Archives for category: Bigotry


During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump spoke of his commitment to protect the rights of LGBT people.

He lied.

ProPublica released a report documenting the Trump administration’s step-by-step dismantling of federal protections of LGBT persons–in the military, in public housing, in schools, in health care, and in enforcement of civil rights in the courts.

Politico Morning Education reports that the Trump administration has joined a court case on the side of a Christian school in Maryland that was removed from the state’s voucher program because it discriminates against LGBT students and teachers.

This is not surprising. The DeVos family has funded anti-gay organizations and state referenda for many years. The Trump administration takes the view that if religious organizations discriminate, that is no one’s business, even though they are receiving public funds. Thus, DeVos and Trump carve an exemption in civil rights law. It is okay to discriminate against persons if your discrimination actions stem from sincere religious beliefs. Where will this end? Gay students and teachers today, black students and women tomorrow. The civil rights protections that have been a sturdy bulwark against bigotry since 1964 are being picked apart, one group at a time. The federal government has embarked on a religious campaign to eviscerate civil rights protections, and this campaign begins with the least numerous, least popular group: Gays. So long as a school sincerely believes that gay students and teachers are loathsome, the state and federal government will not stand in the way of their discriminatory acts.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BACKS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S LAWSUIT OVER VOUCHERS: The departments of Justice and Education on Tuesday sided with a private Christian school that’s fighting Maryland’s decision to kick it out of a state voucher program over its anti-LGBTQ views. The Trump administration filed a “statement of interest ” backing the federal lawsuit filed by Bethel Christian Academy, which accuses Maryland education officials of unconstitutionally discriminating against the school based on its religious beliefs.

— Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement that the Constitution protects religious schools from being forced “to choose between abandoning or betraying their faith and participating in public programs.”

— Robert S. Eitel, a top adviser to Secretary Betsy DeVos, said in a statement that “Americans do not give up their religious liberty protections simply because they may participate in a government program or interact with a state government.” He added that the Education Department “cannot sit on its hands as the First Amendment rights of Bethel Christian Academy are violated.”

— Maryland education officials have previously said they were trying to prevent taxpayer money from flowing to institutions that discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited under the rules of the voucher program.

— A main point of contention is whether the language in the school’s handbook that doesn’t accept same-sex marriage or opposes transgender people complies with the state’s nondiscrimination requirement. The school says it doesn’t consider sexual orientation in its admissions process.

— A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the lawsuit, which is being brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, could move forward. The judge ruled the school had presented a “plausible” case that the state had “unjustly conflated the school’s religious beliefs with discriminatory behavior.”

This is an important speech by Sasha Baron Cohen to a conference of the Anti-Defamation League.

I posted early this morning about this speech but only linked to the written version.

Watch Sasha Baron Cohen give the speech.

It is powerful.


John Merrow had breakfast with Ambassador Gordon Sondland!

Open this link to find out what happened!

And, please know, before you open the link, that I will forever love John M. for what he says inside it.


I recently watched the PBS special about the Jewish legacy on Broadway, and I enjoyed every minute.

It is online, and I share it now with you. 

I hope it is still online.

I have always loved Broadway musicals, and many are reprised in this special.

But in addition to the entertainment and the rich cultural history, we see a very contemporary story of immigrants coming to America and becoming quintessentially American. We see Irving Berlin arriving as a five-year-old from Russia, having survived a pogrom, then becoming the composer of “God Bless America,” “Easter Parade,” and “White Christmas,” among the thousands of songs he wrote. We see stories in which composers used their music to teach lessons about racism, intolerance, and bigotry, like “South Pacific,” and the song “You Got to Be Taught to Hate.” Often they told the stories through the experiences of other groups, like “Porgy and Bess” and “West Side Story.”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I am sending a gift to PBS for remaining a beacon of light in these dark times.

