Right-wing Extremists Are a Big Problem

Judging by the results, home-grown right-wing terrorists and extremists are a bigger problem in America than Islamic jihadis. They have killed more Americans, if you start the clock after 9-12-2001. And if you go back to 1865, when the KKK and similar groups were founded, the body count of death by lynching, shooting, and beatings is incomparably greater for racists and such than all the twisted followers of Daesh, ISIS, al-Qaeda or their ilk.

This article is a somewhat detailed summary of the three major (and often overlapping) types of home-grown, right-wing, often racist American extremists that have been plotting to overthrow the government and to kill individuals they don’t like. Please read it and share.

Published in: on October 17, 2016 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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What Randi Weingarten of the AFT gets wrong

I’m going to repost in its entirety this article on Schools Matter about the double game that has been played by Randi Weingarten, the current president of the American Federation of Teachers.

(I remember the racist teachers’ strike of 1968 in New York City…)


Weingarten Swaps History for Sophistry

Posted: 13 Aug 2016 06:49 AM PDT

Posted by Mark Naison yesterday.  

Mr. Ahern provides important corrections to Weingarten’s sketchy assessment of AFT’s first hundred years.  I am sorry to see he did not mention AFT’s seminal role in creating TURN in the late 1990s, a traitorous group that could not have been created without financial support from Eli Broad.

Lies My Union President Told Me
Sean Ahern

Letter to the American Educator re AFT President Randy Weingarten’s “Honoring Our Past and Inspiring Our Future” (http://www.aft.org/ae/summer2016/wws)

President Randy Weingarten’s “Honoring Our Past and Inspiring Our Future,” written on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the AFT is an exercise in “perception management.” Weingarten claims that she has “pored over historical documents from our archives” and concluded that the AFT “has been a vehicle to fight for positive change both in public schools and in society.” Further on she states her case even more explicitly:  “For 100 years, the AFT has worked to build power and use it for good.”

As a member of the UFT for the past 17 years, son of a UFT retiree, brother to a former UFT teacher and CSA principal, product of the NYC public school system (1959-1971) and father of three, all of whom graduated from NYC high schools, I proudly count myself as a witness to the last 50 years of UFT/AFT history.  Based on my experience and knowledge I challenge her very one-sided findings for failing to point out major examples of how the AFT has been a hindrance to “positive change both in public schools and in society.”

I do not write to honor Albert Shanker and those who followed the course he took. It is my hope that through a full review of our AFT history, rational and thoughtful working people, acting in their own class interests, will conduct an internal critique, identify the wrong turns, and bravely set a new course for our union. It is my hope that current and future generations will overcome the seemingly willful blindness that is found in Weingarten’s article.

Weingarten’s airbrushed history offers a textbook example of how to frame a narrative by omitting all evidence that contradicts her thesis.  This method is not one of historical inquiry seeking educational enlightenment.  It is the method used by a defense attorney to sway a judge or jury, guilt or innocence aside.

In business and politics this is the method used to win market share, frame political campaigns and control the hearts and minds of the people. 

The sociologist and historian James W. Loewen has critiqued this method when applied to global and US history textbooks in his widely read Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong (1995, 2008).  It is a method that seeks to produce a generation that is misinformed, politically unaware, and lacking in self-knowledge and self-esteem.  It casts pedagogues as society’s thought police.

There is much in in AFT history that should be critically examined.  When the full story is told it should include honest and in-depth criticism of key positions taken since Albert Shanker ousted his former mentor and colleague David Selden and rose to the Presidency of the AFT over two generations ago.

The 1968 UFT strikes against community control, led by then UFT President Albert Shanker weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., became arguably the longest hate strike in US history and was part and parcel of the “white” backlash and neo conservative/neo liberal counter revolution which we still suffer from today.  I was a high school student at the time in one of the community control districts where progressive teachers and students kept the school open during the strike.

