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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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New NRA President Chairs Board Of Confederate Monument

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Carolyn Meadows, who is succeeding Oliver North as president of the National Rifle Association, is also the chairperson of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, an organization that maintains the largest memorial to the Confederacy in the United States.

Meadows, who sits on the NRA board of directors and was serving as the group’s second vice president, was elected president of the NRA during an April 29 meeting of NRA board members. She will succeed North, who was ousted from the NRA amid infighting that pitted a faction led by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre against North and Ackerman McQueen, an ad firm that is deeply enmeshed with the NRA and produces the NRA’s media operation, NRATV. LaPierre, who North said engaged in financial improprieties in his role as NRA CEO, was reportedly unanimously reelected CEO by the board.

Meadows is listed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association website as chairperson of the organization’s board of directors. According to her site bio, “She has been actively involved in the Republican Party since 1964 and served as Georgia’s National Chairwoman for 12 years,” and she is also a board member of the American Conservative Union, the group that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Stone Mountain, Georgia, features an enormous relief carving that depicts Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback. A 2017 article in Smithsonian magazine notes that “the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain” and “is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy.”

Stone Mountain is also closely associated with the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. KKK leader William Simmons “ushered in the modern era of the Ku Klux Klan, founding the Second KKK at the top of Stone Mountain on November 25, 1915,” in an event that included a cross burning and signaled “a new era of white nationalist terrorism,” according to Smithsonian magazine. Plans for the memorial were already being made at the time of the Klan ceremony, but the project ended up being shuttered for several decades and was only revived following right-wing anger over the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending school segregation. The monument was eventually completed in 1972.

Meadows is not the only prominent NRA official to support Confederate symbols. NRA board member Ted Nugent, who was reelected during the 2019 NRA annual meeting, has long been an outspoken defender of the Confederate flag. Previous NRA President Jim Porter, who served two years as president beginning in 2013, was also an apologist for the Confederacy, having once stated, “NRA was started 1871 right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the ‘War of Northern Aggression.’”

The NRA often calls itself the oldest civil rights organization in America, although that isn’t true.

Senator Who Fought KKK Says Trump Encourages Violence Against LGBTQ

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones says the hatred promoted by Trump and Mike Pence is giving a “green light” to violent bigots to commit hate crimes.

In an interview with Newsweek published Tuesday, the Democratic senator was asked about his February tweet that praised actress Ellen Page for passionately condemning Pence and the Trump administration for their anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Jones was asked if he worries about “the Trump administration inciting hatred and violence against the LGBTQ community.”

“Yes,” Jones replied. “I do think sometimes people get so caught up in their own zealousness about an issue that they forget how much words matter. They have a pulpit by which people can take things the wrong way, and there’s a lot of people out there looking toward them for a green light to do bad things.”

He added that he does not believe Trump officials are “intentionally trying to incite violence.” But, he said, “I do believe that some of their words unintentionally can give a green light to people, and that’s what we’ve got to be careful of.”

Before he was elected to office, Jones led the successful prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members who planted a bomb that killed four black girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, nearly 40 years after they committed the crime.

Jones understands how violent bigotry works, and he is correct that it doesn’t matter whether Trump officials intend to incite violence. They are still doing it — and are still refusing to change course despite mounting evidence that their actions are causing harm.

Since Trump’s election, the FBI has found that reports of hate crimes have increased in America. Despite this data and the moral crisis it has provoked, Trump’s fellow Republicans have largely chosen inaction on hate crimes legislation.

Trump has also refused to stop calling journalists the “enemies of the people,” despite evidence that his words have specifically incited violence and attempted violence against journalists. He continues to spread dangerous lies about Democrats supporting “infanticide,” despite America’s decades-long history of violent anti-abortion terrorism. And he has only reluctantly condemned white supremacy, despite a recent surge of white supremacist terrorism.

Specifically on the issue of LGBTQ equality, Trump and Pence have been trying to turn the clock back. The administration is currently trying to overturn the right of transgender service members to wear the military uniform, after President Barack Obama changed policy to allow equal service.

Trump is also plotting to manipulate federal law so that LGBTQ people are no longer protected by anti-discrimination laws.

These actions are a clear attempt to hold on to the loyalty of anti-LGBTQ voters, who support the Trump presidency in part thanks to Mike Pence, a long-time homophobe.

Trump and Pence have embraced hate and even made it official government policy. Violent bigots have taken their words to heart, and hurt and killed innocent Americans.

And Jones is calling them out for the harm they are causing every day.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

Alabama Newspaper Calls For Ku Klux Klan ‘To Night Ride Again’

On February 14, the Democrat-Reporter, a local newspaper in Linden, Alabama, ran a hideous editorial calling for the return of the KKK. On Monday, publisher Goodloe Sutton confirmed that he was the author of the racist screed, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

“Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again,” wrote Sutton. “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama … this socialist-communist idealogy [sic] sounds good to the ignorant, the uneducated, and the simple minded people.”

“Slaves, just freed after the civil war, were not stupid. At times, they borrowed their former masters’ robes and horses and rode through the night to frighten some evil doer. Sometimes they had to kill one or two of them, but so what,” continued Sutton. “Seems like the Klan would be welcome to raid the gated communities up there. They call them compounds now. Truly, they are the ruling class.”

When confronted by the Advertiser, Sutton was completely remorseless and actually doubled down, suggesting the KKK should start lynching people again.

“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” said Sutton. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.” The population of Washington, D.C. is 48 percent African-American.

