Tag Archives: hate speech

‘I’ll look at it’

There you go. The president of the United States had a chance this week to shoot down in flames the latest lie about a politician who happens to be “of color,” that she somehow isn’t constitutionally qualified to run for public office.

Instead, Donald Trump said “I’ll look at it.” The “it” being reports that U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who is now set to be nominated as her party’s vice-presidential candidate, was born somewhere other than the United States.

This is a racist rant that needs to be plowed under. Why in the name of presidential statesmanship doesn’t Donald Trump do so? Well, I know why. It’s because he is no statesman. Trump is a racist chump who trades on innuendo and invective.

Moreover, Trump is a card-carrying member of the lunatic/wack job/fruitcake/racist wing of what used to be a great political party.

Trump, you’ll recall fomented a similar lie about President Obama. Then he surrendered, offering a tepid “He’s a citizen of the United States” response to a question about the birther lie.

For the record, Sen. Harris is the daughter of a Jamaican man and an Indian woman. They met in California. They got married and they produced a daughter. Little Kamala came into this world in Oakland. Calif., in 1964. There. She’s a U.S. citizen. She is fully qualified. End of argument, yes?

Hardly. It will continue for as long as Donald Trump gives such idiocy any sort of currency, which is what he did with his “I’ll look at it” non-answer.

I like the response given by Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who called the birther baloney a “racist, ignorant lie.”

It’s all of that … and I also would call it “hate speech.”

‘Unity’ becomes hate speech

REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Do you remember when Donald Trump promised to “unify” the nation? Do you recall the many times he said he would be everyone’s president?

I do. It was just four years ago. It seems like an eternity.

Here we are. We’re on the cusp of another presidential election. My several social media networks are abuzz with memes, proclamations, hysteria. Donald Trump’s re-election effort has produced — at least in my memory — the most hateful back/forth possible.

Why is that? How did we get to this point?

I have to point straight, with both hands at the White House, at the guy who lives there with his wife and youngest son. Donald Trump has failed to deliver on many of his 2016 presidential campaign promises.

The “unity” pledge stands out. It’s a doozy. Trump’s strategy has been clear almost since the day he took the oath of office: He would speak only to his base; the rest of us, especially those who voted for his opponent four years ago, do not matter to him.

The result has been hate speech disguised as “political discourse.”

I’ll be clear: We have been through more divisive times in this country; the Civil War comes to mind; so does the Vietnam War; Watergate, too.

In my lifetime, though, this era — ushered in with the election of a first-time office seeker and former reality TV show host — has been unique in the level of hostility between the sides. Friendships have been plowed asunder. Family members are at each others’ throats. Prominent politicians have quit talking to those on “the other side of the aisle.”

Why is that? I focus my attention and the blame at the man at the top of the heap, the current president of the United States.

Donald Trump occupies the bulliest of political pulpits imaginable. The president is fully capable, were he so wired, to guide the tone of the debate toward a civil tone. Instead, Donald Trump has used that pulpit to foment the anger that has devolved into hatred.

This is my statement of fair warning that we need to prepare ourselves for the gutter-level campaign that Donald Trump intends to produce for us. This won’t be fun.

Own your role in this tragedy, Mr. President

I want to endorse a contention that is coming from those who support Donald J. Trump.

It is that the president of the United States is not exclusively responsible for the carnage that erupted in El Paso and Dayton … or at any of the other American communities that have experienced the wrath of anger spewed by lunatic shooters.

I also agree with the president who has blamed an array of circumstances for what transpired in El Paso and Dayton: the lack of mental health awareness; the Internet and its propensity for spreading hate speech; and, yes, video games, although the last target of blame seems dubious.

However, I must once again implore the president to expand the level of responsibility for the madness that keeps erupting.

Donald J. Trump needs to own the rhetoric he has spewed since taking office and while he was running for the presidency.