With community control ended decentralization still afforded parents the power to elect local school boards.  Efforts by UFT members to interfere with minority parents voting in the 1973 District 1 school board elections on the Lower East Side were successfully overturned in Federal Court and upheld on appeal.

“In their complaint, filed on September 18, 1973, the Coalition for Education in District One, various unsuccessful candidates at the election and members of minority groups (Black, Hispanic and Chinese) challenged the validity of the election under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1970, 42 U.S.C. 1971, 1973 et seq.” http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/495/495.F2d.1090.74-1296.74-1204.1017.1018.html

To be cited in violation of the 14th amendment and the 1965 Voting Rights Act hardly constitutes an “honor” to be conferred upon a supposedly liberal northern city and a largely “socialist” union leadership that prided itself on its support for civil rights in the 50’s and early 60’s.  I attended public school in this district from 1959 – 1971.  Weingarten apparently missed this case while she “pored over” the AFT archives.

The median salary for a NYC public school teacher in 2016, discounted for inflation and the extended day, is less than it was in 1973.  Add to that the explosive costs of education and housing and it is fair to conclude that a teacher with 7 years on the job today is worse off than their counterpart was over 40 years ago.  Top salary is now reached after 22 years on the job as opposed to 8 years in 1973. Even those few nearing retirement are just on par with their counterparts of 43 years ago.  I ask President Weingarten the simple question:  Who has the AFT been building “power” for? Surely the salary schedule is in the AFT archives and should figure in any assessment of the AFT’s “power” or lack thereof.

Jerald Podair in his Strike That Changed New York (2002) suggests a causal linkage between the 1968 strike and the decline in power, of both the UFT and the Black community.  Among his most striking and relevant observations is:

“…the Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis had so damaged the UFT’s standing with black New York that Shanker, even if he had possessed the fire in the belly to attempt a cross-class interracial assault on the champions of fiscal austerity, would have found few friends there.  Black New Yorkers were as angry about the decimated schools as Shanker, but they viewed him, and the union he led, as an enemy…Community control in black neighborhoods was dead, replaced by a decentralization structure that gave the UFT more influence than black parents…the failure of the UFT and black citizens to work together to oppose school service cuts was as predictable as it was tragic.  The union would now cast its lot with the banks.  And the black community, politically marginalized, economically expendable and no longer in control of the language of “community” – would be unable to do anything about it.” (Pp194-195)

In the 1970s Shanker went on to become a leading national opponent of Affirmative Action, submitting a brief on Allan Bakke’s behalf.  The brief, submitted in the name of the AFT, is not mentioned by Weingarten though it is in the Shanker Papers and the AFT Papers that she claims to have “pored over.”

The current wave of “Education reform” was launched with the 1983 publication of A Nation At Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform towards the end of Reagan’s second term.
For over 30 years the leadership of the AFT has been a partner in this latest wave of “education reform” and thereby maintained their “seat at the table” alongside the “reformers.”  This is a matter of public record.   When questions were raised that strongly contradicted the claims made by “A Nation At Risk” (see the Sandia Report, Bracey, Berliner and Bidell, Emery and Ohanian) the AFT and those closely associated with Shanker (including Diane Ravitch, then Assistant Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration) chose to ignore and even suppress a devastating critique that potentially could have deflated the bubble of “reform” a generation ago (See http://projectcensored.org/3-the-sandia-report-on-education-a-perfect-lesson-in-censorship/ ).

Comfortably based on the education reformers  bogus critique of the state of public education and its politically motivated remedies, Shanker, Feldman and Weingarten are all on record in support of the “reforms” themselves: high standards for students and teachers, standardized curriculums, high stakes testing for students and teachers (for how else to measure whether the high standards are being met), charter schools (to counter the states monopoly over education and to give parents “choice”) and mayoral control in large urban systems serving predominantly Black, Latino and Asian students which has been the means through which “reform” was foisted upon school communities.

