Posts from ‘Recent Events’


I suppose I should say something about all the Trump indictments. I just want to paraphrase the song “Uptown funk,” “Folks hit your hallelujah.” I haven’t written about Trump and the MAGA folks in a while because I have given up talking to them and talking about them. By now I have realized that they are happy in their fantasy world where Trump won the 2020 election, their own government is against them, anyone outside their community is a threat and the only “true” religion is their own. As James Baldwin wrote “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” The MAGA worldview is so tightly woven that any attack on one aspect is an attack on the whole. They see any fact, statement, media story, indictment, prosecution, or judicial ruling which challenges their fantasy is either a fabrication, a boldfaced lie, a conspiracy by their enemies, and proof that they are right. Their belief in Trump is so strong that nothing seems to shake it or pierce it, let alone break it. Like someone with Alzheimer’s we should let them live in their fantasy world while trying to limit the damage they do. I will not waste any more energy or my limited time on earth speaking to them.

I do want to point out a few things. First Trump himself rarely denies that the things done to “repair” the election in his favor, did not happen. His arguments are 1) He did not know they were happening, 2) He was only exercising his free speech when he said any of those things and they have been taken out of context, 3) he was within his right as president to do them and 4) His political enemies are persecuting him and making things up. Which excuse he uses depends on the specific charge, the day of the week, and the group to whom he is speaking. However, the evidence comes from those in his inner circle who are like rats deserting the sinking ship.

I also want to point out that the prosecutions of his crimes matter. Once the people who took part in the January 6 insurrection have been and are being prosecuted, sent to jail, fired from their jobs and branded; terrorists.; you should note there have been fewer and smaller demonstrations. People know that there may be a cost for doing so and are less likely to risk it. I expect there would be a similar “chilling” effect on others if Trump’s attempts to overturn the will of the electorate, produce convictions. If they do not, we can expect more attempts in the future and better attempts to hide it.

If Trump is allowed to run and wins, American “democracy” will not survive. The things he accuses the government of doing to persecute him are exactly the things Trump and his minions would do if they again gain power. The weaponizing of the judiciary will continue as we have seen with the Supreme Court. The civil service will be politicized with loyalty to the regime the key factor in hiring and promotion. There will be attempts to have the military become an arm of enforcement of the regime. The enforcement of the cultural and religious norms of the few is the horse they rode in on and will doubtless accelerate. Education will become learning the rules they want you to, the sanitized past they want you to believe in, and the absence of critical thought that challenges the regime. Am I just being overly alarmist? How do I know all this will happen? You can just look at authoritarian regimes throughout history and all around the globe.

Finally recognize that whatever the Trump supporters criticize the government for doing, will be what a Trump government would do except on steroids. It is a standing tactic of the Trump entourage to accuse the “enemy” of doing exactly what they themselves are doing. They believe that this is a way a government operates and they have to be better at it. It fits within the paranoid fantasy in which they live. The crimes they accuse Biden’s son of doing are peanuts compared to what Trump’s son in law was doing. Remember those things I said challenged the MAGA worldview (facts, media stories etc.) well those are the things the Trump folks have been trying to create their own version to bolster their fantasy reality.

The Democrats are not blameless. They have let their support of elites allow the Republicans to start stripping away their blue-collar constituencies with social and cultural issues. Biden recognizes this and has tried to win back that constituency with “Bidenomics.” Whether he can win back enough is yet to be seen. What is clear is that the Republicans have done nothing to improve the financial conditions of the middle and blue-collar classes. Instead, they have tried to hide their economic allegiance to the upper classes behind other issues. So far this has been enough to keep them viable as a political party. We shall see if such issues as abortion, immigration, anti-woke, and LGBT opposition have gone a step too far. We will also see whether Trump’s indictments will strip away any of his support or encourage more of his opposition to come out and vote. My money is on the latter.


