In the fall of 1943, a remarkable football game was played on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, the open, desolate, sparsely-populated landscape that pulls up to the great Rocky Mountains like the ebb of an inland sea they once were.
Dotted with small towns and grain towers, among the other installations on Colorado’s Eastern Plains during World War II was the Granada Relocation Center for Japanese Americans, colloquially known as Amache after a Cheyenne Indian Chief’s daughter. Like the communities around it, Amache was too small to field a full 11-man football team so instead they played six-man, including against a squad from the nearby town of Holly, the Holly High School Wildcats. They were prisoners and designated not-Americans, yet played that most American of sports.
The Amache team won that six-man football game in 1943, 7-0. Among the players on the Holly team was a teenage farm boy named Roy Romer. “We felt strange,” he recalled. “Why were folks herded here?”
Romer would go on to become four-term governor of Colorado and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He talked about growing up in the shadow of Amache as a lifelong influence on his support for civil rights and treating people equally. Romer was part of the Colorado contingent that marched on the last day from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. King, and he was one of the first national figures to support LGBT rights by opposing Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2.
Colorado’s Republican governor at the time, Ralph Carr, opposed Executive Order 9066, the internment of Japanese Americans and said of them, “the Japanese are protected by the same Constitution that protects us. An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen. … If you harm them, you must first harm me. I was brought up in small towns where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it.”
Considered a rising star in the national Republican Party, Carr’s pro-civil rights stand provoked a firestorm of ugly criticism and cost him the 1942 Colorado Senate race. Amache ended Ralph Carr’s career. It began Roy Romer’s.
So when I hear the ugly rhetoric around Muslims not being real Americans from Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and the pejorative “anchor babies” from Jeb Bush, I think, have we learned nothing from Amache? I witness the hateful, divisive venom from Trump and Carson and the “birthers” and I wonder, what makes your family any better or different? What entitles you to separate yourself from people named Khan and Rodriguez and Obama – and for that matter, Reince Priebus?
This is toxic and anti-American. Rep. Mike Honda and his family were interned at Amache. The late Sen. Dan Inouye lost an arm for this country serving in a Japanese-American combat unit. He was awarded the Medal of Honor along with 20 other Nisei solders who were members of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, many of whom had family members in internment camps. Sometimes the “hyphenated” citizens of this country give us better than the non-hyphenated ones deserve.
If there’s one thing that defines this country above all others, it is that we are made up of people who wanted to come here. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.
The people in Amache were Americans. So are 3 million Muslim Americans. So is Jorge Ramos. When it comes to our values, Trump, Carson and the racist birther idiots they feed in the hopes of becoming president, I’m not so sure.
By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, September 23, 2015
“Bye-Bye Federal Criminal Justice Reform?”: Hard To Imagine GOP Congressional Leaders Bucking Their Base To Push Reform
There’s a powerful tendency in the chattering classes, impervious so far to contrary data, to think of Donald Trump as just a summer sideshow that will close down directly once the real candidates–you know, Jeb!–get in gear and Party Elites send down the word that the base has had its fun and now needs to get into line. You don’t have to think he’s actually going to get the nomination (and I still don’t, though I wouldn’t bet the farm I don’t have on it at this juncture) to understand he’s having an impact on the GOP and indirectly the country.
Most obviously, no Republican who wants to seriously compete for the nomination is going to get all loud-and-proud about comprehensive immigration reform, no matter what’s down there in the footnotes of their policy tomes.
But my biggest fear has been that Trump’s poisoning the well for criminal justice reform at the federal level, and Michael Grunwald shares it:
Criminal justice reform, a perennial lost cause for civil rights lefties, had its surprise bipartisan moment this year. Conservative Republican voices like anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers led campaigns against mass incarceration and mandatory drug sentences. GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush has embraced the pro-reform Right on Crime initiative, while Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have co-sponsored reform bills with liberal Democratic senators.
But the Kumbaya reform moment may not survive the Summer of Trump.
After roiling the politics of immigration with jeremiads about border walls and Mexican rapists, Donald Trump has scrambled the politics of crime by running as a pro-cop, anti-thug “law-and-order” candidate, denouncing rioters in Baltimore and Ferguson, vowing to “get rid of gang members so fast your head will spin.” And as with immigration, his rivals are echoing his appeals to the angry id of their party’s white base, distancing themselves from bipartisan reform. Bush is now touting his own “eight-year record of cracking down on violent criminals” as governor of Florida, while attacking Trump as “soft on crime” because of his past support for Democrats and marijuana decriminalization. Candidates like Cruz and the usually Koch-friendly Scott Walker are also trumpeting their toughness on criminal justice issues, blaming President Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement for recent attacks on police officers. In this climate, it’s even harder than usual to imagine GOP congressional leaders bucking their base to push reform.
Trump has been dismissed as a sideshow, but for now at least, he’s the main show.
