Tag Archives: Civil rights

John Paul Stevens: applying ‘reason tempered by experience and humility’

One Republican whom the Reagan White House didn’t hornswoggle was the late John Paul Stevens. In Linda Greenhouse’s obituary, I learned that Stevens understood with his usual alacrity how the Justice Department smothered the promise of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ed Meese he regarded with disdain. Continue reading

‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ offers confused, necessary myth making

Written during a period of personal tumult, James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk dared to present a young American black couple in love — unusual in 1974 when colleagues Saul Bellow and John Updike avoided love stories, radical for a novelist watching the collapse of the bipartisan consensus over civil rights legislation and nothing with which to replace it. The black family in the Nixon era was on its own. Continue reading

No taxes and white supremacy — the GOP way

My daily reminder that Republicans are the party of white supremacy:

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s “only serious race war” is against whites.

DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group’s annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues.

“I just want to say what an honor it’s been to be here to speak,” DeSantis said in a ­27-minute speech at the 2015 event in Charleston, a video shows. “David has done such great work and I’ve been an admirer. I’ve been to these conferences in the past but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.”

To quote Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, DeSantis picked some nice playmates:

Guest speakers at its conferences over the past five years have included Republican members of Congress, former governors Rick Perry of Texas and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, young conservative activists James O’Keefe and Ben Shapiro, and right-wing European politicians Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders.

Although Andrew Gillum leads in the polls, it’s an insignificant lead statistically. Ron DeSantis needs to lose to show the world that Florida comprises more than white racists and their Hispanic quislings.

Good luck, North Carolina

If you don’t like the effect, George Clinton said, don’t produce the cause:

In a bid to aggressively prosecute illegal voting, the Justice Department has sent sweeping subpoenas to 44 counties in North Carolina requesting all of their recent voting records. State election officials say the move will overwhelm their resources and prevent them from preparing for early and absentee voting for the November midterms. And civil rights advocates worry that eligible voters will be intimidated and deterred from voting as the administration amplifies its prosecutions of immigrants it says voted illegally….

…Civil rights groups say the fraud charges and new subpoenas could intimidate eligible voters, particularly immigrants, into staying home in November. They compared the request for the voting records to a June 2017 request by Trump’s now-defunct election integrity commission for sensitive voter data from all 50 states. “They couldn’t get it done that way so now they’re doing it this way,” said Allison Riggs, vice president of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a voting rights group based in Durham. “It’s a massive fishing expedition. The scope of it is stunning.”

Coming after a federal court’s decision that there is “insufficient time” before the November midterms to redraw the state’s gerrymandered map, common sense would conclude that the Trump administration and its Justice Department will use its full powers to demolish voter turnout.

Good luck, North Carolina.

‘Black Panther’ a valentine to Afrofuturism

(WARNING: Spoilers included. Also, I’m unfamiliar with the comic).

Although it hews closely to the expectations of the average Marvel property—secret identities, tortured villains, the scrappy sidekick, a final confrontation between the purported hero and the purported villain—Black Panther is a singular viewing experience. Its Afrofuturist sheen encompasses Grace Jones, Public Enemy, and Kendrick Lamar. It sports a trio of powerful women who save the hero’s ass several times. It explicitly calls out the CIA for poisoning the development of this tortured villain. With the help of editors Michael B. Shawver and Claudia Castello, writer-director Ryan Coogler has created an adaptation of a beloved comic that has the look of a Broadway production but the attitude of a wise-ass Netflix sitcom. My audience was alive to it.

Continue reading

Florida’s ‘nonsensical’ disenfranchisement of felons dealt a blow

A throwback to post-Reconstruction ideas about what to do with menacing black felons completing their sentences and voting against the racist system and to shopworn twaddle about recidivism, Florida remains one of three states where felons have to beg to have their rights restored before a clemency board. A federal judge has set this notion on fire:

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the Florida “scheme” unfairly relies on the personal support of the governor for citizens to regain the right to vote. In a strongly worded ruling, he called the state’s defense of voter disenfranchisement “nonsensical,” a withering criticism directed at Gov. Rick Scott, the lead defendant in the case.

“Florida strips the right to vote from every man and woman who commits a felony,” Walker wrote. “To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority. No standards guide the panel. Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration. … The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It does not.”

It’s not all. As the article reminds readers, Floridians will vote on a ballot measure this November whose approval will automatically restore the voting rights of more than a million felons.

As for losing defendant Rick Scott, the governor will likely run for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat.