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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Opinion | The Joy of Hatred





"By Jamelle BouieJuly 18, 2019



The chanting was disturbing and the anger was frightening, but what I noticed most about the president’s rally in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday night was the pleasure of the crowd.



His voters and supporters were having fun. The “Send her back” chant directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was hateful but also exuberant, an expression of racist contempt and a celebration of shared values.



This dynamic wasn’t unique to the event. It’s been a part of Trump’s rallies since 2015. Both he and his crowds work from a template. He rants and spins hate-filled tirades; they revel in the transgressive atmosphere. The chants are their mutual release. Sometimes he basks in them.



To watch raucous crowds of (mostly) white Americans unite in frenzied hatred of a black woman — to watch them cast her as a cancer on the body politic and a threat to a racialized social order — is to see the worst of our past play out in modern form.



Join Jamelle Bouie as he shines a light on overlooked writing, culture and ideas from around the internet.



To be clear, the Trump rally was not a lynch mob. But watching the interplay between leader and crowd, my mind immediately went to the mass spectacles of the lynching era. There’s simply no way to understand the energy of the event — its hatred and its pleasures — without looking to our history of communal racial violence and the ways in which Americans have used racial others, whether native-born or new arrivals, as scapegoats for their lost power, low status or nonexistent prosperity. And in that period, one event stands out: an 1893 lynching in Paris, Tex., where Henry Smith, a mentally disabled black teenager, was burned alive.



The 17-year-old Smith, “generally considered a harmless, weak-minded fellow,” according to Ida B. Wells-Barnett in “The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States,” had been accused of the rape and murder of 3-year-old Myrtle Vance, the daughter of the local sheriff. The white community of Paris believed the murder was retaliation for an earlier arrest by the sheriff, and the accusation of rape was added, in Wells-Barnett’s words, “to inflame the public mind so that nothing less than immediate and violent death would satisfy the populace.”



On the day of the lynching, an estimated 10,000 people crowded along Paris’s main street to witness the killing. Smith was bound to a float and paraded across town in a theatrical performance meant to emphasize his guilt. The audience jeered and chanted, cursed and gave the rebel yell. “Fathers, men of social and business standing, took their children to teach them how to dispose of Negro criminals,” a witness to the event said. “Mothers were there, too, even women whose culture entitles them to be among the social and intellectual leaders of the town.” Around noon, Smith was tortured, doused with kerosene and lit ablaze, immolated for the crowd’s enjoyment.



It was part carnival, part spectacle and part ritual. Smith was accused of something greater than a mere crime. He was accused of violating a sacred moral order — of defiling the white home and white society. “In the minds of many white southerners,” the historian Amy Louise Wood writes in “Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890—1940,” “black men came to personify the moral corruption that they believed to be the root cause of social disorder.” Lynching, then, “acted as more than a form of political terror that restored white dominance against the threat of black equality.” It also became a “divinely sanctioned retribution for black ‘sin’ that threatened not only white authority but white purity and virtue.”



In a 1933 essay, “Marxism and the Negro Problem,” W.E.B Du Bois tried, as the title suggests, to adapt the theories and analysis of Karl Marx for the American experience. “While Negro labor in America suffers because of the fundamental inequities of the whole capitalistic system,” he argued, “the lowest and most fatal degree of its suffering comes not from the capitalists but from fellow white laborers.” It is white labor, he continued, that “deprives the Negro of his right to vote, denies him education, denies him affiliation with trade unions, expels him from decent houses and neighborhoods, and heaps upon him the public insults of open color discrimination.”



Later, in his 1935 book, “Black Reconstruction in America,” Du Bois would expand on this idea, rooting white racism in a collective bargain of sorts. “It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage,” he wrote, outlining the ways in which this “public and psychological” wage strengthened ordinary white Americans’ attachment to a system that ultimately exploited them too:



They were admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools. The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent upon their votes, treated them with such leniency as to encourage lawlessness. Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them. White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools. The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule.



