Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Monday, November 30, 2020

Both Republican Candidates In Georgia Runoffs Face Questions About Stock...

Bracing for a ‘superimposed’ holiday surge, top health experts urge Americans to take restrictive measures

Bracing for a ‘superimposed’ holiday surge, top health experts urge Americans to take restrictive measures

Opinion | Why Was Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed?

Opinion | Why Was Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a man as evil as Trump, with a diabolical mind and the lives of a cat.

"Why Was Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed?
The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh isn’t about stopping a bomb — it’s about preventing diplomacy. Joe Biden doesn’t have to let it work.

By Barbara Slavin

When Israel engineered the assassinations of a half-dozen Iranian nuclear scientists from 2010 to 2012, supporters of these killings argued that they would help slow a nuclear program at a time when multilateral diplomacy was showing little progress.

The killing on Friday of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, comes in a very different context.

Iran is again producing a large amount of uranium, but it is not close to the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Its actions are largely driven by the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was intended to put a lid on Iran’s ability to amass enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon until January 2031.

Iran has said repeatedly that it will go back into full compliance with the nuclear agreement if the Biden administration agrees to do the same, and lifts the onerous sanctions piled on by President Trump.

So why kill Mr. Fakhrizadeh now?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, with the support of President Trump, seems intent on scorching the earth to make it harder for any return to diplomacy under President-elect Joe Biden.

Israel and the Trump administration apparently fear that a Biden administration would seek a quick return to the nuclear agreement, which could revive Iran’s struggling economy and make it harder to contain its influence in the Middle East. Killing Mr. Fakhrizadeh makes that all the more difficult.

The Israeli government, as is its wont, has not taken responsibility for the assassination, but numerous published reports — and the audacious manner in which Mr. Fakhrizadeh was killed — strongly point toward agents of the Mossad. For its part, the Trump administration may or may not have known about the plot in advance, but Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, was recently in Israel, and the administration has not condemned the killing so far.

The killing of Mr. Fakhrizadeh, the reputed mastermind of Iran’s past weaponization efforts, will not dent Iran’s nuclear expertise, which is considerable. According to American intelligence, Iran did have a program aimed at producing nuclear warheads that ended 17 years ago, after it was detected by the C.I.A. and revealed by an Iranian opposition group.

The latest killing may not provoke Iran to build nuclear weapons, but it will likely feed the animosity between the United States and Iran, making diplomacy that much harder. It could strengthen hard-line factions in Iran arguing against a return to diplomacy — factions seeking to complete their control of Iranian politics in presidential elections scheduled for June.

Iran’s leadership reacted angrily but cautiously to the assassination. President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran will respond in a manner and at a time of its own choosing. He blamed Israel, adding, “This brutal assassination shows that our enemies are passing through anxious weeks, weeks that they feel their pressure era is coming to an end and the global conditions are changing.”

That statement suggests that Iran will seek revenge against Israel in some other form. Iran may increase its support for Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It will ensure that Israel remains “the lesser Satan” in Iranian propaganda for the foreseeable future, and Israeli soft targets — such as tourists and students — could be at risk, along with Israeli officials overseas. Americans, too, may be vulnerable for their association with Israel — on top of the Trump administration’s assassination of the Iranian senior general Qassim Suleimani in January.

With temperatures running so high, the incoming Biden administration now faces a serious challenge. Mr. Biden has vowed to return to negotiations with Iran, but he and his team cannot do much more than message through the media to Iran to stay patient until the inauguration on Jan. 20 — and to the Israelis to stop their campaign of sabotage.

Meanwhile, European countries that have diplomatic relations with Iran and are still parties to the nuclear agreement can help bridge the gap until the Biden inauguration. Britain, France and Germany should seek a swift convening of the commission that monitors implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement. Their foreign ministers should act even sooner and issue a statement condemning the assassination as illegal under international law and damaging to the cause of nonproliferation. A spokesperson for the European Union’s high representative for foreign and security policy has already described the killing as a “criminal act.”

For a variety of reasons, Iran’s nuclear program has been slow moving. It began in the 1950s with the gift of knowledge from the Eisenhower administration under the “Atoms for Peace” initiative. The Johnson administration gave Iran its first small nuclear research reactor a decade later.

In the more than 60 years since Iran’s nuclear efforts began, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have all developed bombs. Iran has not. It still has only one functioning nuclear power plant.

It would be the ultimate tragedy if Israel’s aggression now led Iran to change its calculus and go for weapons. This could spark a nuclear arms race throughout the region and ensure that the Middle East remains dysfunctional, riven by sectarian and other conflicts, its peoples’ potential for productive work stymied and its youth vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists who have struck innocent people around the world."

Opinion | Why Was Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist Killed?

Joe Biden fractures foot after slipping while playing with dog

Joe Biden and his German shepherd Major

"American president-elect Joe Biden has fractured his right foot after slipping while playing with his dog Major.

The injury was discovered in a scan on Sunday and will likely require him to wear a boot for several weeks, his doctor said.

Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said.

“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said.

“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Conner said."

Joe Biden fractures foot after slipping while playing with dog

Opinion | For Trump, Past Is Prologue

For Trump, Past Is Prologue

He has always tried to weave a reality different from what is actually true.

Angel Franco/The New York Times

If you are having a hard time fathoming how Donald Trump could deny reality, attempt to force-feed America his fictions, fight truth with conspiracy and concoction, and try to spin a loss into a victory, you shouldn’t. You need only be open to a fair analysis of Trump’s life. There is nothing new about this man’s behavior. This is what he has always been: a liar, a con man and a grifter.

For instance, consider a period in his life 30 years ago, in 1990, and you will see that everything he is doing now he did then. His brazen play at fact alteration isn’t innovation but regurgitation.

New York City was just coming off the racially divisive Central Park Five case in which five young Black and brown teenagers were wrongly convicted of attacking a white female jogger in Central Park. After the attack, Trump took out a full-page newspaper ad calling for New York State to adopt the death penalty and said of the teens in a CNN interview:

“Of course I hate these people. And, let’s all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need if we’re going to get something done.”

In early 1990, Trump and his wife at the time, Ivana, separated and went through a messy divorce based on Ivana’s claim of “cruel and inhumane treatment.”

The author Harry Hurt III wrote in his 1993 book, “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” that Ivana asserted during a deposition in the 1990 divorce that Trump had assaulted her.

As The Daily Beast summarized in 2019: “After a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot, Donald Trump confronted his then-wife, who had previously used the same plastic surgeon.”

The Daily Beast continued:“Donald held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation. He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants.

“‘Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified … It is a violent assault,’ Hurt writes.”

Ivana Trump has strenuously objected to this interpretation of events.

At the same time, Donald Trump’s casino business was floundering.

As The Atlantic reported in 2017:

“In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chips worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violated operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep Black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table.”

And The New York Times reported on Aug 16, 1990, that Trump’s supposed wealth was underwater. According to The Times: “Donald J. Trump’s accountants and bankers have concluded that his empire is worth far less than he contended late last year — and that if he had been forced to sell his assets this spring he might not have realized enough money to get out of debt.”

Still, that August, Trump sits with Barbara Walters for a “20/20” interview for his new book, “Trump: Surviving at the Top.” In the interview, Trump begins by attacking the press:

“Whether it’s a marriage, by the way, or whether it’s financial, I’ve never seen press reporting as I have with regard to me. And, I hope the general public understands how inherently dishonest the press in this country is.”

Trump then goes on to try to spin Walters — who would not be spun — on how his teetering on the edge of bankruptcy should actually be seen as success.

In the middle of the interview, Walters put this to Trump: “In your book you say, ‘Success is so often a matter of perception.’ What do you think the perception of you is today?”

Trump responds: “I really don’t know what the perception is. I think people see me as a fighter. I think people have always seen me as a fighter. They know that I don’t take a lot of crap from people, and from others.”

That is what it’s always about for Trump, then as now: perception, not reality. He doesn’t want to be perceived as a loser, even if he is. He doesn’t want to be perceived as a racist, even if he is. He will bend heaven and earth to create an amenable reality when the real reality is counter to his conception of self."

Opinion | For Trump, Past Is Prologue

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Fareed explores reasons why minority voters might have voted for Trump

Trump crams one last racist policy into his final days as president

"President Donald Trump is threatening to veto the annual defense spending bill, which would change the names of U.S. military bases that honor Confederate military leaders. For someone who came into office on a wave of racism and who in one of his first official acts made racism an official policy of the U.S. government, it only makes sense that one of Trump's last would be just as deeply racist.

The president has skillfully stoked the racism inherent in his base.

The president has skillfully stoked the racism inherent in his base. He has consistently helped translate this into official actions since his first days in office, starting with the so-called Muslim ban, in a trend that continues to place white people's grievances over national security.

Back in December 2015, Trump declared that if elected, he would call "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on." One week after Trump took office, he signed Executive Order 13769, implementing the "Muslim ban" that he'd promised, which among other provisions barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for three months.

The hastily written order was attacked, correctly, as being racially motivated, which appeared to be backed up by Trump's own statements. A new, expanded order in March 2017 was meant to act as a fig leaf, showing that the restrictions were about more than just religion. The Supreme Court eventually upheld the third version of the order, which remains in effect today.

The court's imprimatur doesn't change the thinking behind the original ban. The logic that gave birth to the order is the same as the logic that had Trump screaming about the threat of migrant caravans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, and it's the same as the logic behind Trump's current veto threat.

There are serious national security considerations — and a lot of money — on the line for what's essentially a bid to keep racists happy.

He knows who his base is and what they care about. In 2017, Trump nursed his supporters' fears about Muslim terrorists lurking among refugees. In 2018, he warned them about the invasion of immigrants from Latin America. In his waning days in office, he's going all in on protecting "Southern heritage" from liberals and minorities. In all of these cases, Trump has positioned himself as the champion of a white America under siege.

Currently at stake is the National Defense Authorization Act, the biggest and normally one of the most bipartisan annual spending bills to pass in Congress. This year's is likely to dole out about $740.5 billion in defense spending over the current fiscal year to fund the country's major defense priorities. It will also include, according to NBC News, "a pay raise for troops and funding for female-specific uniforms and body armor, which doesn't yet exist."

Versions of the measure that passed both houses of Congress included amendments to redesignate "any Department of Defense property currently named after a person who served in the political or military leadership of any armed rebellion against the United States" (which is a formal way of referring to the Confederacy and its leadership), according to the House's version.

The Army bases in question are strewn throughout the American South and were named, in part, to help win support for the new installations in former Confederate territory. "It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division," Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost said in 2015 when pushing back against a name change at Fort Rucker, an Alabama site named for Confederate officer Edmund Rucker.

The Pentagon's hesitance transformed into acceptance over the summer, with Mark Esper, then the defense secretary, agreeing that the bases' names needed changing. Trump very much disagreed, having latched onto the fight over Confederate monuments and flying a Confederate battle flag as an easy way to earn points with his core voting bloc.

In June, Trump summed up his stance when he tweeted out his undying support for brave Confederate soldiers like Gen. Braxton Bragg, considered by historians to have been one of the most incompetent Southern generals, and Gen. Henry Benning, who argued that abolition of slavery would lead to the destruction of the white race, declaring, "Give me pestilence and famine sooner than that."

The House and the Senate have already set up the conference committee needed to iron out the differences between their versions of the bill. But House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry of Texas told Defense News that he's concerned that the veto threat will push the bill's passage into next year.

"I worry that people will say, 'Oh, we can just do it later' — flippant — 'because it's just too politically volatile right now' because of all the good in the bill and nearly insurmountable obstacles to resurrecting it," Thornberry said.

There are serious national security considerations — and a lot of money — on the line for what's essentially a bid to keep racists happy. It's worth wondering how much of this pettiness is based on Trump's own racist beliefs. How much of it is his angling for a 2024 presidential bid and wanting to ensure he doesn't alienate his base in the meantime? That's unclear, but the effect is the same either way: On his way out the door, Trump remains committed to tying his own legacy to that of the Confederacy, keeping the racist through line that's been present his entire time in office."

Trump crams one last racist policy into his final days as president

Trump cannot pardon himself former White House ethics lawyer says

Trump cannot pardon himself former White House ethics lawyer says

GOP Lawmaker Slams Republican Trump Loyalists, Calls Out 'Anti-American' Supporters, Says He's 'Damn Sick of It'

"GOP Lawmaker Slams Republican Trump Loyalists, Calls Out 'Anti-American' Supporters, Says He's 'Damn Sick of It'

By Christina Zhaonewsweek.com2 min

Outgoing Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia on Saturday unleashed a barrage of criticism against Donald Trump, his allies and "anti-American" supporters, as the president continues to cast doubt on his election loss.

Riggleman is among the few Republicans who have acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Trump. Most media outlets called the election for the Democrat, who has secured 306 Electoral College votes, over two weeks ago, but Trump has refused to concede.

