Tag Archive | wingnuts

Tuesday Tidbits 9/8/2020: News cycle continues to be disheartening

“You elected a billionaire that appointed other billianaires to fix the system that made them billionaires? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?”

The meme omits a couple of important bits, though: “You elected a billionaire that appointed other billionaires to fix the system that made them billionaires BY STEALING FROM YOU? You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you?”

‘A tale of 2 recessions’: As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half struggles – The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7.

REPORT: Louis DeJoy May Have Broken Campaign Finance Laws AND Lied To Congress About It – DeJoy allegedly reimbursed employees from his company for donations to GOP candidates – which is illegal.

‘Conmen, grifters and criminals’: why is Trump’s circle so at odds with the law? – Apart from legal trouble, what Bannon, Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, Stone, Gates and Papadopoulos have in common is the president.

“The history of Nazis holding rallies in lef-wing areas of Weimar Germany, instigating street fights, and then telling the press that only they could save Germany from the 'violent communists' seems like an important thing for people to be studying right now.”

Seems so, doesn’t it?

Department of Homeland Security draft document: Domestic white supremacists are greatest terror threat.

Lawyer of accused Kenosha shooter resigns from defense fund.

Kenosha shooting suspect faces more homicide charges.

Quote Of The Day: Armed Militias Target BLM Protests – Just when you thought right-wing militias were “anti-government,” they’re all for Trump’s fascism..

Jacob Blake appears in court from hospital on sex assault charge, while police gun down suspected Portland shooter.

“Never forget: the Trump family is not allowed to operate ANY charity in New York because they stole from a kids cancer charity.”

There is no low they haven’t already sunk to…

Trump campaign criticised for mocking Biden as he visited family grave – Biden’s late son, first wife and daughter are buried in cemetery.

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ – The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic..

Fox News Correspondent: Two Top Officials Who Were on France Trip With Trump ‘Confirmed to Me Key Details’ of Atlantic Report – .

Trump Wants Fox Reporter Who Confirmed Atlantic Story Fired For Hurting His Wee Feelings.

Trump’s Contempt for the Sick and Disabled Is Written All Over His Covid-19 Response – The president’s disgust for anyone he deems weak is key to understanding his handling of the pandemic.

Room rentals, resort fees and furniture removal: How Trump’s company charged the U.S. government more than $900,000.

I don’t have a funny exit line, and I’m just not up to ranting about it.

And just what is a “weekend,” three-day or otherwise?

“30 days hath September, April June, and November, all the rest have 31, except for 2020 which has 5328”

Time has gown from being a river, to being a fog, to being a swarm of locusts…

I always feel guilty on days like Labor Day, because most of the people who work in the kinds of jobs that Labor Day is supposed to honor have to work on this day, while white collar office workers such as myself are goofing off. My father, for instance, was an oil field worker, and so far as I can remember he always had to work the holiday. Mom worked in retail, and since almost all of her positions were union jobs, she at least got paid more for working on the holiday (though management usually countered that by cutting her hours later in the week), but again, she seldom had the day off.

And as retail and other essential workers will all tell you, it’s not just that they don’t get a three-day weekend, most of them don’t get weekends. They get days of, but since they aren’t usually the same days that the rest of us think of a time when we could schedule fun activities with friends, it’s just not the same.

Thanks to the pandemic, and the huge number of us that are working from home, and all the school kids who are attending virtual classes from home, things get even more confounding.

So I think before I spiral down any rabbit holes, I will just repost this bit about what Labor Day is supposed to represent which I wrote a few years ago:

If you don’t know labor history, you’re doomed to repeat the bad parts

Originally post September 4, 2017

“Union Accomplishments: Safe working conditions; Safety regulations; No toxic dumping; No child labor abuses; Standard minimum wage; 40-hour work week; Overtime pay; Paid vacation; Pensions; Healthcare; Equal Pay for Equal work.”

“Union Accomplishments: Safe working conditions; Safety regulations; No toxic dumping; No child labor abuses; Standard minimum wage; 40-hour work week; Overtime pay; Paid vacation; Pensions; Healthcare; Equal Pay for Equal work.”

