Anti-immigrant “Blood and Soil” leaflets in Clyde Hill

A friend emailed me:

On my driveway today was a ziplock bag with a melted Snickers bar and a leaflet that says, “KEEP AMERICA AMERICAN. REPORT ANY AND ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS THEY ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS THEY ARE CRIMINALS CALL 1-866-DHS-2ICE. BLOODANDSOIL.ORG Honestly, I am shaking and thoroughly disgusted that fascists are at work here. The phrase ‘Blood and Soil’ expresses a racist and nationalistic ideology originating in pre-Nazi Germany and is now used by white nationalists in this country. In my opinion it expresses ideas antithetical to our American experience and ideals.

A friend said she collected three blocks of these leaflets on 24th, 23rd, 22nd and 21st st NE between 98th (Clyde Hill Elementary) and Bellevue Way NE:

Keep America American: Nazi leafleting in Clyde Hill, WA

 Someone on nextdoor.com reported that the Bellevue Police Department stopped two men who were distributing the leaflets. It’s unclear whether the police detained them or asked them to stop.  Even hate speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Someone else told me that it was Clyde Hill police, not Bellevue police, who stopped the people, who were driving an old green Ford and throwing the leaflets at houses and into bushes.

Someone pointed out that such racism is promoted by Tucker Carlson on Fox News:

Black history, U.S. history are inseparable

Image: Community College of Aurora (Source)

Image: Community College of Aurora (Source)

This month is Black History Month. In reality, every month is Black History month, because without black people, there would be no United States.

Black history is tied up with slavery and capitalism, territorial expansion, annihilation of native Americans, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and ongoing inequality. It is tied up with these elements not as a peripheral happening on the margins of America, but as central to American development.

The first person killed in the American Revolution was a black man in Boston; Crispus Attucks, born a slave, was shot during the Boston Massacre. What is more telling about the American revolution is the thousands of blacks who fled to the British to gain their freedom. In England slavery had never been authorized by law. In the American colonies, slavery was sanctified by the colonies.

The founders of our country embedded slavery into the American legal system. They continued the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They gave extra political power to the slave south by counting each slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of apportionment and representation. They mandated that escaped slaves must be returned to their original owners. That’s all in the constitution, written by the founders, white men from both the North and South.

Thomas Jefferson opened up new pathways for slavery with the Louisiana Purchase, bringing parts of Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico into the nation. This territorial expansion resulted in tremendous agricultural development, enabled through slavery.

Who were the slave owners? Our presidents, to start with. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Washington owned more than 250 slaves, Jefferson 200 slaves, Madison over 100, Andrew Jackson 200. But really, to own just one other person as property is damning all by itself. These men did not just own slaves, they sold slaves, whipped slaves, broke up the families of slaves, and raped slaves. This is not just part of black history, it is an essential part of American history.

Who is an American hero? Is it James Monroe, a signer of the constitution, our fifth President, and the absentee plantation owner whose overseers whipped slaves to work harder? Or is it Denmark Vesey, the free black organizer of a slave rebellion in South Carolina who was executed for this attempted act of liberation when Monroe was president? Is it Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in 1831 in Virginia? Or is it Andrew Jackson, the president during this rebellion, who owned a prosperous Hermitage plantation built on the backs of hundreds of slaves, who waged war on the Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee Indians, and who signed and put into force the Indian Removal Act, forcing tens of thousands of Cherokee from Georgia, opening up the southeast for the expansion of slavery.

Black people turned the American civil war into a war of liberation. Once the war began, hundreds of thousands of blacks fled to union lines. They forced Abraham Lincoln to make this a war for the emancipation of slaves. And as white men faltered and refused to sign up to fight, black soldiers took their places, fighting for the union, for emancipation, for themselves.

The acts of black people, both free and slaves, to overcome slavery, to liberate themselves, to become people who could actually strive for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these were and are acts of utmost patriotism.

During Black History Month we celebrate the accomplishments of black people who are not threatening, people like the former slave George Washington who founded Centralia, or George Washington Carver, the famed botanist. But in telling black history as the integral part of American history, we could and should be celebrating those people who fled the colonies to gain their freedom, who led the rebellions against American slavery and the expansion of slavery, who enabled slaves to escape to freedom on the “ underground railroad.”

We should be celebrating Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, the 54th Massachusetts (colored) infantry from the Civil War, and 20th century leaders who made the establishment uncomfortable, people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. These are the Americans who were brave and strong and lost their lives to help our country become, indeed, a more perfect union.

And we still have a long way to go.