The Rittenhouse case went exactly as I would have predicted. If I were a betting man, I would bet on white supremacy every time the judicial or legislative institutions of white America come into play. This comes not from some Cassandra-like prediction ability, but a lifelong study of American racial history. Why then did I feel it in the pit of my stomach? First, I guess because it confirmed that America is what I thought it to be. Any person of color who is looking to American judicial institutions for justice will find “just us” bearing the burden of a racially skewed system. However, it is more than that. I felt the same feeling when I realized that the murder of little children in Sandy Hook not only did not bring about tougher gun laws, but it also unleashed right wing conspiracy theorists who said that it never happened or was part of some left-wing plot. I felt the same way when the congresspeople whose very lives were endangered in the January 6 insurrection spurred on by Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the people, refuse to condemn the insurrection and Trump himself. I feel the same way when Ted Cruz whose father and wife were attacked by Trump in 2016, still kisses his ass every chance he gets. When an underage vigilante crosses state lines and kills two white demonstrators and is not convicted, what chance do the rest of us have?

People of color always use a thought experiment to point out that racism is involved in any incident. We ask, “would the outcome have been different if the race of the participants were different?” I have seen some black commentary that if Rittenhouse had been black, it would have gone down quite differently. If the police would not have shot him, the judicial system would have convicted him in a New York minute. Not only would he not have had the $2,000,000 right wing slush fund to pay for the best attorneys, but he would also have faced a nearly all white jury. The argument that he feared for his life would not have worked. To continue our thought experiment, if Rittenhouse’s victims had been black the self-defense argument would have worked even better. It worked for Rittenhouse because the jury members themselves felt the same fear themselves. It has worked for cops for years and worked for Trayvon Martin’s murderer. We shall see what we shall see in the Arberry case, but I would not be surprised if those white men get acquitted too.

I am also mad at myself for holding on to the slightest hope that it could have been different, that things were changing, that finally we would see some justice. I feel like Charlie Brown continuing to hope that Lucy will allow him to kick the football rather than pulling it away. All his experience should tell him it will be the same as always, but he holds on to this vague hope that it will not. I go back and forth whether holding on to hope is a good or bad thing. Should I be a confirmed cynic or the slightest bit of an optimist. How can one go on without hope?

Finally, I think of my 5-year-old granddaughter. Right now, she is sheltered in a cocoon of love. We are building her confidence in her ability to act in the world. One day however, she is going to confront this ugliness in the world. When do we start preparing her for this? What can we do to prepare her to see the beauty in the world while at the same time standing firm against the ugliness? I may not be around when she does. I realize this is something that every parent of color must think about but that white parents probably do not. It is like preparing a male child how to act around the police, so he won’t come home beaten, jailed, or killed. Knowing what we know about the world, I shudder to think about the world she will inherit.


I currently live in the state of Texas where the Republican governor and the majority republican legislature have come down firmly that no government entity, including public schools, should issue a mandate that masks have to be worn in the current pandemic. They argue that people have the right to remain unvaccinated. They legally enjoin any government entity from even telling folks about those refusing to be vaccinated. They discourage private entities like hospitals requiring their personnel to be vaccinated. The basic argument is that the right of individual freedom supersedes the responsibility that any one has to their community and that no one should be forced to do otherwise. This of course flies in the face of the fact that governments do just the opposite all the time. Think of speed limits or taxes for example. However, this concern about individual rights has become part of the bedrock of Republicanism. It is the public rationale for opposing government spending, universal healthcare, business regulation, prevention of climate change and on and on. Under the surface it is about the winners of the capitalist game feeling that they shouldn’t have do things for anyone else. If they want to, they can engage in individual acts of philanthropy or even just kindness towards a few individuals. They just should not feel they have to be concerned with society as a whole.

Even if you believe in such individual freedom what happens when individual choices are a) Based on disinformation, b) Harm the community or c) Create chaos. To take these one at a time let’s start with disinformation. There has been a lot of disinformation about the Covid vaccines for example. People have heard that the disease isn’t so bad after all it has a relatively low fatality rate; that the vaccine itself has harmful side effects like infertility or ineffectiveness; and that the injections are part of a government conspiracy to place “trackers” in the population. Aside from its low fatalities the disease can easily become worse than the “flu” to which it has been compared, have long range respiratory, neurological and even physical effects. The vast lack of ill effects in the millions of people who have been vaccinated is evidence of the lack of extensive, severe side effects. Why people who carry a cell phone think the government needs to inject something into them to track them, speaks to the lack of understanding of how things are traced. If they think they are not being traced now, just have them click on an ad in Facebook. Granted the U.S. government has a long history of experimentation on unwilling subjects (I’m looking at you Tuskegee syphilis study), but the truth is these studies have been focused on the poor, indigent and people of color populations. The vaccine program hits the entire population including those movers and shakers who you know are taking care of themselves first. Those who believe it is part of some vast government conspiracy haven’t attended a committee meeting and seen how inept large groups of people are at getting anything done. Should people’s individual choice when they are based on such disinformation supersede the effect it has on the community at large?