When this wage was threatened — by black social mobility and economic success, by black political action, by interracial contact that challenged the boundaries of caste — the response was violence. Not just as punishment but, as the lynching of Henry Smith demonstrates, as a communal defense of the existing social order. This ability to engage in state-sanctioned extrajudicial violence was both a kind of wage and a means to collect it, which tied white communities together in a shared experience of rage, righteous anger and joy.



It is important to take history on its own terms. We shouldn’t conflate the past with the present, but we should also be aware of ideas and experiences that persist through time. A political rally centered on the denunciation of a prominent black person demands reference to our history of communal, celebratory racism. It’s critical for placing the event in context, and it can help us understand the dynamic between the president and his base.



If Trump has an unbreakable bond with his supporters, it’s because he gives them permission to express their sense of siege. His rhetoric frees them from the mores and norms that keep their grievance in check. His rallies — his political carnivals — provide an opportunity to affirm their feelings in a community of like-minded individuals.



“He gets us. He’s not a politician, and he’s got a backbone,” a woman who attended a recent “Women for Trump” kickoff event in Pennsylvania told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s not afraid to say what he thinks. And what he says is what the rest of us are thinking.”



Opinion | The Joy of Hatred

Pelosi Proves Triangulation Is Really Self-Strangulation

Nancy_Pelosi_hands_img



"Since regaining her position as speaker of the House earlier this year, Nancy Pelosi has been fighting a two-front war: Her lackadaisical sparring with Donald Trump has left the speaker with plenty of time and energy to take up arms against her other nemesis, the left wing of her own party. The two struggles are inseparable. Trump’s infamous go-back-to-where-you-came-from tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen was likely provoked by a Fox & Friends segment about Democratic divisions created by the Squad (consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley). Trump probably saw a chance to stir up Democratic infighting with his provocative tweets.

Trump’s plan partly backfired, when Democrats united in revulsion against his racism by passing a resolution condemning his words. Yet, even in the face of Trump’s bigotry, the internecine Democratic war continued. On Thursday, the very day Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!” at a rally when the president denounced Omar, a group of moderate Democrats anonymously smeared the Squad in interviews with CNN’s Jake Tapper.



“Other House Democrats are conflicted about having to defend the Squad given things they’ve said and done,” Jake Tapper tweeted. “House Dems cited: talk of supporting challengers to incumbent Dems in primaries, AOC’s use of the term ‘concentration camps,’ anti-Semitic comments by Tlaib & Omar.” The claim that Tlaib and Omar are anti-Semites was a straight-out smear. At worst, they are guilty of inelegant phrasing when discussing the touchy issue of Israel. In making this underhanded and off-the-record accusation, moderate Democrats were giving ammunition to Trump and other right-wing bigots.

To judge by Tapper’s quotes, these moderate Democrats thought that Trump’s attack on the Squad was a smart political play. “What the president has done is politically brilliant,” one of the them said. “Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks and the president has now identified the entire party with them.”

The moderate Democrats are right to think that Pelosi is on their side in the battle against the Squad. While the moderate Dems merely whisper in Tapper’s ears, Pelosi has made herself the public face of anti-left politics in the Democratic Party. A feud that had been simmering for months became public when members of the Squad broke rank and voted against the immigration bill Pelosi rallied Democrats to accept and which she called “our bill” (which gave the president new funding on the promise of slightly more humane treatment of detained migrants). “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi complained to Maureen Dowd of The New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”



A week later, Axios published a story leaked by House Democrats that was clearly designed to damage Ocasio-Cortez. “Top Democrats are circulating a poll showing that one of the House’s most progressive members—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—has become a definitional face for the party with a crucial group of swing voters,” the news site reported. “These Democrats are sounding the alarm that swing voters know and dislike socialism, warning it could cost them the House and the presidency.”

