disturbing is our Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Voters Rights Act are no longer needed. This is one of several decisions made by this court which puzzle and frustrate me. What country do they live in? I see or hear examples of discrimination almost every day. It often is masked with code words or followed by words like “but, I am not a racist.” It would surprise these folks to learn most food stamp recipients are white. Even Congressman Paul Ryan parlayed that misconception in some of recent speeches and interviews. The bottom line is it should not matter, as poverty knows no color. I use this as an example of unstated racism in America. It is those people who are in need of aid, so it is OK to cut benefits.

There are Civil Rights museums in several cities. Please frequent them with your children and friends. If you’re near Greensboro, please stop by and tour this well crafted museum. I was pleased to see two bus loads of school children of all stripes leaving the museum when I arrived. This stuff really did happen and discrimination still exists today. Use these occasions as opportunities to discuss what is happening today with others. Per the play and movie “South Pacific” bigotry has to be carefully taught. The converse of this is also true. Let’s carefully teach that discrimination is not right.

Here is a link to the Greensboro Civil Rights Museum. http://sitinmovement.org/

Here is a link to information on the Greensboro sit-ins. Greensboro sit-ins – Wikipedia

May 35 and December 37 – two fictitious dates for real events

Friday in China was the anniversary of a horrible event when the Chinese government forcibly put down a protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Seeing a young man stare down a tank in the square is the most memorable occurrence. But, China has done its best to erase this event from their history arresting some protestors in Hong Kong two days ago who tried to honor the memory of those who died that day..

I have written before about May 35 which is a real reference to an imaginary date. Per the attached article in the New York Times, it is a reference to what happened in Tiananmen Square in China on June 4, 1989, which has been expunged from Chinese history, including internet search references to that date. So, to make sure the Chinese kids remember this protest which was brutally squashed by the Chinese army, historians established a May 35 web link.*

In America, the Republican Party is doing its best to erase further discussion of the insurrection incited by the former president on January 6. In their minds, we cannot have people thinking the former president’s lies about election fraud, his invitation of zealous members of his base to Washington, and his winding them up and pointing them at the Capitol building had any thing to do with people storming the Capitol.

So, to make sure we don’t forger this heinous day in our country, nor the former president’s role and continuing untruthfulness about election fraud, maybe we should start calling it December 37 like the enterprising Chinese people did to avoid the memory being erased.

People died at these events. We owe it to them to remember who caused them. We cannot do anything about China’s delete key, but we can remind folks here that January 6 would not have happened if the former president did not have such a fragile ego and could not accept the fact he lost the election. Or, as his niece said in November, her Uncle cannot handle failure, so he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.

May 35 and December 37. Bad days in China and the US People in leadership need to be held accountable. Especially when they play an active role in causing these bad days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/global/24iht-june24-ihtmag-hua-28.html?_r=0eal

Tiananmen Square incident | Summary, Details, & Facts | Britannica

The Soul of America

Whether you are familiar with Jon Meacham, you may be familiar with his work. The Pulitzer Prize winner is one of America’s “explainers” of our history offering a needed context given what was going on at the time. He has written several biographies of presidents, including his most recent one on George H.W. Bush, as well as ones on Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and the relationship between FDR and Winston Churchill. He even spoke at Bush’s funeral at the behest of his wife, Barbara Bush. If I had to sum up who Meacham is – he is an astute student of history. And, he has many admirers including noted historians Walter Isaacson and Michael Beschloss.

I recently read his excellent book called “The Soul of America,” where he is his usual informative self. The subtitle is “The Battle for our Better Angels.” He notes we have had battles of trying to do the right thing throughout our history, yet sometimes it has been hard to work our way there. Here are a few examples:

During the 1920 and early 1930s, over 25% of the US Senate and over 100 members of Congress had an affinity for the KKK. This stunned me, as looking back we would hope that leaders would have seen the KKK for what it was. Yet, even today, we are seeing a rise of White supremacy with some comments being parroted by a couple of elected Congressional representatives. And, after the popularity of “Birth of a Nation,” a very racist movie, and the example of the Tulsa massacre and many lynching’s in the south, it should be less surprising. In fact, it took a couple of KKK leaders openly espousing violence toward Jews, that caused an upset stomach for some of the sympathetic legislators, and they started to distance themselves from the KKK.

