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FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 29, 2020 at 12:12 am

From the beginning of his Presidency, Donald Trump has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism.

“The President always wants to pick a side, and he wants to pick the side that supports him,” said Miles Taylor, a former Homeland Security official in Trump’s administration. “But Donald Trump has created, in my opinion, the favorable conditions that have allowed these domestic terrorist groups to rise.

“The White House wanted to cover its eyes and wanted to cover its ears when it heard about domestic terrorism because they didn’t want to pay attention to the Right-wing extremists that they saw as a potential base of support.

“As a consequence, the President’s rhetoric has served as a loaded gun for those groups who have since taken his words as sort of permission to do what they’re doing.”

In April, thousands of Right-wingers gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to protest Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders shutting down most of the state. Many of them wore MAGA hats, waved Trump flags and/or brandished AK-47s and other semiautomatic weapons.

Trump and protesters pressure governors to start reopening the states

Trump-inspired Michigan protest

Some chanted “Lock her up!”-–echoing Trump’s call for the imprisonment of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

The protest was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a group founded by a pro-Trump state representative and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, who is on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called “Women for Trump” and is also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another group that promoted the event, the Michigan Freedom Fund, is run by Greg McNeilly, a longtime political adviser to the DeVos family, who are prolific Republican donors and have funded conservative causes across the state for decades.

McNeilly was campaign manager for Dick DeVos, the husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, during his failed bid for governor in 2006.

Asked about the protesters, Trump said: “They’re suffering. They want to get back.” He dismissed the health risks of ignoring state orders and potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” he said. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion’s the same as just about all of the governors. Nobody wants to stay shut.”

One such protester was Melissa Ackison, the conservative Ohio state Senate candidate.

“It enrages something inside of you,” said Ackison of the stay-at-home orders issued by her own governor, Republican Mike DeWine. She has “no fear whatsoever” of contracting the virus, dismissing it as hype.

“As patriots, we put President Trump in office for a reason,” she said. “If he’s not able to give a convincing enough argument to these governors that they need to open up, then he needs to do something to take action.”

In short: This “states’ rights” maven would be fine if Trump forced governors to bring the states back on line.

Party foul: Local pastor running for state rep sued by state senate candidate

Melissa Ackison

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders that banned large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

Yet President Donald Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders. On April 17 he issued a series of tweets to his supporters:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states have Democratic governors—and had been targeted for Right-wing protests. Large numbers of men and women stood closely together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claimed their “freedoms” were being infringed upon.

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Donald Trump

On May 1, Trump tweeted in support of the Michigan demonstrators. Just as German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler blamed his opponents for the violence he stoked, so did Trump. Aiming his tweet at Whitmer, he wrote: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely!  See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

In May, the protests at the Capitol continued, featuring signs with swastikas, Confederate flags and demonstrators who advocated for violence against Whitmer.

Also in May, a man was charged with threatening to kill Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Referring to government-ordered closures and social distancing measures, Homeland Security analysts recently warned: “Anti-government groups and anti-authority extremists could be motivated to conduct attacks in response to perceived infringement of liberties and government overreach.”

Polling places or voter registration events were “likely flash points for potential violence,” warned the analysts, adding that Right-wing extremists “have heightened their attention” to the election.

Election administrators throughout the United States are taking steps to prepare, with some directing staff to undergo training sessions on extremist group tactics and even preparing poll workers for the possibility of someone showing up armed.

Anticipating the worst, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on October 16 that residents will not be allowed to open-carry firearms “in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

On October 8, 13 Right-wing men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

At a press conference where the arrests were announced, Whitmer said: “Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“But why Governor Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

In a CNN interview on October 8, Whitmer said: “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’”

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately after the announcement of the failed plot.

“I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.” 

Sleepy Joe : punchableface

 Joe Biden

Later on October 8—the date of the FBI arrests—Trump again attacked Whitmer in a series of tweets.

He falsely claimed she had called him a “White Supremacist” in her remarks earlier that day. And he whined that she did not thank him for saving her.

