As Thou Hast Done…The Roy Moore Scandal is All About Us

Much of the country is aghast as the Alabama Republican legislature refuses to withdraw support from Senatorial candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused publicly by nine women of sexual abuse while they were teens. News outlets are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to avoid a discussion of the true reasons for that refusal, despite the fact that many believe the women’s accounts. It’s not “tribalism,” or “partisan politics.” It’s not about a Republican obsession with a single issue like abortion or gun control or tax cuts, for which they want votes. It’s not about the sanctity or safety of young girls.

It’s not that party has become a religion, where party affiliation for Republicans takes precedence over all other concerns. Though you’ll hear all these motives hoisted high in the attempt to explain the fanatical support of many Alabamians for former Judge Roy Moore, none of it is true. The hidden issue underlying all the uproar – is us. Yes… the hidden controversy that permeates the core of politics in America and the Roy Moore scandal is the raging Civil War that didn’t end in 1864, but continued as a covert operation. The surrender at Appomattox didn’t settle the question - the one that’s always been the litmus test for political candidates. Will Black people advance in America as empowered, equal participants in the society, or will they remain perpetual, new-age slaves in an America that’s “great again?”

In a recent speech where former judge Roy Moore waxed heavily nostalgic with Civil War lore, he reminisced on the effort to preserve the world as he knew it, traveling through the insertion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, during the Eisenhower administration. Next, the cherished moment when the words “In God we trust” were added to the nation’s currency. True to form, Moore couches his longing for the old ways as he and his ilk have always done, under a veneer of religious postulates. He continues in the reverie, and with just a few crafty sentences, assures his listeners of who he is. “But what have we done today?” he asks. “Are we still standing in that faith? Or have we forgotten it?

By 1962, the US supreme court took prayer out of school. Bible reading followed. … Then, they started creating new rights in 1965. And today we’ve got a problem.” And there it is. The Voting Rights Act, (1965), and the Civil Rights Act, (Fair Housing Act), (1968) signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson have created a “problem.” The fact that Black people were afforded the right to vote, and to be treated fairly As Thou Hast Done…The Roy Moore Scandal is All About Us when securing housing… is a problem. That tiny hint speaks volumes about the true ethos undergirding a few key words that suffice to make the point.

Roy Moore’s supporters know exactly who he is, and what agenda he’ll fight for as a United States Senator. Justice for the girls even they believe he molested is not a factor. The safety of women and girls he may target in the future, from a more powerful position than ever before – is irrelevant. But that makes sense. This is Alabama. This is the deep south, where White women like Alabama Governor Kay Ivey have always stood by their men as they made rape the very condition of enslaved Black men, women, and children’s lives. As the enslaved were conditioned by that experience, so were they who imposed it. Roy Moore is doing what his fathers have done for centuries, with the bone-deep conviction that it’s his right to do so. His wife, his governor, and so many other women supporters are doing what they’ve been conditioned to do – look the other way - even as the pathology metastasizes, engulfing and savaging their own girls. As what goes around comes around, even the alleged victims of Roy Moore’s depravity are reaping what they have sown.

These women are Trump supporters! These women listened to the cries and trauma and pleas of others, who begged us to believe their violation at the hands of Donald Trump. Their response? To help to usher him into the most powerful position in the nation. They listened to Trump’s own voice on tape, describing how he groped women’s private parts, and now they want somebody to care - that Roy Moore groped theirs. They want to be validated. Even though Moore can’t be prosecuted, they want to tell their truth, and have it matter. They do not want their community to reward their abuser with more prestige and power.

They should have thought of that last November, when they assaulted the majority of the country with “President” Donald J. Trump. As Thou hast done… so shall it be done unto you. The Governor of the state – a woman – has said without batting an eye that she has no reason to doubt these women’s stories, but will cast her vote for the Republican nominee. Damn. Right in yo face. As for Trump, Moore, and the network of structures that uphold this wicked nation built on slavery, oppression and death… don’t worry about it.