The entire Axios report was nonsensical agitprop. The poll was conducted only among non-college-educated whites, a cohort that overwhelmingly voted against the Democratic Party in recent elections, even in the wave election of 2018. It’s hardly surprising that Ocasio-Cortez was unpopular among the group that is the base of the Republican Party. Axios didn’t give the name of the pollster, any information about the cross tabs or indicate if Ocasio-Cortez had been tested against other Democratic politicians like Nancy Pelosi. The article was a pure smear job, one orchestrated by Ocasio-Cortez’s enemies within the Democratic Party.

Current Issue



The war between Nancy Pelosi and the Squad boils down to one-word: triangulation. In the tradition of Bill Clinton, Pelosi and moderate Democrats are positioning themselves as the vital center between the radical right (Donald Trump) and the radical left (the Squad). Triangulation explains not just Democratic infighting but also Pelosi’s decision to dampen down impeachment fervor and to slow-walk (and sometimes stall) investigations into Trump and his administration.

Why has Pelosi tied herself so tightly to moderate Democrats? Greg Sargent of The Washington Post suggests that there are structural explanations. The Democratic midterm victory rested on 43 seats that lean Republican. According to Cook Partisan Voter Index (PVI), these seats are an average of 2 percent more Republican than the rest of the country. By contrast, the remaining 192 Democratic seats are on average 16 points more Democratic.

Pelosi has decided to make it a top priority to preserve the newly won Democratic seats, which means pushing her party to be much more conservative than its average voter. This has created a situation where the Squad can become national celebrities (possibly even influencing the presidential primaries) by bucking Pelosi. At the Netroots conference earlier this month, Pelosi was booed by Democratic Party activists, a crowd that cheered on the Squad.

But structural factors aren’t the only force driving the feud. Ocasio-Cortez became a star by her unexpected victory over the political machine that controls Democratic politics in New York State. Future progressive victories by left-wing candidates are likely to occur in similar circumstances, with upstarts challenging incumbents who are more conservative than their districts. The prospect of a rising left scares old-school Democrats.

Writing in HuffPost, Zach Carter suggests that machine politics is exacting revenge on Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad. “Ocasio-Cortez represents a greater threat to this machine than Trump, which is why the Democratic leadership in Congress is now diverting time, attention and resources to defend the machine’s turf, instead of focusing on the president,” Carter contends.

Regardless of her motives, Pelosi’s triangulation policy has been a disaster. Whatever merits, dubious or real, triangulation might have had in the 1990s, the policy makes little sense when Democrats confront an extremist like Trump, who needs to be fought by a united party. With triangulation, Pelosi often ends up making unnecessary concessions. As The Intercept reports, even House minority leader Chuck Schumer, hardly famous for his fighting spirit, was surprised by how much ground Pelosi ceded on the immigration bill. Moreover, the idea that moderate Democrats are somehow closer to average voters doesn’t bear scrutiny. As Eric Levitz points out in New Yorkmagazine, the Blue Dog brigade has worked to slow down or sabotage policy goals that have overwhelming popular appeal: notably, the minimum wage increase and lower prices for prescription drugs.

Pelosi often acts as if Trump were merely annoying (and perhaps a useful foil), while the Squad are the true enemies. Unless she ends her feud with the congressional left, Democrats will be marching into battle with a commander who is only halfheartedly challenging the most dangerous president in modern American history."



Pelosi Proves Triangulation Is Really Self-Strangulation

Friday, July 19, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez Just Broke Down During an Emotional Powerful Congressional...

Am I an American?





"... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to get in line to be a Democrat, in the way I’m told by moderates away from Capitol Hill to get in line to be an American. I hear the moderate message of compliance, of assimilation, of being happy just dining. And I hear the message from the man with the blood-red hat defending the moderate and giving me an ultimatum.



“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Donald Trump tweeted Sunday. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”



But Pelosi and her moderate lieutenants do not desire this type of defense, this white-nationalist brand of American exceptionalism. They quickly and rightly stood up for the Americanness of these four women. “When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries,” Pelosi tweeted, “he affirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.” They quickly and rightly classified Trump’s MAGA attack as “a racist tweet from a racist president,” as the assistant speaker of the House, Ben Ray Luján, tweeted.