In an interview with Forbes, Riggleman condemned his fellow Republicans for remaining quiet amid Trump's attempts to cast doubt on the election process by claiming a "rigged" and "stolen" election. It's "completely unethical," he said, explaining that some of his colleagues believe that breaking with Trump would "cost them their careers."

"The career is more important than the facts, it's that simple," Riggleman added. "I'm so damn sick of it. I'm sick of it."

Riggleman admitted that there were "true believers" of Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud, but he went on to suggest that they were not smart people. "[It] really speaks to where your intelligence level is... to believe in that type of operation," he said.

The lawmaker also criticized Trump for embracing "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American" supporters and added that it was "irresponsible" for the president to retweet QAnon conspiracies.

"He got so desperate to retain power that he forgot he was serving people and not himself," Riggleman said of Trump, adding that the president has "never served anything but himself, when you talk about his businesses and what he's done."

In a statement to Newsweek, Riggleman noted that he doesn't think all MAGA supporters are "anti-American," only the ones pushing pro-Trump conspiracy theories. He also affirmed his belief that "conspiracy theories can cause huge damage and those that knowingly spread them and know they are false is dangerous."

Riggleman's remarks came hours after he shot back at a tweet that accused him of being "responsible" for the "corrupt election" that led to Trump's loss. The tweet named Riggleman and a number of other Republicans who have acknowledged Biden's win or called for a peaceful transition of power to the incoming Biden administration."

GOP Lawmaker Slams Republican Trump Loyalists, Calls Out 'Anti-American' Supporters, Says He's 'Damn Sick of It'

Why Democrats are always in disarray - The Washington Post

"The Democrats are a big-tent party. The GOP isn’t. That explains everything.

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Democrats can drive you crazy. Joe Biden won the presidency by a decisive majority, ousting a dangerous incumbent loathed across his party. In the streets of Democratic cities, there was jubilation. Yet just two days after the election, House Democrats fell into angry recriminations. Moderates blamed lefties for ideas and slogans that Republicans deployed against them. “We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) told her colleagues during an angry conference call. “We lost good members because of that.” Lefties, meanwhile, criticized moderates for running bad campaigns and failing to appreciate the energy the left generates. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told the New York Times that “not a single one of these [moderate] campaigns were firing on all cylinders.”

Compare that with the Republican Party, which was almost entirely complicit with President Trump's insane and democracy-wrecking claim that he won the election.

After a masterful presidential campaign that brought together every wing of Biden's party, our politics seemed to snap back instantly to old habits and an old rule: Republicans fight Democrats while Democrats battle each other. These contrasting behaviors reflect a simple fact: Democrats are a big-tent party, while Republicans are a closed circle. For more than a half-century, Republicans have purged dissenters and turned themselves into a rigid, radical, unified bloc — ideologically, racially, religiously. As the Republicans cast off free-thinkers, Democrats took them in.

This makes Democrats the larger party with better long-term prospects. But it also means that Biden's party is at risk of either pushing away the middle-of-the-road voters it needs to hold its majority or disillusioning the progressives who often power its apparatus, especially in urban centers. And Democrats must also struggle in a political system that — especially through the Senate and the electoral college — artificially tilts the playing field toward the GOP. Although Democrats ruefully invoke the old Will Rogers joke ("I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat"), their struggles are not a product of some psychological peculiarity. History has made them what they are, and they have to learn to live with it if they want to win and govern.

Barry Goldwater, who captured the GOP presidential nomination in 1964, led a movement that helped homogenize the Republican Party.
Barry Goldwater, who captured the GOP presidential nomination in 1964, led a movement that helped homogenize the Republican Party.
The conundrum goes back to the 1960s, and not just the '60s of the counterculture, civil rights and antiwar protests. The movements for Black, women's and LGBTQ rights had a decisive impact on our country socially, and they continue to play an important role in the Democratic Party. But there was another 1960s, embodied in the rise of the conservative intellectual movement, Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign, the backlash against civil rights and a New Right. The revolt on the right had a decisive impact on our party system.

The long-term effect of Goldwater's takeover of the GOP was a series of purges. They started with the liberals (senators such as Jacob Javits, Clifford Case and Tom Kuchel). The party then drove out moderates and eventually moved to cast away even genuine conservatives (Sen. Bob Bennett and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor among them) whom activists charged with the unforgivable sin of squishiness. As Republicans became ideologically pure, they also became racially and religiously homogeneous.

This churn had overlapping effects. Many voters who would once have been moderate Republicans have been moving steadily Democratic since the 1990s — culminating, for example, in Biden's sweep of suburbs outside places like Philadelphia and Boston, which were once moderate Republican heartlands, and even in the more conservative-leaning suburbs around Atlanta and Phoenix.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act (which Lyndon Johnson pushed through and Goldwater opposed), African Americans, who had been shifting toward the Democrats since the New Deal, consolidated as the party's most reliable constituency. The counter movement of conservative Southern Democrats toward the Republicans, in turn, strengthened the GOP's right wing. And Trump's success in winning over Whites without college degrees in 2016 sharpened the Democrats' internal debates over the relative priority of mobilizing base voters or persuading defectors. Biden did enough of both to win significant popular-vote and Electoral College majorities, but the margins in swing states were close, and Trump's 2020 mobilization of his own voters tipped more than a half-dozen House races in red territory his party's way.

Far from stopping the rightward radicalization of the GOP, what happened this year may only reinforce the trend. This means many debates that once took place between the parties — about, say, the appropriate size of the welfare state, the proper role of economic regulation or the right way to protect the environment — are being held almost entirely within the Democratic Party.

Imagine that the United States had a multiparty system with proportional representation, as many European democracies do. A government led by Democrats would amount to a coalition involving a left party, a broad center-left party with roots in a once-thriving labor movement, a socially liberal middle-class party, a Green party and perhaps a civil rights party. Coalitions of this sort are not unknown — progressive parties in Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have governed successfully with such alliances — but holding all the pieces together requires the patience of Job and the canniness of Machiavelli.

Although a proportional system might fracture the right to some degree — one could imagine the formation of separate pro-business, socially conservative and right-wing nationalist parties — the Republicans are, basically, one big conservative party. Its constituencies give each other what they need. Economic conservatives live with appeals to religious conservatives, nationalists and even the fringe right in exchange for tax cuts and deregulation. All sides want conservative judges to foil possible future progressive advances. With the moderates in their ranks purged, they are united in fearing the liberal (or "socialist") enemy far more than they worry about each other. This approach was not enough to re-elect Trump, but it allowed the GOP to hold its own in Senate races and (often gerrymandered) House districts.