Sit back and watch the melee as those who have inflicted so much backbiting, betrayal, and fratricidal conflict become consumed by it. If Satan cast out Satan, how can his kingdom stand? Obviously, it can’t. And since a rising force pulls apart a falling force… rise. Plan your work, and work your plan. Converge with like minds to leverage the power of unity… and build the just and beautiful world that will replace the one that’s falling. Act like you know what they know. It’s over.

Do You Really Want Sheriff Howard for Another Four Years?

                     Karima Amin 

                     Karima Amin 

Since 2005, Timothy Howard has been the Sheriff of Erie County. We have lived with his incompetence, his lack of transparency and his descriptions of conditions and incidents at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden that rarely reflect the truth. I just took a look at an article that I wrote, just before the last election in 2013, entitled: “Who Will Be Our Next Erie County Sheriff?”

I could have written it yesterday. Not much has changed. I urged you then, as I am urging you now to VOTE! In 2013, improving conditions at the Holding Center was a real “hot button” issue. This time there’s not much excitement about the Holding Center or about the upcoming election on November 7. By 2013, PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC. and the ERIE COUNTY PRISONERS’ RIGHTS COALITION, had invested a lot of time advocating for prisoners to receive humane and professional treatment. We were among several entities that led the push to bring in the Department of Justice to investigate Erie County’s Jail Management Division after a suspicious spate of suicides.

We also urged the Commission on Correction in Albany to be more vigilant in its oversight, as it was discovered that Sheriff Howard was guilty of misreporting and simply not reporting issues at both the Holding Center and the jail in Alden. Those who find themselves confined to either of these facilities deserve better that they are getting. In the early days of our advocacy, there were those who said that we wanted “4-star hotel accommodations” for prisoners. That was a ridiculous assertion, made in an attempt to make us look ridiculous. When we held our rallies, and speak-outs, and teach-ins, forums, and press conferences, there were media people and others who asked if we were being paid to do the work of advocating for the voiceless.

Election Day, November 7th is almost here. Sheriff Howard has one opponent. You need to know who he is. You need to be aware of his platform. He wants to bring change to county law enforcement. You must come to our next meeting to be informed. Your vote is vital in making this community a place where justice prevails and those in power are held accountable.

Don’t ever assume that the criminal justice system will never touch you. PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO will hold its next monthly meeting on Monday, October 30, 2017, 7:00 – 9:00pm, at the Rafi Greene C. A. O. Community Center in Buffalo, 1423 Fillmore @ the corner of Glenwood.

More Information: Karima, karima@prp2.org. 716-834-8438; BaBa, g.babaeng@yahoo.com, 716-491-5319.

Why Taking A Knee Matters

From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity

Bills Taking A Knee Photo: Jerome Davis 

Bills Taking A Knee Photo: Jerome Davis 

By Jelani Cobb

Sixty years ago, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, became a flashpoint in the nascent civilrights movement when Governor Orval Faubus refused to abide by the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Faubus famously deployed the state’s National Guard to prevent nine African- American students from attending classes at the high school. In the midst of the crisis, a high-school journalist interviewing Louis Armstrong about an upcoming tour asked the musician about his thoughts on the situation, prompting Armstrong to refer to the Arkansas governor as several varieties of “MF's.” (In the interest of finding a printable quote, his label for Faubus was changed to “ignorant plowboy.”) Armstrong, who was scheduled to perform in the Soviet Union as a cultural ambassador on behalf of the State Department, cancelled the tour—a display of dissent that earned him the scorn and contempt of legions of whites, shocked by the trumpeter’s apparent lack of patriotism. As the historian Penny Von Eschen notes in “Satchmo Blows Up the World,” a history of the American usage of black culture as a tool of the Cold War, students at the University of Arkansas accused Armstrong of “creating an issue where there was none,” and joined the procession of groups cancelling Armstrong’s scheduled concerts.