This brings me to the second point. This respect for the individual choices will prolong the pandemic, endanger the immuno-compromised and the unvaccinated children, and slow economic recovery. It will thus have several harmful effects on the community beyond putting the unvaccinated at personal risk. What does it say about the social contract? The “social contract” is a term to describe what philosophers like Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke argue that “government” should do. In a nutshell they say that government is a subsuming of individual will for the benefit of society as a whole. It is the turning of the Republican view on its head; it says that the responsibility one has to the community should supersede the right of individual freedom and that rulers or governments are established to enact this social contract. Although what constitutes the social contract in a particular circumstance has changed since the 1700’s, the principle remains the same.

The result of ignoring the social contract can be chaos. I was reminded of this as I escorted my granddaughter to her first day of school this morning. We are lucky enough to live withing a ten-minute walk to school; we do not have to drive. However, many more people do have to drive. The parking lot at the school is clearly inadequate for the volume of vehicles when so many drive as on the first day. People were parked willy-nillly wherever they could find a place. They did not care that they were parked illegally, blocking paths that school buses would take, and preventing emergency vehicles for entering (God forbid that they needed to.) They were fulfilling their needs and the needs of others be damned. There was a police officer around, but she was so concentrated on making sure it was safe for children to cross the busy road on which the school is located, that enforcing parking regulations never entered her mind. I agree with her priorities here. The result was of course chaos. I could not help comparing this to the governor’s and state government’s stance on Covid 19 vaccinations. Both scientists and our experience so far tell us that the state government’s position on Covid, the support which Fox “News” and conservative politicians have given the anti-vaxxers, and the disinformation that has been spread about the vaccine, have created a “chaos” about this pandemic which is going to lead to more deaths, more infections, more strain on the medical system, and hopefully lessening support for those very politicians. As Levar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow “you don’t have to take my word for it” just wait and see.




Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around since about the 1980’s but all of a sudden you are hearing about Critical Race Theory on the news. What is it and what is it not? Why are you suddenly hearing about it? What will be the result of banning it? It started as a movement among legal scholars to explain why the liberal tactics of affirmative action, elections, and federal action which were the blueprint for Civil Rights Movement, haven’t produced the longed-for end of racism in our country. It seeks to understand how the social structure and the professed ideals of “equal protection,” and the “rule of law,” have helped maintain white supremacy and the subordination of people of color. It elucidates these connections in order to change them. It has been largely an academic movement discussed intellectually though some of its ideas have seeped into the mainstream especially as police violence against people of color has become a more prominent issue. Republican politicians and legislators are now starting to make it the figurehead whipping boy of an all-out assault on teaching about racism in public education from primary schools to university. Why? It doesn’t take much to convince people of color of the white supremacy in the politics, laws, and economic policies of this country. Preventing racism from being questioned or taught will not convince them of the absence of racism when their daily lived experience tells them otherwise. It is obviously addressed to white people and possibly their fringe hangers-on of color. We are seeing this movement to halt discussion of racism because of recent Republican losses in the presidency and the Senate. Republicans are appealing to whites who are threatened by the loss of their supremacy by painting themselves as the defenders against attacks against them and the growing threat of people of color or the politicians who support them. They are trying to regain the presidency and the Congress in the next elections.