Both of my grandfathers were life long union workers. Dad moved in and out of union and non-union portions of his industry. When Mom re-entered the work force after my parents’ divorce, she became a union member and other then a few stints in management, remained one until she retired. I, on the other hand, work in an industry that has fought to keep unions out, and for various social reasons, the same co-workers who complain loudest about how everyone is classified as “professional” and therefore exempt from overtime pay and the like, are also convinced that unions would be a disaster.

Which is really sad. Mostly I blame the decades-long war on unions waged by mostly the Republican party. They have managed, somehow, to convince people to believe, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that businesses have always given out wages and benefits out of the goodness of their hearts.

I don’t understand how anyone who has worked for any business larger than a mom-and-pop operation can believe that.

“If unions are bad for the economy, why did America's greatest era of prosperity have more workers under union contract than any other time in history?”

“If unions are bad for the economy, why did America’s greatest era of prosperity have more workers under union contract than any other time in history?”

It’s not that profits are driving business decisions, it’s that maximizing benefit to business leaders while milking short-term profits without investing in workers and their skills for long-term benefits.

You can keep talking about the economic insecurities of angry white guys, but you have to recognize that the source of economic insecurity is not market forces, or immigrants, or equal opportunity laws. It’s the people in that top 1%. And somehow we’ve got to get those scared angry white guys to recognize that they are being duped.

“Did it ever occur to you that union workers aren't overpaid, maybe you're underpaid? Where are the gains going? From 1970 to 2010, in inflations-adjusted dollars, income of private sector workers fell from an average of $32,000 to $29,000, while income among 'job creators' rose from $2-million to $16-million.” Source: nyti.ms/saez-and-piketty-on-inequality

“Did it ever occur to you that union workers aren’t overpaid, maybe you’re underpaid? Where are the gains going? From 1970 to 2010, in inflations-adjusted dollars, income of private sector workers fell from an average of $32,000 to $29,000, while income among ‘job creators’ rose from $2-million to $16-million.” Source: nyti.ms/saez-and-piketty-on-inequality

Tuesday Tidbits 8/25/2020: Acceptable deaths continue while stock market soars

“Dear Seniors who Support Trump, we get it, it's a hard call. On one hand he's underfunding your Social Security, jeopardizing your mailed prescriptions, and eradicating your Medicare. But on the other hand he did also advocate kill you in a pandemic to keep the Dow strong.”

It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone but him…

Trump Wants to Do the 1 Thing That Could Kill Social Security.

Trump promises permanent cut to payroll tax funding Social Security and Medicare if he’s reelected.

More than 176,000 in US have died of COVID-19; 57% of Republicans polled say that is ‘acceptable.

The stock market isn’t the success story Trump thinks it is – A surging Nasdaq and Dow doesn’t indicate a healthy economy.

“If Black Lives Matter bothers you because it doesn't say All Lives Matter, but Blue Lives Matter doesn't bother you, then what really bothers you is the word BLACK.”

Besides, there are no such things as Blue Lives… being a cop is a career choice, being Black is not.

We need Black Lives Matter. The police who shot Jacob Blake prove it.

‘Black Lives Matter’ messages washed away after protest groups clash over Allendale Civil War statue.

“This machine kills fascists”

The postal service may be our last hope against the fascist takeover of America.

Rep. Katie Porter Grills Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Basic Facts About the Post Office.

Don’t reconnect mailing machines, Postal Service tells plants. Tacoma does it anyway.

How to Save the Post Office.

“Btw 'systemic racism' doesn't mean 'lots of racists in the system.' It means that even if there were *zero* 'racists' present, the system would still disproportionately harm people of certain races. It's baffling that lots of educated folks don't understand this concept.”

Important to know this concept.

Systemic racism has consequences for all life in cities.

The lack of Black leaders in New England college sports is ‘what institutional and systemic racism look like’.

How does systemic racism affect Black Americans’ access to capital?

“So when Trump decided to sabotage the USPS to slow down mail delivery, did he just decide that the millions of Americans who rely on the Post Office for the timely delivery of medication and drugs were a necessary sacrifice?”

Trump cares for no one but himself.

Postal Service delays of prescription drugs put thousands of American lives at risk – “Without it, people are going to die,” said a retired nurse in Michigan whose pain medication arrived late.

82-year-old Houston-area man left without heart medicine for a week due to USPS delays.

US Postal Service delays force Department of Veterans Affairs to shift prescription delivery methods.