I realize I am asking for an impossible occurrence. Donald Trump doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t take ownership of the things he does wrong. He won’t acknowledge that his anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim rhetoric has inspired these madmen. He won’t recognize that as president of the United States, his words weigh far more than others, such as, say, chump bloggers who live out here in Trump Country.

He is our head of state. He is our commander in chief. Donald Trump is the president of the world’s mightiest nation.

That role should compel him to measure his words with great care.

He does not measure anything. He has no filter. He blasts out those Twitter messages with no outward regard for the consequences that they deliver.

I am not going to endorse the notion that Donald Trump is “responsible” for the carnage. I am, however, going to say once more with feeling that he needs to recognize his own role in the complicated morass that produced this dangerous moment in our nation’s history.

If only he would listen.

Speak to us, Mr. President, about violence against Latinos

Mr. President, your silence is giving me a headache.

The gunman who opened fire on Latinos at the Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, allegedly had declared his intention to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.” He allegedly was motivated by your own rhetoric that many of us have deemed to be hateful toward people of Latin American descent.

So the gunman took matters into his own hands, allegedly.

Why haven’t you spoken out? Why have you declined to categorically declare that you — the president of the United States — will not tolerate hateful actions against Latinos.

Yes, I saw your speech at the White House the other day. I heard you declare that the nation must fight against intolerance and hate. The nation, Mr. President? Yes, that’s right.

What about you, sir? What is going to be your role in that fight? Are you going to lead that fight? Will you speak directly and personally to the pain you are feeling — if you’re feeling it — in the wake of this monstrous act of hate?

Your visit to El Paso and earlier to Dayton, the other community that mourns the deaths of those at the hands of another lunatic gunman, didn’t go well. You must know what we’re saying about all of that out here.

What are you going to do to repair the grievous damage that has been? I am not going to lay the direct blame at your feet for the deaths of those folks. I do believe your rhetoric has played a role.

It now falls on you, Mr. President, to speak directly to what has occurred … and why.

I am prepared to wait for as long as it takes. That, of course, depends on whether the silence-induced headache gets the better of me.

POTUS faces lose-lose encounter

Donald J. Trump is set to plunge into a place where he is likely to get bloodied — politically speaking. He intends to venture to El Paso, Texas, in the next day or so.

He will presumably speak to folks who were affected by the mass slaughter of 22 people at the Wal-Mart shopping center over the weekend.

The president is being told he isn’t welcome. Why? Because many Americans — including myself — blame Trump’s fiery, divisive rhetoric for spawning the shooter to massacre Latinos gathered at the store for some last-minute, back-to-school shopping.

Should he go? I believe he should. It’s a critical part of the job he agreed to do when he got elected president of the United States. Is this president good at lending comfort? Is he adept at saying just the right thing, in just the right tone, to just the right audience in its time of intense grief? No. He isn’t.

Will he step up and acknowledge the role his rhetoric has played in the tragedy that exploded in El Paso? I doubt it seriously.

I am left to wonder: Has there ever been a recent U.S. president who has felt the scorn of stricken communities the way this one is feeling it now in the wake of the El Paso tragedy?

Did Bill Clinton feel it when he went to Oklahoma City in 1995 after the bomber blew up the Murrah Federal Building? Did George W. Bush feel it when he ventured multiple times to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Did such recrimination fall on Barack Obama when he went to Charleston, S.C., after the madman opened fire in that church, or when he went to Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed all those precious children and their teachers? No, no and no!

This visit, and the trip he plans to take to Dayton, Ohio — another city stricken by gun violence during the same weekend— likely won’t go well.

All I can say is: Suck it up, Mr. President.

From our heartbreak, seeing signs of hope

Our hearts are broken across the land as we ponder what happened within hours of each other in two communities, in El Paso and Dayton.

Moronic madmen opened fire on innocent victims. Twenty-two of them died in El Paso, nine in Dayton; dozens more were injured. Police arrested a young man in El Paso and will charge him with multiple counts of capital murder; the cops gunned down the Dayton killer.

We grieve as a nation.