He also noted that President Dwight Eisenhower was not too keen on Senator Joe McCarthy of communist witch hunt fame during the early 1950s. But, the president recognized that McCarthy had too big a following to be ignored. So, he tolerated McCarthy without actively supporting him. What was surprising to me is attorney Roy Cohn, who advised McCarthy, knew his boss tended to make things up and was reckless not doing much homework, which would eventually become a problem. By the time Joseph Welch, the US Army’s Chief Counsel famously asked McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” McCarthy was already beginning to fade. In fact, an earlier quote of Welch’s was also condemning of McCarthy’s clumsy efforts. “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”*

Let me close with a quote from Eisenhower on leadership that is telling. Apparently, one too many folks was offering the WWII European Allied Commander advice. “Now, look, I happen to know a little about leadership. I’ve had to work with a lot of nations, for that matter, at odds with each other. And, I tell you this…you do not lead people by hitting them over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it is usually called ‘assault’ – not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion – and conciliation – and education – and patience. It’s long, slow tough work. That is the only kind of leadership I know – or believe in – or will practice.”

The book is a good read. I only mention these three examples, as I don’t want to give too much away. America’s history, with all of its warts must be understood. If we do not learn lessons from our history, we are destined to repeat our failures. Already, we are seeing a rise in White supremacy along with the untruthfulness of a demagogue who rose to the presidency before he was not reelected. Trying to convince people he was reelected is akin to the recklessness that is used to define Senator McCarthy. We must guard against such untruthfulness as people get hurt when they believe such.

*Note: Trusted newscaster Edward R. Murrow would prove to be McCarthy’s most ardent critic. One of his many quotes is “We must remember always that accusation is not proof and conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.”

Note on essential commission on January 6 insurrection

I posted the following on several Republican Senator websites, as well as that of my GOP Congressman. Please feel free to use and adapt.

As a former Republican and now independent voter, the fall of my former party is concerning as well as embarrassing. To long tout being a party of law and order and now support a lawless insurrection that not only threatened you and your staff’s lives, but ended up killing five people and contributing to the deaths of two more, is beyond me.

We have a former president who continues to be untruthful about wide-spread election fraud, a stance he planned several months before the election and was highly predictable. What I did not anticipate is how much support he has received from his sycophants who won’t tell him the truth. I also did not anticipate how miserably his legal attempts would fail, going down as one of the worst investments of money winning only one small court case, while losing well over 60.

But, what bothers me even more is the former president set the stage with his lies for the insurrection, invited the more zealous members of his base to DC and then pointed them at the Capitol building. If they had found the white haired Vice President, he may have been another victim, as this former president painted a target on his back.

To be frank, this former president must be held accountable regardless of his party. We cannot have a coup attempt on one branch by another. Full stop. Please support the investigation into this atrocious event in our country’s history. We owe it to those who died, plus we citizens who crave good governance.

Attorney General says ‘White supremacist groups pose a rising US threat’

“White supremacist groups pose rising U.S. threat, Garland says” by Mark Hosenball of Reuters is a title that jumped off my browser feed yesterday. Attorney General Merrick Garland said made this comment and he would know based on his past experience prosecuting people.

Here are a few excerpts from the article a link to which is below.

“Domestic violent extremist groups, particularly white supremacists, pose a growing threat to the United States, Attorney General Merrick Garland told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

‘The threat of lethality is higher than it ever was … I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the U.S. Capitol’ by rioters on Jan. 6, said Garland, who as a prosecutor led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Garland noted the FBI recently said that the top domestic violent extremist threat facing the United States is from ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.’

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the committee that racially or ethnically motivated extremists are ‘most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians,’ while people tied to right-wing militia groups are the most likely to target police and government employees and buildings.

I am not going to add anything more to these cautions. They speak for themselves and should give us all pause. We must not condone violence in any way to promote any cause. Full stop.