The 2020 election perfectly captured the distinction between Democratic diversity and Republican homogeneity. Biden's coalition was a little bit of everybody — self-described liberals (they constituted 42 percent of his voters), moderates (48 percent) and conservatives (10 percent), according to the network exit poll conducted by Edison Research. In other words, contrary to Trump's claim that Biden is a tool for raging leftists, a majority of his electorate was non-liberal. By contrast, Trump voters were 68 percent conservative, 27 percent moderate and 5 percent liberal.

Racially, 53 percent of Biden's voters were White, but 82 percent of Trump's were; 21 percent of Biden's were Black, but only 3 percent of Trump's were. And for all the focus on Trump's gains among Latinos in South Florida and South Texas, the Hispanic vote is still crucial for Democrats: 16 percent of Biden's voters were Latino, compared with 9 percent of Trump's. The contrast is especially striking when race and religion are looked at in tandem: 67 percent of Trump's voters were White Christians; only 30 percent of Biden's were.

In the short term, Democrats clearly have a coalition-management challenge: Big-tent politics requires a lot of work and leads to inevitable bickering. But over the long run, Republicans are confronting decline, not only because the Democrats' diversity better reflects the country, both now and in the future, but also because the GOP's coalition is aging. Among Trump's voters, 65 percent were 45 or older; only 56 percent of Biden's were — and Biden captured voters under 30 by a better than 3-to-2 margin. In fact, the only thing that has saved Republicans in presidential elections over the past three decades is an electoral college that privileges White and conservative voters. The GOP has won the popular vote in only one of the past eight elections. Republicans took heart in their gains among Latinos, but the Hispanic vote was nonetheless key to Biden's success in Arizona and Nevada — and to the Democrats' ongoing advantage in California, New Mexico and elsewhere.

The Democratic Party is a coalition of many different elements; the GOP is much more unified.
The Democratic Party is a coalition of many different elements; the GOP is much more unified.
Still, 2020 did not bring about the larger-scale realignment that the Democrats hoped for (and that was mistakenly forecast by many polls). To nurture that possibility, Biden and the Democrats must find their inner Job, with a little help from Machiavelli.

For starters, each camp within the party can acknowledge the truth of what their internal rivals say. The left is right that it provides a lot of energy, especially among young voters and in the urban areas that turned out big for Biden. But the moderates are right that, to win power, the party needs middle-of-the-road voters, particularly from swing districts. This may produce more cautious officeholders, but they are essential to building a congressional majority.

Progressives are right that the quest for racial justice should not be compromised — and is, in fact, an electoral asset. (After all, 85 percent of Biden voters told the exit pollsters that the criminal justice system treats Blacks unfairly.) But moderates are right that slogans like "Defund the police" can bring down moderate lawmakers, such as Staten Island's defeated Rep. Max Rose. Here's a rule for the future: Any slogan that requires five minutes to explain what it really means is not a good slogan.

And while the word "socialist" appeals to younger progressives who associate it with the social and economic successes of Sweden, Norway or Denmark, it carries a lot of baggage for older voters who remember the Soviet Union, and for those whose families fled repressive Communist regimes, including Cuban- and Vietnamese-Americans.

The Democratic coalition can hang together only if its members accept this ground-level truth: that for all their quarrels, they want to move the country in the same direction (as I argued earlier this year in my book "Code Red"), and they want to defeat the radicalized GOP. Biden convinced both sides that they wanted the same thing by crafting a platform that appealed to moderates and the left alike: decent, affordable health insurance for every American (79 percent of his voters supported the Affordable Care Act); ambitious programs to combat climate change (which 90 percent of Biden voters saw as a serious problem); and a promise to dial back economic inequality through large investments in infrastructure, child care and education.

Oh yes, and they all support big steps to contain the pandemic (a priority for 80 percent of his voters) and to get the economy moving. They'll be judged collectively on whether they succeed at these core missions.

Georgia’s impending Senate runoffs will provide the ultimate test of strength between the mobilizing power of the Democrats’ big tent and the solidarity of the Republicans’ closed circle. The politics of diversity and a whole lot of voter registration helped Democrats convert Georgia from a Republican bastion into a battleground. So did Biden’s carefully calibrated appeal to all wings of the party’s coalition. Control of the Senate and Biden’s ability to enact his larger program depend on his party’s ability to hang together and make Will Rogers’s quip a quaintly amusing piece of history."

Why Democrats are always in disarray - The Washington Post

Opinion | Trump Looms Large Now, but Maybe Not Forever - The New York Times

Trump Looms Large Now, but Maybe Not Forever

"One-term presidents generally don’t leave big footprints. And the last four years may be seen as a reaction to the game-changing presidency of Barack Obama.

Mr. Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition, is the author of “Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Fremont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War.”

President Trump’s critics warn that history will look unkindly on his effort to overturn a democratic election. This forecast, while understandable, may be wrong. History rarely looks on one-term presidents at all.

For the last four years I’ve covered his administration as a journalist while also researching and writing books about 19th-century American history. This made it natural to try assessing him from a distance, as future historians might peer at him. Someday the clamor of his tenure will fade, leaving behind a few essential facts, the first of which is his single term.

Few presidents who served four years or less find an enduring place in the popular imagination. One term is not long to influence a country so large and dynamic — and a president’s failure to win a second term can be a sign that he didn’t. If you are not from Indiana, you may not know my state produced Benjamin Harrison, a one-term president who was different from President William Henry Harrison, who died after one month in office. Few people visit the statue of James Buchanan in a lonely corner of a Washington park, and in my life I have met just one enthusiast for Chester A. Arthur.

One-term presidents who escape obscurity often did something beyond the presidency — like John Adams, one of the nation’s founders, or Jimmy Carter, whose much-admired post-presidency has lasted 10 times as long as his term. John F. Kennedy’s legacy rests, in part, on legislative achievements that passed after his assassination. Others are known for their failures while in office: Warren G. Harding for a corruption scandal, Herbert Hoover for economic calamity, Andrew Johnson for being impeached.

We can’t be sure what history will make of Mr. Trump, whose term featured scandal, impeachment and calamity, as well as a pandemic. His story may not be over; he remains at the head of a powerful movement, and reportedly talks of running in 2024. But to judge by information available today, he has a relatively narrow role in the American story: as the reaction to a game-changing president — Barack Obama.