Jack Hassard writes about the excitement of the first day of school. The children in their best clothes, looking forward to meeting their new teacher. But when school is over, their parents are nowhere to be found. They were arrested by ICE.

The mass arrest of 680 workers in Mississippi occurred only days after the slaughter in El Paso, where the killer targeted what he thought were Mexicans.

The targeting of Latino families by the Trump administration is tantamount to the targeting that was no different than the Sturmabteilung, a paramilitary storm troop detachment dressed in brown shirts.  These were Hitler’s thugs who violently intimidated Germany’s leftists and Jewish population. Hitler used them as security forces at rallies, used violence and threats to purge and assault.

Are the ICE arrests any different than the action of the brownshirts against the perceived enemies of Nazism?

From the Washington Post:

The owners of the chicken processing plants are wealthy. They have had labor problems and fought efforts by their workers to unionize. They have been fined millions of dollars for violating the civil rights of their workers.

Raids spanning seven cities, six work sites and five companies ended in arrests for 680 people — and underscored an industry’s reliance on foreign-born workers at a time when federal immigration policy is the focus of intense debate.

On Aug. 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers swept through agricultural processing plants in Mississippi, capping a year-long investigation. Officials said it was the largest single-state workplace enforcement action in U.S. history.

Mississippi is the fifth-largest chicken-producing state in the United States, and two of the raided companies, Koch Foods and Peco Foods, are among the nation’s biggest chicken producers.

The state’s poultry industry has a complex history with labor, race and immigration, academic research shows. The civil rights and worker rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s led to not only integration but also an exodus of white workers. By the 1990s, businesses began aggressively recruiting Latin American immigrants to fill their labor needs, luring them to rural Mississippi from places such as El Paso and Miami…

Privately held Koch Foods makes chicken products under its own brand and through private labels for buyers such as Walmart. The company is headquartered near Chicago and has no relation to the multinational Koch Industries. It employs nearly 13,000 people in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and Ohio. Its Morton, Miss., plant produces more than 700,000 tons of poultry feed each year.

Its owner, Joseph Grendys, is worth $3.3 billion, Forbes estimates.

Did he welcome the raid to intimidate his uppity workers?

Democracy Now reported:

The mass arrests also came on the first day of the school year, and some children walked home from school only to find their doors locked and their family members missing. Wednesday’s raids targeted chicken processing plants operated by Koch Foods, one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. Last year, the company paid out $3.75 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission class-action suit charging the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers at one of its Mississippi plants. Labor activists say it’s the latest raid to target factories where immigrant workers have organized unions, fought back against discrimination or challenged unsafe and unsanitary conditions. 

Where do you stand?



Teresa Hanafin writes the Boston Globe’s Daily “Fast Forward” to start each day.

Today she wrote:

Trump is making America hate again.

At his North Carolina campaign rally last night, Trump lashed out at Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — a US citizen who was a refugee from Somalia as a child. His supporters, predominantly white, started chanting and shouting, “SEND HER BACK!” Kaitlan Collins of CNN reported that Trump “paused a moment to let that chant grow some momentum.”

This is really ugly, folks.

As Tim Miller, former aide to Jeb Bush,tweeted: “Imagine how this video of the President leading a white mob in a ‘Send Her Back’ chant targeting a black refugee is going to look in your kids’ high school government/history classes.”

Former Obama speechwriter (and Mass. native) Jon Favreau wrote, “The crowd at Trump’s rally chanting “send her back” after the President viciously and dishonestly attacked Ilhan Omar is one of the most chilling and horrifying things I’ve ever seen in politics.”

Note the word “dishonestly.” It refers to the lies Trump told about Omar during his speech, lies that are widely circulating on the right. For example, Omar never said, “You say ‘al-Qaida,’ it makes you proud.” But this is Trumpville, where the truth goes to die.

Get ready for a 2020 campaign that is even more hate-filled and divisive than what Trump spewed in 2016.