But their defenses and affirmations of my Americanness—that my black, Puerto Rican, Somalian, and Palestinian sisters are indeed Americans—did little to quiet the question screaming in my soul for an answer. And I suspect in the souls of millions more.



I can’t stop the screams. Am I an American? It is a question I have never been able to answer.



I can’t stop the shouts: “Go back to your country!” It is a statement I have never been able to answer.



Is this my country? Am I an American?



Ocasio-Cortez—like Trump, like me—was born in New York City. Tlaib was born in Detroit, and Pressley in Cincinnati. Omar’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia when she was a child. They are all U.S. citizens, like me.



“WE are what democracy looks like,” Pressley tweeted. “And we’re not going anywhere.”



But they are not white like the Slovene-born Melania Trump. Is an American essentially white? I do not know. I do not know if I’m still three-fifths of an American, as my ancestors were written into the U.S. Constitution. Or fully American. Or not American at all.



What I do know is that historically, people like me have only truly been all-American—if all-American is not constantly being told to “go back to your country” or “act like an American”—when we did not resist enslavement on a plantation, or in poverty, or in a prison with or without bars shackling our human potential and cultural flowering. Perhaps we were Americans when we did not resist our bodies being traded, our wombs being assaulted, and our bent backs and our hands being bloodied picking and cleaning and manufacturing white America’s wealth.



Perhaps we were Americans when we did not resist how the self-identified white allies were trying to civilize us, telling us to slow down, telling us our anti-racist demands were impractical or impossible, instructing us how to get free. We were rarely told to go back to our country when we did kneel, when we did not kneel, when we did as told by the slaveholder and the abolitionist, by the segregator and racial reformer, by the American mentor telling us to pull up or pull down our pants.



Am I an American only when I act like a slave?



What Trump told those four congresswomen is hardly unorthodox for a U.S. president if we extend recent memory backwards. In 1787, the year the U.S. Constitution was drafted, was also the year that Thomas Jefferson published his influential Notes on the State of Virginia. Enslaved Africans should be emancipated, civilized, and “colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper,” he wrote.



Colonization emerged as the most popular solvent of the race problem before the Civil War, advocated by nearly every president from Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln. Slaveholders increasingly desired to rid the nation of the emancipated Negro. And moderate Americans increasingly advocated gradual emancipation and colonization, telling the anti-racists that immediate emancipation was impractical and impossible in the way that anti-racists are told immediate equality is impractical and impossible today.



At the founding of the American Colonization Society in 1816, Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky, the future presidential candidate and “Great Compromiser,” gave voice to what we now call Trumpism, the savaging of people of color and the countries of people of color to hold up white Americanness.



“Can there be a nobler cause that that which, whilst it proposes to rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not dangerous portion of its population, contemplates the spreading of the arts of civilized life, and the possible redemption from ignorance and barbarism of a benighted quarter of the globe!”



The moderate strategized then, as the moderate still do now, based on what was required to soothe white sensibilities. As the clergyman Robert Finley wrote in Thoughts on the Colonization of Free Blacks in 1816, through colonization, “the evil of slavery will be diminished and in a way so gradual as to prepare the whites for the happy and progressive change.”



Some black people advocated back-to-Africa campaigns or relocated there, convinced American racism was permanent, convinced they could create a better life for themselves alongside their African kin. But many, perhaps most, black people resisted colonization schemes from their beginning. This is “the land of our nativity,” thousands of black Philadelphians resolved in 1817. Still colonization recycled through time, on the basis that the black race could never “be placed on an equality with the white race,” as Lincoln lectured a delegation of black men on August 14, 1862. The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison corrected Lincoln: “It is not their color, but their being free, that makes their presence here intolerable.”



President Andrew Johnson did everything he could to keep us slaves. His successor, Ulysses S. Grant, tired of alienating racist Americans from the Republican Party every time he sent federal troops to defend our right to live, vote, thrive, and hold political office from Ku Klux Klansmen led by men such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom Tennessee honored with his own day on Saturday.