There might be a glimmer of hope arising from our sorrow. How does it present itself?

It might be occurring on the twin-track debate that has commenced.

We’re talking simultaneously about measures we might be able to enact to tighten control of gun purchasing and ownership. No, I’m not talking about watering down the Second Amendment. I stand with those who support the amendment’s guarantee that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

There must be a legislative remedy that withstands constitutional scrutiny. Congress hasn’t acted on it. It refuses. Donald Trump won’t take up that cudgel. The gun lobby continues to throw around its weight in the halls of power.

I am not going to join those who want Congress to return immediately from its recess to enact such legislation. Lawmakers will return and then they get to work. I want them to listen to their constituents’ concerns.

Indeed, just this morning, my congressman, freshman Republican Van Taylor, was visiting with constituents here in Princeton, where I am absolutely certain he heard from those who are concerned about the gun violence that keeps erupting around the country. He needs to keep his ears open as he travels through the Third Congressional District of Texas during his time away from Capitol Hill.

The second track is equally important. It deals with the hateful rhetoric we are hearing from politicians, namely from the top! Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric must end. He won’t acknowledge the role his statements have played in the spasm of violence. The El Paso shooter apparently acted out of hatred for Mexican immigrants. Much of a screed published just minutes before he opened fire at the Wal-Mart complex mirrors the rhetoric that Donald Trump has bellowed at campaign rallies since before he became president.

We must continue to have this debate, too, even as we enter a presidential election year.

Many of us had hoped that the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre would engender a long-standing debate. Many of those students became articulate spokesmen and women for the cause of gun reform. Their voices have faded into the background.

Now comes the latest chorus. The debate runs along dual tracks: gun violence and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

I want the debate to continue for as long as it takes, even as we seek to mend our broken hearts.

Still miffed that Sen. Warren has stiffed Fox News

I’m still peeved at Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts U.S. senator and Democratic Party primary candidate for president of the United States.

She got an invitation to appear on a Fox News Channel town hall event. Fox News, which is not normally friendly to progressive such as Sen. Warren, was offering her a forum, a platform from which she could offer Fox News viewers the reasons why they should endorse her for president.

She turned Fox down! She said Fox uses its outreach to preach “hate” and she would have none of it.

Sen. Warren has made a big mistake. I believe she should have accepted Fox News’s invitation. She should have shown up. She should have taken questions from the audience and from the commentators who would moderate the event.

But she chose to stiff the network.

I agree with her about Fox News, that it is a “hate for profit” organization. Still, she should make her case even in front of a media outlet she opposes.

I believe that would be more of an American course than the one Sen. Warren has taken.

Trump emboldens racists, bigots?

“The president uses language often that’s very similar to the language used by these bigots and racists.”

That statement comes from someone who’s got a bone or two to pick with Donald Trump. His name is Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democratic U.S. senator who got beat running with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2016 presidential ticket. Kaine was Clinton’s VP running mate, so you can expect him to think little of the guy who defeated them.

Except that he is correct. Kaine’s comment comes in this period immediately after the massacre of 50 people who were worshiping in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

I am not going to “blame” the president directly for the carnage that erupted in New Zealand. It is instructive to acknowledge that Trump’s language has emboldened individuals and groups around the world. These would be the white nationalists, white supremacists, racists, bigots and haters.

We must not ignore the statements of people such as former Ku Klux Klan lizard/wizard David Duke who famously said that he considered Trump’s election as president to be a blessing.

The Charlottesville, Va., riot in 2017 that erupted when KKK members, Nazis and white nationalists protested the taking down of a Confederate statue provides another example. The demonstration produced a counter protest and a women was killed in the ensuing riot when a white nationalist allegedly ran her down with his car.

Trump’s response was to say there were “fine people . . . on both sides!” Yes, on “both sides.” He placed the haters on the same moral plain as those who were protesting them. Disgusting.

One of the gunmen who allegedly opened fire in Christchurch is a white supremacist who reportedly drew inspiration from the rhetoric he has heard from Trump and others in this country and around the world.

