The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: trump racism

Hawley Casts Sole Vote Opposing Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday cast the sole vote against a bill aimed at tackling hate crimes against Asian Americans, amid an alarming uptick of violence against the community over the past year.

The Senate voted by an overwhelming 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would designate a Department of Justice official to oversee the issue and expedite investigations of coronavirus-related hate crimes. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono sponsored the bill.

"PASSED: Today, the US Senate rejects anti-Asian hate," Hirono tweeted Wednesday. "This historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a powerful message of solidarity to our AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so President Biden can sign it into law."

The Senate, that is, except for Hawley, who bucked his colleagues, Republicans included, to vote nay on the effort to combat hate crimes.

The Missouri senator's vote is in line with his history of racist behavior.

Earlier this year, during a speech a the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he, for example, rebuked the New York Times' "1619 Project," a collection of articles on the history of slavery in the United States. He also denied that systemic racism exists and stressed that the country liberated slaves.

"We heard that we are systemically racist," Hawley said. "We heard that the real founding of the country wasn't in 1776, it was in 1619 or whatever. We heard that America is founded in lies and evil. That's what we've been told. All of that is false. All of that is a lie."

He continued, "We're proud to have lived in a country that started with nothing and became the greatest country in the face of the earth. We're proud to be in a country that liberated slaves."

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawley repeatedly summoned racist tropes about the coronavirus and incessantly blamed China for the outbreak.

"Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic," Hawley said last March. "It is time for an international investigation into the role their cover-up played in the spread of this devastating pandemic. The CCP must be held to account for what the world is now suffering."

His comments are consistent with Donald Trump's scapegoating of China for his own botched coronavirus response.

He also targeted the Chinese government. In July 2020, he introduced the Civil Justice for Victims of China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Actto strip China of its sovereign immunity and allow federal courts to freeze Chinese assets.

"I'm proud to stand with my colleagues and lead the effort to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the devastation they have unleashed on the world. This pandemic is far from over, and every day Americans continue to suffer thanks to the CCP's incompetence and lies. The victims deserve to have their day in court," he said then.

Hawley separately introduced the Justice for Victims of Coronavirus Act in April 2020 to allow U.S. citizens and states to sue the Chinese government for damages related to the coronavirus pandemic.

All of Hawley's actions occurred amid an increase in brutal hate incidents and crimes against the AAPI community that has largely been fueled by anti-Asian racism and COVID-19 lies.

A March 2021 report from the Stop AAPI Hate tracking initiative found 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to February this year.

Racist rhetoric from GOP lawmakers and Trump had contributed to the rise in anti-Asian hate, an earlier Stop AAPI Hate report found.

In Atlanta-area shootings on March 16, a white male opened fire at three spas where eight people died, six of whom were Asian women. The tragedy was a watershed moment and became a rallying cry against racism and sexism.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

How The 1871 Anti-KKK Statute Could Be Used To Stop Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's campaign continues to come up short in its post-election legal battle, observers are mulling over ways to go after the president, his campaign, and Republican Party's efforts to suppress votes.

In an editorial published by The Bulwark, Section 1985(3) of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is being highlighted as a possible vector of legal consequence for Trump's actions.

Read Now Show less

Trump’s ‘Good Genes’ Remark Is A Harbinger Of Unending Struggle

It was one of lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg's cases before she took her place on the Supreme Court or in pop culture memes. It is only occasionally mentioned, perhaps because the details illuminated a truth people prefer to look away from, so they can pretend that sort of thing could never happen here.

But something terrible did happen, to a teenager, sterilized in 1965 without fully consenting or understanding the consequences in a program that continued into the 1970s in the state of North Carolina. The girl became a woman whose marriage and life crashed before her story became the basis of a lawsuit Ginsburg filed in federal court that helped expose the state's eugenics program. While North Carolina's was particularly aggressive, other states implemented their own versions, long ago given a thumbs up by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1927 decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Read Now Show less

Trump Is Trying To Panic White Voters — About Black People

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

On Wednesday, Donald Trump confessed that he had lied to the American public—over, and over, and over, and … you get the idea—about the danger posed by COVID-19. By doing so, and by purposely refusing to provide coordinated testing, or a national strategy, Trump deliberately condemned 200,000 Americans to die and 6 million others to suffer through the disease.

But, says Trump, there was a reason: He had to keep the country "calm." He had to "avoid panic." Except, in the case of COVID-19, telling people the truth would have allowed them to understand that this was far worse than the flu, that it wasn't going to go away, that it would be months before the situation improved, and that reopening schools and businesses was not safe. Telling people the truth would have kept tens of thousands more Americans alive.

Read Now Show less

Trump Supporters Are Freaked Out By Kamala — And It Shows

For months, I've adhered to the conventional wisdom that Joe Biden was most likely to pick Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. She's highly qualified, young but not inexperienced, a woman of color, a talented public speaker, not afraid of a fight, perceived as relatively moderate, and has been through the rigors of a national campaign. Her appeal to Biden was impossible to miss.