Originally published at EOIOnline

Voting Rights Act would level election field

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, bringing to an end the Civil War. What had begun as a sectional war by which the South sought to preserve and expand slavery into the western territories, ended with the collapse of the South and the liberation of 4 million slaves.WA-voting-rights-act-front

The end of the war and the end of slavery left former slaves voteless, and powerless … but free. With Reconstruction, blacks did gain the vote and elected many of their own to offices in the South. This was only possible with federal intervention and occupation of the Southern states. As soon as the federal government withdrew from the South, the white establishment re-asserted political and economic power. Anti-black terrorism in the guise of the Ku Klux Klan spread across the South, blacks were barred from voting by laws passed by white-dominated legislatures, poll taxes, intimidation and fear. Jim Crow was embedded in the politics and economy of the South for almost 100 years.

It took the Civil Rights movement, occurring when many of us or our parents were kids or young adults, to upend the segregation, intimidation and voter restrictions of the South. The progress of that movement was only possible with federal intervention and federal oversight of Southern election practices and rules and customs. Political changes brought new educational and economic opportunity to African Americans, as well. This is our history within our lifetimes.

We tend to think that is all water under the bridge. But think of the Supreme Court’s current ruling which prevents the Department of Justice from oversight of election laws and the subsequent voter ID laws put in place in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Wisconsin, among other states.

This virus of prejudice is not limited to the South. We see it in our own state, with arrests for “driving while black,” with disproportionate sentencing and incarceration of young men of color, with the accelerating income gaps among the wealthy, the upper class, and the rest of society, with the public disinvestment in the higher education institutions that have provided pathways of progress for millions of poor and working-class young people in the past. We also see inequity based on race in election law and election outcomes in our state.

Consider Yakima, a city in which 2 out of every 5 residents is Latino, and yet in which no Latinos there have ever been elected to the city council or the school board or the Legislature. Because of its at-large elections, the city locks out minority candidates who would get elected if voting was by district. Now the U.S. Department of Justice has ordered Yakima to re-structure its election districts to make possible the fair representation of Latino voters.

Yakima’s practice of having district primary elections to select general election candidates who then run at-large is common throughout the state. And it tends to make winners out of mainstream (and white) candidates and leave everyone else on the margin. That points to the need for a statewide voting rights act that will prevent this sort of sidelining of people when their ethnicity and where they live fold together. State Rep. Luis Moscoso, D- Mountlake Terrace, developed House Bill 1745, the Washington Voting Rights Act, to give citizens a legal cause of action to obtain the right to voting and representation, if current election districts block fair representation. The legislation would enable local authorities to redraw election district lines to enable fair elections and not be in violation of the federal Voting Rights Law.

Representative Moscoso’s bill is a straightforward law, remedying the denial of representation and increasing the utility of the voting franchise for those of our society who are the least powerful. Elections are not supposed to be mere window dressing to make us look like a democracy. With free and fair voting, they are the essence of democracy. Voting is the fundamental expression of our democracy when the outcomes are not predetermined by race, privilege or practice. That’s why we need the Voting Rights Act.

Originally published at the Everett Herald

Systemic injustice threatens democracy

One hundred fifty one years ago today the pivotal battle of the Civil War was fought, as Union soldiers succeeded in holding off Confederate charges on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. If the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment had been overrun by southern troops, the Confederacy may very likely have prevailed in the Civil War, embedding slavery even deeper into the fabric of our country.

I have been thinking about Gettysburg a lot over the past week. Just eight days ago, my 95-year-old father died, after a great and productive life. His great grandfather, Ira Meserve, was a union soldier wounded at Gettysburg, shot through both knees and not discovered until a couple of days later when the dead were being picked up off the field of battle. Ira survived, and our family still has the bullet that brought him down. Ira was one of 46,000 casualties of Gettysburg, including almost 8,000 dead.

President Abraham Lincoln declared, “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”

And yet, when my father was born, the new birth of freedom for black Americans had been turned back by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, withholding of the franchise, and just plain mean discrimination, fear-mongering, and white-on-black violence.

Fast forward to 1964. Fifty years ago Freedom Summer was launched in Mississippi to attempt to register black citizens to vote. This threat of equality was met by terrorism from the white power elite. Four civil rights workers and three Mississippi blacks were killed, 80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten, 1,062 people were arrested, 67 churches, homes and businesses were bombed or burned.

Freedom Summer was part of the civil rights movement that led us to a new nation, in which racial equality was possible, indeed, the law. But underneath the cover of equality and the seemingly racial blindness of the law, a different reality has emerged. Another layer of disenfranchisement, discrimination, and outright kidnapping of democracy has taken place.

Ronald Reagan signaled the start of this new reality when he launched his campaign for the presidency at a county fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, near where civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. Reagan promised to “restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them.” Welcome back, Jim Crow.