Shadows are gathering, or, a queer ex-evangelical talks about the guns & god crowd

That’s what they think it says, but that’s not what those words mean…

First, big news today out of New York: New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing .

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.

In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.

Lots of headlines are going to focus on the ‘dissolve the NRA’ part, but note that if she proves the executives in question of unlawfully pilfered the NRAs coffers for personal gain and gets any of it back, it will go to the contributors who will be free to use it to immediately form a new organization if they want.

But because I have already seen some people distort and over-react to this news story, I realized this was a good opportunity to finish and post about a related topic: How is it that people who claim to follow the Prince of Peace are so enamored with guns and unwilling to take any reasonable efforts to stop mass shootings in schools.

Before we get to the meat of the answer, one digression: the phrase “God, guns, and gays” is frequently (and falsely) attributed to various Democratic politicians as a disparaging description of the values of conservatives. Wrong. It actually came from the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe. He didn’t mean it disparagingly. It repeated the phrase again and again to enflame the fears of his Oklahoma constituents that the libruhls were going to take away their guns, outlaw their religion, and force them to live next to and work with gay people—all so they would ignore the economic and environmental polices of the Republicans that were destroying their livelihoods. And it’s the same kind of reasoning that has Trump claiming the Biden is going to “hurt the Bible.”

But back to the guns and why a certain type of Bible-thumper thirsts for weapons that can massacre dozens of people in short periods of time.

An important component of the evangelical fundamentalist self-identity is being under siege. In their worldview they are constantly under attack from the forces of evil in the form of depraved sinful people (who they generally define as anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do). Even they have control of an entire political party and often the entire government of their home state, they see themselves as the victims or a vast and powerful empire of evil. An empire they believe will eventually literally take over the world under the leadership of the anti-Christ. They interpret several verses of the Bible as a specific call to arms for them to resist that looming evil.

And because they insist that every word in the Bible is literally factual and also the inerrant word of god, those cherry-picked verses mean they believe it is their duty to be prepared to literally go to war.

Then there’s the eternity issue. Because they see our mundane mortal life as nothing but an entrance exam to try to qualify for an eternity in heaven, they don’t see suffering and death in this world as being anything more than a test. This gets further complicated because many of them also adhere to one of the variants of the Just World Fallacy. Because god controls the world, see, bad things happen to people either because they are being punished by god, or because they are being tested by god. I’ve written previously that one aspect of this before that often plays out as, “Bad things happen to you because you’re bad. Bad things happen to me because god is testing me.”

This contradicts their other belief that the devil is alive and well and causing a lot of evil, but that doesn’t bother them, because it just gives them another reason to rationalize their decisions about which things to take action about, and which to just let happen. “Bad things are happening to some people I care about because the forces of evil are attacking us,” or “This bad thing has happened to me and/or people I care about because other people under the influence of evil are causing it.”

Besides, all the deserving people who die are just going to heaven, so if they happen to have been hurried along because someone which a semi-automatic rifle shot up their school, it’s not really a tragedy. True, some of the teachers and kids might be godless atheists or otherwise bound for hell, and that is sad, but it’s really their own fault for not inviting Jesus into their heart before someone decided to massacre half the school.

Some of them will even come out and say it!

They ultimate truth, as far as they are concerned, is that all the right-thinking “good” people will get to spend eternity in mansions in heaven built especially for them by Christ himself. And this imperfect world is eventually going to be destroyed in that great and glorious war, which they may get to fight in, and if they have stockpiled enough weapons so that they can kill more of the unrighteous people than anyone else, maybe god will give them a special medal. Or a better mansion.

None of that is official theology of any of the denominations I’ve familiar with, and most of them won’t say all of that bluntly out loud, but it’s what many of them believe.

So to sum up, in their minds Jesus is the Prince of Peace only in the sense that there will be peace for eternity for those who are in heaven, after all the rest of humanity is purged and thrown into hell. And the sooner that war to end the world happens and they all get their to the heavenly reward, the better.


Note:

(Part of the title of this post comes from the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is Calling),” by William L. Thompson. It was hymn number 236 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. The lyric occurs in verse three, “Shadows are gathering, Deathbeds are coming. Coming for you and for me.”)