To blame Donald Trump directly for causing the tragedy that was unleashed Down Under would suggest that Trump makes his angry statements intending to create such misery. I do not believe that’s the case.

It is not a stretch to suggest that the president needs to acknowledge that his rhetoric has contributed to the toxicity that exists around the world.

Waiting for president to perform unwritten task

Presidents of the United States inherit an array of constitutional duties and, yes, unwritten and unspoken roles they must perform.

We expect it of them when the moment arrives. It almost always does so without warning.

A space shuttle explodes 73 seconds after liftoff and President Reagan consoles the nation in utter shock; another shuttle disintegrates on re-entry and President Bush performs the same duty; a bomber destroys a federal court building in Oklahoma City, and President Clinton steps up to soothe our anxiety; a madman slaughters 20 children and six teachers at a Connecticut elementary school and President Obama wipes away tears of anguish while honoring the victims.

Then, of course, there was 9/11 and President Bush called on the nation to mourn as one and to fight as one.

Someone mailed pipe bombs to Democratic political figures and a major cable news outlet. What do we get from the current president? We hear him fling blame at Democrats, at the “fake news” media, at his foes.

Donald Trump can recite the correct words. He has done so with regard to the pipe bombs that were mailed to his adversaries. He did so again in response to the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend.

I watch him and wonder whether he feels it. I cannot read his mind or plumb his heart and soul. It’s just a sense I get that he doesn’t embrace this role he agreed to play when he took the oath as president of the United States.

Donald Trump hears the calls for civility in our debate. He then accepts campaign rally crowds’ chants of “CNN sucks!” and doesn’t stop them. He doesn’t tamp down the rage among his supporters. He doesn’t tell them to quell the mob conduct.

Members of the administration have condemned the hatred demonstrated in recent days. The president has joined them in condemning the acts of hate crimes against religious groups … only to crack a joke about canceling an event because of a “bad hair day.”

I wish I could hope the president can learn how to perform this task. I cannot. I have lost that hope.

It saddens me beyond measure.

‘Free’ speech gets drowned out … good!

They called themselves the “Free Speech Movement.” They planned to stage a big rally in Boston, but got drowned out by others who were having none of what this movement had to say.

The “Free Speech” folks said they disavowed the hate speech that’s become the talk of the nation. But thousands of counter protesters showed up to swallow up the “Free Speech” crowd.

It appears that advance knowledge of some of the speakers slated to talk alarmed community residents, which triggered the big counter protest. They were concerned about what they considered to be “veiled bigotry.” One big difference between this gathering and the one that erupted in Charlottesville this past weekend is that no one got hurt; there was no riot.

This all sounds familiar to yours truly.

In 2006, the Ku Klux Klan came to Amarillo to have a rally in front of City Hall. The city granted the KKK the permit they needed. The police came out in force. Amarillo PD deployed many officers, as did the Potter County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The police set up an effective barrier that kept the crowd of onlookers away from the Klansmen.

At the moment the Klan leaders were set to start addressing the gathering in front of City Hall, a parade of counter protesters came marching onto the parking lot. They were loud, man! They were banging cymbals, blowing horns, beating drums, yelling at the top of their lungs.

I don’t recall, 11 years later, what the Klan’s message was on that warm summer day. The haters couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

I couldn’t have been prouder of the way our community reacted to the Klan’s presence in our midst.

The most fascinating encounter I witnessed occurred right next to me. It involved then-Amarillo Police Chief Jerry Neal and a Klan member. Neal was there in full cop regalia: dress blues and all the hardware that beat cops wear when they’re on patrol … if you get my drift. The Klansman asked the chief, “Can I ask you something?”

Neal’s response was brusque and right to the point: “No. You can’t. Now, get away from me.”

What happened today in Boston had plenty of precedent. It should continue for as long as hate groups — or those aligned with them — believe they have license to spread their bigoted message.