Most recently, the “reformers” and their corporate cabal attempted to hoist the AFT on its own petard.    It was only the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia that averted a negative ruling in Vergara v California that would have done away with the agency shop. The stay of execution is only temporary, there are more cases to follow.  Is this what Weingarten means by “building power?”  Power for whom?  Power for what?

I challenge president Weingarten to go before any large urban local delegate assembly and defend the AFT’s record over 30 years in support of education “reform.”  Does she have the gall to tell us to our face that school closings, privatization, elimination of sports, the arts, electives, vocational programs, attacks on tenure and seniority, the disappearance of Black and Latino educators, increased segregation, high stakes testing and value added teacher assessments are to be viewed as “collateral damage,” and not the central defining features of a neo conservative/neo liberal, corporate led consensus on the proper role and direction for public education?  She wouldn’t do such a thing, so she redacts the record of AFT collaboration with the “reformers” and then presents herself as a teacher and student advocate.

Teachers and their unions face grave pressures and are in a more defensive posture than they were 50 years ago.  What power?  What positive changes have been brought about?  No doubt Weingarten and her supporters will point to the fact that teachers have a job with benefits and a defined benefit pension plan, a rarity now among US workers.  What is the message here? Do senior teachers shut up and thankfully crawl to the finish line? Do new and mid-career teachers count their lucky stars that they are not suffering the same hardships that the majority of our students, their families and communities face?  Is this then the real meaning of “professionalism;” to divide us from the rest of the working class?   Should the membership cast a blind eye to the AFT’s quisling response to the neo conservative/ neo liberal consensus on education, the U.S. empire and the economy so that at least some of  the so called “professionals,” (most importantly the paid staff and retainers at AFT Inc.) will be spared because the oligarchy has need of an ideological police?

The isolated individual, teacher, parent, student, may opt to save their own skin when no alternative option is in sight, but experience shows that this is a losing proposition for the large majority.  The greatest good for the greatest number comes not from dog eat dog competition, but from collaboration.  Acknowledgement of this historical fact has led working people at important moments to embrace the fundamental credo of solidarity and act accordingly.  Such a moment is upon us.

There is no defending the AFT record of betrayal of this credo and the self-destructive impact it has had on the membership and the communities we serve.  Weingarten simply casts a blind eye over what needs to be understood and corrected. If teachers applied this same method to reflect on our own classroom practice we would never learn a thing.

I urge the American Educator to open its pages to a real discussion of AFT history.  I urge my sister and brother educators to study and reflect upon AFT history.  As William Faulkner wrote, “the past is not over, it’s not even past.”

Sean Ahern

Delegate to the UFT Delegate Assembly. Member of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) caucus.  August 7, 2016

Quotes from MLK – Memes Created by Julian Vasquez Heilig

I am reposting some ‘memes’ (pictures and quotes) of Martin Luther King, Jr that were made by Julian Vasquez Heilig on his blog, Cloaking Inequity.







Taking Down the Flag of Treason, Racism, Slavery and Torture in Charleston

A young black woman climbed up the flagpole in Charleston and took down the Confederate flag, and was of course arrested, along with the young white guy who was helping her. Kudos to the two of them!

Too bad they didn’t think to bring along some lighter fluid and a match as well – the flag of treason, racism, slavery and torture was treated much too gently, in my opinion.

confederate flag takedown

Here’s the link to the YouTube video.

Published in: on June 27, 2015 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lynching – Lest We Forget

Let us remember the number of savage and barbaric lynchings performed in the American South from 1880 up to the year I was born (1950): almost four thousand.

Let us also recall that every single one of these atrocities was undoubtedly committed by people who described themselves as god-fearing, upright Christians who were opposing the very second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, namely “that all men are created equal”.  They were designed to terrorize the Black population of the South into submission, into not asking for equal rights, and to help reverse the results of the Civil War.

Here is the graphic from today’s New York Times showing where and when these lynchings occurred.


Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm  Comments (3)  
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Audio Recordings from Ras Baraka’s Fund-Raiser in DC this weekend

I was able to record parts of the remarks of Ras Baraka (a progressive candidate for mayor of Newark, New Jersey)’s remarks at Busboys & Poets this past weekend, and I was going to attempt to share them with you here, but ran into some sort of snag, so I’ll have to give you the links on Google Drive instead.

My recordings are in four unequal parts, and are in iPhone’s ‘voice memo’ format.

The first one is quite short, less than a minute.

The second one is rather long, and is quite a rouser. Among other things, he points out that a victory against racism and oppression in one location encourages others to fight back harder and win.

In the third one, I asked him what his experiences were like as a teacher, building rep, and then principal.

In the fourth one, ‘Teacher Ken” asked him how he managed to bring medical and dental services to the schools under his care.

Let’s see how this works, and please let me know (via ‘comments’) what your experiences are.

nora ras baraka 004

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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About Guns, Murder, Race, Politics, and Money in the US

I strongly urge reading this blog: http://raniakhalek.com/

in particular, these posts:





The titles give pretty good hints as to what the columns are about.

Published in: on December 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What exactly is/was racism, anyway?

I don’t think many people actually remember what racism used to be like here in the US (and elsewhere).

They don’t recall the open denigration of others as “inferior”. Hmm – even the word ‘denigration’ is itself prejudicial: it’s the assumption that this other group is untrustworthy, immoral, lazy, dishonest, stupid, and basically sub-human, by calling them black.

Today as I was taking my Sunday afternoon nap, I began remembering actual, personal experiences and personal interactions that I lived through in the 1950s and 1960s – as a white kid in DC and the MD  countryside. These memories put clearly into relief  just how bad it really was, right here in DC and in other parts of the US, and I was able to relate this to the many unhappy events in central Europe in the middle of the 20th century, if you get my drift.

Many of my white playmates from then-rural Clarksburg, Md openly used the n-word, in addition to “darkies”, “coons”, and, more neutrally, “colored”. Using the word “Negro” implied some recognition of their basic humanity and possible equality. However, if you insisted that you wouldn’t really mind if your sister married a black man (“black” was very rarely used back then), and if you made the apparently outrageous claim that there were some African-Americans who were nice and honest and hardworking and so on, then you had to then defend yourself against the charge of being a “nigger-lover”. From kids who were your classmates and whom you played with or against or ignored every day on the playground at school or in each other’s fields and woods.


And these kids also said it’s really too bad that the Confederacy lost, and that the best solution was simply to kill or re-enslave all the n—-s, or else send them back to Africa.

[No, I didn’t march on Washington with Dr. King in 1963. I was only 13, and I spent the afternoon playing some board game at a friend’s house, where we watched it on TV — or at least so I remember. I know my dad went, and I think my oldest brother went, but I could be conflating this march and another one. I don’t recall whether my mom went, but my other brother (15 at the time) and my sister (7 at the time) didn’t go either – she pointed out that there was a lot of anxiety that the march would be violent — though it turned out to be utterly peaceful. Later on, I did march and protest and wrote leaflets or something against South African apartheid, and went to debate the racist engineer William Shockley and ended up mock-applauding him — every time he started to open his mouth. It was a brilliant maneuver by members of the black student union who had come up with this way of shutting him up. You could look it up: I’m attacked by name in a crappy book called “Hollow Men”…]

The words are clearly offensive.

But it’s much more than the words: it’s the attitude that this other group of people is utterly subhuman. Any facts that contradicted this attitude were instantly dismissed; if you advocated otherwise, you were at times subjecting yourself to violence. It’s also the idea that EQUALITY ITSELF with those people is intolerable – it was an affront that needed to be met with pitiless, immediate brutality.