That monument doesn’t belong here

This isn’t what I thought I’d be writing about today, but here we are! I missed this piece of local news over the weekend: Confederate memorial toppled at Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery in Capitol Hill. The first time I wrote about Confederate monuments and why I thought most of them should be torn down was in 2017 (a post which I republished recently with a little bit of additional commentary). In that post I talked about one of those monuments here in my local community:

Washington territory was never a part of the Confederacy, and the few inhabitants of the state who served in the [civil] war did so as part of the Union Army and Navy. A local family, some years after the war, donated land in what would one day become the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the Grand Army of the Republic (which was an organization made up mostly of Union side Civil War Veterans) for a cemetery for Union soldiers. And that’s who was buried there. But decades later, during one of those surges of monument building, the Daughters of the Confederacy paid to have a monument to soldiers of the Confederacy erected in the cemetery. There are no Confederate soldiers buried there. Not one. And there are no soldiers’ names engraved on the massive monument. But there it is, erected in a cemetery full of Union soldiers, a monument to the so-called noble cause of the Confederacy.

I have since learned that some of facts in the above paragraph are an over simplification. Some of the land in the cemetery was donated to the Grand Army of the Republic, and at least 11 Union veterans are buried there. But the cemetery holds a bunch of other people (included actor Bruce Lee). But one fact that is still not in dispute: there are no Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The Confederate Monument was erected near the graves of the 11 Union soldiers, though. It makes as much sense to have a Confederate monument in that cemetery as it would to erect a monument to the army of Nazi Germany in a military cemetery full of U.S. World War II veterans.

Each time that organizations like the Daughters of the Confederacy have gone on these binges of raising money for monuments and then bullying local governments into letting them be erected, has been a time where racist groups have felt a need to terrorize black people. The purpose of those monuments is not to teach history. They are meant as both propaganda and a threat.

A local news blog I read all the time posted a story today which only partially answers the question it poses in its headline: Wait, Why the Hell Does Seattle Have a Confederate Monument?

Yes, the Daughters of the Confederacy got the monument placed in the cemetery, in part by not just paying for the monument’s construction, but by making a donation to the non-profit that owns and manages the cemetery. A non-profit which has, by the way, ofter struggled with raising enough funds to adequately maintain the grounds. I think it is very interesting to note that no one at the non-profit wants to talk publicly about the monument.

In response to the news of this toppled monument, I’ve seen a couple people on social media try to put forward a “what-about-ism” argument because there is another monument in the cemetery which honors people who aren’t buried there. This is the Nisei War Memorial Monument, which was originally raised to honor 47 local Japanese Americans who served and died in World War II. In many cases the bodies were never returned to the U.S. I haven’t found a list of how many of those soldiers whose bodies were returned wound up in this cemetery, but apparently more than one did. Additionally, local Japanese American soldiers who served in the U.S. military and were killed in action in subsequent wars have had their names added to the monument

There is a very big difference between a memorial that lists actual names of local people who died in a war (at least a couple of whom are buried in the same cemetery), and one that lists no local names (and for that matter, no names at all!).

The local Japanese American community has been an important part of the history of Seattle and the surrounding area for about 140 years. The Confederacy—which barely existed for five years!—has absolutely no connection to Seattle. There is no good reason for a Confederate monument to be here, only a lot of bad reasons.

Weekend Update on the Fifth of July

I meant to do a Weekend Update on the morning of Independence Day before logging in to play a roleplaying game with friends, but Saturday was one of the “there’s not enough caffeine in the world” mornings. I kept falling back to sleep, and then had trouble making coffee because I couldn’t think straight, et cetera. On the other hand, I only had one news story I found after posting the Friday Five. Whereas today, well, I ran across a few stories of people behaving badly on the Fourth, so, maybe not getting to it until today was for the best.

First, though, that one link: 36 Years Later, Conservatives Finally Read The Lyrics To ‘Born In The USA’. This one both cracked me up and made me very sad at the same time…

The chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” gets included in the musical accompaniment of civic fireworks all the time. And people put the song in playlists for parties around Independence Day. And it’s a good song! I have it in several of my playlists for this time of year, myself.

The problem that has occurred for the person who is being mocked in the above story, is that he finally listened to the whole song, and realized the story of the song is told from the point of view of a Vietnam Veteran who served his country, came home to a recession, had difficulty finding work, didn’t find the Veteran’s Administration terribly helpful, and so on. Which he thinks means it isn’t a patriotic song.