White supremacist groups pose rising U.S. threat, Garland says (msn.com)

“This is not a difference on positions – it is a difference between truth and lies”

This morning I spoke with a aide for a Republican Congressman to share my concerns over what a shame it is Representative Liz Cheney is being ousted from her position in House leadership in the Republican Party citing my arguments. After he listened to me, he noted I had a right to share my difference on positions.

I said, this is not a difference on positions – it is a difference between truth and lies. I said I do not agree with many of the positions of Liz Cheney, but in this instance she is calling out the former president for his lying and sedition. There is no widespread election fraud and the president invited and incited an insurrection on members of Congress, endangering your boss. That is unforgiveable.

Then, I shared that this is not just my opinion, David Brooks, a conservative pundit said on PBS News Hour just this Friday that “to be a leader in the Republican party, you have to lie.” I did ask him, as an independent and former Republican, what am I supposed to think about all of this? He could not offer me his opinion, which I knew. beforehand, but I wanted to pose the question. It should be noted that Senator Mitt Romney noted that Republicans are not going to gain one vote from this and will lose many.

I closed with sharing we need a viable Republican Party, but right now the party is adrift. In fact, GOP Representative Adam Kinzinger equated the party with a slow-sinking Titanic. I told him I agree with that statement.

“It is like the Titanic”

In an article called “GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Compares Trump-Mesmerized Republican Party To The Titanic” by Mary Papenfuss of HuffPost, the title says pretty much what one needs to know about the opinions of this Republican who continually calls the former president on the carpet. Kinzinger is one of ten House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol building on January 6.

Per Kinzinger and other truth telling Republicans, he sees what is happening to his party as a death knell. He is particulary amazed how a consistent conservative Republican like Liz Cheney is could be ousted from her #3 Republican position in the House because she had the temerity to call the former president what he is – untruthful and a seditionist.. There was no widespread election fraud and the former president did have a hand in inviting, revving up and siccing rioters on the Capitol endangering members of Congress and the Vice President and his family.

Per the article, which has the subtitle “And Donald Trump is hunting for ‘women’s clothing’ so he can ‘get on the first lifeboat,’ the Illinois lawmaker said,” note the following few paragraphs:

“Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Sunday that the sharply divided Republican Party is in a “slow sink,” like the Titanic, doomed by leaders’ stubborn fascination with reelection loser Donald Trump.

‘Right now it’s basically the Titanic. We’re … in the middle of this slow sink,’ he explained on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS. “We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine. And, meanwhile, Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.

Kinzinger pulled out the Titanic metaphor as he criticized party leaders’ attacks on Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for blasting Trump for his ‘big lie’ that the presidential election was rigged and for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

‘It’s incredible. Liz Cheney is saying exactly what [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection,’ holding Trump accountable for urging the violence, Kinzinger said. ‘A few weeks later, Kevin McCarthy changed to attacking other people.

McCarthy was reportedly rebuffed by the former president on Jan. 6 when he implored Trump to call off the Capitol rioters. McCarthy said later on the House floor that Trump ‘bears responsibility for the attack on Congress by mob rioters.’ Trump ‘should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,’ he added. McCarthy called then for ‘justice’ and for a ‘censure resolution’ against Trump.

Kinzinger said the Republican Party still needs to have ‘an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to Jan. 6.’ It’s been only four months since the ‘insurrection — something that was unthinkable in this country,’ he noted.

Like Cheney, Senator Mitt Romney and others who voted to impeach or convict the former president, they are on the side of the Angels on this issue. Yet, they are being vilified and threatened for it. That is inexcusable. But, so is what the former president and his partners in crime did on January 6.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Compares Trump-Mesmerized Republican Party To The Titanic | HuffPost

A few odds and ends with an eccentric twist

Since I was struggling for a topic, I thought I would throw in the mixing bowl a few odds and ends for your reading digestion. And, for the fun of it, I will mix in some some eccentric flavors for seasoning.

Sidney Powell, the former attorney for the former president, is being sued for defamation by her false claims of wide-spread voter fraud by Dominion Voting Systems. Her attorney’s defense is interesting – he notes that her claims were so outlandish, they should not be taken seriously. But, sir was she not parroting the same schtick the former president was saying about the election? It should be noted her defense will get her disbarred as attorneys are not supposed to bring frivolous law suits to court as she did for her deceitful and demanding client.