“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” tweeted Trump. “She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

In another tweet, he demanded: “Open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Whitmer responded: “We know every time that this White House identifies me or takes a shot at me, we see an increase in rhetoric online, violent rhetoric, and so there’s always a connection and certainly it’s something that we’ve been watching. But this took it to a whole new level.

“I have raised this very issue with this White House and asked them to bring the heat down. I have asked leaders, Republican leaders in the state—let’s bring the heat down.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee squarely blamed Trump as responsible for the latest threat to Whitmer: “It is very unfortunate that she has been troubled not just directly by these threats, but a constant barrage of, frankly, incendiary criticism from the president, and I think that’s been very unfortunate.” 

“This shocking development is the most disturbing of the increasingly violent threats being made against Democratic governors by some of the most extreme and violent fringes of the Right,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

“Unless and until President Trump openly denounces such Right-wing extremism, groups like the Michigan Militia will continue to act as if they hold a permission slip from him to openly engage in such terrorist plots.”

On October 18, at a Trump campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan, the crowd chanted “Lock her up!” against Whitmer.  Trump smiled, chuckled and said, “Lock them all up.”

“It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me—10 days after that was uncovered—the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Not only has Trump refused to show any compassion for Whitmer, he has shown a total indifference to prosecuting her would-be kidnappers—or in combating Right-wing terrorism.

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

“Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump claimed on September 2.

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Donald Trump

But he has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism, despite warnings from the FBI, Congress and groups such as the Anti-Defamation League that track extremism. White House officials have tried to suppress use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” altogether.

Trump defended a caravan of his supporters who drove into Portland, Oregon, and fired paintball guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, calling them “peaceful protesters” and claiming they were using paintballs as “a defensive mechanism.”

And he has defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two people during another Black Lives Matters protest: “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 27, 2020 at 12:37 am

The FBI learned of the plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Needing reinforcements, one of the conspirators, Adam Fox, contacted a Michigan-based militia group.

”…Fox said he needed ‘200 men’ to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, said the criminal complaint.

Fox said they would kidnap and try Whitmer for “treason” before the November 2020 elections.

The verdict could only have been death.

On June 20, the conspirators met at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids. To ensure security, they entered the basement through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor. Attendees turned over their cell phones, which were brought upstairs to “prevent any monitoring.

Yet monitored they were—by an FBI informant among them.

FBI agent injured in fatal Dexter crash - mlive.com

The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles.

They planned to meet again during the first weekend of July and conduct firearms and tactical training.

In a video Fox live-streamed to a private Facebook group, he complained about the judicial system and the state of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.

Fox referred to Whitmer as “this tyrant bitch. I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”

The FBI monitored the kidnapping plot throughout the summer as the target narrowed to the governor’s personal vacation home.

During one meeting, Fox said: “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it’s over.” 

“Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap [shoot] her,” one of the men said in an encrypted group chat.

Bond unlikely for suspects in Whitmer kidnapping case

Right-wing suspects in Whitmer kidnapping plot

The group spoke of a “baker” and a “cake,” which FBI agents interpreted as code words referring to explosive devices.

“I just wanna make the world glow, dude,” the affidavit quoted Adan Fox as saying in a profanity-laced tirade. “We’re gonna topple it all, dude”

The plotters surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home on two occasions in late August and September. Barry Croft and Fox discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the vacation home area.

In early October, Fox told others in the group that he had bought a taser for use in the kidnapping plot.

Fox, Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris and Kaleb Franks planned to meet on October 6 to pay for explosives and swap tactical gear.

But the FBI moved in first.

At least seven FBI field offices around the country took part, owing to the complexity of the operation and the likelihood the suspects could be armed and dangerous.

Agents were dispatched to execute search or arrests warrants at approximately a dozen sites. Arrest details included SWAT agents, technical exploitation personnel and evidence technicians.

Immediately after the FBI learned of the threat to Whitmer, its agents alerted her security detail. As a result, security around the governor was greatly tightened. The FBI continued to update the governor’s security detail on the investigation’s progress.

