Ferguson

Michael Brown’s remains have been interred.  With him go any pretense that racism in America is past us.  Any sense that electing a Black President put a four century old record of slavery, segregation, lynching and racism behind us is blasphemy.  Michael Brown was shot dead while unarmed and holding his hands over his head by a racist Ferguson, Missouri cop.  He was summarily executed for walking while Black in the middle of a street.  Unfortunately there have been hundreds of Michael Browns and dozens of Fergusons in America.  This particular one set off an entire community and ignited a sense of outrage among African-Americans tired of being targets of over militarized, racist police.

It has also revealed the depth of racism in America’s right wing.  The cop who committed the murder has been the recipient of $250,000 contributed by white racists who think he did the right thing.  Fox News went so far as to broadcast a fake story trying to raise sympathy for the man and excuse his actions.  The Ferguson Police Department released a partial video purportedly showing Brown shoplifting cigars.  Watching the entire, unedited video shows him paying for the items.

Such is America post-Ferguson:  a nation awash in unmitigated racism and a right wing unashamed in illustrating its racial hatred.  Right wing media has fanned the flames and cops stating virulently racist things in videos gone viral have fueled weeks of protests by Blacks in the suburban St. Louis town.

Ferguson is a predominantly African-American town ruled by white racists.  Because only 12% of its residents turned out to vote in the last Mayoral election it has a racist Administration and police department.  Our silence at the polls translates to the type of community in which we reside.  When a Black American, a poor American, a Union card carrying American doesn’t vote they have no voice.  They have no rights to a representative government truly seeing to their needs and protecting their rights.

The Michael Browns of Ferguson dug their own graves by neglecting to vote, by deciding not to participate in the system.  This is what they get in return and no amount of looting, protests or cries of anguish and remorse will atone for their sin of not voting.  Democracy is a wonderful thing:  we get what we deserve and we deserve what we get,  When we opt not to vote we then cannot turn around and complain at the outcome.  Ferguson is simply the latest example.

NY Stop and Frisk Struck Down

The racist stop and frisk programs which result in high numbers of African-Americans being targeted by police, arrested, imprisoned then stripped of their rights has been declared unconstitutional in New York by a federal judge.  The fact these programs, funded largely by federal dollars, seem confined to minority neighborhoods when facts show illegal drug use is the same across all ethnic and class barriers, illustrate their racist nature.

Michelle Alexander did a wonderful job exposing this in her book “The New Jim Crow.”  These cops never go into wealthy or gated communities and randomly stop people and search them for drugs.  The outrage that would unleash exempts them from the programs making them unjust.

Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s ruling stems from a class-action lawsuit claiming that the city’s police officers routinely stopped minority men, particularly blacks and Latinos, without legal reasons.

 

Law and Order and Racism

While at the Democratic State Committee meeting last weekend I had an exchange with a candidate who bragged his Republican opponent would not be able to “out law and order me.”  I wasn’t pleased to hear a Democratic candidate using a racist policy as a campaign platform and said so.  He thought I was calling him a racist and got upset.  I wasn’t, I said the policy was racist and he needed to read “The New Jim Crow” to understand why it is racist.  Simply supporting a policy isn’t racist unless you understand it is racist.  Only if you do and remain supportive are you racist also.  This is an important difference.

Law and order platforms are racist because they have been used to justify the mass incarceration of minorities.  Michelle Alexander lays it out quite thoroughly in her book and, rather than re-write her book here I urge everyone to read it and understand this important issue.  Further you can watch the two hour discussion we had on the book and issue on a recent BCTV segment of “Community Conversations.”

Dissolving a Stain Painted by Henry Ford

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by Walter Brasch

Mark Fields is the new chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Co., second only to the CEO of the 164,000 person multinational corporation.

Normally, this would not be of much concern except to avid readers of the Wall Street Journal. There were several COOs and presidents before Fields. There will be several after him.

But this time it’s different. Mark Fields is a Jew.

Henry Ford, who founded the company in 1903 that bears his family name, was an anti-Semite. When asked in 1920 what the problem with major league baseball was, Ford summed it up in three words-“too much Jew.” At the time, fewer than two dozen Jews had ever played professional baseball during the previous four decades. During the 1920s, Ford’s newspaper, the weekly Dearborn Independent, distributed to every Ford dealership, was loaded with anti-Semitic articles. Several of those articles were compiled into a four-volume set, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.