And yet somehow, the defenders of President Donald Trump seemed totally caught off guard when the choice came down on Tuesday. They have no unified strategy of how to attack the California senator.

Read Now Show less

Kellyanne Defends 'Highly Offensive' Slur Because Trump Used It

Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is defending Donald Trump's recent use of the racist term "kung-flu" to describe COVID-19, despite calling the phrase "highly offensive" and "very hurtful" in March.

Trump used the term during his poorly attended rally in Oklahoma and again on Tuesday while meeting with student supporters in Arizona. Conway was asked about it by reporters on Wednesday morning, who noted that she had previously condemned its use.

"We don't always agree on everything and that's why I work here," Conway said, suggesting that the difference showed Trump is a "very strong leader."Conway said Trump's racist rhetoric was a way of holding China accountable for the virus.

"My reaction is that the president has made very clear he wants everybody to understand — and I think many Americans do understand — that the virus originated in China and had China been more transparent and honest with the United States and the world, we wouldn't have all the death and destruction that unfortunately we've suffered and that's important, continue to be important," Conway said.

The Trump administration and other Republicans have sought to use China as a way to deflect responsibility for Trump's mishandling of the outbreak that has killed over 121,000 Americans to date.

However, in both instances of Trump using the phrase, he was not talking about holding China accountable, but instead was claiming that there is a long list of names for the virus and that the racist "kung-flu" was one of them.

On Tuesday, Trump also expressed confusion about the "19" in COVID-19, saying "some people can't explain" it.

Earlier in the week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also defended Trump's use of the racist phrase, insisting that Trump "does not believe it's offensive to note that this virus came from China." She also claimed Trump's use of the phrase was somehow a way for him to "stand up for our U.S. military, who China's making an active effort to completely defame."

Even as Conway defended Trump's use of the racist phrase, she renewed her previous attacks on CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, who first reported that someone in the White House had used the phrase in front of her.

"I'm glad you're joining us, Weijia, because I still invite you up here to tell us who said that, and I think that that would be a very important revelation," said Conway.

"That's not a source for you to protect, that's somebody who shouldn't have said that and you're claiming did say that. We still don't know who that was," she added.

Ben Carson Insists Trump Isn’t Racist Because Black Employees ‘Love Him’

The sole black member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet insisted this week that Trump is not racist because he is liked by his minority employees and let wealthy Jewish and black people join his Mar-a-Lago club.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson on Friday told attendees at a summit on economic opportunity that he’d gotten to know Trump — who spent much of the 2016 campaign portraying Carson as a low-energy man with a “pathological” temper, a questionable religion, and no leadership ability — since joining his administration.

“Talking to the people who drive the cars and park the cars at Mar-a-Lago — they love him. The people who wash the dishes, because he’s kind and compassionate,” Carson said.

“When he bought Mar-a-Lago, he was the one who fought for Jews and blacks to be included in the clubs that were trying to exclude them,” he added. You know, people say he’s a racist. He is not a racist.”

Carson’s suggestion that Trump was a civil rights pioneer in the Palm Beach club scene is misleading at best. In reality, Trump fought not to integrate other clubs, but rather to renovate his own.

According to a 2015 Washington Post report, back in the 1990s, after Trump bought the Mar-a-Lago mansion, the Palm Beach town council attempted to impose restrictions on Trump’s property use, as he was trying to convert it into a private club and resort.

Trump pushed back against the council, the outlet noted, “claiming that local officials seemed to accept the established private clubs in town that had excluded Jews and blacks while imposing tough rules on his inclusive one.” After he accused the council of discrimination against him, they mostly backed off.

“He won in the court of public opinion,” Jack McDonald, a council member at the time, told the Post.

According to the outlet, McDonald later “went on to be mayor and to join Mar-a-Lago.”

Another former Palm Beach council member, Allen Wyett, told the Post that Trump’s decision to accept black and Jewish members was likely more a business strategy than anything else.

“Was he smart enough to realize that Palm Beach is about 40 percent Jewish and he was not going to attract the old guard anyway?” he asked.

Trump notably has a lengthy record of anti-Semitism and racism.

As a candidate in 2015, he employed anti-Semitic stereotypes portraying Jewish Republican donors as money-grubbing people who are only focused on negotiations. Last year, he claimed Jews showed “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” by voting for Democrats, while suggesting American Jews were more loyal to Israel than the United States. He also famously praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people” in 2017.

Trump also spent several years pushing racist — and demonstrably false — birther conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, suggesting the first black president was not really an American. He has dismissed African nations as “shithole countries” and has frequently attacked women of color, recently telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their home countries.

Since 2017, a Mar-a-Lago membership has cost $200,000, plus $14,000 in annual dues.

What Kind Of Country Do Americans Truly Want? It’s Your Choice

That was presidential hopeful Tom Steyer, when I spoke with him recently, during his second stop through North Carolina in two weeks.