At a press conference on October 8, Whitmer stated:

“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”

US Marines charged in alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer - ABC7 Chicago

Gretchen Whitmer

A week earlier, on September 29, President Donald Trump had faced off with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first of three scheduled Presidential debates.

When Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, moderator Chris Wallace challenged him to do so.

“What do you want me to call them?” asked Trump. “Give me a name.”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a violent Right-wing group.

Trump’s response: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a Right-wing problem.”

Now, referencing Trump’s shout-out to the Proud Boys, Whitmer condemned the President’s action:

“Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

But Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“We’re all united standing against anyone who would conspire to cause such hatred and violence. And there is no place for that in American society in any way, shape, or form,” he said on Fox News.

“But why Gov. Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 26, 2020 at 12:12 am

Donald Trump rode a wave of pure hatred into the White House. 

Trump had three major goals when he sought the Presidency:

  1. Obtain nearly absolute power;
  2. Obtain constant publicity; and
  3. Enrich himself even further. 

And he knew what his future constituents craved.

An August 30, 2017, article in Salon examined the base that Trump had appealed to—and captured. And it examined why that base supported him so fanatically: “Most Americans Strongly Dislike Trump, But the Angry Minority That Adores Him Controls Our Politics.”

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Donald Trump

It described these voters as representing about one-third of the Republican party:

“These are older and more conservative white people, for the most part, who believe he should not listen to other Republicans and should follow his own instincts….

“They like Trump’s coarse personality, and approve of the fact that he treats women like his personal playthings. They enjoy it when he expresses sympathy for neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate white supremacists.

“They cheer when he declares his love for torture, tells the police to rough up suspects and vows to mandate the death penalty for certain crimes. (Which of course the president cannot do.)

“…This cohort of the Republican party didn’t vote for Trump because of his supposed policies on trade or his threat to withdraw from NATO. They voted for him because he said out loud what they were thinking. A petty, sophomoric, crude bully is apparently what they want as a leader.”

Image result for Images of people giving the "Sieg heil" salute to Trump

Supporters giving the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute to Trump

“President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear,” read the theme of an October 3, 2018 story in The Atlantic: “The Cruelty Is the Point.”  

“The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected,” wrote Adam Serwer. 

“We can hear the spectacle of cruel laughter throughout the Trump era. There were the border-patrol agents cracking up at the crying immigrant children separated from their families, and the Trump adviser who delighted white supremacists when he mocked a child with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother.

“There were the police who laughed uproariously when the president encouraged them to abuse suspects, and the Fox News hosts mocking a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre (and in the process inundating him with threats), the survivors of sexual assault protesting to Senator Jeff Flake, the women who said the president had sexually assaulted them and the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting.

“There was the president mocking Puerto Rican accents shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria, the black athletes protesting unjustified killings by the police, the women of the #MeToo movement who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, and the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting on Trump truthfully.

“It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump.”

So it was inevitable that, on October 8, 13 men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

Whitmer had become a major target of Trump in March, when she tried to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies for Michigan hospitals coping with a flood of Coronavirus cases.

On March 27, Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time” Trump was attacking her on Fox News for being “ungrateful.”

Six of the would-be kidnappers were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven others associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state. 

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Their chief grievance: Whitmer’s stay-at-home order to control the fast-moving spread of Coronavirus throughout Michigan. By no small coincidence, that happened to be the theme of Trump’s attacks on her.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The six charged by the federal government are Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, Daniel Harris, 23, Brandon Caserta, 32, and Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44.

The seven men charged by the state are Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, Pete Musico, 42, Joseph Morrison, 42.

They face a variety of firearm and terror charges. 

The FBI learned of the plot in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to the federal criminal complaint.

The FBI persuaded a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.

“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions….Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to the complaint. 

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 9, 2020 at 12:03 am

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its message: Find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

Trump gave his official reason for this move: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

Do Black Lives Matter | Racism | Police Brutality | USA

At the same time, he has totally ignored—or  defended—armed white militias who have faced off with Black Lives Matter protesters.

The memo seemed especially aimed at New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, have been highly critical of Trump’s failure to stem the Coronavirus pandemic.