By the 1930s, Ford was both praised and honored by the Nazis, including Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS whose mission included the extermination of Jews. Adolph Hitler personally awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, that country’s highest award to a foreigner; Hitler personally kept a picture of the industrialist on his desk.

Ford, of course, wasn’t the only anti-Semite or racist in America. America’s colleges established admissions quotas or excluded minorities entirely. Medical schools admitted only a few Jews, and then only if they promised not to enter clinical practice but become psychiatrists. Apparently, they had to cede psychiatry to Jews because of the pioneering work by Freud, Adler, and other Jews. Jewish scientists-many like Einstein-were trained in European universities and then came to the United States during the wave of immigration between the world wars; they were “carefully watched” and often demeaned. Country clubs denied Jews access, villages denied them residence. And throughout the country, the resurgence of the Klan led to lynchings of Blacks and firebombing of synagogues.

Because of a higher proportion of Jews historically in the sciences, creative arts, social work, mass media, and financial empires than among the general population, a large number of Americans have isolated those professions and blamed Jews for whatever the current problem happens to be. A survey by the Anti-Defamation League in 2007 revealed that 15 percent of Americans held anti-Semitic views. More disguise their views by claiming they don’t oppose Jews, just urban liberals-a higher proportion of Jews live in urban areas than in rural areas, and Jews tend to be more liberal, and more active in social justice, than the general population.

During the late 1940s, Henry Ford II, the founder’s grandson, systematically decreased the company’s virulent anti-union attitudes and increased the company’s affirmative action program, promoting Jews, Afro-Americans, Hispanics, and women into management positions. Mervyn Manning, a Jew, became the first minority ever promoted to a Ford vice-presidency. He once recalled that at the time he was hired in the mid-1950s, the only Black in corporate headquarters was the shoeshine boy. Under Henry Ford II, the company approved and encouraged minorities to own Ford dealerships. But it was never enough.

My family, like hundreds of thousands of other Jewish families, never owned a Ford, nor had any plans to own a Ford, no matter the price, deals, or quality of product. There were other car lines produced by union workers whose bosses may have had attitudes against Jews and other minorities-GM and Chrysler’s affirmative action programs also lagged-but they weren’t as blatant in their Anti-Semitic hate as was the paternalistic creator of the Ford brand who had revolutionized the manufacturing process, paid his workers slightly better than industry averages, and established marketing as a central part to any corporation’s business plan.

Mark Fields was born in Brooklyn, and earned an economics degree from Rutgers and an MBA from Harvard. He began his career at Ford in 1989, and was fast-tracked into several executive positions. Shortly after his promotion to executive vice-president, Fields told an organization of Jewish business executives he “never encountered one iota of discrimination as a Jew during my career at Ford.” He will probably become the CEO within the next two years when the current CEO, Alan Mulally, retires.

It’s possible my family, and thousands of other families, may some day buy a Ford. The stain the company’s founder painted onto his product has faded. Perhaps when Mark Fields becomes CEO-and it’s no longer news that a minority has been promoted into executive management-it might be time to reconsider our decisions.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is the critically acclaimed best-seller Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at amazon.com, www.greeleyandstone.com, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.]

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Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution

(www.greeleyandstone.com)

www.walterbrasch.com

www.walterbrasch.blogspot.com

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Ron Paul’s misguided media anger

Ron Paul is doing a lousy job of handling the spotlight into the racist writings of his old newsletters. By walking off the set of CNN he made a molehill into a mountain. Paul needs to understand that you can’t run for President and then try to control the media by telling them what they can and can’t ask questions about.

The more Paul looks angry at the media for asking questions about the racist rantings in his old newsletters, the more it looks like he has something to hide regarding the sorts of racists he appeals to.

For a long time, Ron Paul got a free pass from the media. He was the cool, quirky guy who had the guts and independence to stand up against the war and a lot of other Republican sacred cows. But he got a free ride because no one thought he had a chance of winning the nomination. Now that he’s first or second in the polls, reporters are doing their jobs. And a part of that job is looking at a candidate’s record and that includes a record of mailing openly racist and anti-Semitic newsletters with your name on them and profiting from that sort of filth.

Paul plays the quirky curmudgeon on TV debates and his followers love that, but if he really wants to capitalize on his newfound success in the polls he’s going to have to learn how to answer questions from the media. Even questions he doesn’t like.

Paul could learn from John McCain. McCain had a problem with the Keating Five scandal in his past. He solved it by answering every single question from reporters and by talking about it and apologizing for hour after hour after hour until reporters were sick of hearing about it. That’s how you put a scandal to rest.