In the so-called Compromise of 1877, northerners retained the White House in exchange for allowing racist southerners to treat us like anything but Americans over the next century. Or were we Americans all along, despite what the lynchings and pogroms did to our bodies, and what Jim Crow did to our political economy? Or did we become Americans through court rulings and congressional acts in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s? Or were we still not Americans in 1968, when the Kerner Commission’s study of America’s racial landscape concluded, “Our nation is moving towards two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”



Were the two societies—instead of black and white—the American society of legal patriots and the un-American society of illegal aliens? Did the Latinx, Muslim, Asian, and black immigrants who arrived in the United States since the 1960s join the people of color and anti-racist whites in the un-American society? Have people of color been allowed to enter American society and become Americans when they submitted to racist power and policy and inequality and injustice—when they became “my African American”? Have rebellious “un-Americans” of color been demonized as criminals and deported back to our countries or to more and more prisons like Angola in Louisiana?



Am I an American?



Blood-red-hatted segregationists say no, never, unless we submit to slavery. Assimilationists say we can be Americans if we stop speaking Spanish, stop wearing hijabs, cut our long hair, stop acting out against them—if we follow their gradual lead.



Anti-racist blacks have divided over this question as fiercely as segregationists and assimilationists. I am an American, and because I’m an American, I deserve to be free. I am not an American, because if I were an American, I’d be free.



“I, too, am America,” Langston Hughes wrote in perhaps his most famous poem, first published in 1926.



“I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American—and got sense enough to know it,” Malcolm X orated at a Detroit church on April 12, 1964.



Both ring true to me. I do not know whether I’m an American. But I do know it is up to me to answer this question based on how I define American, based on how I am treated by America. I don’t care whether or not anyone thinks I am an American. I am not about persuading anyone to see how American I am. I do not write stories that show white people all the ways people of color contributed to America. I will not battle with anyone over who is an American. There is a greater battle for America.



Maybe that is the point. Maybe I had the question wrong all along. Maybe I should not live in envy; I should live in struggle. Maybe I should have been asking, “Who controls America?” instead of “Am I an American?” Because who controls America determines who is an American."



Am I an American?

Am I an American?





"... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to get in line to be a Democrat, in the way I’m told by moderates away from Capitol Hill to get in line to be an American. I hear the moderate message of compliance, of assimilation, of being happy just dining. And I hear the message from the man with the blood-red hat defending the moderate and giving me an ultimatum.



“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Donald Trump tweeted Sunday. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”



But Pelosi and her moderate lieutenants do not desire this type of defense, this white-nationalist brand of American exceptionalism. They quickly and rightly stood up for the Americanness of these four women. “When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries,” Pelosi tweeted, “he affirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.” They quickly and rightly classified Trump’s MAGA attack as “a racist tweet from a racist president,” as the assistant speaker of the House, Ben Ray Luján, tweeted.



But their defenses and affirmations of my Americanness—that my black, Puerto Rican, Somalian, and Palestinian sisters are indeed Americans—did little to quiet the question screaming in my soul for an answer. And I suspect in the souls of millions more.



I can’t stop the screams. Am I an American? It is a question I have never been able to answer.



I can’t stop the shouts: “Go back to your country!” It is a statement I have never been able to answer.



Is this my country? Am I an American?



Ocasio-Cortez—like Trump, like me—was born in New York City. Tlaib was born in Detroit, and Pressley in Cincinnati. Omar’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia when she was a child. They are all U.S. citizens, like me.



“WE are what democracy looks like,” Pressley tweeted. “And we’re not going anywhere.”



But they are not white like the Slovene-born Melania Trump. Is an American essentially white? I do not know. I do not know if I’m still three-fifths of an American, as my ancestors were written into the U.S. Constitution. Or fully American. Or not American at all.