Something like this is true of many presidents. A relative handful enact lasting change, while others respond to them. The ones who left a mark include Andrew Jackson, Mr. Trump’s favorite, who served two terms, from 1829 to 1837. Jackson founded the Democratic Party, reinforced slavery, pursued populist economic policies, and faced down a near-rebellion over states’ rights. When he exceeded his power to achieve his goals, critics called him King Andrew.

A statue of President Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times
Jackson was followed by eight presidents who served in his shadow, two of whom died in office and none of whom went on to a second term. History does not linger long on most of them; they were subordinate characters, mostly shaped by Jackson’s agenda — either advancing or resisting it.

In the same way, Mr. Trump’s place in history may be overshadowed by Mr. Obama’s. Elected in 2008, Mr. Obama seemed to personify America’s growing diversity as a multiracial republic. His campaign motivated new voters, and he talked at first of transcending old political divisions. He said he wanted Americans to regain trust in institutions battered by 9/11, the war in Iraq and the financial crisis. He raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans, signed the Affordable Care Act, tried to break an impasse over immigration and approved a nuclear agreement to ease a long-running conflict with Iran.

He also did not manage to transcend the old divisions. Facing unrelenting opposition from Republicans in Congress, he enraged them by using executive authority to govern around them. Numerous Republicans claimed Mr. Obama had acted like a king.

The Obama presidency paved the way for Mr. Trump. He rose by relentlessly attacking Mr. Obama, promoting the racist conspiracy theory about his birthplace and falsely claiming that he favored open borders. Mr. Trump told voters in 2016 that he was their “last chance” to win before they were overwhelmed by immigration and globalism.

It is astonishing to recall how much Mr. Trump devoted his term to re-fighting the battles of the Obama years. Using executive authority as Mr. Obama had, he rolled back housing and environmental regulations, reversed transgender rights in the military, and branded antiracism programs as racist.

But on many issues he only partly succeeded. He withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement, but other nations did their best to maintain it. He abandoned Mr. Obama’s strategy toward China, but he struggled to make his own strategy work. He damaged the Affordable Care Act but never managed to repeal it, even when his party controlled Congress.

It was revealing that he publicly supported the most popular benefits of the health insurance law that he said he despised, such as protections for pre-existing conditions. His predecessor defined what health insurance should cover, and Mr. Trump accepted the definition.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord, but his successor plans to rejoin it. Mr. Trump ended Mr. Obama’s program giving legal status to some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, but the Supreme Court restored it, finding Mr. Trump’s action “arbitrary and capricious.” Though Mr. Trump took other actions to limit immigration, the most permanent symbol of his policy may be an unfinished wall in the desert. He neither erased all of President Obama’s accomplishments nor completed his own.

President Trump still has a legacy. He attracted a vast and loyal following. The tax cuts he approved could last for years, while the three conservative justices he appointed are likely to remain on the Supreme Court for decades. His obsessive use of social media made him unlike any president before him, as did his open disregard of barriers between his public duties and personal business. He spoke well of authoritarian rulers, and accelerated the use of disinformation.

The epic conflicts he generated seem like perfect material for future history classes. It is easy to imagine a high school history book recounting the monthslong court fight over his effort to ban Muslims from entering the United States, followed by discussion on religious freedom and the Constitution.

But in those same textbooks, President Trump may be a minor player in the larger story of a democracy grappling with demands for a more equal society — an era marked by the election of Mr. Obama, the first Black president.

And Mr. Trump’s tenure already has a fitting bookend: On Jan. 20, he will be replaced by Mr. Obama’s vice president.

Steve Inskeep is a co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition and Up First, and the author of “Jacksonland” and “Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Fremont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War.”

Opinion | Trump Looms Large Now, but Maybe Not Forever - The New York Times

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Vote Democratic in Georgia January 5th 2021

Donald Trump's legal defeats pile up while his attacks on Georgia's election system raise GOP concerns - CNNPolitics


Pennsylvania appeals court rejects Trump challenge 02:43
Pennsylvania appeals court rejects Trump challenge 02:43

President Donald Trump found himself trapped in an election riddle of his own making Friday -- continuing to push false claims that the election was a "total scam," even after another humiliating court rebuke in Pennsylvania, while insisting that his supporters should turn out in Georgia's January Senate runoff elections despite concerns about fraud that he has sown.

With the eyes of the political universe focused on turning out voters in Georgia -- where the two runoff elections will determine which party controls the US Senate -- the President's relentless attacks on the state's voting apparatus, its tabulating process and its Republican secretary of state are prompting handwringing among GOP strategists and state leaders who fear those attacks are eroding confidence in elections at a time when they need to turn out as many of their voters as possible to reelect Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on January 5 and hold onto their firewall against a Democrat-controlled House and White House.

President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democrat in 28 years to win the Peach State, and Trump has been casting doubt about Georgia's election results for weeks now. He's made wild claims in his public remarks, retweeted attorneys and allies who have called for overturning the state's election results, and described the statewide audit -- which was a hand recount of every ballot -- as "meaningless" because of his objections to the signature-verification process. After Georgia certified its results, which confirmed Biden's victory in the state, the Trump campaign requested another recount, which is unlikely to reverse his loss.

Trump ratcheted up those attacks when speaking to reporters on Thanksgiving even as he touted his upcoming visit to campaign in Georgia on December 5, claiming without evidence that he was "robbed" with "fraud all over the place" and calling Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "an enemy of the people."

When asked by a reporter why he would expect GOP voters to have confidence after what he described as an illegitimate election and turn out for Loeffler and Perdue, Trump said he had warned the two senators: "Listen you have a fraudulent system ... you have to be very careful."
But on Friday, he backtracked as he tweeted a Newsmax story that said his supporters are considering an election boycott in Georgia over fraud claims. After falsely calling the November election a "scam" that he's hoping to overturn, he encouraged people to "get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people."
Trump's rhetoric, and the way it could undermine Georgia's electoral system, have been troubling to Republican strategists like Alice Stewart, a CNN contributor and native Georgian, who noted that bedrock Republican issues, including maintaining the conservative majority on the Supreme Court -- and preventing Democrats from court packing and enacting liberal policies like the Green New Deal -- will hinge on Republicans defending both Senate seats.

"Without a doubt, if this continues, it's going to be a problem," Stewart said of Trump's baseless allegations about voting in Georgia. "I think every legal and legitimate vote should be counted, but at this stage of the game, to claim there's widespread voter fraud, this claim that there is an election hoax — we need to see some evidence. We need to see what he's talking about."