On Twitter, Cuomo accused Trump of trying to strip funding that cities and states need to recover from Coronavirus: “He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC. It’s an illegal stunt.” 

Andrew Cuomo 2017.jpg

Andrew Cuomo

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for de Blasio, tweeted: “As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand. This has nothing to do with ‘law and order’. This is a racist campaign stunt out of the Oval Office to attack millions of people of color.”

Trump’s directive “intrudes on Congress’ power of the purse, would never stand up in court and is nothing more than a distraction from the fact that Americans are less safe under the Trump administration,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democratic majority of the House Appropriations Committee.

“It seems the only place where there is no respect for the rule of law is the White House,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

She attacked Trump’s move as a tactic to further divide Americans when the Coronavirus pandemic demanded leadership and unity. 

Trump “continues to believe that disenfranchising people living in this country to advance his petty grudges is an effective political strategy,” tweeted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

On June 1, Trump declared: ”I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” 

But on that same evening, Trump ordered police, Secret Service agents and National Guard troops to violently remove peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which borders St. John’s Church near the White House.

They were protesting the murder of George Floyd, a black unemployed restaurant security guard, by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

The purpose of the removal: To allow Trump to have a photo op outside the church.  

Why Violent Protests Work

Donald Trump at St. John’s Church

As for his claim of being “your President of law and order.”

Trump is only the third United States President—after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—to be impeached. Charged with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power by a Democratic House of Representatives, he was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate on February 5.  

In addition, Trump has waged all-out war on the following legal institutions:

  • The FBI: When FBI Director James Comey dared to pursue a probe into Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election on Trump’s behalf, Trump fired him without warning on May 9, 2017. 
  • The Justice Department: Trump repeatedly attacked his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not “protecting” him from agents pursuing the Russia investigation. On November 7, 2018, the day after Democrats won a majority of House seats, Trump fired Sessions.
  • The Special Counsel: He tried to fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, the man appointed to investigate the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
  • The Judiciary: On October 20, 2018, Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar as an “Obama judge.” Tigar had ruled that the administration must consider asylum claims no matter where migrants cross the U.S. border. 
  • The Electoral Process: On September 2, Trump urged residents in the critical political battleground of North Carolina to try to vote twice in the Nov. 3 election, once by mail and once in person—a totally illegal act..

On the private-sector front: 

  • On December 10, 2019, Trump paid $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement where he admitted to misusing funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation. These had been used to promote his presidential bid and pay off business debts. He was forced to close the charity as a result.
  • Legal action also forced Trump to shut down his unaccredited Trump University, which the conservative magazine National Review described as a “massive scam.” Although he boasted that he never settled lawsuits, he settled this one in November, 2016, for a reported $25 million rather than go to trial. 

When Donald Trump calls himself a “law and order President,” he means: “My order is your law.”

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT” PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 8, 2020 at 12:06 am

On June 30, 1934, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Brownshirts. It was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The Brownshirts (also known as “Stiormtroopers”) had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. They had intimidated political opponents (especially Communists) and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

But after Hitler reached the pinnacle of power, they became a liability.

Ernst Rohm, their commander, had served as a tough army officer during World War 1. He was one of the few men allowed to use “du,” the personal form of “you” in German, when addressing Hitler.

Rohm urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own undisciplined paramilitary legions as the nation’s defense force.

Ernst Rohm

Frightened by Rohm’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr gave Hitler an ultimatum: Get rid of Rohm—or they would get rid of him.

Hitler didn’t hesitate. Backed by armed thugs, he stormed into Rohm’s apartment, catching him in bed with a young S.A. Stormtrooper.

Accusing his onetime friend of treasonously plotting to overthrow him, Hitler screamed: “You’re going to be shot!”

Rohm was not plotting a coup. But the generals had the whip hand—and, for Hitler, that was enough to literally sign Rohm’s death warrant.

Hours later, sitting in a prison cell, Rohm was offered a pistol with a single bullet.

“Adolf himself should do the dirty work,” said Rohm, adding: “All revolutions devour their own children.”

One hour later, Rohm died in a hail of SS bullets.