The free-range lunacy of Donald Trump’s speech on Friday night in Alabama, where he referred to Colin Kaepernick— and other N.F.L. players who silently protest police brutality— as a “son of a bitch,” and of the subsequent Twitter tantrums in which the President, like a truculent six-year-old, disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a White House visit, illustrates that the passage of six decades has not dimmed this dynamic confronted by Armstrong, or by any prominent black person tasked with the entertainment of millions of white ones. There again is the presence of outrage for events that should shock the conscience, and the reality of people who sincerely believe, or who have at least convincingly lied to themselves, that dissenters are creating an issue where there is none. Kaepernick began his silent, kneeling protest at the beginning of last season, not as an assault against the United States military or the flag but as a dissent against a system that has, with a great degree of consistency, failed to hold accountable police who kill unarmed citizens. Since he Why Taking A Knee Matters From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity By Jelani Cobb did this, forty-one unarmed individuals have been fatally shot by police in the United States, twelve of them African-American, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post. The city of St. Louis recently witnessed three days of protests after the acquittal of Jason Stockley, the former officer who, while still working for the city’s police force, fatally shot Anthony Smith, an eighteenyear- old African-American motorist who had led officers on a chase. Stockley emerged from his vehicle, having declared that he would “kill the motherfucker,” then proceeded to fire five rounds into the car. Later, a firearm was found on the seat of Smith’s car, but the weapon bore only Stockley’s DNA. The issue is not imaginary.

Yet the belief endures, from Armstrong’s time and before, that visible, affluent African- American entertainers are obliged to adopt a pose of ceaseless gratitude—appreciation for the waiver that spared them the low status of so many others of their kind. Stevie Wonder began a performance in Central Park last night by taking a knee, prompting Congressman Joe Walsh to tweet that Wonder was “another ungrateful black multi-millionaire.” Ungrateful is the new uppity. Trump’s supporters, by a twenty-four-point margin, agree with the idea that most Americans have not got as much as they deserve—though they overwhelmingly withhold the right to that sentiment from African-Americans. Thus, the wonder is not the unhinged behavior of this weekend but rather that it took Trump so long to exploit a target as rich in potential racial resentment as wealthy black athletes who have the temerity to believe in the First Amendment.

It’s impossible not to be struck by Trump’s selective patriotism. It drives him to curse at black football players but leaves him struggling to create false equivalence between Nazis and anti-Fascists in Charlottesville. It inspires a barely containable contempt for Muslims and immigrants but leaves him mute in the face of Russian election intervention. He cannot tolerate the dissent against literal flagwaving but screams indignation at the thought of removing monuments to the Confederacy, which attempted to revoke the authority symbolized by that same flag. He is the vector of the racial id of the class of Americans who sent death threats to Louis Armstrong, the people who necessitated the presence of a newly federalized National Guard to defend black students seeking to integrate a public school. He contains multitudes— all of them dangerously ignorant.

It has been convenient and politically profitable for Trump to paint the black athletes’ protests as an inane attack upon the symbols of the United States, but he is deeply implicated, and is increasingly aggravating the actual cause of this discord. It was Trump who urged police officers in Brentwood, New York, to treat the suspects in their charge with casual brutality. Trump’s Department of Justice has overseen the dismantling of the community-policing initiative, which was meant to encourage greater rapport between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they patrol. It is the President’s D.O.J. that has displayed disdain for the federal consent decrees that had been used to reform dysfunctional police departments.

A week and a half ago, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, assailed the black ESPN journalist Jemele Hill for referring to Trump on Twitter as an “ignorant white supremacist.” She asserted that Hill’s tweets were a “fireable offense.” Several days later, Trump attacked the sports network on Twitter and demanded that it “apologize for untruth.” After Trump rescinded his White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors, Hill tweeted, “Hey @stephencurry30, welcome to the club, bro.” LeBron James tweeted that Trump was a “bum”— which inspired criticism that he had crossed a line. (James was, it should be noted, considerably kinder than Louis Armstrong might have been.) The club of Trump dissidents grew larger on Sunday, when dozens of players from the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee, and Shad Khan, the owner of the Jaguars, locked arms with players and coaches who remained standing during the national anthem. All but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers opted to remain in their locker room during the playing of the national anthem ahead of their game against the Chicago Bears. Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans decided to do the same for their game. If Trump’s intention was to stigmatize such displays, his words have had the opposite effect. He is perhaps the greatest example of the law of unintended consequences this side of the Darwin Awards.

Amid Trump’s nuclear brinksmanship and social-media provocation toward North Korea, amid the swollen gorges of water streaming through Puerto Rico, amid the craven and indefensible attempts to gut health care, amid the slower-moving crises of voting access, economic inequality, and climate change—amid all these things, Trump yet again found a novel way to diminish the nation he purportedly leads. He has authored danger in more ways than there are novel ways to denounce it. This is his singular genius. When this moment has elapsed, when some inevitably unsatisfactory punctuation has concluded the Trump era, we will be left with an infinitude of questions. But Trump, we will assuredly understand, is a small man with a fetish for the symbols of democracy and a bottomless hostility for the actual practice of it.

In the Race for County Legislator Wisdom Must Reign

George F. Nicholas

                 George F. Nicholas

                 George F. Nicholas

From the beginning of our enslavement and captivity in America, the oppressor has always sought to separate the youth from the wisdom of the elders. They understood the strength and vigor of our youth would be ineffective against an organized plan of attack. The youth would have the strength but it was the elders that would possess the knowledge of what to do with that strength. This cynical pattern of separating the wisdom of the elders from the strength of the youth has been an effective strategy of controlling the African-American community for generations. The transfer of community leadership often disintegrates into a hostile takeover of enthusiastic but impatient future leaders who want to drive even before they understand how the vehicle works. This is most clearly seen in our political process where leaders labor for generations gaining power and seniority only to be taken out by a new wave of leaders who figure it is their time.

There is no peaceful transfer of knowledge gained on the liberation battlefield that would empower the next generation to be more effective than the past. On the contrary “new” leaders will look to the oppressor for resources, direction and affirmation. This is extremely dangerous because the oppressor has different goals that those who have been historically oppressed. That it is why historically organizations like the Erie County Democratic party seemingly take an interest in supporting what they would call “new blood,” in the quest of identifying the next wave of Black political leadership. Political novices unknowingly find themselves caught in the game of "politricks" that causes great harm to the community. These political neophytes are good people with a sincere willingness to help the community but they are woefully ignorant of the treachery of a political system that wants Black political leaders to embrace an agenda that does not put the condition of Black people as its primary focus.

This year Buffalo has a great opportunity to break that trend by going against the political establishment and electing Charley Fisher to the Erie County Legislature in the 2nd district. For full disclosure Mr. Fisher is a member of my congregation and I have called him a friend for 40 years. However, I pray that you will understand my support for him is something more important than friendship, but a sincere concern about the direction of the Black community. This election is a referendum of who chooses Black political leadership, the people or Erie County Democratic party bosses who care little about the condition of the Black community. Mr. Fisher is a man whose track record is well documented. He has faithfully served the community through various roles of leadership, including the B.U.I.L.D organization, as well as serving as Council Member at-large for many years. In addition he served under Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve and Erie Country Legislator Betty Jean Grant.

Candidate Charlie Fisher III

Candidate Charlie Fisher III

We all remember him lying courageously and uncompromisingly in front of garbage truck to demand equal treatment for his community. He possesses wisdom that does not come from reading books and going to conferences; his wisdom comes from years of experience of serving the Black community. We are living in some of the most challenging times the African-American community has ever faced in this region. In spite of the $19 billion investment in the renaissances of the region the African-American community still suffers from increased poverty, dramatic health disparities, double digit unemployment, youth violence and no discernible vision to bring revitalization to a community that has been neglected for a generation.

Mr. Fisher is a man who has the wisdom to provide the necessary leadership to empower our community by demanding its fair share from the political and economic elite who have abandoned the Black community. In these times of open political hostility against people of color, we need a fearless leader who is battle tested and battle ready. From day one when Mr. Fisher is seated in the Erie County Legislature he will be ready to push legislation, challenge budget allocations and work with all levels of government to increase the quality of life for his constituents. His record and experience makes this choice easy in selecting who is most qualified to represent the 2nd district.

So one must ask themselves why the Erie County Democratic party did not even entertain supporting a person with his vast experience and knowledge? Remember he has been a faithful registered democrat, voting in every election and primary for the last 40 years. What are they and other political leaders afraid of? They fear the wise elder who understands their game and is not willing to rubber stamp their agenda. So look at this election with eyes wide open and understand that wisdom shaped by experience is what is needed in these times.