Whether these politicians are honestly ignorant and do not believe there is structural racism or whether they are cynically doing it to gain voters, is largely irrelevant to me. I am sure there are both. I am more concerned about the effects their actions will have in the real world. Structural racism will continue whether they acknowledge it or not. In a world in which people of color are becoming a majority in this country (it is already true for the population entering grade school) attempts to plead that structural racism does not exist will become a harder and harder sell. This of course makes little difference to politicians who only look to the next election and not to the long run. If they did, they would come out against structural racism to put themselves on the side of the angels and the most voters. Indeed, we may be at a tipping point when their support of white supremacy has created such a backlash against them particularly among voters of color, but among some whites as well, that they will increasingly find it more and more difficult to win elections. That is why the suppression of voting rights is also important to them. They cannot even now win fair and open elections so they have to resort to limiting the franchise to “the right (read white) people.” Regardless of success or failure of federal efforts to protect voting rights, their voter suppression efforts, although they may appear to work for the next election cycle, will eventually fail to secure their victory among a declining white electorate. In fact, their voter suppression measures like restricting mail in voting and days, places, and times for voting may affect their own supporters who are aging. Control of state legislatures and governorships which has been sustained by outsized power of voters in rural areas, will be overwhelmed by the votes in urban areas and increasingly diverse suburban areas. This is even happening in Texas where I live which has been a solidly red state. Whether this happens by 2022, 2024 or later I cannot predict. I can say that eventually it will happen.

The problem with the ostrich proverbially sticking his head in the ground to ignore the danger approaching, will eventually plague the Republicans. While they may soothe themselves with palliative measures like banning public school discussion of racism, reality is coming for them and they may not be ready for it.


What makes this pandemic different from the ones we have had before? Why the widespread panic in this one?

What happens when a person who believes that the Corona virus is a liberal (or Chinese or Democratic or media) plot gets sick? Don’t they take the medical precautions anyway e.g. quarantine? Ideology and fantasy meet reality.

Is Wall Street realizing that having an incompetent idiot in power, even if he is your idiot, is not good for them?

Toilet paper will not save you.

As much as nationalists want to withdraw from the world, we cannot.

If you fire, ignore, deny, and denigrate the scientists they will not be there when you need them.

Expertise is not an elitist plot.

To protect one’s self, everybody needs medical coverage or you can’t go out in public. The people who wait on the 1% need to be healthy or the 1% are also at risk even on their private islands.

As conservatives dismantle the state, shouldn’t health care be up there with the military as necessary state functions that should be preserved?

There are parts of reality one cannot ignore, wish away, lie about, and blame on ideological or political opponents, or they will come back to bite you on the ass.

We all should have paid more attention to biology in high school.

When people are frightened they do and believe stupid things.

Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

When the president cares more about the stock market than protecting lives, this is what you get, a stock market crash, because the economy is really about the 99% not the 1%.

Few will learn these lessons.



Watching Donald Trump play the “race card” is fascinating. On the one hand he is appealing to his white supremacist base by using “dog whistle” racist comments, that is, by appealing to race while not using the word race itself. Racism is as racism does. It is only non-whites that he has railed against. You haven’t heard him tell any white congress people to go home to where they came from. He hasn’t told white congress people who represent majority white poor districts that their districts are unfit for human habitation. You haven’t heard him say or tweet that white immigrants are rapists. You haven’t heard him call places from which white immigrants come “shithole” countries.

Like all of his ilk he has little experience of African Americans and their lives. He presumes that African Americans all live in poverty with the exception of the entertainment and sports stars that he has met. He believes that most of them live in “shithole” countries or rat infested inner cities perhaps in buildings owned by his son-in-law. People of color are less than human and the conditions in which they live are the fault of their own laziness, culture, and politicians. In fact people of color don’t just “live” they “infest” as he has said many times, in many contexts.  This association of otherness with metaphors of disease has been used throughout many countries, at many times to justify the second class citizenship imposed on people of color. The blaming of non-white poverty on non-white behavior is a cornerstone of white superiority. His dog whistle racism is about solidifying his support among his base so you don’t hear similar things about the white poor who are the majority of the poor in this country.

