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Have you ever thought about the role guilt has played in our national life? It’s not omnipresent, it’s certainly not felt by everyone, most especially those sinned against, but I would say guilt rivals pride as the thing that has most motivated us. Think about it for a moment. The founding of this country wasn’t an immaculate birth – for one thing, there wasn’t a Founding Mother among all those long-heralded Founding Fathers, and one of the two greatest mistakes they made the day they came to an agreement on our founding document was what they left out. They didn’t award women full citizenship, and they failed to deal in any way with the sin of slavery.
But an important portion of what makes America exceptional is how we have endeavored to fix our mistakes. We have yet to make adequate amends to the Native Americans who were here before we were and were systematically murdered and kidnapped and abused as this country spread West before and after its founding. But in fits and starts, we’ve been trying – some of us have, anyway – to make amends.
Out of the frying pan of the abject mistake of slavery and into the fire of the Civil War went our first attempt to deal with what we may as well call our founding errors. It took a century that included decades of Reconstruction and Jim Crow and tens of thousands of dead black bodies and burned-down churches and homes and seized land and wealth until the moral clarity and power of the Civil Rights Era forced us as a nation to begin to repair the damage we had done to our fellow citizens who were Black.
Even then, the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act faced massive resistance. Laws against segregation had to be enforced in some cases by armed soldiers to be carried out in schools and colleges in the South. We stumbled through fights over busing in cities like Boston and neighborhoods like Canarsie. White flight from cities across the nation – Detroit and Baltimore among them – damaged tax bases, hurt schools, and let’s not forget the continuing PTSD of having been on the receiving end of the racism behind it all. How would you like to have been a Black family that moved into a white neighborhood anywhere – South, North, East, or West – and watched the “For Sale” signs go up around you and the schools to which you sent your kids nearly empty of white kids?
And we must not forget what this country did to its women. It took until 1920 and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution for women to get the right to vote. That is more than 130 years that women were what is commonly called second class citizens in this country. But I would go further: the everyday work of women was used to build this country. By giving birth to new citizens, women, alongside immigrants, created the population that made possible the formation of territories and then the new states that would comprise the United States of America – all 50 of them.
When men went off to war, women stepped up and did every single job a man had done in their place. And what did they get in return? For decades, a one-way ticket back to the kitchen and the nursery. Women had to start an entire new movement, the Women’s Movement, to begin the long process of realizing some modicum of equality with men in the workplace and in the home, and as we all know, it’s not finished. Women earned 57 cents for every dollar earned by men in 1969. Today, the gap has closed to women’s 80 cents for every male dollar, but jeez, 23 cents over 54 years? That’s an improvement of only a half-cent a year.
It would take a lengthy book to discuss gender inequality in the eyes of the law. Before the Women’s Movement made rape an issue with the publication of Susan Brownmiller’s epic Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape published in 1975, complaints by women that they were raped were often brushed aside by police and prosecutors. It took decades for laws to be passed against using women’s sexual history against them in rape cases. Women are still dealing with inequality on college campuses on countless grounds – how charges of harassment and abuse are dealt with, inequities in sports, inequities in employment of women by colleges and universities. And practically every time women have thought they have secured a right they have fought for and won, it is either challenged or taken away altogether, the right to abortion being the prime example.
We have made great strides in the rights of LGBTQ people, but with the right wing attacking trans people and forbidding the teaching of LGBTQ books in schools, we’re not finished. We’re not finished with any of it – with how we treat Native Americans, Blacks and other minorities, how we treat women, how we treat immigrants…we could go on and on and on.
The only people who haven’t been crapped on in the 236 years of our history are white Christian males, and now with God only knows how much of the nation’s wealth and land, they are whining about being discriminated against by the people on whose shoulders they have been standing, if not stomping further into the ground.
We have been tested before and found wanting, but as a people, we have found a way to rally and at least attempt to overcome the problems we have faced since our founding. Often the tests we face boil down to politics, because within the political process has lain the solutions we have found, often by enacting laws to forbid the bad and elevate the good.
We are being tested yet again. The Republican Party, which was once the party that stood against slavery and for equality, has made an about-face on so many issues, it’s hard to list them, but race, equal rights for women, gay rights, immigrant rights, and equality of economic opportunity are certainly among them. And now they have chosen a leader, and even elected him president for one term, who not only wants to turn back the clock of progress on so many of the things that have made this country a shining light to the world, he wants to destroy the democracy that has haltingly, imperfectly, but steadily made progress possible.
What I’m here to tell you today is this: look back at the long and often difficult history of our country. Almost all of these things that have been problems since the day of our founding are still with us in some measure, but we have accomplished the end of our original sin of slavery and we are at least still trying to make amends for the original sin of the slaughter of the people here on this continent before us who are now our fellow citizens. We’ve done the same with the other people and issues I have cited here. We must look at the victories we achieved in these fights with pride and renewed determination to overcome what stands before us in the next election.