The connection to central Europe may not be obvious at first, but I assure you that it’s there. I recently read or re-read William L. Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich after it was re-isssued on its 50th publication anniversary. Disgusted by the hideous ideas and criminal practices of Hitler and the Nazis, I decided to read some of Mein Kampf, which Shirer had repeatedly quoted from in his analysis of that criminal regime’s meteoric rise and satanic demise.

You see, Hitler was born not in Germany proper (neither republican or imperial), but in Austria, directly south-east of Germany itself. It helps to have studied European history, and I did: I helped my dad do historical research (he was a history prof at American U who specialized in European/American/agricultural history particularly in the 1700s and 1800s) and did translations from French into English and lived and went to school in France and had family friends who had just made it out of Nazi-controlled sections of Europe just in time, while the rest of their families perished…

So the Austro-Hungarian empire was sort of the continuation of one section of the Hapsburg empires that used to control huge sections of the lowlands (eg BeNeLux), Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Philippines, northern Italy, parts of today’s Germany, a good fraction of the Balkan peninsula, and spent hundreds of years fighting against or on the same side of the Turks, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Hungarians, Bulgars, Russians, and everybody else. In addition to all of those nationalities, the Austro-Hungarian empire also contained Poles, Jews, Gypsies, Byelorussians, Tatars, and a whole bunch of other peoples that you and I probably couldn’t tell apart if they were all dressed alike and had the same haircuts and so on.

Obviously, they all speak different languages and with different accents, and have long histories involving many wars.

Hitler’s book makes it clear that he was obsessed with proving that all of the other peoples of Vienna — all the Czechs, Slovaks, Jews, Magyars, Gypsies, Italians, and so on were utterly inferior, untrustworthy, immoral, and lazy people that needed to be forced to submit to the German race. And that anybody — like the Socialists or Communists — who advocated and practiced multi-racial unity of the working-class against the capitalists and aristocracy, deserved to be killed as soon as he and his gang had enough followers to do so.

It’s also clear from Shirer’s analysis of the history of the 3rd Reich that Hitler’s gang of Nazis was bankrollled, armed, outfitted, staffed, and given weapons and training by the German Army itself and its general staff, which operated in very close ranks with the aristocracy and the heads of the largest corporations. Hitler’s particular genius consisted of two things which many other psychopaths also excel at:

(1) He was an excellent speaker, very good at reading his audience and bringing them around to his point of view by telling them the lies they wanted to hear. (Kind of like Mitt Romney)

(2) He was a ruthless and utterly immoral maneuverer, able to form alliances and then to double-cross his former allies and humiliate them in a highly successful manner.

But his ultimate goal was to enslave all of the rest of the world, starting with Eastern Europeans (Slavs and Jews first of all), with Hitler as its murderous Fuehrer (leader, chief…).

The really sad thing is that so many Germans fell for it. Real resistance among Germans was very tiny, except for those who went into exile, like the Communists in the International Brigades in Spain or the Jews who got out just in time.  But those two groups were, obviously, no longer in Germany fighting back. Kibbutzniks I knew in Israel in the early 1970s described to me how disillusioned they were when, during the 1930’s still living in Germany, they saw that a given apartment building housing workers (and no managers) in, say, Berlin, one day stopped flying the Red Flag out of all of the windows on occasions that called for that sort of thing, and the next day, flew the Nazi Swastika instead.

Over the past 40 years, I’ve often wondered how that change occurred. Was it the result of plain, out-and-out intimidation, i.e., “fly this Nazi flag or you die”?

Or was it persuasion?

I don’t know.

However, two other books on Germany called “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”  and “Hitler’s Beneficiaries” indicated that the line that Germans had no choice and would be killed if they objected to genocide and so on, is just a line. Or, should I say, a lie. A German soldier could always refuse to kill Jewish,  Polish and Russian civilians. Few refused, and many volunteered. And until the very end of the war, Hitler managed to insulate most Germans from the consequences of World War 2, giving them new apartments and furniture if they got bombed out — apartments and furnishings looted from all those who were not ethnically German, starting, of course, with Jews. Even the exchange rates were diabolically manipulated so that German soldiers could go to conquered France and buy up everything for a song (including good food, girls, fine fashions, wine, and so on) while the non-Germans often were starved to death. (The French were treated much better than the Eastern Europeans.)