Earlier throughout that day, so had several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies. Many of them yelled “Heil Hitler!” as they stood against barracks walls waiting to be shot.

SS firing squad

Thirteen days later, addressing the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, Hitler justified his purge in a nationally broadcast speech:  “If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not  resort  to the  regular courts of justice, then all  I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the Supreme Judge of the German people! 

“I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterize down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life.

“Let the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.”

On This Day: Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II

Adolf Hitler addressing parliament

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its title: “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence and Destruction in American Cities.” 

Both officials were ordered to find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

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Donald Trump

Accusing local and state officials of abdicating their duties, Trump wrote: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.” 

In his memo, Trump ordered Vought to issue guidance in 30 days “to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.”

And he gave Barr 14 days to identify “anarchist jurisdictions” that “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures” to restore order.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

The move threatens billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban cities.

But protecting American citizens from crime is not the real reason for this effort.

Polls show Trump trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. As a result, Trump is resorting to the classic Republican tactics of smear and fear.

He wants to shift public attention from his failure to halt the escalating Coronavirus pandemic—which has already killed more than 189,000 Americans and left 25 million unemployed.

He also wants to turn Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality into white counter-protest at the ballot box.

Trump has long relied on divide-and-rule tactics to gain and hold power. He hopes to persuade suburban whites that he is the only thing standing between them and a black crime wave about to engulf them.

The hatred that millions of older whites—especially rural ones—felt for most of their fellow Americans gave Trump the White House in 2016. Trump hopes that such hatred—combined with fear—will do it again in 2020.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 1, 2020 at 12:02 am

On August 23, Jason S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The shooting occurred as officers attempted to arrest him. Blake was tasered as he scuffled with police. When he opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots, striking him four times in the back.

Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, and may never walk again.

Protests followed. Kenosha County declared a state of emergency overnight on August 24 after police vehicles were damaged, a dump truck set on fire, and the local courthouse vandalized. Police urged 24-hour businesses to close owing to armed robberies and shots being fired. Up to 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were deployed to maintain public safety.

Missing from the story—in most news media—has been one crucial fact:

At the time of the shooting, Blake faced a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree sexual assault in connection with domestic abuse on July 6. 

The officers had come to arrest Blake for violating a restraining order stemming from that complaint. A 911 call on  August 23 alerted them that Blake was at the home of his alleged victim. 

Restraining order - Wikipedia

A sample restraining order

The restraining order stemmed from a criminal complaint, which accused Blake of breaking into the home of a woman he knew and sexually assaulting her in May. The victim told police she was asleep when Blake broke in at 6 a.m. and said, “I want my shit.”

She told police that Blake used his finger to sexually assault her. She said the incident “caused her pain and humiliation and was done without her consent.” 

After Blake left, she realized her keys were missing and “immediately called 911,” the complaint said.

An arrest warrant was issued on July 7.

On August 9, 2014, a similar police/media incident had occurred.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Brown’s 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson claimed that Wilson shot him in the back. Wilson claimed he shot Brown after the latter charged at him.

An FBI investigation found that there was no evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender or said “don’t shoot” before he was shot. It also found that Brown was struck six times, all in the front of his body.

The shooting ignited nationwide protests. 

Yet many of the media “covering” the story refused to note that, shortly before his shooting, a video camera taped Brown robbing a grocery store and manhandling its owner.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Had this been more widely noted, “Saint Michael” would have been seen as a mere thug who learned that assaulting a cop wasn’t the same as attacking a store owner. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a former black security guard, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black van on which the letters "EAPOLIS" is seen, with a license plate ending "ICE". One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.

Death of George Floyd

Across the nation, cities were convulsed by protests—including those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among these: Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Walnut Creek and San Francisco itself.

On May 30, an initially peaceful protest march exploded into looting shortly before 9 p.m. as looters broke off and began smashing shop windows and ransacking stores in Union Square and on Market Street.

Among stores looted: A Sak’s Off-Fifth Avenue, an Old Navy clothing store, a Cartier Boutique and a Coach store. Looters especially targeted CVS and Walgreens drugstores. Liquor stores and a BevMo were also hit.