I suppose it’s possible that a Republican presidential candidate or two will decide to get attention as someone who’s “fighting” Trump on this or that issue instead of positioning him- or her-self to inherit his support when whatever it is that’s supposed to strike him down finally happens. But I wouldn’t count on it, particularly on an issue–crime–that is more viscerally immediate to angry and frightened white people than immigration.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 14, 2015
“Obama Will Make Some News Thursday, Too”: Will Call For The Restoration Of The Voting Rights Act On Its 50th Anniversary
As I write this post, political junkies are awaiting the official word on the list of candidates who will appear in Thursday’s first official Republican presidential debate. But in an example of questionable timing by Fox News, Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And since said act was largely vitiated by a conservative majority of SCOTUS in 2013, and congressional Republicans have barely lifted any fingers to restore it, the president’s going to do everything possible to force voting rights into the national consciousness that day, and perhaps even into the GOP debate, as reported by The Hill‘s Jordan Fabian:
President Obama will call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary Thursday, the White House said.
Obama will hold a teleconference to commemorate the landmark legislation and call for its renewal, following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that voided one of its central provisions.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who rose to prominence in the 1960s as a civil rights leader, will participate.
The event will allow Obama to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans, many of whom argue some provisions of the 1965 law went too far. It will take place on the same day as the first GOP presidential primary debate.
You have to love this quote:
Asked about the timing of the event, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that “one person’s irony is another person’s serendipity.”
“Maybe there will be an opportunity for Republican candidates to discuss the right for every American to cast a vote,” he added.
It will tell you a lot about the GOP and about Fox News if the subject is not mentioned on Thursday night.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 4, 2015
Poor Marco Rubio. With history rushing past him, its dust gritty in his eyes, he, the bully, resorts to playing the victim.
And so it was on Tuesday, when he tried—in this now-practiced right wing way—to claim that he and other Christians were the victims of LGBTs and their demands for, er, basic equality and civil rights.
What else can Rubio do? People like him have lost the argument.
All they can do now, after years of fostering a climate of prejudice and persecution against LGBTs, is to claim that with the prospect of equality, it is they, the bullies, who are persecuted.
They cannot argue how equality affects them negatively, so merely claim to be victims.
This is all they have, after years of using every trick in the book to keep LGBT people unequal, feared, and stigmatized.
It would be funny, this attempted sleight-of-hand, this laughable co-opting of the language and mantle of victimhood, if Rubio’s words were not so disgusting, and such canards.
On Tuesday, Rubio dared to use the phrase ‘hate speech’ when describing how, one day, those who objected to marriage equality would be seen as propagating hate speech.
Does Marco Rubio have any idea of the toxicity of the phrase he is flinging around to score some cheap political capital?
Does he have any idea of the true ‘hate speech’ LGBTs have suffered, not just on political platforms at the hands of people like Marco Rubio in their stoking of their Christian voting base—words like ‘unnatural,’ ‘pretend families,’ words of exclusion that seek to put us outside the boundaries of family, home, and love?
Because ‘hate speech’ doesn’t end on political platforms. They’re the words that LGBTs hear before they are beaten by homophobes on street corners and in schoolyards. Beaten, sometimes fatally. How dare Marco Rubio seek to invoke a phrase like ‘hate speech’ to feed his own pathetic persecution complex? Has he any idea of the true cost of ‘hate speech’ as it has been used against LGBT people?
Rubio said ‘mainstream Christian’ teachings would soon be seen as hate speech in his scary new world where those pesky homosexuals are treated just as the same as everyone else under the law.
“Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” Rubio said. Absurdly. You are only labeled a ‘homophobe’ and ‘hater’ if you come out and say something homophobic and hateful.
Mr. Rubio, despite great provocation by you and others like you, LGBTs and their supporters—many of whom are Christian, by the way—who back equality actually think you can say and think whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t incite violence and hatred. If it does, they will object, as any reasonable person might.
If you claim that LGBTs do not deserve marriage equality, and your argument has the ring of prejudice about it—and it necessarily would because you are arguing against the principles of equality—then expect to be called out for it.
But you are not being silenced. You are being disagreed with. And now you’re feeling persecuted because it’s not just LGBTs calling you out on it, but all those who believe people should be treated equally under the law.
Simply, Mr. Rubio, when will you stop scapegoating LGBTs to score votes? Why are you so dead-set on maintaining inequality and discrimination? What’s in it for you? Rubio also said, “After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.”
Again, this is doom-saying nonsense, and yet another attempt to paint “the gay agenda” as an uncontrollable monster, out to silence its objectors.
The truth is that for years LGBTs have had to fight to be heard themselves, to be visible, to lobby for equality under the law.
LGBT activists have never said the teachings of mainstream Christianity or the catechism of the Catholic Church are pernicious. They have argued against those teachings being warped by bigots and opportunists like Mr. Rubio to attack LGBT people, and deny them their civil rights—but not for them to cease to exist or be practiced.
In a way, Rubio’s nonsensical words are heartening. They are like the last gasp of a poisonous old world order of determined prejudice and discrimination. How furious and scared he must have been to see Catholic Ireland face down the kind of misinformation and lies he and his cronies propagate against LGBTs on Saturday, and vote instead for a future of equality.
Rubio and others like him know their grip on fear and prejudice is loosening. And so now, he plays the victim: it’s the last pathetic piece of pantomime left to him.
Quite simply, even Rubio’s followers and supporters know LGBT people—and they do not like to see these family members and loved ones persecuted so viciously for whom they choose to go to bed with. And so, with the grit of history in his eye, Rubio continues howling in the wind—his words more and more lost in the tempest of history passing him by.
By: Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast, May 26, 2015