U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. (Photo via Flickr Commons)
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
One of the advantages of writing a nationally syndicated column is that it brings us in contact with readers from all over this great land of ours. From Maine to Mississippi; from Ohio to Oregon, we’re privileged to hear from Americans with a variety of viewpoints.
So thus was it that a reader from lovely Bainbridge Island, Wash., got in touch this week to let us know, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn’t a fan of a recent column arguing that Republicans who haven’t stepped up to condemn President Donald Trump’s racist remarks about ‘The Squad,’ were complicit with their silence.
You appropriately point out that is our 1st amendment right to criticize the President. Unfortunately, when the president criticizes someone, it is racism! This type of quick response to criticism does nothing for discourse and the finding of solutions to the many problems we face. For me, it is racist to not treat people equally – white, black, brown, religious affiliation, country background, etc. Are we at the point where only non-caucasians have the right to the 1st amendment without being called a racist? The recent response regarding the statement about Representative Cummings is a clear example of this quick, unfounded use of the word. Very, very sad.
There are enough rhetorical straw men in that argument to have it declared a fire hazard.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but we will: It is nothing except racist to tell four, duly elected members of Congress, all women of color, three of whom were born in the United States, the fourth a naturalized citizen, to “go back” to the countries they came from.
It’s a racist and bigoted trope that’s been used for years, and has been deployed against other generations of newcomers to the United States.
It is racist and bigoted to describe to parts of the United States, where there are majority-minority populations – as “infested.” That is particularly true when President Donald Trump has a long history of using that freighted adjective to describe communities of color.
We could probably stop here and argue here that it is also profoundly un-American and unpatriotic for the president of the United States to use that kind of language to describe parts of his country, the nation that he took an oath to protect and represent.
But that ship sailed a long time ago. And if this were a few years ago, then a majority of Americans, including most Republicans, we’d wager, would nod in assent of this fundamental truth.
Instead, with their silence, and their complicity, Trump loyalists have now normalized the kind of behavior that was once relegated to back rooms and impolite conversation. And if you don’t believe us, take a good, long look at that image above.
As the Morning Call of Allentown reports, that image was posted to the Northampton County Republican Party’s Facebook page. The county GOP’s vice-chairman, Frank Freidl Jr., who administers the page, told the newspaper that he “viewed it as satire, and as soon as we realized people were offended by it, we pulled it down.”
While acknowledging the error, GOP officials still tried to downplay the post, telling the Call that “people would discover controversial matters on social media sites for other Republican and Democratic committees if they went out looking for them,” the Call’s Tom Shortell and Nicole Radzievich wrote.
But that’s the point: People didn’t have to go looking for that stuff. It was right there, in plain sight, without disguise and without subtlety.
And someone had to tell Northampton County Republicans that it wasn’t acceptable. But they should have know that already: There’s no universe where calling four women of color ‘The Jihad Squad,’ and displaying an image that exploits the worst kind of ethnic and racial stereotypes is acceptable or funny.
Yet here we are.
Trump has normalized this behavior. So much so that what was once offensive now merits a shrug. So much so that people who post the worst kind of hateful tripe to their Facebook pages manage to win election to the Pennsylvania state Senate.
It’s privilege – and privilege alone – that gives a racial and ethnic majority the ability to regard that kind of hate as satire. It’s privilege, and privilege alone, to assert, as my correspondent did, that what Trump said about ‘The Squad‘ and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., isn’t the worst kind of racism.
Worse, it’s blind ignorance of history, and of the slippery slopes that nations slide down when they turn a blind eye to the stigmatization and abuse of one part of the population. When we normalize that, we’re only a short walk from normalizing the abuse and stigmatization of other parts of the population.
After all, as an “Enemy of the People,” we speak with some degree of authority here.
Our Republican friends rightfully point to the GOP’s legacy of Abraham Lincoln as a point of pride. If that legacy means anything to them, they’ll defy Trump and step up. The track record so far hasn’t been encouraging.
Elizabeth Hardison finds researchers raising concerns about algorithms that are supposed to take the uncertainty out of criminal sentencing. Turns out the inverse may well be true.
On our Commentary Page, Penn State public policy guy, and frequent correspondent, Simon Haeder, says the GOP doesn’t have a Plan B if the ACA gets struck down – and the implications for Pa. are grave.
And Andrea L. Custis of the Philly Urban League says a minimum wage hike would help lift so many out of poverty — especially in her hometown.
In the wake of a scandal at Glen Mills Schools, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered an overhaul of the state’s juvenile residential programs, the Inquirer reports.
As if this morning’s opening item wasn’t enough, the Fayette County GOP has taken down … a dartboard … emblazoned with pictures of the Squad, the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive went to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s town hall, as well, and found it less than sold out.
The Morning Call takes a look at the latest push to reduce property taxes in Pennsylvania.
Is there a profit in buying a failing hospital? Some in Philly fear that’s the lesson from Hahnemann, WHYY-FM reports.
WITF-FM also has a recap of U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s town hall.
Stateline.org looks at how states are wrangling with Silicon Valley over data privacy laws.
Politico has its rundown of Tuesday’s Democratic debate, Round One.
Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 10 a.m. newser in the Reception Room to discuss the administration’s plans to “overhaul and reform of services and systems to protect and advocate for vulnerable Pennsylvanians,” with the state’s General Assistance blinking out of existence on Thursday. Legislative proposals are already making the rounds.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Philadelphia, holds a 5:30 p.m. reception with U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, state Sen. Sharif Street, and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at a location “TBD“. Admission runs a very concrete $250 to $2,500. Gotta have certainty somewhere, after all.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to PennLive’s Iron Man, courts reporter Matt Miller, and to all-purpose agitator, Sean Kitchen, of SpotlIght PA., both of whom celebrate today. Congrats and enjoy the day, gents.
Here’s a goofy fave from The View, it’s ‘Same Jeans.’
Wednesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore got one back, beating San Diego 8-5 on Tuesday night on the West Coast.
And now you’re up to date.
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