It’s not bad to lynch people in D.C., said Sutton, because “these are socialist-communists we’re talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?” The KKK, he added, “didn’t kill but a few people” and “wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”

Sutton depicts the Klan as if they were just a bunch of economic populists sticking it to the man, supported by former slaves. In fact, they were quite the opposite  a racial terrorist organization founded in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War to intimidate newly freed slaves trying to exercise their civil rights.

The KKK existed in three “phases”. The first KKK in the 1860s was a paramilitary group in the South that enforced white supremacy with murders and assaults; the second KKK in the 1920s was a political movement of millions across the whole country that rallied to oppose (and often turned violent against) anything that wasn’t traditional, white, Protestant dominance of American culture; and the third KKK in the 1960s arose to oppose the civil rights movement, and relied on firebombings of black churches and the homes of activists to spread fear. The KKK continues to this day, albeit as a few thousand scattered members of disjointed, often opposed groups.

American society had supposedly moved, if certainly not beyond racism itself, then at least beyond the expression of overt support for white supremacy. Unfortunately, as Sutton demonstrates, some people yearn for the days when racial terrorism was a constant and ever-present force.

Yee Haw! Is Trump’s Appeal To White Voters Waning Already?

So here’s my question: If Trump’s going to make America great again, when was America last great? And what was so great about it?

Here in the South, where I’ve lived nearly all my adult life, the temptation is to wonder if the segregationist 1950s isn’t what some of the president’s keenest supporters have in mind. You know, pre-Brown vs. Board of Education, pre-Voting Rights Act, when fundamentalist preachers and racist night-riders with guns held social and political veto power across much of the region.

Yee haw!

It’s certainly true that having a black president sent a significant proportion of fearful white folks clear around the bend. To be sure, people who succumbed to Trump’s “birtherism,” who believed that Barack Obama grew up a Muslim in Kenya, hated white people and brought Sharia law and socialism to the United States are clearly out of reach, politically speaking. (Never mind that it was mainly Yankees with names like Hannity and Napolitano that popularized this nonsense on Fox News.)  

But to ask the question is partly to answer it: No, the great majority of Southern voters have no ambition to turn the calendar back to 1955. For example, did you see that exciting neo-Nazi/KKK pep rally outside Newnan, GA the other day? Flaming swastikas and guys in brownshirt uniforms chanting “Sieg, Heil!” always make for compelling video.

Except here’s the part you may not have seen emphasized on TV: approximately two-dozen brownshirts were outnumbered by several hundred protestors and a reported 700 state and local cops who kept the lid on. The hardest part was keeping the stormtroopers from getting their pasty white butts kicked. They’re not scaring anybody any more.

The episode reminded me of a 1990 Arkansas GOP primary in which the Grand Exalted Demento of the KKK blundered into a runoff race for Lieutenant Governor. Most observers thought Ralph Forbes’ name must have sounded familiar to low-information voters, possibly because of his occasional pronouncements on behalf of the American Nazi Party.

The would-be Sturmbannführer’s opponent was a former Razorback defensive back (and friendly acquaintance) named Muskie Harris. (We both volunteered at a Little Rock Boy’s Club.) After the media highlighted the irresistible angle of a black man versus a Klansman, Arkansas Republicans made themselves emphatically clear: Muskie won with 86 percent of the vote.

Forbes insisted he’d been cheated. Told that early returns showed him trailing in Pope County, where he lived, by 68 votes to 8, he told a reporter: “I’ve got more than eight kids, for crying out loud.”

The eventual total there was 571-79.

So no, we ain’t having none of that around here.

Yes, Arkansas is now a “red state.” But no, its fundamental political culture hasn’t changed all that much, and the same can be said for much of the region. All of which makes Trump’s success in the South a bit of a mystery on the personal level. He’s the kind of New York blowhard most Southerners instinctively dislike.

So I can’t help but wonder if the lure of Trumpism hasn’t already begun to wane. Even in the South, are GOP congressional candidates running as adepts of the president’s cult of personality making a mistake? No doubt Trump’s coded racial appeals, his attacks on immigrants, upon the press, and his bombastic calls for imprisoning his political opponents (“Lock her up!”) resonate with a certain segment of the population.

But here in Arkansas, we’ve seen all this before, specifically during the 1955-67 governorship of Orval Faubus of Little Rock Central High fame — ancient history nobody’s keen to repeat.

What’s more, for all his bluster, Trump has failed to deliver. He couldn’t get Obamacare repealed. The vaunted GOP save-the-millionaires tax cut remains justifiably unpopular. Majorities nationwide disliked his pandering to white supremacists in Charlottesville. Most think repeatedly hanging the “dreamers” out to dry is mean-spirited and unfair.

The great majority of Americans want special counsel Robert Mueller to get to the bottom of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. If Trump’s so innocent, many believe, maybe he should act that way.

Writing in the Washington Post, Greg Sargent worries about Republican Senate candidates in West Virginia and Tennessee who are running on building Trump’s wall, locking Hillary up, making football players salute the flag, and the rest of it. He mentions the recent Virginia gubernatorial race in which the Republican candidate made Confederate statues a big issue.

“The question all this raises, he writes “is whether there is a large swath of GOP primary voters who are fully prepared to march behind Trump into full-blown authoritarianism.”

Maybe Democrats should hope they do. The Virginia candidate lost badly; the president’s boosting of mini-me candidates in Alabama and Pennsylvania failed badly. What’s more, if Trump hasn’t gotten his fool wall yet, why would anybody believe it’s going to happen after November 2018?