Here in the US, let us remember that non-landowning whites in the South also felt that they personally benefited from slavery. There were certain jobs that they would not have to work at, or at least not in the same degrading conditions and lack of remuneration. And, they could make a fairly decent (if somewhat precarious) living as a slave-driver, a foreman, a chain-gang sheriff, or a slave-catcher; none of which are nearly as unpleasant and as deadly as being a slave or a forced laborer under Jim Crow.

This attitude of contempt by whites, against blacks, often simply served to divide the working class in America. Blacks were often brought in by the capitalists to break totally JUSTIFIED strikes by white workers who previously refused to allow blacks to work alongside them. In a memorable textile strike in Gastonia, NC, the white workers who were on strike utterly refused to sit alongside black workers who were on strike along with them against textile manufacturers who were exploiting them. In a few other cases, working-class organizations such as the IWW and the CIO were successful in getting white and black and other colors to unite, correctly, against a common enemy and earn a better livelihood, safer conditions, and better pay by uniting.

But a lot of strikes were broken via racism.

Let us remember how vicious these racists really were.

And let’s not pretend that hypocrites like Strom Thurmond, Newt Gingrich, and even Thomas Jefferson were really about equality and freedom for all.

Published in: on October 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Police, Discipline, and Zero Tolerance in Urban Classrooms

Have you ever thought about whether police in school hallways is a good idea or not?

I strongly recommend this review by James Boutin , a former DCPS teacher, about a book on just this topic. I won’t pretend that I handled interactions regarding student discipline well in every case. But things are getting even worse these days in the poorer schools with browner student populations. Teachers find that they lose their authority to police officers and security guards, and that incidents that used to be handled inside the school system now become judicial matters; as a result, many kids end up with a criminal record for defying authority in the only way that they know how to do it. For example: wearing hats inside the building.

A quote from James’ review:

Consider a brief example (Police in the Hallways provides many more). Nolan notes that students identify their apparel as fundamental to their self-expression of identity. (One student compares the DOE requirement that no hats be worn in school to requiring adults to walk around with no shoes.) Those who disobey this policy (one that Nolan feels has little reasoning to justify it) by wearing hats are simultaneously engaging in an act of self-expression AND opposition to institutional rules they view as illegitimate. Furthermore, by refusing to remove one’s hat for a teacher or security agent, students potentially gain favor with peers for proving that they’re not “a punk” AND continuing to resist illegitimate authority. Thus students can carve out a modicum of control in an institution that constantly attempts to deprive them of it.

Highly punitive zero tolerance policies and students’ reactions to them have had the effect of repositioning some schools as institutions of control rather than learning, and the impact is disproportionately harmful for poor and minority school children. Nolan writes, “It is a moral outrage that we would take such punitive stand in matters of urban school discipline when so little is offered to urban schools.” Rather than relying on increasingly harsh consequences as our only recourse for students in schools who don’t conform to our expectations, Nolan calls for a reevaluation both of the policies we impose on low-income schools and also of our responses when students and communities resist them. Importantly, such a reevaluation must be done in light of a nuanced and holistic understanding of the challenges people living in urban poverty in the United States in the early 21st century are facing – e.g. lack of available legal employment, the influence of drugs and gangs, and the highly transient nature of families who live there.

It reminds me of two other books that I am also reading: Slavery By Another Name, and The New Jim Crow. More on those later, but I strongly recommend both of those books, too.

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Was JFK such a wonderful president?

