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“Recognizing The Human Rights Of All”: Bravo, Bruce: Springsteen’s Stand Against North Carolina Law

When the forces of intolerance and bigotry prevail, as they have lately in Southern states that passed laws institutionalizing discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, it can be tempting to think they are impervious to argument. There is, however, one thing that lawmakers like those in North Carolina do heed – money.

After North Carolina passed a law last month perpetuating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, PayPal canceled its plans to build a large presence in that state, costing North Carolina 400 jobs at the planned office and countless dollars.

Today, Bruce Springsteen, a champion of social justice in his public and personal life, announced that he was canceling a scheduled concert in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday and will refund tickets.

“North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law,” he said in a statement. The law, he explained, “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”

Mr. Springsteen said the law was “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” He noted that some people and groups in North Carolina were fighting to have the law repealed. “This is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters,” Mr. Springsteen said, adding: “Some things are more important than a rock show.”

He said that this was “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band deserve a huge round of applause, as does Charles Barkley, the basketball great, who has urged the National Basketball Association to move its All-Star Game next year away from Charlotte, N.C., unless the law is repealed. The N.B.A. should do that without hesitation.

Remember, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, said he would move the collegiate sports association’s events out of Indiana unless it deleted a similar law, and other business organizations actually did cancel events in Indiana. The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Pence with great fanfare, was later “fixed” in a foolish and ineffective way, but should simply have been repealed.

In South Carolina, the intervention by big companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire helped force the hands of racists in the state government who had resisted removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Mr. Springsteen is taking to heart the adage that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent. What are others who do business in and with North Carolina waiting for?

 

By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Bruce Springsteen, Discrimination, LGBT | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“When Democracy Becomes Must See TV”: Is The United States A Democratic Republic Or A TV series?

To anybody who watches cable TV news, it’s clear that the nation has embarked upon a great political experiment. Its object would be instantly clear to readers of Neil Postman’s 1985 classic Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

To wit, is it even possible for a democratic country to govern itself when news becomes “infotainment,” and infotainment news?

At any given moment, one of two TV “news” stories predominates to the exclusion of all other topics: Donald Trump and terrorism. CNN has covered almost nothing else since the tragedy in San Bernardino. Tune in any time, day or night, and it’s either Trump, terror, or panels of talking heads discussing them.

Meanwhile, the network had been running a countdown clock in the corner of the screen keeping viewers apprised of the weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds remaining until Tuesday night’s GOP debate—as if it were a moon launch or, more appropriately, a pay-per-view professional wrestling match.

In between live broadcasts of Trump’s speeches, advertisements feature full-screen photos of the contestants dramatically lit like WWE stars, promoting the upcoming Showdown in Las Vegas — the final Republican debate of the year!

Cue Michael Buffer: “Let’s get ready to RUMBLE…”

OK, so there will be something like 84 more debates in 2016. It’s nevertheless your patriotic duty to feel the excitement.

Or not. Actually, I see where the noted scholar and media critic Charles Barkley has beaten me to it. The famously outspoken basketball jock was recently asked his opinion of the GOP debates on TNT’s Inside the NBA.

“To be honest with you, CNN has done an awful job this election, an awful job. They have followed ratings and sound bites this entire cycle,” Sir Charles opined. “I love CNN because they’re part of our company, but they’ve been kissing butt, chasing ratings…. They follow every single sound bite just to get ratings for these debates. It’s been sad and frustrating that our company has sold its soul for ratings.”

(CNN and TNT are subsidiaries of Turner Broadcasting.)

However, it’s not just CNN. The TV networks generally, where most Americans get their news, have abandoned all pretense of public service in the drive for enhanced market share.

Quick now: Which cable network has covered Trump the most assiduously?

Surprise, it’s MSNBC. According to figures cited by Washington Post blogger Jim Tankersley, the allegedly left-wing network has mentioned The Donald some 1,484 times during the current campaign. That’s roughly 100 more mentions than CNN, and three times as many as Fox News.

Like CNN, MSNBC often breaks away from live programming to broadcast Trump speeches live — something neither network does for any other candidate, Republican or Democrat. That’s free campaign advertising no politician can afford to buy. The second most commonly cited Republican, Chris Christie, has drawn 144 mentions on CNN, the rapidly vanishing Jeb Bush, 88.

In a 17-person GOP race (now “only” 14), fully 47 percent of TV mentions have gone to Trump since he announced his candidacy last June. Is there any wonder the bombastic New Yorker is leading in opinion polls? His is apparently the only name many low-information voters can recall.

Look, Trump gives good TV. Under ordinary circumstances, for example, my sainted wife would prefer undergoing a root canal to a GOP presidential debate. I’m forced to record the fool things for professional purposes. Trump, however, she’ll watch, if only in the hope he’ll humiliate some rival fraud. Multiply her by a few million, and you’re talking real advertising dollars.

The New York Times, whose editors apparently have no TVs, recently devoted considerable column inches to the seeming mystery of “High Polls for Low-Energy Campaigners.”

Specifically, how come Jeb!, who normally does multiple campaign events every day, appears to be getting nowhere, while Trump, a comparative homebody, surges?