Omar responded on Twitter with an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” poem:

   You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Is it just me or will Trump’s crowd soon start chanting: “Sig Heil!”????

Stephen Suitts is an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for the Liberal Arts. He is the author of Hugo Black of Alabama: How His Roots and Early Career Shaped the Great Champion of the Constitution. Earlier in his career, Suitts served as the executive director of the Southern Regional Council, vice president of the Southern Education Foundation, and executive producer and writer of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a thirteen-hour public radio series that received a Peabody Award for its history of the civil rights movement in five Deep South cities.

In this illuminating and important article, he examines the roots of the “school choice” movement, which began as an integral part of the segregationist opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision. Contrary to the rhetoric of Betsy DeVos, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump and even some Democrats, school choice is NOT the “civil rights issue of our time.” School choice was born as a way to maintain segregation of the races. Read this article in full. It is a brilliant and necessary history of the fight to block desegregation of the schools in the South (and other regions), and it is a fight that is ongoing. Next time you hear Betsy DeVos lecture about “educational freedom,” bear in mind that she is echoing dozens of segregationist politicians, like George Wallace. You will meet many more if you this stunning history of school choice and its origins.

He writes:

The political movement for “school choice” is employing the icons and language of civil rights and social justice to advance private school vouchers that fifty years ago were primary tools for segregationists to preserve unequal education for African American and Hispanic children. President Trump’s call for a national program of “school choice” echoes the language of George Wallace and others who demanded the federal government and US courts permit Alabama and the South to administer “freedom of choice” for elementary and secondary schools.

These apparent contradictions emerge from the unexamined legacy of segregationists who designed and developed effective, lasting strategies that frustrated and blocked K–12 school desegregation. It is a legacy that turns the icons and language of civil rights inside-out while thwarting the national goal of an effective, equitable system of education for all children.

So now we see the Heritage Foundation, Betsy DeVos, evangelicals, President Trump, and others who paint themselves as the newly minted defenders of the rights of poor black and brown children. They do so by perverting the language of the civil rights movement to support their goal of transferring public funds to private schools.

Suitts described the broad coalition of white supremacists who used every tool they could fashion to fight desegregation and racial justice. School choice was one of those tools.

Political leaders such as Georgia’s Ernest Vandiver won office by campaigning on a slogan of “No, not one” African American child would ever be allowed in a white school but discovered after entering the governor’s office that complete, absolute segregation was impossible to achieve—and counter-productive to preserving as many virtually segregated schools as possible. There were segregationists such as Alabama state senator Albert Boutwell—who later as a “moderate” mayoral candidate defeated “Bull” Connor—and Birmingham corporate attorney Forney Johnston. While Wallace began as a white liberal before shifting his politics to become governor, Boutwell and Johnston were the first segregationist leaders to develop a variety of strategies, tactics, and rationales for school choice that often delayed and defeated the promise of Brown.

Resistance to school desegregation differed across the states of the former Confederacy according to class, geography, religion, and political ambition.18 Only by recovering and understanding the work of a wider cast of white actors who crafted enduring tools and strategies protecting segregation can the reactionary heritage of today’s school choice become clear. As Justin Driver has found, the efforts of these segregationist leaders “to maintain white supremacy were often considerably more sophisticated, self-aware, and nuanced than the cartoonish depiction of southern stupidity and hostility would admit.”19 These forgotten and ignored strategies help explain how today’s proponents of public financing of private schools can employ the language of civil rights without widespread discredit. They also reveal how the origins and historical development of “freedom of choice” have shaped and continue to define the impact and role of “school choice” and vouchers in public education across the nation.20….

