The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

A very long time ago, a Zika type virus escaped from the human laboratory. Like Zika it deforms the human brain.  It assumes supremacy by human males over women and all other forms of life. Its most prominent manifestation is male monotheistic religion—the obligation that humans worship a lone male deity. No goddesses allowed.

The sickness has passed ever since from generation to generation.

About 500 years ago in England, Portugal and elsewhere, the Christian form of the disease mutated to add white supremacy to its genetic code. From its initially pacifist origins, Christianity had already evolved over several hundred years to sponsor crusades,  the killing of “witches,” inquisitions, and the dispatch of missionaries to convert heathens.

The necessity of moral justification for the slave-trade from Africa required a modification. This led to the creation of whiteness and its concomitant blackness, Negro-ness etc. It became a powerful, even an apex identity. Skin color came to be more important than national origin, religion or other variables. Males remained at the pinnacle of the hierarchy.

Once slavery reached the colony that became the United States, it mixed with an emerging hyper version of capitalism that generated enormous wealth and power. It was based on the color-coded displacement and slaughter of humans defined as “red” and the enslaving and breeding of humans defined as black. Race and economics combined like H20 to create the water in which we still swim. It now menaces all life on earth.

It incorporates an especially virulent, eugenic strain of belief that those with white skin are the modern, the superior, the civilized, and the God chosen variety of humans and that all others are generally backward, barbaric, and inferior. (It is important to note that from the beginning it has allowed for individual exceptions. Indeed they serve to “prove” the rule.)

This White Male Supremacy Violence Disease (WMSVD) insinuated itself deeply into the brains of successive generations of white humans in religious, government, educational, economic, media, and military institutions. It also, of course, impacted the identity of Blacks, North American Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians. It provided the intellectual underpinnings for the Holocaust.

African-Americans, women, even some white men and others have worked on vaccines and cures for WMSVD. Breakthroughs have been made.  But WMSVD has proven consistently resistant to both prevention and treatment. Every effort to mitigate the disease is met with ferocious opposition.

Much attention is paid to racial progress. Too little to how white supremacy progresses as well. The end of slavery, for example, produced the backlash that came to be known as Jim Crow. After the civil rights movement ended Jim Crow, another backlash produced the Republican party’s Southern Strategy, Reagan Democrats and mass incarceration.

The election of Barack Obama, together with an expanded media portrayal of blacks, especially on television, fed into the perpetual suspicion of many whites that African Americans are getting things they don’t deserve. This sentiment has been expressed in terms like welfare queens, the 47 percent and so on since the dawn of race-based chattel slavery.

The shift in black visibility did not significantly change actual white advantages in income, wealth, health care, employment, racialized mass incarceration, or other metrics. In fact many racial disparities now benefit whites even more than had previously been the case. What did twist was the context of the 2016 Presidential election. An old pattern returned. White fear, entitlement, and resentment came home to roost with a vengeance.

So it is that WMSVD will soon give Donald Trump access to nuclear weapons capable of unimaginable destruction. That and other powers invested in Mr. Trump make US women, people of color, non-Christians, residents of foreign lands subject to US aggression and virtually every life form extremely vulnerable. Whether they perceive it or not, whites are at substantially greater peril as well.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Trump ran on an explicit WMSVD platform. His appeal was to the diseased thinking that has been a permanent component of the white body politic for nearly 400 years. His staff and Cabinet appointments thus far confirm that he has every intention of implementing a WMSVD platform. Do not be fooled by bobbing, weaving and other feints.The Trump team has a WMSVD agenda and they intend to execute it.

Early on in Trump’s candidacy some of us pointed to similarities with the campaign of Andrew Jackson. Now, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and others are themselves proudly drawing the same comparisons. The point is that President-elect Trump does not represent something new in US politics. Of course some aspects are unique to Trump himself and to how things are done in 2016 as opposed to 1916, 1816, or 1716. But at the root, Trump’s victory represents something as old as the nation itself.

Sadly, pundit after pundit is shocked, shocked, shocked. MSNBC is running a promo in which Chris Hayes is expounding with great passion to Rachel Maddow, “We’ve never seen anything like this before.” Rachel adds “totally unchartered waters,  in so many ways” for good measure.

An article here on AlterNet asked how a “Christian” could vote for Donald Trump. As though Christians didn’t vote repeatedly for slavery; or carry out witch trials in Salem; or elect brutal Indian remover Andrew Jackson in 1828; or impose Jim Crow segregation in the United States; or, in 1912, elect Woodrow Wilson whose first act as President was to fire all of the black employees of the Federal government; or poison Viet Nam,  Laos, and Cambodia with napalm and Agent Orange; or set up torture sites all over the world after 9/11; or create the biggest system of mass incarceration the world has ever known.

To be fair, some Christians opposed all of that. But their version of Christianity did not and does not usually prevail.

It may comfort some to imagine that tweaking the Democratic Party, or a constitutional amendment, improved get-out-the-vote software, eliminating the electoral college, being patient until “the demographics” turn more in our favor or some other fix, will make it all better. Not likely.  Ameliorating symptoms, even when possible, does not arrest the growth of the disease.

More importantly it misses the opportunity we now have. Humans created WMSVD and humans can and already are creating new systems that operate without it.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES, put it eloquently in a recent essay:

Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Fifty years ago, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a radical revolution of values. The late Grace Lee Boggs counseled us to “grow our souls.” Lillian Genser urged us to “pledge allegiance to the world, to care for earth and sea and air, to cherish every living thing with peace and justice everywhere.”

Answering the call of this moment starts with ourselves and in our own communities. It begins and ends with love for all life on this earth.

Let the living memory of successful non-violent direct action and thinking by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Rosa Parks, Dr. King, Vincent Harding, Mahatma Gandhi and others inspire and guide us.

Frank Joyce is a lifelong Detroit based writer and activist. He is co-editor with Karin Aguilar-San Juan of The People Make The Peace—Lessons From The Vietnam Antiwar Movement.

IMAGE: Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump greets supporters at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading... Show less

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

{{ }}