I really, really get tired of conservatives defining “patriotic” as blind obedience and unearned praise and denial of history. Because I love the ideals of the country and try to hold my elected representatives to those ideals, they view me as disloyal. Not understanding the loving someone in spite of their flaws, and hoping to help them become a better person is a more authentic love.

The Vietnam War was something that happened. Our less than stellar treatment of veterans, particularly of that war, is something that has and continues to happen. Despite my personal belief that the Vietnam War was a mistake (and generally wars are bad ideas), I also believe that as a citizen, I owe a debt to the people who served in the U.S. military and especially those who were wounded or otherwise harmed in war under the auspices of the U.S. Which means acknowledging that we failed many of them. We can’t fix what’s wrong with the Veterans Administration and so forth without admitting that those wrong things exist.

Springsteen’s song has all that, and it absolutely belongs in any patriotic playlist.

Let’s move on!

Mississippi Election Official Concerned Blacks Are Registering To Vote, ‘People Should Too’. “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too,” Welch posted on Facebook. If you read the article, notice that the only thing she is apologizing for is accidentally posting her comment publicly. She is refusing to admit that her statement means that she doesn’t think of Black people as actual people. Even her clarifying comments still categorize Black people living in Mississippi as a completely separate category as “citizens of Mississippi.” I mean, we all knew that’s how folks like her think already, she’s just said it out loud. At least twice.

Minister goes to Gettysburg on the Fourth of July to visit the grave of an ancestor, and then: Right-Wing Militias Found No Antifa Event at Gettysburg—So Harassed a Man in Cemetery Instead. Why, exactly, did police escort the victim out of the cemetery and leave the people who attacked him there to keep roving looking for the imaginary antifa?

Here’s another: Black Family Escorted Off Oregon Beach After 7 Men Launched Racist July 4 Attack

Again, instead of arresting the seven men, the police escorted the victims of the hate crime away from the beach. I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s not right, am I? Edited to Add: turns out the men were arrested (The version of the story I read Saturday night didn’t mention that, and then I missed the update) ‘Highly intoxicated’ white men arrested after harassing Black family with Nazi salutes.

And one more: Cashier loses job after allegedly being battered, subjected to gay slurs at work. Again, why did he get fired?!

Let’s go full circle and end it on a musical note:

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Midweek Update 7/1/2020: Time for more words and images

I save memes and infographs and similar images all the time in hopes of using them to illustrate a blog post sometime I alwasy gather far more than I actually use. So here are a bunch that really need sharing:

Weekend Update 6/13/2020: Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter, and Dang it Wear a Mask!

Time once again for a post in which I link to stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or broke after I composed the Friday Five, or are an update to a story I’ve linked to and ranted commented upon in a previous post. There was a whole lot of news that broke yesterday (in addition to the stuff I wrote about in the evening) so it’s taken me longer than I liked to figure out which ones to talk about.

First, some very sad news: Two Black Transgender Women Murdered Amid Nationwide Racial Justice Protests. In case you forgot what the protests are about: society far too often treat black lives as disposal. And here we are again.

Speaking of: Police body camera footage shows black man pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ during 2019 Oklahoma arrest. As the headline says, this is a case from over a year ago. A case the the officers have largely thus far escaped any consequences. The body cam footage is pretty damning. Will there actually be consequences now? I guess we can hope.

Immigrants stage a hunger strike for Black lives inside ICE detention facility. Remember that almost all of the immigrants are being illegally detained by the U.S. And all of them are being held in conditions that violate not just our laws, but also internal law. And the reason this is happening is because our current federal administration values people of color even less than the existing systemic racism of our society as a whole. These immigrants understand that their plight is intimately tied to all the forces that make the Black Lives Matter movement necessary.

Meanwhile, there is still a pandemic going on: Eastern Washington COVID-19 case counts continue to climb, especially in young people. And of course the communities that have been most resistant to any measures to limit transmission of the disease are where cases are spiking, now.

I’m only including this next article because it is an excellent example of writing a news story with absolutely no useful information: Why are Washington state’s coronavirus cases on the rise again?