At the same time by not mentioning race specifically he has been able to claim that his opponents are the ones who introduce race into the conversation of his racism. This is “blame the victim” at its finest and George Orwell’s “doublespeak” come to life. The authoritarian government in Orwell’s book 1984 says”War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,” and now pointing out racism has become racism itself in the world of Trump. He goes further and claims that African American “leaders” like Elijah Cummings, Al Sharpton and even John Lewis, have not been able to improve conditions for black folk. He of course doesn’t mention the white institutions and politicians that keep them in poverty. He alludes to “corrupt” politicians (presumably but not exclusively black) who perpetuate their poverty. He doesn’t mention that he has done diddley-squat to help black folks specifically and doesn’t intend to do so. He takes credit for falling unemployment rates among African Americans when they actually began coming down under Obama. It is too soon to see the effects of his economic policies as they haven’t worked their way through the system yet, but they won’t create jobs and may in fact lead to recession. With his typical hyperbole he claims to have done more for African Americans than any other president. I guess he forgot about Lincoln freeing the slaves.

He is using race to get white support by not mentioning it and to get get nonwhite support by mentioning it. As the alien immigrant Mr. Spock would say, “fascinating.” His racism is that savage beast inside him yelling to the crowd and giving them license to release their own. According to recent polls most Americans realize that he is racist, though his supporters and enablers publicly deny it. The real question is not whether he is racist or not, he is, but what do we do about it.



I wondered why women continue to support Trump given his record of adultery, womanizing, misogynistic tweets, body shaming, and overall lechery. So I went online to look at statements from female supporters. I think I need a shower now. What I found was that women support him mostly for the same reasons men support him. They like the conservative policies he espouses, they don’t believe his critics in the mainstream media which they feel is biased against him, and they are willing to accept his character flaws because as one woman put it “he’s not dating my daughter.” They praise his bluntness, what they see as his candor, and the fact that he speaks directly to them. They believe he speaks the “truth” unlike the politicians who came before him. They excuse his “toxic masculinity” because they reason that all men, including their husbands, sometimes speak and think this way.

What to make of all this? First of all, anyone who believes that Trump speaks the “truth” is beyond arguing with. They are immune to facts, logic, different experiences, and anything that contradicts him. The Democrats think there is a spectrum of Trump supporters that range from the “true believers” to those who can be swayed and won over to centrist Democratic candidates. I do not think so. Secondly, his supporters agree with his racism even though some try to protest against the way he expresses it. I do not shy away from calling his followers racists although some argue that they are not all this way. Yes they are. Some deny it, some resent it, and some admit it when they are confronted with this label. Those who do not call him out on his racism, accept or condone it, or even deny it, are themselves racists especially when they do not admit it. Time and time again we see whites who feel that racism is a state of mind and if they do not have that state of mind then they are not racist. Racism is not just a state of mind, it is a series of actions. If you perform those actions, if you behave that way, you are racist whatever state of mind you are in. If you support Trump’s racism by inaction, silence, or looking the other way, then you are racist. How’s that for bluntness?

Some analysts believe that it is counter productive to call out their racism because it means they will stop listening to you. I would argue that they are not listening to you anyway. They see politics as a “holy war,” a moral crusade, with those who disagree with you as “the enemy” who must be defeated not compromised with. Normally I would try to reason with them, but that is impossible. The American political system is based upon the idea of a loyal opposition who will compromise with those in power to get things done, who believe in the same enemies, and will work for the country’s good. This is not the situation that we face. The “good” each side believes in is not the same. Trump’s lily white 1950 country with whites in charge is at odds with a reality in which people of color already outnumber whites in the under 15 age groups and will eventually do so in all age groups. The “good” the other side sees is a diverse America, where people of all races have opportunity, and live together in harmony. They differ in what will make America great and whether it was ever so. Working together for the country’s good has been replaced by win at all cost.  This is a battle, a holy war if you will, for who we want to be as a country. The Trump supporters realize it, the Democrats need to understand that too.

One of the things that was so striking in these interviews was the the normalization of “toxic masculinity.”  Trump’s female supporters give him a pass on his outrageous behavior because they feel he is like most men only more candid about it. Accusations against him and Brett Kavanagh for example are brushed aside and women are criticized either for coming forward too late or for coming forward at all. What saddens me is that this is accepted as just what women have to put up with now and in the past. The “Me too” movement is just women being overly sensitive and protesting too much. The resignation to this behavior in their husbands and towards their daughters is tragic.