“Thirty businesses were looted or destroyed,” said David Perry, from Union Square Business Improvement District. 

Undoubtedly many of victims of those looters and arsonists had been horrified by the Floyd killing. But many of them undoubtedly lost sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement as they surveyed the wreckage of their stores. 

Store owners were infuriated at having to replace stock that had been stolen or destroyed. And employees resented having to clean up the wreckage. Some stores no doubt were forced to close, leaving their former employees suddenly jobless.

And President Donald Trump has quickly moved to capitalize on that resentment. His brand of “divide and rule” politics brought him to the White House in 2016. And he’s determined to play on white fears of further black crime to win a second term.

White fears of black crime are reflected in the crime rate statistics for New York City.

While Blacks make up 24.3% of New York City’s population, they comprise:

  • 58.0% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 40.7% of its rape arrests;
  • 34.6% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 59.4% of its robbery arrests;
  • 51.8% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 51.7% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 71.6% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 48.5% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 54.7% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 45.9% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 51.8% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 60.0% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

This is admittedly unfair to those blacks who are law-abiding citizens. But the fear factor will continue until crime rates among blacks start falling dramatically.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 31, 2020 at 12:22 am

Blacks make up 13% of the American population, according to the 2010 census of the United States.

But they committed 52% of homicides between 1980 and 2008, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Only 45% of whites were offenders in such cases.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims.

In 2008 blacks were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. And they were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims.

According to the FBI, blacks were responsible for 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, in 2013.

From 2011 to 2013, 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black.

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest—from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning—later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

It proved to be a tumultuous year in the NYPD’s history: Among those challenges Daley and his fellow NYPD members faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.  Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners. Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book—Target Blue: An Insider’s View of the N.Y.P.D.—Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen—of ten—murdered in 1971. 
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this—and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my Italics].”

Related image

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • Whites, 63%;
  • Blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 49 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2019. Its introduction states:

“The reports below present statistics on race and ethnicity compiled from the New York City Police Department’s records management system.”

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Then follows these statistics:

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims

  • Black (56.6%)
  • Hispanic (31.2%)
  • White (4.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (6.9%) 

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Suspects

  • Black (62.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.8%)
  • White (3.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees

  • Black 58.0%
  • Hispanic 35.2%
  • White 3.3% 
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 3.0%

Rape Victims

  • Black (38.4%)
  • Hispanic (35.4%)
  • White victims (18.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.0%)

Rape Suspects

  • Black 46.5%)
  • Hispanic (34.8%)
  • White (10.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Rape Arrestees

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (45.4%
  • )White (6.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Image

NYPD Headquarters at One Police Plaza

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims

  • Black (33.8%)
  • Hispanic (37.3%)
  • White (21.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (41.6%)
  • Hispanic (37.5%)
  • White (12.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (34.6%)
  • Hispanic (47.4%)
  • White (11.3%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (6.4%)

Robbery Victims

  • Hispanic (39.5%)
  • Black (29.5%)
  • White (14.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (15.6%)

Robbery Suspects

  • Black (66.2%
  • Hispanic (27.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific islander (2.3%)

Robbery Arrestees

  • Black (59.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.2%)
  • White (5.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.2%)

Misdemeanor Assault Victims 

  • Black (39.7%)
  • Hispanic (36.5%)
  • White (14.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (9.0%)

Misdemeanor Assault Suspects 

  • Black (51.1%)
  • Hispanic (33.0%)
  • White (9.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.6%)

Misdemeanor Assault Arrestees

  • Black (47.2%)
  • Hispanic (35.8%)
  • White (10.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.6%)

Felonious Assault Victims   

  • Black (45.1%)
  • Hispanic (34.4%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (7.7%)

Felonious Assault Suspects

  • Black (53.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (7.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.8%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees

  • Black (51. 8%)
  • Hispanic (33.1%)
  • White (8.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.4%)

Grand Larceny Victims

  • Black (24.4%)
  • Hispanic (23.0%)
  • White (35.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (15.7%)