On the other hand, apparently sometimes the Times remembers it’s a newspaper… Fox News runs digitally altered images in coverage of Seattle’s protests, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. It’s not just Fox News that is doing this. Local station, KOMO, has run fake pictures and false stories. It seems local stations in other markets that all happen to be owned by Sinclair (which in many ways is worse than Fox) are running this fake stories about what’s happened in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood once the state police, national guard, and riot cops were pulled out. The police have not abandoned the neighborhood. They’ve reduced their presence to the number necessary to respond to 911 calls, that’s it. And people in the neighborhood are not locking people out or extorting people or even walking around armed.

What is happening? People have planted community vegetable gardens. They have set up a food coop. They are (at save social distances) singing, and playing music and just chilling. You know, being a neighborhood rather than a war zone. One former co-worker of mine who happens to live up there posted elsewhere, “It’s basically a street festival.”

There was one other topic I was going to include, but my rant on the single link got long enough that I think it needs a separate post. So I’m going to close this here.

Four years after the Pulse massacre, the White House kicks us again

49 people were murdered that night. Don’t forget them! https://people.com/crime/orlando-pulse-shooting-tributes-to-49-victims/

Because I almost always compose my Friday Five on Thursday evening, I debated whether to just find a story related to today’s fourth anniversary of that massacre to include, or do a separate post. I decided that I would have time to finish a post during my lunch break, and that there might be one or two stories posted this morning that would be worth linking to.

Well, that worked out a bit differently than I expected.

Before I jump into the cruelty, let’s start with a reminder of what the Pulse massacre was: Democrats Mark Fourth Anniversary Of Pulse Massacre:

“Four years ago today, 49 people were murdered in the single deadliest attack on the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities in U.S. history. What should have been a night of celebration was overtaken by hatred and bigotry.”

Four years ago today, a guy armed with assault rifles shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando, taking people hostage and taunting authorities online and over the phone, engaged in a barricaded stand-off (with hostages), until he was finally killed by the police. There were so many bodies on the floor, that EMTs and cops had to ask people who were still alive to raise their hands. Four years later there is still some debate about the motives of the shooter, I’ll get to that later. Whatever the motives, victims were at a queer nightclub celebrating Latinx Night during Pride when the shooting started. As noted in the article above, the single deadliest attack on the queer and Latinx communities in U.S. history.

So what is the current occupant of the White House doing to mark this solemn occasion on this, the second Friday of Pride Month. Well:

Transgender Health Protections Reversed By Trump Administration.

Trump Admin Erases Protections For LGBTQ Patients.

As a large number of people have already noted, the cruelty is the point. The alleged president of the United States was elected on the most homophobic election platform ever adopted by any political party in U.S. history, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. But just because we expect this sort of hateful cruelty doesn’t make it any less painful or infuriating.

The sooner we get these evil goons out of office, the better.

The last few years when I have mentioned or linked or reblogged news stories on the anniversary, some randos have felt the need to slide into my mentions or try to post a comment explaining that this wasn’t actually a hate crime against queer people. And I want to talk about that.

While in the immediate aftermath of the shooting there was a lot of reporting that pointed to all kinds of motives, there was also an immediate push from Fox news and Republicans to insist that it wasn’t a hate crime. It took more than a few months for the FBI to interview witnesses and to investigate the mountain of tips that came in. Most of the evidence pointed to in those first days trying to tie the shooter to Islamic terrorist groups and so forth were debunked by the following fall. Just as all but one of the people who claimed to have proof that he was a closeted gay man were also proven to be cases of mistaken identity. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, because the pictures of the shooter that were circulated to the public were of a frankly very generic dark-skinned man.

More than a year after the shooting, federal agents arrested the shooter’s widow and charged her with conspiracy, claiming she had been part of the planning of the crime. In statements made to obtain the warrant, and during the bail hearing, the feds argued that it was definitely an Islamic anti-American plot and had nothing to do with queer people. However, during her trial, the prosecution slowly was forced to admit that all of those things they had asserted were false.

It’s hardly surprising that the jury acquitted her.

The case was so ludicrously weak that lots of news people were asking why the administration pursued it at all. My personal (admittedly cynical) theory is that then Attorney General Sessions, and Vice President Pence, and other vehemently anti-gay members of the administration needed to get that story out there to overshadow the fact that a gay club was the target of the attack.