What I do know is that historically, people like me have only truly been all-American—if all-American is not constantly being told to “go back to your country” or “act like an American”—when we did not resist enslavement on a plantation, or in poverty, or in a prison with or without bars shackling our human potential and cultural flowering. Perhaps we were Americans when we did not resist our bodies being traded, our wombs being assaulted, and our bent backs and our hands being bloodied picking and cleaning and manufacturing white America’s wealth.



Perhaps we were Americans when we did not resist how the self-identified white allies were trying to civilize us, telling us to slow down, telling us our anti-racist demands were impractical or impossible, instructing us how to get free. We were rarely told to go back to our country when we did kneel, when we did not kneel, when we did as told by the slaveholder and the abolitionist, by the segregator and racial reformer, by the American mentor telling us to pull up or pull down our pants.



Am I an American only when I act like a slave?



What Trump told those four congresswomen is hardly unorthodox for a U.S. president if we extend recent memory backwards. In 1787, the year the U.S. Constitution was drafted, was also the year that Thomas Jefferson published his influential Notes on the State of Virginia. Enslaved Africans should be emancipated, civilized, and “colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper,” he wrote.



Colonization emerged as the most popular solvent of the race problem before the Civil War, advocated by nearly every president from Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln. Slaveholders increasingly desired to rid the nation of the emancipated Negro. And moderate Americans increasingly advocated gradual emancipation and colonization, telling the anti-racists that immediate emancipation was impractical and impossible in the way that anti-racists are told immediate equality is impractical and impossible today.



At the founding of the American Colonization Society in 1816, Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky, the future presidential candidate and “Great Compromiser,” gave voice to what we now call Trumpism, the savaging of people of color and the countries of people of color to hold up white Americanness.



“Can there be a nobler cause that that which, whilst it proposes to rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not dangerous portion of its population, contemplates the spreading of the arts of civilized life, and the possible redemption from ignorance and barbarism of a benighted quarter of the globe!”



The moderate strategized then, as the moderate still do now, based on what was required to soothe white sensibilities. As the clergyman Robert Finley wrote in Thoughts on the Colonization of Free Blacks in 1816, through colonization, “the evil of slavery will be diminished and in a way so gradual as to prepare the whites for the happy and progressive change.”



Some black people advocated back-to-Africa campaigns or relocated there, convinced American racism was permanent, convinced they could create a better life for themselves alongside their African kin. But many, perhaps most, black people resisted colonization schemes from their beginning. This is “the land of our nativity,” thousands of black Philadelphians resolved in 1817. Still colonization recycled through time, on the basis that the black race could never “be placed on an equality with the white race,” as Lincoln lectured a delegation of black men on August 14, 1862. The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison corrected Lincoln: “It is not their color, but their being free, that makes their presence here intolerable.”



President Andrew Johnson did everything he could to keep us slaves. His successor, Ulysses S. Grant, tired of alienating racist Americans from the Republican Party every time he sent federal troops to defend our right to live, vote, thrive, and hold political office from Ku Klux Klansmen led by men such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom Tennessee honored with his own day on Saturday.



In the so-called Compromise of 1877, northerners retained the White House in exchange for allowing racist southerners to treat us like anything but Americans over the next century. Or were we Americans all along, despite what the lynchings and pogroms did to our bodies, and what Jim Crow did to our political economy? Or did we become Americans through court rulings and congressional acts in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s? Or were we still not Americans in 1968, when the Kerner Commission’s study of America’s racial landscape concluded, “Our nation is moving towards two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”



Were the two societies—instead of black and white—the American society of legal patriots and the un-American society of illegal aliens? Did the Latinx, Muslim, Asian, and black immigrants who arrived in the United States since the 1960s join the people of color and anti-racist whites in the un-American society? Have people of color been allowed to enter American society and become Americans when they submitted to racist power and policy and inequality and injustice—when they became “my African American”? Have rebellious “un-Americans” of color been demonized as criminals and deported back to our countries or to more and more prisons like Angola in Louisiana?