"Otherwise, he needs to drop it and move on, because it's not helpful to the process," Stewart said, noting that she and many of her family members in Georgia voted for Trump because they support his policies.
Republican donor Dan Eberhart called on lower-level Republican leaders to "step up or step out right now" and openly challenge Trump's claims before it does irreparable harm to their party.
"The party and the Republicans need to be focused on making (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell stronger right now, which is winning these two seats in Georgia, and then we need to be focused on winning the next election, taking the house back in 2022, and they can't do that if Trump has frozen everything," Eberhart said Friday night on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"These Republican senators, Republican congressmen, Republican governors, they're afraid of the Trump tweet and I think we need to get over that," he said.

Trump made another perplexing about-face Friday. After stating on Thursday night that he would leave the White House in January if Biden's victory is certified by the electoral college, he made the absurd claim on Twitter that "Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous '80,000,000 votes' were not fraudulently or illegally obtained," even though Trump's own authority expires on January 20 when his term ends and his team hasn't been able to offer any credible evidence of fraud.

Trump's own appointee, Chairman of the US Election Assistance Commission Ben Hovland, rejected the premise of Trump's tweet Friday night. (The Commission is charged, in part, with testing and certifying voting machines and works closely with election officials around the country).
"Those 80 million votes that President-elect Biden has have been confirmed. They have been confirmed by the men and women who run our elections across the country," Hovland said on "Erin Burnett OutFront." "We have certified results in a number of states now, and again the people who run our elections have said that those are the totals."

"I believe the President and his allies have one win and 38 losses, they have failed to provide evidence of any widespread fraud to the courts," he added of Trump's court battles. "Clearly Joe Biden has won this race — the election officials who run our elections have said that — and that's how our democracy works."

Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232, and has now become the first presidential candidate to win more than 80 million votes -- posting a margin of more than 6 million over Trump.
The dearth of evidence supporting Trump's fraud claims was once again illuminated in the opinion of a three-judge panel for the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals Friday that denied the Trump campaign's request to refile its lawsuit challenging the results in Pennsylvania, where Biden enjoys a margin of more than 80,000 votes.

"Calling an election unfair does not make it so," Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the panel. "Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."

Highlighting the gulf between the inflammatory charges that Trump and his allies have made outside the courtroom and the flimsy allegations that appear in their court filings, Bibas noted that the Trump campaign never alleged that "any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter."

"It never alleges that any defendant treated the Trump campaign or its votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or its votes," Bibas wrote. "Calling something discrimination does not make it so."
The three-judge panel also called the Trump campaign's efforts to negate Pennsylvania's certification of votes "unprecedented," adding that the campaign's claims have "no merit."

"Tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too," the opinion said.

Though the defeat added to the Trump campaign's humiliating tally of more than 30 courtroom losses or withdrawals in their effort to challenge the election results, the President's attorney Jenna Ellis said on Twitter that their team was moving on to the Supreme Court.

Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election lawyer who co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, said the Supreme Court taking up the case would be a welcome development to put an end to Trump's counterproductive efforts to unravel democracy.

"We should only hope that he takes this case in Pennsylvania up to the Supreme Court, because that will explode the other myth that judges are just going to lay down for him and do his bidding, because they are Republican judges," Ginsberg said on "Erin Burnett OutFront" Friday.

"What his followers will see, once he is out of office, is that there were a lengthy string of losses, losses, losses and that in effect is going to be part of his legacy when we look back at this."

Donald Trump's legal defeats pile up while his attacks on Georgia's election system raise GOP concerns - CNNPolitics

The real Thanksgiving story hints at how future Americans will talk about Covid-19

We love stories in America. Especially when we can see ourselves in the heroes. That's part of why the tale of the humble Pilgrims, rescued from starvation by kindly Natives, has such a cherished place in our folklore.

Thanksgiving Day, for all its feasting and pageantry, is a holiday built on the stories that we tell ourselves. This year, though, it is being celebrated as we're in the throes of a pandemic that a divided country can't properly define. It makes me wonder: What stories will we eventually tell ourselves?

American exceptionalism lends itself to rejecting anything that feels uncomfortable or immoral.

It feels like a good time to think about this, with a rough winter ahead and the promise of vaccines waiting on the other side. I see at least two distinct versions of 2020 that could take root in the fertile soil of our imaginations: the tidy fable that makes us feel good about ourselves and the nuanced, sometimes difficult-to-look-at truth. Americans have a lot of practice with the former — our exceptionalism lends itself to rejecting anything that feels uncomfortable or immoral. We need look no further than the story of the first Thanksgiving to see how this predilection influences the collective historical record.

Generations of American children struggling to pronounce the word "cornucopia" have learned about Squanto, the kindly Native American who helped the colony at Plymouth. As the tale goes, after landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the Pilgrims — who had risked everything to come to the New World in search of religious freedom — survived the harsh New England winter thanks only to Squanto's help teaching them to plant corn and catch eels. The Pilgrims, in their gratitude, gathered with several dozen Indigenous people to share their bounty in the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

It's a happy tale, with a positive moral takeaway. And with the parable having properly been conveyed, the turkey is sliced, the pie is eaten, and everyone goes to watch football.

But the actual story is harder to hear. It also dovetails rather neatly with this year's calamities. The Pilgrims weren't the first Europeans the region's Wampanoag tribe had encountered and to this point managed to contain over the previous century. Squanto, whose full name was Tisquantum, was the only surviving member of the Patuxet band. He didn't just happen to be fluent in English. Six years before the Mayflower landed in North America, he'd been taken captive and sold as a slave in Europe, before he eventually made his way back home in 1619. But he returned to find only ghosts.

During his time as a slave in Europe, the entirety of his village had died from a plague. Scientists are still unsure exactly what disease killed off the Patuxet people. A recent theory put forward in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases is that the Natives had succumbed to a wave of leptospirosis — a bacterial disease spread by urine that attacks the renal organs and the central nervous system. In their study, the authors attribute the outbreak to rats and other rodents brought over to the Americas on European ships.

It makes me wonder, then, what uncomfortable truths will be wiped out as we tell the story of Covid-19 in the years to come.

It's impossible to know for sure whether that was the culprit; others have suggested that it might have been a viral case of hepatitis A or bubonic plague. It's also difficult to know how many lives the mystery disease took — one estimate cited in the Emerging Infectious Diseases paper said as many as 2,000 people might have been living in the Patuxet village before its collapse. But what's clear is that the abandoned Patuxet land wasn't empty for long. The Pilgrims, fresh off the Mayflower, marveled at the rows of corn their deceased predecessors had planted before their deaths.