Since that case collapsed, there are two pieces of evidence left to support the claim that homophobia had little if anything to do with the choice of the target. One is that based on his internet searches and the tracking of his cell phone that night, it appears that three different nightclubs (including Pulse) were under consideration for attack, and the other two weren’t specifically gay clubs. The other piece is that the statements he made on social media and to police were all generic anti-American statements and references to places America has bombed.

Let’s look at a different hate crime altogether to get a little perspective. In the mid-90s federal agents sent in an undercover agent to one of the White Supremacist compounds in Idaho because they had evidence indicating some people there had purchased illegal weapons. The undercover agent discovered that the White Supremacists were plotting to bomb some targets in Seattle. He got himself put onto the team. Groups left the compounds and traveled by different routes, each carrying only some of the ingredients necessary to make three bombs. The checked into a motel, and while some members of the group went out to investigate their chosen targets, others assembled the bombs.

The three targets were: a Jewish synagogue, a gay nightclub, and a Korean Baptist Church. The plan was to plant all three bombs, each with a timer set to go off at times when each of the three places were expected to be very crowded (Friday evening shabbat service, Saturday night at the night club, and Sunday morning church service). Federal agents arrested them all a couple of days before the bombs were to be planted.

Two of the three targets the White Supremacists chose for that (thankfully) foiled operation were not a gay nightclub. Does that mean that homophobia had nothing to do with their choices of targets? Of course not!

There’s more. At the trials of the White Supremacists, one of the pieces of evidence introduced was a statement that they had intended to release to the press after the last bomb went off, taking responsibility for the crime. The statement was filled with anti-American sentiments and referenced a couple of infamous shoot-outs between federal agents and anti-government groups. The statement didn’t have specific anti-Semitic, racist, nor homophobic language—just generic slurs against undesirables. Does that mean that racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism had nothing do do with their choices of targets? Again, of course not!

Maybe the shooter really was so stupid that he didn’t realize it was a gay club. Even with all the rainbow flags and other things on display inside and outside the club. Maybe it is an insanely improbable coincidence that he had been ranting about the evils of gay people to his father, other family members, and acquaintances in the days before the shooting. It’s possible.

But more likely: he was a man filled with a lot of hate for a lot of things he saw as wrong with America. And one of those things was clearly the existence of queer people and the fact that we were allowed at least some rights. Just because he happened to also hate a bunch of other groups and ideas that didn’t happen to be clearly connected to that gay nightclub that night doesn’t mean that it wasn’t still a hate crime directed at queer and latinx people.

None of those statues mean what you think they mean—bless your heart

“Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. Those that do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”

(click to embiggen)

Studying history means actually studying it—not looking at statues that were put up for non-historical reasons with misleading if not outright false plaques on their bases. When we remove symbols of racism, colonialism, and genocide, we aren’t erasing history, we are removing propaganda. As I tried to explain when I posted the following on August 22, 2017:

The official declaration of the State of Mississippi when they seceded from the Union at the beginning of the Civil War: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world.”

The official declaration of the State of Mississippi when they seceded from the Union at the beginning of the Civil War: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world.” (click to embiggen)

I wasn’t born in the South, but because of economic factors too complicated to go into at this juncture, the small town in Colorado where I was born was inhabited almost completely by recently transplanted southerners. All of my grandparents had been born in former Confederate states, as had most of the teachers at the public school, and the parents and/or grandparents of 95+ percent of my classmates. And even though my father’s job had us moving around to other parts of the central Rockies through most of grade school, because our family attended Southern Baptists churches, I continued to be exposed to certain myths about the Civil War that descendants of Confederate families tell themselves. I was taught that slavery wasn’t the primary issue of the war, for one. I was taught that most soldiers on the Confederate side had been involved for economic reasons, and certainly not because they believed that whites were superior to blacks, for another. And I was taught that just because the Southern Baptist church and many other institutions still advocated for the segregation of that races, that it wasn’t because they still believed that one race was superior to the other.

Each of those statements was a lie.

I was a teen-ager in the 70s when the Southern Baptist Convention finally endorsed desegregation of its churches. And it was as a teen that I learned most of what I’d been taught about the history of our denomination and the Civil War was untrue.