Am I an American?



Blood-red-hatted segregationists say no, never, unless we submit to slavery. Assimilationists say we can be Americans if we stop speaking Spanish, stop wearing hijabs, cut our long hair, stop acting out against them—if we follow their gradual lead.



Anti-racist blacks have divided over this question as fiercely as segregationists and assimilationists. I am an American, and because I’m an American, I deserve to be free. I am not an American, because if I were an American, I’d be free.



“I, too, am America,” Langston Hughes wrote in perhaps his most famous poem, first published in 1926.



“I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American—and got sense enough to know it,” Malcolm X orated at a Detroit church on April 12, 1964.



Both ring true to me. I do not know whether I’m an American. But I do know it is up to me to answer this question based on how I define American, based on how I am treated by America. I don’t care whether or not anyone thinks I am an American. I am not about persuading anyone to see how American I am. I do not write stories that show white people all the ways people of color contributed to America. I will not battle with anyone over who is an American. There is a greater battle for America.



Maybe that is the point. Maybe I had the question wrong all along. Maybe I should not live in envy; I should live in struggle. Maybe I should have been asking, “Who controls America?” instead of “Am I an American?” Because who controls America determines who is an American."



Am I an American?

This U.K. Whistleblower Almost Stopped the Iraq Invasion. A New Film Tel...

Ilhan Omar Greeted With Cheers, Trump Flip Flops On 'Send Her Back' | Th...

Trump Distances Himself From The Racist Chant He Inspired

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Opinion | Trump Voters Are Not the Only Voters





Bouie nails it here.  Too bad neither the media nor Pelosi get it.



"... Most demographic and voting changes would produce small swings from 2016. But a few transform the electoral landscape. If Trump were to win an even larger margin of non-college whites — deepening his support with a 10-point swing from his 2016 baseline — he’d have a slight advantage in the popular vote and a comfortable majority in the Electoral College.



The next most potent change is an increase in black turnout and support. African-Americans are the most heavily Democratic group in the country, with a large presence in many of the most competitive states. Small increases in their participation would have an outsize effect on the electoral landscape. The projections bear that out. Given population growth since the last election, if black turnout and support return to 2012 levels, Democrats win handily, with as much as an estimated 338 electoral votes and a five-point margin in the national popular vote.



You could make a strong case that the future success of the Democratic Party depends on its ability to mobilize and win over black Americans, a key group in a broad coalition of voters. We have post-Obama proof that this is true from the 2017 elections — where strong black turnout drove those Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama — as well as in the 2018 midterms, where greater support and participation from black voters put black candidates within striking distance of statewide victories in Georgia and Florida.



But the press isn’t hyper-solicitous of the views of black voters. Cable news doesn’t constantly turn to swing-state focus groups of black Democrats to gauge their opposition to the president. And Democrats in Congress aren’t worried about demobilizing a group that may determine the next election. Just the opposite — some moderates believe the party has spent too much time challenging the president’s racism and showing solidarity with their nonwhite constituents. As The New York Times reported:



While Democrats were publicly unanimous in their support of the resolution, some moderate lawmakers from Republican-leaning districts that backed Mr. Trump in 2016 privately voiced their discomfort. They said that while the president’s comments had been racist, the party was playing into his hands by spending so much time condemning his remarks, according to centrist lawmakers and senior aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.



Conventional wisdom on 2020 is that Democrats will lose if they can’t get their progressive wing under control. This overstates the leftward swing of the Democratic Party and understates the distance between the center of American politics and the president’s right-wing policies. It also misses another, crucial dynamic — that by trying to court and convert voters who backed Trump, Democrats may sacrifice an opportunity to deepen support among their existing voters, to powerful electoral consequences



The press may not have much interest in the broader electorate, but Democratic leaders and strategists, at least, should understand that the anti-Trump coalition is much bigger than the Trump base. If they want to oust the president next November, they should start to take that fact seriously."



Opinion | Trump Voters Are Not the Only Voters