I’m releasing Thursday’s cartoon early because of its newsworthiness and because my syndicate’s online division has decided not to release it on its official website.
I know that some readers, particularly supporters of John McCain, will be offended by my referencing of a classic 1931 Life magazine photo of an Indiana lynching which shocked the nation. However, I believe it is fair to call McCain, Palin and their campaign for their dangerous tolerance of intolerance among some of their supporters.
At a number of their campaign rallies, attendees have shouted comments like “kill him!” and “terrorist!” and “treason!” about Barack Obama. Now, as my readers know, I have been sharply critical of Obama and will continue to criticize him and his policies as I see fit in the future. Furthermore, I am well aware that crazy people show up anywhere and everywhere, and that the McCain-Palin campaign is not responsible for the random hateful comments of some of their supporters.
It is shocking, however, that neither candidate is willing to tell racists that their support—and attendance at rallies—is not wanted. When McCain, and especially Palin and their surrogates, hear these comments, they are silent. This amounts to tacit consent. When they appear on television to answer questions about hate speech at their rallies, both of them deflect. They do not directly confront the issue by saying, as they should have said at their rallies: “Bigots and racists are not welcome in our campaign or the Republican Party. We do not want their votes or their support.”
Instead, at the third presidential debate, McCain responded to Obama:
Let me just say categorically I’m proud of the people that come to our rallies. Whenever you get a large rally of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people, you’re going to have some fringe people. You know that. I’ve and we’ve always said that that’s not appropriate.
But to somehow say that group of young women who said “Military wives for McCain” are somehow saying anything derogatory about you, but anything—and those veterans that wear those hats that say “World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq,” I’m not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and they’re great citizens.
And I’m not going to stand for somebody saying that because someone yelled something at a rally—there’s a lot of things that have been yelled at your rallies, Senator Obama, that I’m not happy about either.
In fact, some T-shirts that are very unacceptable.
In other words, says McCain, calling racists to account is tantamount to insulting war veterans. And he dares to compare his supporters’ calls—calls he didn’t speak out against at the time–for Obama’s assassination to T-shirts (he didn’t say what he didn’t like about the shirts).
I was only three months old on November 22, 1963, but I am reminded of historical accounts of the hateful atmosphere that had poisoned Dallas before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. McCain and Palin are playing with fire. I am calling them out for their drive to win at any cost—including that of our national soul.
Before releasing this cartoon, I searched archives of editorial cartoons to see if anyone else had done anything else similar. Apparently, no one else has. I don’t know why—the idea seemed obvious to me. And it needs to be said.
Now let’s see how many newspapers have the guts to print this.
Resegregation Nation: Next up, the Supreme Court Rules That Integrated Water Fountains Violate the Constitution Posted by Mikhaela Reid
All you closet Klansmen out there, you would-be Bull O’Connors and George Wallaces, listen up: it is officially time to party! Get out your balloons and confetti, and iron your best white robes, because the Bush Supreme Court has officially declared that racial integration and diversity DON’T MATTER AT ALL. The Bush court says that not only is segregation totally cool (as long as it’s the “natural” result of segregated housing areas), it’s actively RACIST to oppose segregation. Why? Because racial diversity is AGAINST the spirit of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Yes, that’s right–it’s against the spirit of the decision that made it possible for children of all colors to go to school together to encourage children of all colors to go to school together. The only way to avoid racism is to DENY it and ignore it and NOT DO ANYTHING TO STOP IT. That’s what being “colorblind” is all about!
[Souter] said the chief justice’s invocation of Brown vs. Board of Education was “a cruel irony” when the opinion in fact “rewrites the history of one of this court’s most important decisions” by ignoring the context in which it was issued and the Supreme Court’s subsequent understanding of it to permit voluntary programs of the sort that were now invalidated.
I was particularly horrified by the anti-integration argument that many parents “don’t want this” (“this”, presumably, being the horror of their children going to school with black kids). For example, here’s Roger Clegg, president of the deceptively named “Center for Equal Opportunity” (his group filed an amicus brief in the case) celebrating the anti-integration decision on the NewsHour:
I think that school boards are also going to be sensitive to the fact that most parents don’t like it when they are told that where they can send their children to school depends on what color they are.
I think the question is whether anyone believes that a politically correct racial and ethnic mix, that kind of diversity, is worth the price of racial discrimination. And I think that most Americans would say that, no, it is not.
This [integration] is not about school districts telling people that they can’t go to school on the basis of their skin color. This is about school districts trying to continue to fulfill the promise of Brown and to avoid segregation. In no way is this comparable to the kind of regime of segregation and discrimination that existed under Jim Crow.
P.P.S. Just so it’s clear–in the cartoon, the kids of color are locked up in a “Jim Crow Max Security Educational Facility” not because they’re troublemakers or deserve to be there, but because they live under racist segregation.
Alberto Gonzales’s Civil Rights Division Lite: Taking the “Justice” Out of Justice Department Posted by Mikhaela Reid
Taste the new “Justice” Department’s Civil Rights Division Lite! Now with 99% less: hate crimes prosecution, voting rights enforcement and police brutality investigations! Super-Action-Packed with Loyal Bushies, Wiretapping and Religious Extremists! It’s a Yum-Tastic Justice Department makeover!
The Bush administration has laid waste to the Justice Department on a large scale, as the scandals over the replacement of high-performing federal prosecutors with “loyal Bushies” and that whole warrantless wiretapping nastiness have shown.
The Bush makeover of the Civil Rights Division is similarly extreme. The pre-Bush Justice Department Civil Rights Division was founded in 1957. The Division protected voting rights and enforced anti-discrimination laws, with a particular focus on discrimination based on race and national origin. From the Division website:
The Division enforces the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended through 1992; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act; and additional civil rights provisions contained in other laws and regulations. These laws prohibit discrimination in education, employment, credit, housing, public accommodations and facilities, voting, and certain federally funded and conducted programs.