He is one man. He may lead a movement, but it’s a movement that has lost the fights we fought to get where we are. He, and they, are not the future. They represent the dead, rotting flesh of our disreputable past, the awful instincts of man to which we first had to admit guilt and then find a way to put behind us.
I am telling you that if you look back at our accomplishments as a people, you will see our democracy is stronger than maybe we have been thinking. We keep hearing that our democracy is under threat, but our democracy has been threatened before. We defeated Hitler and Hirohito and saved the world from a monstrous end, just for starters. We are strong. We have united in the face of adversity before. It’s not all of us who will rally in defense of our democracy this time, but so what? It wasn’t the entire nation who rallied behind civil rights, either, but we did it, and we can do it again, not with guns and bombs but with our ideas and our ideals and our votes. There are more of us than there are of them. Remember that.
Fox News propagandists are still eagerly shoveling Rep. James Comer’s (R-KY) slop to their viewers, nearly one year into the House Oversight Committee chair’s shambolic campaign to damage President Joe Biden’s political standing by focusing on his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
Comer’s latest smear, unveiled Monday morning, alleges that bank records show that “Hunter Biden’s business entity, Owasco PC, made direct monthly payments to Joe Biden” and that entity “received payments from Chinese-state linked companies & other shady entities,” which purportedly proves that “Joe Biden knew & benefitted from his family's business schemes."
You may have noticed that Comer carefully avoided relating how many payments were made, how big those payments were, or what they were for. The reason why became obvious when journalists dug into the story.
What actually happened, the Washington Postreported, is that Joe Biden bought a truck for his son’s use in 2018 and Owasco PC, Hunter Biden’s law firm, subsequently made three monthly payments of $1,380 to repay Joe Biden’s initial payments on the vehicle. Joe Biden had taken over a number of expenses for his son and his son’s children at the time because Hunter was struggling financially due to his battle with drug addiction.
This is old news. The New York Postreported last year that Joe had paid Hunter’s bills when his son was suffering, including for the truck. But Comer is repackaging that old data point to insinuate that Joe Biden getting repaid $4,140 through one of his son’s companies — after leaving government service and before starting his run for the presidency — suggests that he is intimately knowledgeable of that company’s operations and somehow compromised by its Chinese clients and thus the Chinese government.
Reporters seem to have caught on to the fact that Comer is peddling a cruel farce; his effort is drawing headlines like “James Comer’s Biden claims do not deserve the benefit of the doubt,” “Comer’s Latest Biden ‘Bombshell’ Appears to Be Nothing More Than Hunter Repaying $4,000 in Car Payments,” “Comer Flops in Latest Attempt to Link Hunter Biden to Corruption,” and “The Huge, Hilarious Mistake in James Comer’s New Biden Corruption Claim.”
But Fox hacks like Jesse Watters and Sean Hannity have spent years pushing unsubstantiated allegations that Biden benefited from his son’s financial dealings and have no interest in revealing Comer’s con to their viewers.
Each host scoffed at the explanation that Hunter Biden was repaying Joe Biden for truck payments, instead arguing on their Monday broadcasts that Comer had revealed the president had been corrupted by Chinese funds.
Among the sticking points for this theory, of course, is that the amount of money involved is comically small for what it was supposed to accomplish. But like Comer, they solved that problem by simply not revealing that figure to their audiences.
Watters, fresh off of hosting a mafia hit man — who has admitted to being involved in more than a dozen murders — to accuse Hunter Biden of “mind-blowing” crimes, offered this gloss on Comer’s work: “China, after being threatened by Hunter, wired millions of dollars to him, and then Hunter started sending his dad payments, about $1,400.00 a month.”
But he never mentioned for how many months Hunter made the payments, thus concealing the paltry total.
Hannity went even further in hiding how little money Comer is talking about. He claimed the House Oversight chair had revealed that “not only did Joe Biden discuss his son's business ventures, but he also received direct payments from one of Hunter's corporations” — never mentioning anything about the size of those payments or how many were made.
(Note that Hannity, like Comer, alleges without anything resembling evidence that receiving these payments proves Joe Biden had knowledge of his son’s business dealings.)
Comer also did not give details about the payments when he appeared on Hannity’s show, instead incorporating them into his previously debunked claims to allege that “if you look at the last four payments that we found with ties directly to Joe Biden, they amount to a half a million dollars.”
The message Hannity wants his viewers to take away is clear.
“Let's look at Article 2, Section 4 of our Constitution. The president, the vice president, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said on Monday. “Remember, Congress has a sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and check the executive branch. And now, there is more than enough evidence for a trial.”
House Republicans have apparently decided to impeach Joe Biden, evidence of wrongdoing be damned. Thanks to the work of the party’s media arm, its base has come to expect it. And Hannity and Watters will do everything they can to prepare the way for Comer and his ilk in the months to come.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.