From 1954 to 1965, southern legislatures enacted as many as 450 laws and resolutions attempting to discredit, block, postpone, limit, or evade school desegregation. A large number of these acts allowed the re-direction of public resources, including school resources, to benefit private schools.25 In 1956, the Georgia legislature permitted the leasing of public property to segregated private schools. Five years later, the state enacted a law to provide vouchers for students to attend any non-sectarian private school, boldly declaring the act was to advance “the constitutional rights of school children to attend private schools of their choice in lieu of public schools.”26

The North Carolina legislature enacted eight bills, the first of which was a constitutional amendment to authorize vouchers for private education and to allow whites to close public schools through a local referendum. In Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, legislatures passed laws to publicly fund vouchers for private schools and to transfer public school property to private educational organizations. Citizens’ Councils were active in setting up private schools, especially in Mississippi. The Virginia legislature declared its support for this “freedom of choice” movement by enacting a system of vouchers for private organizations and citizens.27

In addition to direct transfers of public funds and assets, some states employed tax schemes, including tax credits, to build and finance private school systems. In the Little Rock Crisis of 1957, after President Dwight Eisenhower was forced to call out federal troops to protect a handful of black children attempting to attend Central High School, Governor Orval Faubus funneled public monies through contracts and tax credits to the Little Rock Private School Corporation until the federal courts stopped the subterfuge (along with further attempts by Arkansas to enact vouchers). In 1959, Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver led the legislature in passing the six segregation bills, including one that supported “the establishment of bona fide private schools by allowing taxpayers credits upon their State income tax returns for contributions to such institutions…”

By 1965, seven states had enacted some type of voucher that enabled the largest growth of private schools in the South’s history. Yet, vouchers as a preferred and essential method of resistance to Brown did not stand alone but worked most effectively through larger plans that emerged from the different states. These plans were not uniform, but most incorporated strategies and language that have evolved and endured as the ways and means by which vouchers, school choice, and private schooling have escaped the stigma of their segregationist origins without losing much of the same purpose or effect.

Alabama’s Citizens Council proposed legislation to close all public schools and use vouchers for white parents to enroll in private schools in order to “keep every brick in our segregation wall intact.”

The die-hard segregationists came up with a three-way solution. Every student and family would have “educational freedom.” They could choose to go to an all-white school, an all-black school, and an integrated school.

All of the Southern states endorsed vouchers.

In Mississippi, white voters approved state constitutional changes recommended by Governor Hugh White’s advisory group that authorized state funding for children to attend their parents’ choice of a private school and for transferring public school properties to private schools. Afterwards, the strategy committee did little more since Mississippi’s white leaders employed other groups and strategies as their first line of defense. The legislature approved small funding increases for black public schools in an attempt to convince black citizens that the state would move closer to “separate but equal” facilities…

Lindsay Almond became Virginia’s new governor in 1957 after a campaign in which he supported the hardline approach. “I’d rather lose my right arm,” he proclaimed, “than to see one nigra child enter the white schools of Virginia.” He dropped his hardline stance and adopted “freedom of choice” as his policy. Some counties, however, went further.

Prince Edward County in Virginia maintained absolute segregation by closing the county’s public schools and providing county tax credit scholarships to supplement state vouchers for white children to attend private schools. In 1964, however, Justice Hugo Black issued the Supreme Court opinion outlawing the die-hard segregationists’ schemes. The Court ordered the public schools reopened on a desegregated basis and held that both tax credit and direct vouchers were unconstitutional.

Suitts traces the resistance to desegregation and the growth of private “white flight academies” in the South.

By 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected, this history of die-hard resistance to desegregation and white-supremacist ideology had begun to fade from memory.

President Reagan transformed a “love of white skin” into a color-blind doctrinal belief that individual freedom of choice in schooling created diversity and opportunity for all in an era without segregation. Reagan became the nation’s primary voice for why and how government should support private schools, and, as a former actor and California governor, his own past and national leadership obscured the original role and rationales of southern white supremacists from public memory.