When a Senator or Representative says things that are obviously untrue or racist, they should be called out on it. Senator Ron Johnson has said he was not afraid of the Trump fueled insurrection, as the people who stormed the Capitol loved their country, but if it had been people from the Black Lives Matter group he would have been afraid. Mr. Johnson (dropping the Senator title as he does not deserve its use), these folks breached the Capitol building and seven people have died. Then, there is likes of Hitler historian Representative Madison Cawthorn who noted there is no funding for Veterans, when there obviously is.

Doing nothing to improve gun governance is obviously not working. We have two mass shootings in ten days, but we lose sight of what happens every day. We lose sight that the number one gun death, by far, is suicide. There are measures that even gun owners support. These “thoughts and prayers” ointment or “now is not the time” salve or “this change would not have stopped this occurrence” lotion are very tiresome. My strong advice to Senators and Representatives now that the NRA is in a state of disarray after the leadership was forced out for embezzling funds, is to get off your hind end and do something. There is one thing for damn sure – doing nothing “ain’t working.”

As an independent, when incumbents dishonor the position they hold, action must be taken ranging from admonishment, censure, stripping of duties, or removal. It matters not what party they belong to. It matters not how much clout they have. If the entity or party does not do this, it means what they did is acceptable behavior. The Catholic Church, Volkswagen, Toyota, Penn State University, Michigan State University, US Women’s Gymnastics Team, Ohio State University, et al did not heed the lessons needed to police illegal behavior and harmed their reputations as well as people’s lives. People must be held to account for deceitful, corrupt, seditious or assaulting behavior. It is wrong.

That is all I have for now. Let me know your thoughts.

Oh, Ron, bless your heart

A variation of the following was posted on the website of Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. To be frank, the Senator is not top of mind on a list of truthful Senators. Please feel free to adapt and use.

Senator Johnson, thank you for your service. However, as an Independent and former Republican voter, I must confess my disappointment in your recent comments regarding the insurrection on the Capitol caused by the former president. We cannot have a sitting president, through his misinformation, invitation and rabble-rousing to point his more zealous fans toward the Capitol building telling them to stop the wheels of governance by violence. It is one of the worst episodes in our country’s history and we simply need to hold people accountable, including the former president.

Further, as a southern white man, equating these extremists to the multi-racial Black Lives Matter movement is political gamesmanship. Yes, there are a few zealous folks in the BLM movement and violence has no place in any movement. But, to equate the Trump inspired extremists with the largely peaceful BLM movement is racist and inappropriate.   That is what this former Republican believes.

There is no place for violence. Full stop. This is even more true when the instigator is the president of the United States.

Cause and Effect – two short paragraphs from former president’s last defense secretary

Two short paragraphs. Cause and effect. The former president’s defense secretary sees the former president’s role in the insurrection clearly. And, this is without addressing the lies for two months on unsupported wide-scale election fraud.

In the article called “Chris Miller, defense secretary on Jan. 6, sees ’cause and effect’ between Trump’s words and Capitol riot,” by William Cummings, USA TODAY, here are those two paragraphs:

“Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said the crowd of Trump’s supporters would not have descended on the U.S. Capitol if the president had not delivered a speech just before the riot in which he decried the presidential election as ‘stolen.’ Repeating baseless claims of election fraud he first made even before voting began, Trump alleged that a ‘criminal enterprise’ involving Democrats, the news media and complicit Republicans had robbed him of victory, though he offered no evidence to support the existence of such a vast conspiracy. 

‘Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened,’ Miller told “Vice on Showtime” in an interview that aired Thursday.”

The whole article can be read with the link below. The former president was impeached for these actions. Ten Republican Representatives voted to impeach and have been censured and threatened by their state party leaders. Seven Republican Senators voted to convict and have also been censured and threatened. 

The former president acted seditiously causing an insurrection against a branch of government, yet the truth tellers are vilified, not the traitor. What is wrong with that picture?

Chris Miller, defense secretary on Jan. 6, sees ’cause and effect’ between Trump’s words and Capitol riot (msn.com)