Historically, every state that seceded to form the Confederacy (not just Mississippi a portion of whose declaration is pictured above), explicitly listed either slavery or the superiority of the white race (and some mentioned both), as their reasons for seceding. The infamous cornerstone speech delivered by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens explained that the foundation of the new Confederate government was “the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

It can’t be any clearer than that: the primary mission of the Confederacy was the perpetuation of slavery of black people and the entrenchment (nay, glorification) of white supremacy. And Confederate soldiers did not volunteer, fight, and die by the thousands because of some need to preserve the mythical idyllic pastoral culture of the Southern plantation—most of them were too poor to own plantations, for one thing! No, the typical Confederate grunt believed that if slaves were freed, working class whites would surely lose their livelihoods. The collective self-esteem of the white working class was shored up by the explicit statement that at least they weren’t slaves, so while they might have worked hard in exchange for less than their fair share of societal prosperity, at least they were better off than those black folks! The abolition of slavery was then perceived as an existential threat to the white working class. Of course they were willing to take up arms to protect slavery!

In the immediate aftermath of the war, symbols of the Confederacy weren’t displayed publicly. There were memorials erected in a few places to those who died in one battle or another, and certainly individual tombstones were occasionally emblazoned with Confederate symbols, but there wasn’t a stampede to erect statues to the leaders of the Confederacy afterward. For one thing, there wasn’t a lot of pride in having been on the losing side.

The first big rush of Confederate monuments was years after the war ended as Reconstruction officially ended and Federal troops were withdrawn in 1877. Across the former Confederacy, state legislatures started enacting Jim Crow laws, designed to make it difficult or nearly impossible for black people to exercise their right to vote and to enforce segregation of the races. And statues and monuments went up all over the South. The plaques usually talked about the bravery of the person depicted, but there were also language about the nobility of the cause for which they fought. Blacks living in those states, most of whom were former slaves, knew exactly what that cause had been, and the message the statues and monuments was clearly: “white people are in charge again, and don’t you forget it!”

A portion of the Southern Poverty Law Center's graph showing when Confederate monuments and statues were erected across the country.

A portion of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s graph showing when Confederate monuments and statues were erected across the country.

Most of the Confederate monuments were put up in the 1910s and 1920s, coinciding with an increase in activity of the KKK and similar organizations terrorizing blacks. And the next big surge was in the 50s and 60s when civil rights organizations began having successes against some of the Jim Crow laws. The purpose of those monuments was not to honor the culture of the South; the message was still “stay in your place, black people, or else!” A great example of this resides not many miles from my home. Washington territory was never a part of the Confederacy, and the few inhabitants of the state who served in the war did so as part of the Union Army and Navy. A local family, some years after the war, donated land in what would one day become the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the Grand Army of the Republic (which was an organization made up mostly of Union side Civil War Veterans) for a cemetery for Union soldiers. And that’s who was buried there. But decades later, during one of those surges of monument building, the Daughters of the Confederacy paid to have a monument to soldiers of the Confederacy erected in the cemetery.

There are no Confederate soldiers buried there. Not one.

And there are no soldiers’ names engraved on the massive monument. But there it is, erected in a cemetery full of Union soldiers—a monument to the so-called noble cause of the Confederacy.

Now that some communities are rethinking these monuments—many of them extremely cheap bronze statues erected during times of civil rights tensions—other people are claiming taking them down is erasing history. No, taking down these post-dated monuments in public parks and so forth isn’t erasing history, it’s erasing anti-historical propaganda. The other argument that is put forward in defense of the monuments is that “both sides deserve to be heard.” That’s BS in this case, because there aren’t two sides to racism. There aren’t two sides to bigotry. There aren’t two sides to genocide. White supremacy is not a legitimate side to any argument.

When we defeated Hitler’s armies, we didn’t turn around and erect monuments to the government that murdered millions of people in concentration camps. We destroyed their symbols. When we liberated Iraq, we tore down the statues of Saddam Hussein, we didn’t enshrine his image in an attempt to give both sides equal time. Those few Confederate monuments that list off names of people who died are fine (even if a lot of them have cringeworthy language about the cause they were fighting for). Cemeteries where actual Confederate veterans are buried of course can have symbols of the Confederacy on the tombstones and the like. But the other monuments, the ones erected years later? They don’t belong in the public square.

They belong in the dustbin of history.

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