I used to idolize Jack Kennedy. I recall spending all night standing in long, long lines that wound their somber ways around half of Capitol Hill, waiting to pass by his coffin and pay my respects, after his assassination. I was 13 and in junior high school; dawn’s early light was beginning to show when we left after viewing the funeral bier.

A bit later, I remember reading some mild criticism of the Kennedy family during the 1960s and being appalled.

Still later, as I moved to the left during the Vietnam War, I realized that JFK had played a major role in continuing to escalate that unjustified, colonial, and, yes, imperialist war. Reading Sy Hersch’s “The Dark Side of Camelot” indicated that — if Hersch was right (and there were those who cast doubt on some of his claims) —  JFK was a serious sex addict.

A more recent article in the Atlantic indicates that Hersch was essentially right. JFK was not only an exploitive sleazeball as far as women were concerned, he was an incredibly reckless sleazeball. I mean, trying to invade Cuba for the crime of throwing out the Mob-corrupted Batista regime and adhering to socialism and communism? Threatening to blow up the whole world over that? Having the same mistress as one of the heads of the Mafia? Just think of the opportunities for blackmail if someone had wanted to do so. And supposedly only homosexuals were liable to get into compromising situations like that. (Of course, just about all of our presidents have had mistresses and so on, while proclaiming their love for monogamy; but for quantity, JFK seems to have beat them all.)

You can read the Atlantic  article about Jackie Bovier Kennedy Onassis, and its ramifications to JFK,  here. 

I’m also reading the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. She points out that there was no real reason for the ‘War on Drugs’ other than providing an excuse for harrassing, arresting, stigmatizing, and excluding black males. There was no epidemic of drugs when it was begun under Reagan, or under Bush 1. Funny that the crack epidemic had origins similar to the heroin epidemic of the 1960s: deliberate and successful attempts at squashing a movement and attacking African-Americans. I recommend reading also The Politics of Heroin. Alexander points out that Clinton vastly expanded the imprisonment of blacks during the War on Drugs.

Thing is, most of the arrests and convictions and withdrawal of all civil rights are for marijuana — a drug which has never by itself caused a single fatality. Unlike alcohol, tobacco or any of the painkillers we take when we suffer serious injuries or are undergoing surgery. People who get addicted to those painkillers and things like methamphetamine need medical and psychological help, not incarceration and removal of all of their civil rights. They can’t live in rent-assisted or public housing; can’t collect welfare, can’t vote, can’t take out student loans or apply for post-secondary grants, and, most likely, can’t get a job unless they lie on their application — and when they are found out, are likely to be jailed again. I mean, where are they supposed to live?

And it’s all so racist. None of those horrible things happen to white folks who do lines of cocaine or smoke a little weed – or lots of it. Did Rush Limbaugh get put away for five consecutive 30-year sentences, as would have occurred had a black man been caught doing what he did with all that oxycodone? Of course not. Do they use helicopters and SWAT teams to shine lights into the windows, and break down the doors of country clubs, where kids who just won a soccer or lacrosse game light up or snort their joy in victory? Of course not.

Actually, I say, legalize all the recreational drugs, and provide real medical help and psychological assistance if they get addicted to the ‘hard’ stuff like meth, coke, oxycodone, opium, or heroin. Give them other drugs that will weaken their addictive urges so they can wean themselves. Stop destroying people’s lives here in the US, south of the border in Mexico, and so on. Stop treating every Black male as a criminal. Eliminate the whole “stop and frisk” business. Bring back our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Alexander points out that as a nation, instead of spending money to help the poor in general, and African-American poor in particular, we spend vast sums of money locking them up. What’s more, police departments not only get lots of military-grade weaponry for free, they are bribed by the Federal government to go along with these police-state tactics, and they get to keep about 80% of the money and valuables that they seize.

Some democracy. It really is as bad as Jim Crow — and if you don’t know how bad that was, then read Slavery by Another Name.

We have had the worst presidents that money can buy — Republican, Democratic, doesn’t really matter.

Published in: on July 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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