In 1984, in re-nominating Reagan, the Republican Party’s education platformincluded support for the right to pray in public schools, opposition to busing for desegregation, passage of tuition tax credits for private schools, and redirecting billions of federal funds dedicated to assist low-income students in public schools into vouchers for private schools. It was the first time a national political party endorsed school vouchers. In his State of the Union address fourteen months later, President Reagan declared: “We must continue the advance by supporting discipline in our schools, vouchers that give parents freedom of choice; and we must give back to our children their lost right to acknowledge God in their classrooms.”120 It was the first time a US president expressly advocated for school vouchers before a joint session of Congress. Without attribution, the views and tools of southern segregationists had become the official position of the national Republican Party and the Reagan presidency…

With the increased number of conservative justices appointed to the Supreme Court and federal District Courts and Appeals Courts, the judiciary abandoned its activist role in protecting the rights of black students.

The US Supreme Court began to bless these developments. As early as 1973, Justice William Rehnquist became the first member of the Court to issue a dissent from a school desegregation case relying on the precedent of Brown. In a case concerning school segregation in Denver, he condemned the Court’s opinion for requiring a school district to advance desegregation—employing the old scare word, “racial mixing”—where there were “neutrally drawn boundary lines” that sustained segregation.129 Barely a year after the Bob Jones decision held that religious private schools could not hold a tax exemption and discriminate on the basis of race, the Supreme Court slammed shut the courthouse door on those seeking to challenge the IRS’s weak enforcement. Parents of twenty-five black public school children sued the IRS, charging that its standards and procedures were inadequate to fulfill its obligation to deny tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private schools. In 1984, the US Supreme Court held that the parents had no standing to bring such a suit.130 

With the appointment of other justices across more than three decades, the Court increasingly refused to require school districts to use any method of desegregation that proved effective in dismantling the dynamics of separation. By 2007, the Court had turned Brown on its head as a precedent for backing public school districts’ voluntary efforts to desegregate. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Brown commanded school districts to avoid using race as a consideration, even for the purpose of recognizing and diminishing public school segregation. “When it comes to using race to assign children to schools,” Roberts wrote without doubt or irony, “history will be heard…”

During the heyday of the first era of school vouchers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decried that “token integration is little more than token democracy, which ends up with many new evasive schemes and it ends up with new discrimination, covered up with such niceties of complexity.”149 King’s words have proven prophetic, although he could not have foreseen how dramatically the icons and language of the movement he led would be used, even by his own lineage, to develop and advance the tools and strategies that segregationists of his day thought could defeat the promise of Brown…

Even if most Americans find repugnant the absolute separation of the races that George Wallace defiantly championed as destiny in 1963, his words have transformed into a prophesy about schools across the nation that rings true by the most accurate, historical definition of the term: “segregation now . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever.”




Adolph Reed Jr. and Cornel West blast the charter school advocates who dishonestly attacked Bernie Sanders’ plan for charter accountability as racist.

This is an amazing article. Please read it in full. I am not supposed to quote more than 300 words without violating copyright law. I would love to post it all, but I can’t. You have got to open it and read it.

Reed and West write:

During the Reagan era, ultraconservative columnist James Kilpatrick, a notorious segregationist since the southern Massive Resistance campaign against the 1954 Brown decision, took up the right-wing attack on Social Security from a novel angle. He opposed the program as discriminatory against African Americans because black men were statistically less likely than whites to live long enough to receive the old-age benefits. That was likely the only time in his public life Kilpatrick expressed anything that might seem like sympathy for black Americans.

A decade or so later, many advocates of the welfare “reform” that ended the federal government’s 60-year commitment to provide income support for the indigent similarly couched their efforts in feigned concern to help poor black people break a supposedly distinctive “cycle of poverty.” Similar disingenuous tears have accompanied the federal government’s retreat since the 1990s from direct provision of affordable housing for the poor. Thus, a racist premise that there’s a special sort of black poverty became a way to spin cutting public benefits for poor people as a supposedly anti-racist, anti-poverty strategy.