But Reagan was more sophisticated than this. He launched the War on Drugs in 1982, when the country was suffering through a recession and needed a scapegoat. Reagan targeted urban areas with large black populations. He increased the budgets of federal law enforcement by over tenfold, while slashing the budgets of agencies focused on drug treatment and prevention by 80 percent. With a series of Supreme Court decisions, we all lost significant constitutional rights regarding search and seizure, witness coercion, and legal representation. With a focus on drugs, but not drugs more habitually used by whites, the United States ramped up its policing. State and federal prisons now hold over 2.2 million people. Another 4 million are on probation. Almost another million are on parole. Altogether, over two and a half percent of the total population of our country are ostracized into a second-class caste, stripped of rights and responsibilities, and unable to vote. That includes almost one out of every 12 blacks.

The Civil War was a battle cry for freedom, not incarceration. And yet, we live in a country in which we deny six million Americans the right to vote. In Washington state, 30,000 people are incarcerated, 90,000 are on probation, and 8,000 are on parole. Of these, 53,000 are denied the franchise.

We like to think that we rehabilitate criminals, but we don’t. We punish them, we force them into a lower caste, and deny them the right to vote. As we celebrate our independence, we can draw a line from the Civil War and Gettysburg, to the Civil Rights Movement, and on into our own future. We can create a nation that indeed shall have a new birth of freedom, so we can realize a government of the people, by the people, for the people … including all of the people of our great country. It is our arc of history to make.

Via The Everett Herald 

Bundy, Sterling: GOP dream ticket for 2016

Deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy, the new poster boy for the Republican Party.

Photo by George Frey

The radical right here in America now boasts two fresh heroes: Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. With their eager penchant for plainspoken hypocrisy and outright bigotry, they ought to be a swell choice for the Tea Party/Republican presidential nomination come 2016.

First, good old boy Cliven Bundy rode heroically onto the public scene, proudly waving the American flag and spouting anti-government propaganda—the kind of twisted nonsense that made the right-wing kings of talk radio sit up and take notice. In fact, Sean Hannity was so smitten by Cowboy Cliven that he vowed to stand with Bundy and his patriotic gun-wielding minions if the dastardly Feds should dare try to force those fine Americans to obey the law of the land.

And that’s one hallmark of right-wing ideology: law and order! Unless, of course, the law orders you to actually pay what you owe from grazing your cattle on land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the United States of America. So aw-shucks Cliven is really stealing from us. But he blames it on The Government, which is of course the ultimate evil in Tea Party extremist parlance.

It’s a bit convoluted, as blatant hypocrisy always is. You see, right-wingers “believe in” the Constitution. Or at least their version of it; the one that says government is bad. Not sure where the founding fathers wrote that, but it must be in that doggone Constitution somewhere, right? Right-wingers adore those “We the People” signs planted on their lawns. “We the People” being angry white folks who yearn for frontier justice, the days of the old west, or any other place and time where they weren’t forced to be part of civil society or look out for other folks. God forbid!

It’s all part of the cult of rugged individualism. Seems these flag-wavers have conveniently forgotten that communities built America. And that without the cooperation of honest, hard-working folks helping each other out, raising barns, building towns, caring for the less fortunate, the frontier would have been littered with the starved, lifeless bodies of countless rugged individualists. Without community and representative government there would be no United States of America. Which would probably suit this continent’s aboriginal population just fine.

But logic aside (which is where the Tea Party prefers it), Cliven Bundy’s racist ravings endeared him all the more to the right wing. Just a hard-workin’ rancher a-speakin’ his mind, right? Make that a deadbeat hypocrite who despises diversity and wraps himself in the flag of a country he doesn’t even believe in.

So Cliven Bundy would make a perfect presidential candidate for the reconstituted Republican Party. And who better to complete the ticket than a bigoted billionaire? Enter Donald Sterling.

A fellow hater of folks who don’t look or talk like he does, Don Sterling would bring an extra dimension to this right-wing hypocrisy fest. After all, who better to champion the Republican cause of “Family Values” than a brash billionaire bold enough to boast a mistress fifty years his junior in addition to a loving wife? Well, maybe not so loving. But picture this: a powerful leader with little sense of shame, a wife and a concubine? Why, it’s positively biblical!

A couple of old white guys ready and willing to espouse the thinly-veiled conservative gospel of hatred, anger, fear, and division? What’s not to like? Bring on Hilary, the Republicans are ready!

Inspire Seattle: Jan 25: No New Jim Crow

          Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:30pm * 
Main discussion topic for this evening: 

No New Jim Crow

*To receive InspireSeattle invitations, click here to provide us with an email address.