It was in part because of these deaths, likely a result of European migration, that Plymouth was able to flourish. It's an uncomfortable truth, one that's wiped out from most quick and easy retellings. It makes me wonder, then, what uncomfortable truths will be wiped out as we tell the story of Covid-19 in the years to come.

The Trumpist version of the story will likely focus on the brave men and women of America who defied tyranny and cast off their oppressive masks to live free of fear. The massive death toll goes unmentioned in this telling.

There's a second option, which fits the arc of American greatness a little better. In this retelling, the people of the United States banded together to fight off illness, determined and resolute until a vaccine delivered us from the coronavirus scourge. Think of it as a secular Hannukah legend, in which the quarantine snacks lasted almost a full year. The death toll is probably mentioned in this version — but more as a road bump on the way to eventual victory over disease.

I don't know which of these versions will eventually become part of the American mythology. Or maybe a third, as-yet-unknown version will be the one that schoolchildren recite 30, 40, 50 years in the future. Just as with Thanksgiving, it's all too easy to sanitize the truth, either to make it more palatable to young students or to make a nation feel better about its mistakes. But who knows? Maybe I'll be surprised. Maybe we've learned enough in the recent past about how to keep the truth of history alive that we'll skip past the bowdlerization of Covid-19.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll be mature enough as a country by then that our future speeches and stories and will be the actual, real truth — as we're living it now."

The real Thanksgiving story hints at how future Americans will talk about Covid-19

You need to listen to this leading vaccine expert from Korea | STAY CURI...

Asian Americans helped Biden win Georgia. Can they do the same for Warnock and Ossoff? - The Washington Post

Asian Americans helped Biden win Georgia. Can they do the same for Warnock and Ossoff? - The Washington Post

African Muslims and the Slave Trade

African Muslims and the Slave Trade

"In just under a week on Saturday, June 22 at 10am, London Town will welcome Dr. Herbert Brewer to speak on the slave ship Margaret and its journey from London, England to Sierra Leone, West Africa, to the Chesapeake (including London Town) and back to England. Please join us. After the lecture at 1pm, the Conversation Starters will lead a discussion about Dr. Brewer’s talk, moderating a conversation on the legacy of slavery. Both the lecture and the discussion are free for members and included with general admission.

However, the Margaret is far from the only ship carrying enslaved people to dock at London Town. In this following article, Sylviane A. Diouf, PhD, shares the remarkable story Ayuba Suleyman Diallo, a Muslim man from Senegal, who was forcibly sold to Stephen Pike in 1730. Pike was the captain of the Arabella, a slave ship that came to London Town.

Sylviane A. Diouf, PhD is an award-winning historian, notably, of Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (New York University Press 2013). She is Visiting Professor at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.

Image: Portrait of Ayuba Suleyman Diallo and a page of the Qur'an that he wrote

“Allah. Muhammad.” With these words a runaway found wandering in Kent County, Pennsylvania, introduced himself to the men who interrogated him in June 1731. He did not speak English and could not say where he came from or to whom he “belonged.” He had been renamed Simon; and was later known as Job ben Solomon. But he was Ayuba Suleyman Diallo and when confronted with a dangerous situation over which he had no control, he had placed his faith in Allah and his Prophet Muhammad.

Diallo’s ordeal had started in late February 1730. A trader and Qur’anic teacher who lived in the Islamic State of Bundu in Senegal, he was abducted in Gambia and sold to Stephen Pike, the captain of the Arabella. Diallo told him that his father would pay for his freedom and was allowed to dispatch an acquaintance to his hometown. But the Arabella left for Maryland before the thirty-year-old husband and father of four could be redeemed. Upon arrival in Annapolis Diallo and the 149 people who had survived the journey –nineteen had died—were sold. The Arabella then sailed to London Town on the South River where, with the proceeds of the sale, he purchased tobacco before returning to London on the third leg of the trip.

Bought by a Mr. Tolsey of Kent Island, Diallo worked in the tobacco fields and later tended cattle. As the devout Senegalese secretely prayed in the woods, a white boy entertained himself by throwing dirt in his face. In the end, Diallo ran away and walked fifty miles before being captured and thrown in jail. There he acquired some notoriety because it was discovered that he could write Arabic. He was eventually returned to his owner who gave him a place to pray and a lightened workload. Diallo was still determined to recover his freedom and, as his biographer Thomas Bluett explained, “he therefore wrote a letter in Arabick to his father, acquainting him with his Misfortunes, hoping he might yet find Means to redeem him.” Diallo arranged for his letter to return to his homeland along the same route he had taken to Maryland: from a factor for slave dealers to the slave captain who had brought him to Annapolis. The letter ultimately arrived in London and ended up in the hands of the deputy governor of the Royal African Company, James Oglethorpe, the future founder of the colony of Georgia. His curiosity piqued, Oglethorpe forwarded the letter to Oxford University to be translated and then decided buy Diallo’s freedom.

In June 1732, after eighteen months of servitude, Diallo left for Senegal which he reached in August 1734 after a stay in London where he had his portrait made by William Howe. It shows a handsome man with long hair and wearing a white turban and a white robe, the West Africans’ distinctive Islamic dress. He was actually wearing European clothes but had insisted on being represented “in his own country dress” which he had to describe, as the artist stated he could not draw something he had not seen. The young Senegalese’s insistence at being immortalized the way he wanted to is a testament to his pride in his country and religion. By so doing he strongly affirmed his belonging to the larger Islamic world that at some point extended from Portugal to East Asia.

The peoples of Senegal and the western Sahel—the savannah belt south of the Sahara—had been in contact with the North African Islamic world since the eighth century. Islam had spread not through conquest but through contact—first with Arab and Berber traders and Sufi clerics—then through local traders and clerics. When the transatlantic slave trade started in the early 1500s, Islam had already been flourishing in some parts of West Africa for half a millennium. The religion had brought literacy in Arabic (and ajami, any foreign language written in the Arabic script) with the opening of countless schools for boys and girls; generated the production of books and manuscripts; stimulated the creation of specific Islamic attires; and encouraged long-distance travel for education, trade, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

It is estimated that at least 10 percent of the 12.5 million Africans who endured the horrendous Middle Passage—10.7 millions survived it—were Muslims. Among them were teachers, students, clerics, musicians, memorizers of the Qur’an, long-distance traders, pilgrims, soldiers, farmers, and herders. They landed in every country of the Americas where their trace can be found in accounts by missionaries, planters and travelers; runaway notices; newspaper articles; court and police records; and in the Muslims’ own manuscripts.