Yes, there are primary and caucus states after Iowa and New Hampshire. And Democratic candidates are realizing success in those two states is not necessarily destiny. That means appealing to the diverse voters who will have to make peace with the candidates and one another by November, and realizing that as the primaries move South, West and beyond, inequality is an essential part of the debate.

But paying attention is not just electoral expediency, it is a matter of political philosophy as well — the “vision” thing. While other nations are still fighting ancient rivalries and coming up with solutions guaranteed to leave someone unhappy — see this week’s proposed Middle East peace plan — America has reason to fret over its own longtime divisions, laid starkly bare in this contentious election season.

A complex experiment

An impeachment trial is not the only thing that has the parties and the country looking at the same evidence and landing on different conclusions. There is disagreement on what the American experiment really means, and where do we go from here.

While Democrats are wrestling, sometimes clumsily, with complex issues of inclusion, the Republican Party’s message, through policy and vocabulary, is much clearer when it comes to appealing across lines of race, faith, national origin, socio-economic status and orientation.

In recent weeks, a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices has given the go-ahead to the Trump administration to implement “wealth test” rules for legal immigration, while challenges work their way through the courts, making it easier to deny immigrants residency or admission because they have used or might use public-assistance programs. How many current citizens’ immigrant relatives would pass the test, and are Americans comfortable making wealth the defining judge of hard work and character?

The president is also considering expanding the travel ban that was criticized for targeting Muslim-majority countries. According to a Politico report, Nigeria might be added to the list, despite the many Nigerian Americans doing very well when it comes to education and income. Trump, of course, dismissed the country with a profanity.

States fear cuts in food assistance that don’t consider that pockets of limited employment opportunities leave many hurting, even in a good economy. Though poverty cuts across all lines, Americans disadvantaged by society’s obstacles — the poor, the disabled, minorities — acutely feel cuts in the safety net.

Abnormal times

The California Steyer speaks of with pride is the state Trump disparages. Homelessness and income inequality — problems not limited to the West Coast — are not viewed as American challenges to be met but as useful cudgels for political-opponent bashing. Trump does the same for other locales, eschewing the usual presidential gesture of assuring those who chose someone else or none of the above that the commander in chief has their backs.

In contrast, billionaire Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg recently announced his Greenwood Initiative, a plan to address the systemic bias that has kept many African Americans from building wealth, in the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known for its role in the historical destruction of black wealth in America. Its “black Wall Street” was destroyed in a 1921 race massacre; mass graves are still being discovered.

Yes, Bloomberg is bedeviled by his New York City “stop and frisk” history, and some cynicism is warranted for his repeated efforts to persuade voters reluctant because of it. Nonetheless, that gesture acknowledged that America’s celebrated greatness has always been complicated and conditional.

When chided by a protest led by pastor and human rights activist Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II before the Iowa debate, Democratic candidates talked about poverty and the Poor People’s Campaign, a current reimagining of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s crusade. King’s day and contributions received the most cursory of acknowledgments from the current White House, if you don’t count counselor Kellyanne Conway’s suggestion that he would oppose impeachment — and why would you count it? What kind of welcome will the campaign’s Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, planned for June 20, receive, I wonder?

Weighing their options

Voters have a choice, and are paying attention, from the enthusiastic and supportive crowds at Trump rallieslike in New Jersey this week, to folks who came prepared with questions at that Steyer town hall at a Charlotte, North Carolina, boys and girls center.

Carol Archibald, 67, a retired ICU nurse, said she had seen a lot in her 46-year career, from health professionals dropping dead from burnout to young people traumatized by violence and interactions with law enforcement in her New York City home. She said she appreciated Steyer’s “heart for the poor,” evidenced by the nonprofits and community bank he and his wife established before his presidential run. Issues on the list for her and her daughter, Faye Brown, who accompanied her, included clean air and water, health care and affordable housing.

Even my usual go-to theater escape is often about more serious things these days.

This week, I watched “The New Colossus,” a theater event written by actor/activist Tim Robbins and his Actors’ Gang, in Charlotte at the start of a national tour. The dozen members of the ensemble are guides in an immersive, harrowing journey of refugees — some related to the actors, we learn — who found hope, relief, escape in America.

Led by Robbins in an after-show talkback, audience members shared, sometimes with emotion, their own American stories, with roots that ranged from indigenous to new arrivals to Mayflower descendants. I shared the story of Addie Price, my great-grandmother, just 6 years old and clinging to her mother’s skirts when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, a part of that history passed down so as not to forget.

“There is so much divisiveness, so much hateful rhetoric, that is dividing us,” Robbins told me after the show. “I think it’s important to tell stories that remind us of our shared humanity, our shared history, and what we have in common.” The idea, he said, “is to make people think in a different way, open their hearts a little bit.”

After seeing a show that takes its name from an Emma Lazarus sonnet, whose lines appear on the Statue of Liberty, it’s clear what her words mean to him.

The jury is still out on the rest of us.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.