Following the Civil War and continuing right into the 1960s, African-Americans were racially segregated and systematically discriminated against by a series of local and state laws that collectively became known as Jim Crow laws. These laws would eventually be undermined by the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But has the United States truly achieved legal equality for all of its citizens? In 2010 Michelle Alexander published The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and she argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Now it is the U.S. criminal justice system that targets black men with higher conviction rates and longer sentences under the “War on Drugs”. These practices decimate communities of color and relegate millions to a permanent second-class status as “ex-cons”.

No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign is one of several groups in the Seattle/King County area, working to promote positive alternatives to jails, prisons, and punishments. Mary Paterson and other participants from the No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign will speak at this gathering about transformative/restorative justice as a real alternative that is within our grasp. Their presence in the Seattle area has started the process with education and community organizing programs that will be needed in this next step.

Come join us for what should be a very important and interesting evening!!!

 

About InspireSeattle:
InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action. InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism. InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment. We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action. Subscribe (or unsubscribe) to InspireSeattle by visiting www.inspireseattle.org/contact.html.

When:  Saturdays in 2014 at 6:30PM. Please try to be on time!!!

Where:  You will receive an invitation with the location when you provide us with your email address.

Format 

It s a potluck:  so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

6:30 to 7:45:  Social time!  Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 7:45 to 9:30

Other Announcements  got any?

 

Rules of Engagement!

1.  So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2.  Raise one s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3.  Respect the points of views of others

4.  No arguing of politics during the formal discussion save that for afterwards! 

 

 

Inspire Seattle Jan 25: No New Jim Crow

Invites YOU to join our  social on   Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:30pm * 
Main discussion topic for this evening: 

No New Jim Crow

*To receive InspireSeattle invitations, click here to provide us with an email address.

Following the Civil War and continuing right into the 1960s, African-Americans were racially segregated and systematically discriminated against by a series of local and state laws that collectively became known as Jim Crow laws. These laws would eventually be undermined by the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But has the United States truly achieved legal equality for all of its citizens? In 2010 Michelle Alexander published The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and she argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Now it is the U.S. criminal justice system that targets black men with higher conviction rates and longer sentences under the “War on Drugs”. These practices decimate communities of color and relegate millions to a permanent second-class status as “ex-cons”.

No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign is one of several groups in the Seattle/King County area, working to promote positive alternatives to jails, prisons, and punishments. Mary Paterson and other participants from the No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign will speak at this gathering about transformative/restorative justice as a real alternative that is within our grasp. Their presence in the Seattle area has started the process with education and community organizing programs that will be needed in this next step.

Come join us for what should be a very important and interesting evening!!!

 

About InspireSeattle:
InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action. InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism. InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment. We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action. Subscribe (or unsubscribe) to InspireSeattle by visiting www.inspireseattle.org/contact.html.

When:  Saturdays in 2014 at 6:30PM. Please try to be on time!!!

Where:  You will receive an invitation with the location when you provide us with your email address.

Format 

It s a potluck:  so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

6:30 to 7:45:  Social time!  Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 7:45 to 9:30

Other Announcements  got any?

 

Rules of Engagement!

1.  So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2.  Raise one s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3.  Respect the points of views of others

4.  No arguing of politics during the formal discussion save that for afterwards! 

Join EOI Dec 3 for the Legislative Summit on Racial Equity

Too often, policies are blind to the true impact they have on low-income and communities of color. Well-intended hopes can result in disastrous outcomes when the voices of those most affected are not included or considered.hands

Here at EOI, we believe in the power of everyone coming to the table to have a stronger collective voice – that’s why we’re co-sponsoring the upcoming Legislative Summit on Racial Equity with the Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!) and more than 20 other community partners.

The summit will focus on 5 key areas critical to racial equity here in Washington:

  1. Statewide Paid Sick Days for all workers in Washington.
  2. The Basic Health Option increasing access to health insurance for low-income Washingtonians.
  3. The Dental Access Campaign, for more affordable dental care.
  4. The DREAM Act, to provide financial aid to more young aspiring citizens.
  5. The Youth Opportunity Act, helping rehabilitated youth reintegrate into society.

“The goal of the event is to bring together legislators and community members to discuss issues impacting communities of color and low-income communities in Washington. The focus of the event will be sharing personal stories, and outlining a proactive policy agenda that will move our state towards racial equity.

Legislators will have time to talk with community members, hear people’s experiences and gain a deeper understanding of 2014 policy pieces that will advance racial equity. There will be a call to action/commitment from the larger group to work on these issues, and we’ll be asking legislators to be champions for the various bills we’re advocating for.”

We hope you will join us!

What: Legislative Summit on Racial Equity
When: Tuesday, December 3rd from 6pm-8pm
Where: New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave S, Seattle, WA. 98118)
Registration: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LegSummit

Childcare and interpretation will be provided. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.