Now, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the charter-school industry and its advocates also make such claims, asserting that charters offer unique opportunities for poor African-American children. On those grounds, for example, The Washington Post recently attacked the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, which, among other features, supports the NAACP’s call for a “moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been conducted to determine the impact of charter growth in each state.” In a May 27 masthead editorial, the Post described charterization as a civil-rights issue, claiming that charter schools can remedy the “most enduring—and unforgivable—civil rights offense in our country today [which] is the consigning of so many poor, often minority children to failing schools.” To justify that claim, the editorial cites research indicating that black students in charter schools “gained an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days in reading per year compared with traditional school counterparts.”

Reed and West demonstrate that multiple studies show that charter schools do not outperform public schools, and they are more segregated than public schools.

They write:

As is a common occurrence in the privatization of public functions, lack of effective public oversight has provided the charter-school industry great opportunities for fraud and corruption. A 2019 national study by the Network for Public Education concluded among its findings that “Hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars have been awarded to charter schools that never opened or opened and then shut down. Only a few months before the Washington Post editorial attacking Senator Sanders’s support for the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charters, the newspaper published an investigative article exploring the nightmarish uncertainty that sudden closure of fly-by-night charter schools can inflict upon students and their parents…

The charter industry is about profiting off education. In addition to the officially for-profit companies involved, even many charter nonprofits are structured in ways that enable people and businesses to make money off them. Charter operators and affiliated entities have used public funds to obtain and privately own valuable urban real estate.

Moreover, administrative overhead for charter schools is often more than twice that of district schools, and charter executive salaries far exceed those of district administrators. A 2017 report found that in post-Katrina New Orleans, long touted as the Shangri-la of charterization, administrative spending per pupil had increased by 66 percent, while instructional spending had declined by 10 percent.

Bad as the out-and-out fraudsters and get-rich-quick schemers are, the most dangerous and destructive elements in the charter-school industry are the billionaire “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, Walmart’s Walton family, and Eli Broad, the hedge-fund operators, corporate chains, and their minions in think tanks and on op-ed pages, who, out of ideological and commercial motives, have for some time been plotting the privatization of public schools and the destruction of public education as anything more than an underfunded holding pen for the least profitable students….

Of course, teachers’ unions are the charter industry’s bête noire for a more old-school reason as well: There is no place for them in the business model. Charter-school teachers are paid less than teachers at traditional public schools, are less experienced, less likely to be certified, less satisfied with their jobs, have higher rates of turnover, and most important, are much more likely to be at-will employees who can be dismissed without cause. The charter-school industry has been able to impose these clearly less-desirable working conditions on teachers partly through taking advantage of young, idealistic people funneled from outfits like Teach For America. And the long campaign stigmatizing public-school teachers, as well as other public workers, and their unions as the equivalent of lazy welfare queens has enabled propagation of a narrative projecting the image of fresh-faced, energetic young elite-college graduates as more effective and desirable than experienced teachers…

Simply put, charter advocates’ sanctimonious bluster about charterization as a civil-rights issue is deeply disingenuous, and the attacks on Bernie Sanders as racist for joining the NAACP in opposing it are repugnant.




In Florida, the Governor and legislators proclaim their love of “equality,” as they funnel millions of public dollars to religious schools that openly discriminate against LGBT students. 

The state currently spends $1 billion a year on vouchers and the Legislature recently voted to expand them.

During pride month, Florida politicians love talking about their passion for equality.

They’re much less eager to talk about the anti-equality programs they fund the rest of the year — specifically millions of public dollars they send to schools that discriminate against LGBT families and even expel students who say they’re gay.

At one of Florida’s approved voucher schools in Brevard County, for example, being gay is actually the only expellable offense listed in the school’s “ethics” policy.

Lying, cheating and destruction of school property are also bad, according to the Merritt Island Christian School student handbook — but only to the extent that they’re listed as “Class II infractions” worthy of punishments like a five-day suspension.