Um, let’s see: Morning Joe in the AM; followed by Good Morning America; a sit down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo; a face-to-face with NBC’s Chuck Todd, who basically calls Trump a barefaced liar, but invites him back for Meet the Press; next, a blustering speech covered live by MSNBC’s Hardball; followed by “Breaking News!” of a pre-recorded interview with Don Lemon.

And then to bed.

Would it also surprise you to learn that, according to the Tyndall Report, which compiles such figures, ABC World News Tonight has devoted 81 minutes of programming this year to Trump’s campaign versus 20 seconds total to Bernie Sanders, who arguably has more supporters? (Each man has roughly 30 percent support in his respective party, but there are many more Democrats than Republicans.)

In my judgement, neither Trump nor Sanders has a very good chance of becoming president. But that shouldn’t mean an exclusive diet of Trump’s bombast, braggadocio, conspiracy theories, and bald-faced lies simply because the one-time “reality” star gets good ratings.

Is the United States a democratic republic or a TV series?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The New Republic, December 16,2015

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Cable News, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Network Television | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Far More Sinister”: Donald Sterling Is Not Cliven Bundy, He’s Much Worse

It is tempting to compare racists. That’s especially true when you look at what’s happened in the last week, when two white men—Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling—have drawn massive and warranted scrutiny over abhorrently racist remarks. Those lines are already being drawn.

Cliven Bundy’s story is well-known by now. The Nevada rancher, who had become a cause celebre among some conservatives for fighting the federal government over overdue grazing fees, went on a rant last week about “the Negro,” suggesting that life for black Americans may’ve been better under slavery.

Donald Sterling’s case is more complicated. An audiotape released to TMZ late Friday night purports to reveal the Los Angeles Clippers owner berating his mixed-race girlfriend for bringing Magic Johnson, a black former NBA all-star, to Clippers games and for posting a picture of him on her Instagram account due to his skin color. On Sunday, Deadspin released the full, unedited recording, which gets much, much worse.

More than just the comments, what’s really astonishing here is what pulls these two men apart: While Cliven Bundy is just a rancher, Donald Sterling is a massively powerful, wealthy, and influential man. What’s hard about Sterling’s case, and what makes it completely different from Bundy’s, is that it reveals that even at the top of one of America’s proudest, most diverse institutions, an abject racist can still pull the strings.

Cliven Bundy owes the federal government slightly more than $1 million in fees. Donald Sterling owns a basketball franchise that’s valued at well over $500 million. Bundy may’ve had his moment in the media spotlight, but Donald Sterling has been firmly ensconced in wealth and power for decades.

Of course, the actual comments allegedly from Sterling aren’t really a surprise. Sterling has a notorious history here, whether it’s settling for nearly $3 million in a case over racial discrimination at apartment buildings he owns, or heckling his players from his courtside seat. Or the detailed racial-discrimination lawsuit brought against him by Hall of Famer and former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor. Or Sterling celebrating Black History Month (which is February) with a March Clippers game featuring limited free tickets for “underprivileged children”—because, you know, black = underprivileged.

The problems with Sterling’s power aren’t lost on NBA players. The NBA, as Charles Barkley said Saturday on TNT, is a black league. African-American players made up 76.3 percent of the league as of last June. For all players in the NBA, Sterling’s ownership sends a message. “The thing is, [Sterling] is probably not the only [owner] that feels that way,” Portland Trailblazers all-star Damian Lillard said Saturday. It’s very hard to imagine what it’s like for black players on the Clippers to pull on their jerseys and play for a man who appears to detest them. It’s very hard to imagine what it’s like for black Americans anywhere to work under the same circumstances. Undoubtedly, there are plenty who do daily.

“The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race, slavery, and segregation,” President Obama said Sunday in response to Sterling’s alleged remarks. “And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it.” So far, it seems like that’s coming. While Sterling’s past actions have largely been swept under the rug by the NBA, there’s some reason to be optimistic about the league’s new management, although it’s still not quite clear how much Commissioner Adam Silver can do. And by calling on the help of former player and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the NBA Players Association has a proven ally on its side (and all you political watchers out there: file away that name).

It’s been an unbelievable week for the NBA. The first week of the playoffs saw seven consecutive games within one possession of victory in the last 10 seconds. It’s been a showcase for new stars (looking at you, John Wall), and for old dudes who just won’t give up (hi, Tim Duncan). But for all of those amazing things, everything that should’ve added up to the best week for the league in recent memory has been overshadowed by an 80-year-old, seemingly repugnant man. Unlike Cliven Bundy, and barring extreme NBA intervention, Donald Sterling will only go away when he’s well and ready, and he’ll likely do so with a big check in hand.

The defining image of this last week in the NBA should have been Vince Carter’s buzzer-beating game winner for the Dallas Mavericks, or Kevin Durant’s absurd four-point play for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, it’s of the Los Angeles Clippers players taking the court in Oakland on Sunday, black and white, their warm-up jerseys turned inside-out, black armbands on their wrists, trying to figure out how to keep themselves together in the face of a power that belittles them, that oversees them, that owns them.

 

By: Matt Berman, The National Journal, April 28, 2014

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Discrimination, Racism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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