In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government’s role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.
Civil Rights Classic lent federal enforcement weight to the prosecution of hate crimes cases: KKK attacks, lynchings, and more. Civil Rights Lite has diverted that funding to a pet cause of the Christian Right. Again from the NYT, the Civil Rites Lite Division is…
Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.
Certainly trafficking cases deserve funding–but not at the expense of victims of racism, hate crimes and police brutality. Trafficking cases used to and should be handled elsewhere.
Civil Rights Classic defended the voting rights of people of color. Civil Rites Lite suppresses the voting rights people of color through new voter ID requirements and baseless “voter fraud” case–and has even pursued its first claim of voter intimidation against white people. As John Nichols writes in The Nation (“Curing the Rot at Justice”):
The Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have uncovered evidence of what they describe as “a much broader strategy on the part of the Administration to use federal agencies charged with protecting voting rights to promote voter suppression and influence election rules so as to gain partisan advantage in battleground states.” There is now a compelling case that the White House used the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Criminal divisions and the Election Assistance Commission to create a false perception of widespread voter fraud to justify initiatives–stringent voter identification laws, crackdowns on voter registration drives and pre-election purges of eligible voters from the rolls–designed to disenfranchise the poor, minorities, students and seniors.
The New York Times reports on this as well. Civil Rights Lite is:
Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.
Trouble is, only the federal government has the resources to deal with these voting dilution cases. Oh well–it’s not like black voters get disenfranchised anymore, right? Too bad, but they’ve got a new kind of case to focus on:
The civil rights division also brought the first case ever on behalf of white voters, alleging in 2005 that a black political leader in Noxubee County, Miss., was intimidating whites at the polls.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TRUMPS ALL OTHER FREEDOMS
But back to the Salvation Army. If you visit the Justice Department website, you’ll read very little about racist discrimination and the ongoing disenfranchisement of voters of color. Instead, you read about this exciting “special initiative” from Alberto “Geneva Conventions Are Quaint” Gonzales, “The First Freedom Project”:
Religious liberty is often referred to as the “First Freedom” because the Framers placed it first in the Bill of Rights. Yet it is not merely first in order: it is a fundamental freedom on which so many of our other freedoms rest.
Forget freedom of speech, forget freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, and most especially freedom from unreasonable search and seizure: the first and most important freedom is the freedom of religious organizations to receive government funding for firing gay people.
Some of the other evidence of Civil Rights Lite cited by the New York Times:
Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.
Conservative religious groups who love the taste of Civil Rights Lite say that the weight of the federal government is no longer needed to combat racism and discrimination–silly stuff like that can be left up to local authorities. Of course, local authorities often lack the resources, will or perspective to fight racism. Historically, local authorities in the South often deliberately turned their backs on racist attacks and civil rights violations, and I’m not so sure those days are totally behind us. And that whole federal ignoring of civil rights and the issues of black people worked out great during Katrina, didn’t it?
HIRING LOYAL BUSHIES
Oh, and then there’s the hiring thing. We all remember sweet little Monica “I crossed the line” Goodling, trying so hard to make everything harmonious at Justice by hiring only “loyal Bushies”. The NYT analyzed department statistics and found that Civil Rights Classic hired lawyers with impressive backgrounds and qualifications. Civil Rights Lite hires lawyers from religious law schools (like Pat Robertson’s academically questionable Regent Law) who play up their conservative and religious credentials as much as possible.
Finally, while we’re on the topic of Civil Rights, I figured I’d close with Bush channeling his role model Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Legacies, or Some Day, They’re Really Going to Feel Like Fools Posted by Mikhaela Reid
Marriage equality: yet another arena in which the Democrats are missing a spine.
40 years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. The Loving decision invalidated the “Racial Integrity Act” that allowed Virginia cops to bust into the bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrest them for “illegal cohabitation” and sentence them to a year in jail.
Can you imagine the leading Democratic candidates getting up at a campaign stop today and hemming and hawing out the following nonsense?
I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out…From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in interracial civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.
It’s a jump for me to get to interracial marriage. I haven’t yet got across that bridge.
or how about
I would not support the Defense of Racial Integrity Act today, if there were a vote today. But the part I agree with is the states should not be required to recognize interracial marriages from other states.
Those are all paraphrases of actual statements on gay marriage from Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Obama has similar views. (found via Pam’s House Blend, an excellent LGBT issues blog that regularly checks in on all the candidate’s positions on marriage equality).
Some folks say the Democrats have no choice but to tone down their support of gay rights to appeal to religious voters or values voters. But is that the kind of visionary progressive leadership we want to promote?
Decades from now, the people who were too afraid to support full equality for gay Americans are going to look like spineless sheep, and rightly so. I can see the history books now “The Democrats bravely passed non-binding resolutions, courageously voted to fund an illicit war they claimed to oppose, did nothing of any note to remove an Attorney General with a serious torture fetish and tentatively supported domestic partnership benefits while opposing real marriage equality.” Now that’s a legacy we can all be proud of! As Susan Ryan-Vollmar wrote in her Bay Windows editorial last week (regarding a possible constitutional ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts):
Twenty years from now, when their time in office has long since ended, those lawmakers who back the anti-gay amendment June 14 will still be asked about their vote by their grandchildren, their neighbors and even reporters writing anniversary pieces. Trying to explain that they supported marriage equality but believed the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples should be decided by popular vote will sound even more disingenuous several decades from now than it does today.
Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at ANewDomain.net, editor-in-chief of SkewedNews.net, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.