Lou Dobbs Buys Racist “Obama Waffles”

So much for Republican “Value Voters.”  They were selling (for $10 a box) “Obama Waffles” with an overtly racist caricature of Obama echoing the Aunt Jemima pancake mixes of the past.  Lou Dobbs was caught buying some.  The head cheerleader for bigotry, intolerance and anti-immigrant bashings has a long record of bias towards people of color.

We’ve always known Republican “Values” were code for bigotry and intolerance but this is an outrage.

More Republicans Think Racism Is OK

It seems that racism is even more virulent among Republicans than I thought.  As my stories about Adam LaDuca are picked up by mainstream media outlets like the Associated Press other online outlets like blogs, Air America and Democratic Underground have carried the story.  

GrassrootsPA, probably the biggest Republican blog in Pennsylvania carried it today and has some eye opening comments:

Bitter Rural PA Ex-Pat | 2008-09-08 02:24:51  |  Add karma Subtract karma  +3

This reminds me of another comment that was made about a black politician or public figure not too long ago. Didn’t some white politician call the black person “articulate” and it was taken as a racial slur?

Either way, it seems to me the PC police are still alive and well on the college campus!

Reply to this comment

Card Carrying PSEA | 2008-09-08 02:43:28 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I don’t know what to say other than to assume that the “race card” will be played hard in the next 60 days as a counterweight to McCain’s new found strength.

Feel guilty white people and vote for Barack Obama on November 4th…..

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Rich Talbert | 2008-09-08 07:10:11 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

I wonder if Mick Jagger and Stephen Tyler were offended…

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George Tomezsko | 2008-09-08 14:45:44 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

“A Kutztown University student who once begged fellow students to forgive the campus president of the College Republicans for making racially insensitive remarks has resigned…” In other words, he told the truth, something the PC crowd hates almost as much as it does the Pro-Life community.

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Ray Horvath | 2008-09-08 15:19:34 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“If I were racist, I wouldn’t idolize Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice.”

No, not a racist, but certainly an idiot RINO.

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yup | 2008-09-08 16:05:36 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

more info on exactly what he said

one

two

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thin-lipped African | 2008-09-08 17:02:33 |  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

This form of PC is outrageous.

So commenters at GrassrootsPA think I’m being overly PC for criticizing someone who writes about African Americans’ big lips and big genitalia.  They think I’m being PC because I condemned him for wanting to use the “N” word.  LaDuca posted today that he only uses racist statements when he’s “on a rant.”  

No wonder not one Republican has gone on record condemning LaDuca’s rants or his status as the Executive Director of the PA College Republicans when he made them.  The only obvious conclusion is that racism is rampant within the Republican Party, even more than we thought.

LaDuca Scandal Picked Up by “Morning Call”

Our series of stories about Adam LaDuca, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, was picked up by the Allentown Morning Call yesterday.  LaDuca resigned after our week long expose of his racist, sexist and homophobic remarks posted on Facebook and his blog.  I ran the series from August 25 through 29th.

Genevieve Marshall of The Morning Call interviewed me early last week and the article ran in their Sunday edition.  LaDuca is from Allentown and was also President of the Kutztown University College Republicans, a former staffer for Congressman Charlie Dent’s 2006 campaign and the point person at KU for the McCain-Palin campaign.

You can read the original articles, to which The Morning Call neglected to link here, here, here, here, and here.

Ms. Marshall asked me if I felt any hesitation about picking on a college kid.  I thought it was a strange question.  LaDuca is an adult who used his position of influence to spread racist statements and beliefs.  Why would he not be fair game for criticism?

The interview and article also brought out the inherent problem of being both a blogger and a Democratic Committee person.  That fact skews the reader’s perception, possibly, that what I did was partisan.  Let it be known my source for this information is a Republican so it was not a partisan political attack upon Mr. LaDuca.  Isn’t it nice to see that there are Republicans concerned with racism within their ranks and a desire to purge their Party of such people in leadership ranks?

Hate Crime in York County, PA

An affluent housing community in Seven Valley, PA was assaulted with a racial slur earlier this morning. An unknown person scrolled the words, “Full of Ni***rs” on a billboard-size sign in the Grayson Homes community at Logans Reserve, a newly built house development. It is an area with more diversity, because of the new population influx from Maryland for more affordable property, less taxes and an easy commute to the Baltimore area. Jacobus/Seven Valleys, PA is 10 miles from the Maryland border. No word yet of whether a police investigation into the matter will be done. There are a lot of children, especially young, African American children, that will be forced to see it and be mentally-affected by the dirty deed. This is indeed an assault on the hard-working families living in the nice, quiet community vying for a better life for their children.