Finally they feel that Trump’s policy have not only not hurt them, but have improved their lives and the country. This is white privilege at its finest. From the safety of their homes they criticize people who are running for their lives. They are not people of color who can be told to go back to their “shithole” home countries, they are not refugees who can be put in concentration camps, they are not illegal immigrants separated from their children, they are not the religious or ethnic minorities who they feel have gotten too much in the past, and they are not people who have to endure ethnic slurs, police intimidation, a biased court system, or high rates of incarceration. Trump supporters’ lack of empathy for non-whites is astounding. Instead they blame the victim, denigrate them as at best a different species, not human at all.  This behavior calls for us to do some soul searching. Who do we want to be as people? Who do we want to teach our children to be?


As Washington D.C. prepares for Trump’s obscene 4th of July celebration with a military parade, tanks, and fireworks; attended by those fat cats who can afford tickets and make political donations; and witnessed by the millions in the Trump cult, I cannot help but think of the words and outrage in Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech “What to the slave is your fourth of July.” Douglass was of course talking about slavery, but his words can be applied to other forms of bondage. There are those in bondage to poverty, those in the bondage of health needs who cannot afford medicine, treatment or private insurance, those in the bondage of being able only to get by rather than get ahead, and the detained immigrants, especially children, who are in literal bondage. Trump has turned the national celebration of liberty and freedom into something more akin to the Russian May Day celebration or parades to feed the ego of military dictators. Douglass’s words:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

The celebration is of course to appease those for whom this is the greatness they seek, the greatness they voted for, the greatness that Trump promised them. It is the compensation that makes up for their fear of losing status in a country that is changing, and spiritual or physical the meagerness of their lives. It is a symbolic presentation of what W.E.B Du Bois called the “psychological wage” of whiteness or what historian David Roediger called the “wages of whiteness.” It is meant to distract from the economic inequality that we face by binding the country together in an “imaginary community” when everything Trump has done divides us. Like a magician he means to divert us while he and his cohorts enrich themselves by stealing us blind, deregulating industry, and ignoring climate change.

Those who see what is going on behind this smokescreen cannot allow his “celebration” to distract us. We have work to do. We have to see that for all its people America lives up to its ideals, surpasses its slave origins, and becomes that place that all the patriotic songs sing about. Accept nothing less. As Ella Baker said “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” That is what we should remember on the 4th of July and every other day.


I am trying to get my head around this latest mass shooting in Christchurch (not ironic), New Zealand by trying to understand “why.” In most mass shootings the why is clear. Some loner thinks he has been wronged and so shoots up his place of employment, school, or public place. Or, some person feels that their country has been wronged by some other country and some act of terror is the only way they can strike back. This shooting doesn’t quite fit either of those explanations. All the details are not in yet, but it seems this shooter was an Australian who traveled to New Zealand to shoot up some mosques as a protest against all Muslims. He does not claim that he was keeping his family or country safe (after all he was in another country), that he was settling some score because he had been wronged by these particular Muslims, or that he was retaliating against New Zealand oppression of Australia. He was lashing out against the Muslim diaspora in defense of an imaginary transnational entity called “the white race.” One could argue that whoever commits these mass murders for whatever reason suffers from a mental illness that prevents him from having empathy or even sympathy for others. One could argue that they are sociopaths or even psychopaths. However that doesn’t get us very far. There are many sociopaths and psychopaths who do not commit mass murder. What makes these different?

As a kid I always was amazed that a minister could say some words over two people in a marriage ceremony and their child would come out looking like both of them. He must have been a powerful person. Suppose he said the words while some random people walked by or used his power for evil?  Maybe it was the words themselves that had the power and anyone could say them with frightening consequences. This brings me to Donald Trump. The shooter mentioned Trump’s advocacy for “the white race” as a contributing factor in his decision to kill, according to the latest figures I have, 49 people, to wound scores more, and to plan to blow up others (a plot that was fortunately foiled.) Trump and his supporters will argue that he is not responsible for the actions of a mad man who twisted his words into reason to carry out a vendetta against some defenseless “others.” Yet the “threat” that Muslims pose to whites is part and parcel of his words and policies e.g. travel ban, harassment of even American born Muslims, fear of non-whites in general. It is of a kin to his denigration of Mexicans and plans to build a wall when no one except his base supporters want it and even Congress thinks it is a waste of money.