Muslims were of varied ethnic and geographic origins and spoke different languages, but they were linked, in the Americas as they were in West Africa, by their common faith as well as Arabic that the most educated could speak, write, and read.

In the Western Hemisphere, their “rebelliousness” was well-known—Islam forbids the enslavement of free Muslims—and Spain, which had just freed itself of seven centuries of Muslim rule and was concerned that enslaved Muslims could convert Native Americans, enacted five bans against their introduction in the first 50 years of its colonization of the continents.

Muslims from Senegal organized the first uprising of enslaved Africans in 1522 on the estate of Christopher Columbus’ son in what is now the Dominican Republic. In December 1804 they staged an uprising—Herman Melville turned the episode into the novel Benito Cerreno—on the ship that was taking them from Santiago, Chile to Lima, Peru. They planned to sail back to Senegal and had the captain sign a “contract” to that effect. He testified, “they knew how to write in their language.” The ship was eventually overtaken after a fierce battle. One successful shipboard revolt organized by Muslims occurred in 1800. The captives forced the first officer to take the ship from Montevideo, Uruguay to Saint Louis, Senegal where they arrived several months later. Muslims were involved in the 1791 revolution in Saint Domingue that led to the independence of Haiti in 1804. A French colonel mentioned that the French soldiers found papers written in Arabic in the bags of the few Africans they killed. Starting in 1807 Muslims organized conspiracies and uprisings in Bahia, which culminated, in 1835, in the largest slave revolt in the country.

Image: Portrait of Yarrow Mamout by Charles Wilson Peale, 1819, Philadelphia Museum of Art

However, remaining faithful to their religion in the most oppressive circumstances, even when forced to convert was the Muslims’ most prevalent form of resistance. Just as Diallo did, Muslims continued to pray. Most probably did it in secret, but some were open about it. In the 1930s the children of some Sea Islands Muslims described how their relatives prayed several times a day. The painter Charles Willson Peale wrote that in Maryland Yarrow Mamout, “is often seen & heard in the streets singing Praises to God—and conversing with him.” Georgian Joseph Le Conte, later a professor at Berkeley recalled how “An old native African named Philip, who was a very intelligent man, . . . not a pagan but a Mohammedan … greatly interested us by going through all the prayers and prostrations of his native country.” One man mentioned that his grandfather had slaves, “devout Mussulmans, who prayed to Allah . . . morning, noon and evening,” and that Bilali Mohamed—from the Islamic State of Futa Jallon in Guinea—enslaved on Sapelo Island faced east to “call upon Allah.”

When Diallo pressed Howe to represent him in his West African Muslim dress, his concern was far from unique. On the Sea Islands, some women wore white veils as their descendants attested in the 1930s. Bilali Mohamed sported a fez and other men wore white turbans. Omar ibn Said-- from the Islamic state of Futa Toro in Senegal—was photographed with a piece of cloth around his head or a hat and was also known to wear a white turban. Yarrow Mamout was painted in 1819, very much covered and donning a woolen hat. A British lawyer who visited Trinidad wrote the “African negro Mohammedans” wore “large sleeved white surplices, made very nearly like ours, broad-brimmed straw hats, bare legs, and coolie sandals.” The Muslims who rose in Bahia in 1835 all wore white turbans and white tunics. The Islamic attire represented a refusal of the abjection of the slaves’ material life. It was furthermore a rejection of acculturation, an affirmation of their dignity as Africans and Muslims.

While they had no say about their diet, it has been recorded that, following Islamic interdiction, some Muslims refused alcohol, pork, and fasted during Ramadan. When Diallo was interrogated after his capture, he declined the wine offered to him. Neron in South Carolina earned the right to get beef instead of pork. In contrast, a Muslim from Mali enslaved in Mississippi lamented the fact that he had to eat the forbidden meat but stressed he had never drunk alcohol. Ibrahima abd al Rahman—enslaved 39 years in Mississippi before being freed—did not drink alcohol either. Yarrow Mamout—who freed himself—used to say, “it is not good to eat Hog--& drink whiskey is very bad.” To retain a particular dress and to continue to adhere to a specific diet may appear trivial but those were difficult religious principles to uphold precisely because they were visible and were the domains of the slaveholders who distributed clothes and rations.

While in London Diallo wrote three copies of the Qur’an—one was sold at auction in 2013-- which he knew by rote as students are required to do. He was far from being the only literate Muslim in the Americas. In 1871, Theodore Dwight, the secretary of the American Ethnological Society, observed, several other Africans have been known at different periods, in different parts of America, somewhat resembling Job-ben-Solomon [Diallo] in acquirements; but, unfortunately, no full account of any of them has ever been published. The writer has made many efforts to remedy this defect and has obtained some information from a few individuals. But there are insuperable difficulties in the way in slave countries, arising from the jealousy of masters, and other causes.

Bilali Mohamed of Sapelo wrote a 13-page document in Arabic, an excerpt of a 10th century text that is part of the curriculum of higher studies in West Africa. Ibrahima abd al Rahman penned a letter in Arabic that was sent to the sultan of Morocco who inquired about the fate of his coreligionist, who was subsequently released. Omar ibn Said wrote several manuscripts, but his main work was his 1831 autobiography in which he subtly denounced his continued enslavement. It was recently acquired by the Library of Congress. Several manuscripts in Arabic and ajami have been recovered in Brazil—where Muslims operated secret Qur’anic schools-- Jamaica, Trinidad, Panama, the Bahamas; and have been documented in Haiti and Guyana.

Although less numerous than men, Muslim women too left their mark. In the Sea Islands they made rice cakes for the children on important occasions. The word associated with them was saraka and the children grew up thinking that saraka was the “African” word for rice cakes. The same rice cakes are a charity traditionally offered by West African Muslim women on Fridays. It is a sadaqa a freewill offering. It is recommended that the gift be accompanied by a supplication to God, therefore in West Africa—and on the Sea Islands—as women handed out the cakes, they said it was a sadaqa. In Brazil, Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, and Carriacou offerings, to this day, are called saraka.

For centuries, in a brutal environment, African Muslims kept their faith alive. They prayed and fasted, wrote and read, and retained what they could of their “country dress.” From the first years of the 1500s, the second monotheistic religion brought to the New World, was very much a part of the Americas’ fabric. Given their circumstances, most of these Muslims were unable to pass on their religion to the next generations, but their legacy nevertheless lives on as several manifestations of Islamic practices and Arabic terminology subsist in the cultures of the African Diaspora.
African Muslims and the Slave Trade