This is no doubt a hit to me personally. My wife works in that area for a family living in that community and she is appalled about the audacity some in the town would feel their urge to express white supremacy and jingoism. Hopefully, the community will bond together and try to work proactively to help keep the local enforcement officials accountable in pursuing hate crimes and spur this racially-charged vandalism from happening in the future.

Murder and Racism in a Pennsylvania Coal Town

Bigots don’t stop and think before making their incendiary remarks for political hay.  People like Lou Barletta.  They demonize immigrants (only those of color, though, which is interesting) and blame all their community’s ills on these people desperate to survive because the U.S. destroyed the economies in their native countries.  Then horrendous acts such as this one in Shenandoah happen and they claim shock.  No, don’t be shocked Mr. Barletta, this is the normal outcome of your bigotry and intolerance, qualitites we do NOT need more of in Washington.

Lou Barletta has blood on his hands.

This is a guest column:

Mining Racism and Murder in a Northeastern Pennsylvania Coal Town

by Walter Brasch

On a street in Shenandoah, Pa., deep in the heart of the anthracite coal region, six White teens took their racial hatred to a higher level. They confronted 25-year-old Luis Ramirez, an undocumented worker, and beat him to death.

           At first the police chief, the mayor, and borough manager refused to believe racism was involved. Although there was already racial and ethnic tension in the 5,000 population town, the town’s political leaders were united in one belief-it was just another street fight gone bad. “I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I’ve never known them to harbor this type of feeling,” said the borough manager.  

It took police almost two weeks, even with several witnesses, to finally arrest four of the teens. The district attorney charged two of the teens with homicide, aggravated assault, and ethnic intimidation, and two others with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Unindicted co-conspirators are millions of Americans and the far-right mass media.

           It’s common for people in a nation that is in a Recession to complain. They’re frustrated with their lives, with bad working conditions, dead end jobs, and low incomes. They’re frustrated by skyrocketing prices, obscene corporate profits, and do-nothing legislators. The problem isn’t “us,” they believe, but “them.” Others. Outsiders who “invaded” America.

           A century ago in the coal region, good ole boy Americans complained about the Irish and Poles who took “our” jobs in the mines. For decades, Whites kept Blacks out of almost all but the most menial jobs, and then lynched those who they found to be too “uppity.” During the 1920s and 1930s, the masses of Germans, trying to rationalize their own economic distress, decided the problem was the Jews-and  Americans went along with that ethnic racism. We blame Asians. Africans. Muslims. Anyone who’s different.

           In today’s America, it’s the “Illegals,” the code-name for undocumented Mexicans. Of course, undocumented Swedes or Canadians or anyone with White skin pass under the radar. Anyone with dark skin doesn’t.

However, politicians and pundits together yell that “illegal” means just that. “What’s not to understand about ‘illegal’,” they screech. They claim they aren’t after any one race or people. Just get rid of illegals. You know, the ones who take “our” jobs. Take “our” welfare. Take “our” education. Take “our” health care. For free! And, while they’re taking, say the forces of righteousness and purity, these illegals become criminals. Some do. But most don’t.

           You can’t reason with people in their own crises. You can’t tell them that our prisons are filled not with undocumented workers but with American citizens. You can’t explain that most undocumented workers don’t want hand-outs because they don’t want to be known to the authorities. Volumes of data won’t convince some of the masses that undocumented workers, the illegals, often live in near-poverty and don’t get welfare. They don’t even go to the ER when necessary, and so their illness or injury “runs its course” while destroying other body systems because these undocumented workers, already exploited by American business, are afraid of being identified and deported.

           In our schools, hatred festers and breeds. Jokes about race, ethnicity, religion, women, gays, and anyone not “us” are told and retold by students-and by teachers and principals who should know better.

           Two decades ago, the hatreds would have been somewhat isolated, confined to the corner saloon or social club. But now, self-aggrandizing politicians and media talk show hosts and pundits, who erroneously believe they are populists, spew hate-filled torrents of bigotry and fear-mongering.

           I don’t know if the six teens who murdered Luis Ramirez listen to talk radio, watch Fox News, or read web blogs and anonymous call-ins and letters to the local newspaper. They don’t have to. Their community does.

[Walter Brasch is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University, a syndicated columnist, and author of 17 books. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available through amazon.com and other stores.]