Has Trump’s use of the American presidency “bully pulpit” caused the number of harassing incidents towards “the others” to rise in the United States and now around the world? Are his words so powerful that people are being harassed or even dying because of them? I would argue yes. Many white supremacists other than the Christchurch shooter have said how they have been encouraged or emboldened by Trumps words, actions and tweets. Trump himself will never publicly take responsibility for any of this. I don’t know if privately he does nor whether he thinks it is a good thing, his responsibility, or just a ploy to rally his support. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what he thinks if he thinks at all before speaking or tweeting. What matters is do we think any responsibility can be traced back to Trump. Trump himself is unlikely to change and will continue to irresponsibly spout off whatever he thinks will get him re-elected no matter the cost to “others.” Trump supporters are unlikely to change as well or to even consider the idea or, if they do, to regret their responsibility in these matters. It falls to us who oppose Trump, what he preaches, and stands for, to stop his reign of terror against those who are different. I hope enough of us have the courage to do so.


Some friends have asked me to comment on Liam Neeson’s confession that after a black person did harm to one of his friends he wanted to do harm to the first black person he encountered at the pub. This happened some forty years ago. After this public confession on a few talk shows some publicist pulled him from giving media interviews about the film he was supposed to be promoting. Most white Americans think of racism as individual acts, feelings, use of language and so on. They reserve their harshest censure about racism for those who transgress by revealing their racism openly. Remember Paula Deen the southern celebrity chef who admitted that she had used the “n word?” She lost her show and was a pariah for a while. Will Mr. Neeson suffer some penalty in his career for admitting to racist thoughts? Spike Lee has already said he will not hire him in the future. Should he?

First of all I must admit I am much more concerned with who these folks are in the present day than who they were forty years ago. Michelle Rodriguz leapt to Neeson’s defense by stating that he could not be a racist because he had kissed Viola Davis in his most recent movie. This may seem like a strange defense until you look at it more closely. Hollywood has a long history of avoiding interracial kisses and several actors have refused to participate in them. At best this proves that Neeson is an actor who is willing to do what the script calls for whatever his own person inclinations. It in no way proves that Neeson is not a racist any more than having a gay person kiss a member of the opposite sex means they have given up their homosexuality. A better test would be how do the black folks who have worked him view him, has he worked for anti-racist causes, or has he participated in racist ones. I do not know the answers to these questions so I don’t know if he is racist or not. I am not willing to condemn him over thoughts he had forty years ago.

Secondly I am not willing to condemn him for thoughts he had rather than deeds he did. For better or worse he did not run into any black person while he had these thoughts and to my knowledge there is no evidence that he has actually committed racist acts. He seems genuinely remorseful for even thinking these thoughts. The forty-years-older version of him has learned a few things in the interim. I hope no one judges me on the thoughts I had forty years ago rather than the deeds I have done since then. I hope I, you,  and Mr. Neeson have grown.

Finally, we can’t make any headway against racism as long as we define it solely as individual racist actions or thoughts. Many whites feel that as long as they don’t harbor any racist thoughts, don’t use the “n word,” don’t discriminate in their daily lives, and don’t attend white supremacist rallies, they cannot be racist. This is of course nonsense and people rationalizing their behavior or making themselves feel good. As I have said many times in different discussions the United States is built upon a racist and white supremacist structure and all whites, even the poorest ones, have benefited from that structure. All people of color, even the successful ones, have had to struggle against that structure. What is that old line “the greatest trick the devil ever did was to convince us that he doesn’t exist.” The most important support upon which structural racism and white supremacy are built is the belief that the structure doesn’t exist. To truly overturn that structure will take white folks willing to see it and give up the privileges that it has and continues to confer on them. Condemning Mr. Neeson for thoughts, not deeds, he had forty years ago does not help us do that and is a waste of time.