Grand Larceny Suspects

  • Black (50.5%)
  • Hispanic (23.5%)
  • White (11.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.9%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (51.7%) 
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (13.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.0%)

Firearm Arrest Population

  • Black (71.4%)
  • Hispanic (24.2%)
  • White (2.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Shooting Victims

  • Black (70.9%)
  • Hispanic (23.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.6%)

Shooting Suspects

  • Black (74.4%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.1%)

Shooting Arrestees

  • Black (71.6%)
  • Hispanic (24.1%)
  • White (2.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.5%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population

  • Black (45.0%)
  • Hispanic (40.2%)
  • White (9.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (4.9%)

Drug Misdemeanor Arrestees

  • Black (48.5%)
  • Hispanic (35.3%)
  • White (12.5%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (3.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Victims

  • Black (35.5%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (18.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (42.4%)
  • Hispanic (34.2%)
  • White (14.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.7%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (45.9%)
  • Hispanic (31.9%)
  • White (16.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.1%)

Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (54.7%)
  • Hispanic (28.6%)
  • White (11.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.0%)

Petit Larceny Victims

  • Black (31.6%) 
  • Hispanic (29.9%) 
  • White (28.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.7%)

Petit Larceny Suspects

  • Black (53.8%) 
  • Hispanic (26.8%) 
  • White (15.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Petit Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (44.7%) 
  • Hispanic (32.5%) 
  • White (17.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Victims

  • Black (38.5%) 
  • Hispanic (29.8%) 
  • White (19.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.2%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Suspects

  • Black (51.0%)
  • Hispanic (29.6%)
  • White (14.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Arrestees

  • Black (44.9%)
  • Hispanic (33.3%)
  • White (16.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims

  • Black (39.79%)
  • Hispanic (37.0%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.3%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Suspects

  • Black (60.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.4%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

Juvenile Arrest Population

  • Black (60.0%)
  • Hispanic (32.0%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

IDEALISM DIED WITH RFK: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 12, 2020 at 1:26 am

On March 18, 1968, Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, speaking at the University of Kansas, called on his fellow citizens to show compassion for those less fortunate and in need of relief through the Federal Government.

“If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us.  We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.”

Finally, Kennedy did something almost no other politician—in his time or since—has ever done: He dared to attack that holy-of-holies, the Gross Domestic Product (then called the Gross National Product).

“If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us.  We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.

“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product….counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. 

“It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. 

“Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. 

“It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.  And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans….

Senator Robert F. Kennedy campaigning for President

“George Bernard Shaw once wrote, ‘Some people see things as they are and say why?  I dream things that never were and say, why not?’ 

“So I come here to Kansas to ask for your help. In the difficult five months ahead, before the convention in Chicago. I ask for your help and for your assistance. 

“If you believe that the United States can do better.  If you believe that we should change our course of action.  If you believe that the United States stands for something here internally as well as elsewhere around the globe, I ask for your help and your assistance and your hand over the period of the next five months.

“And when we win in November….and we begin a new period of time for the United States of America, I want the next generation of Americans to look back upon this period and say as they said of Plato: ‘Joy was in those days, but to live.’  Thank you very much.”

At the end of Kennedy’s wildly popular speech at Kansas State University, photographer Stanley Tretick, of Look magazine, shouted, “This is Kansas, fucking Kansas! He’s going all the fucking way!” 

But he didn’t go all the way. On June 5, 1968—82 days after announcing his Presidential candidacy—an assassin’s bullet suddenly halted his short-lived campaign—and his life.  

Robert Kennedy: On One California Night, Triumph and Tragedy ...

Robert Kennedy’s funeral train

Historian William L. O’Neil delivered a poignant summary of Robert Kennedy’s legacy in his 1971 book, Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s:

“He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and through error and tragic accident, failed at…..He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time. 

“That, too, must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing. With his death, something precious vanished from public life.”

As United States Attorney General (1961-1964) Robert F. Kennedy had the courage to wage all-out war on the Mafia. As a United States Senator (1964-1968) he had the compassion to champion aid to impoverished Americans.

Even in his own era—a half-century ago—Robert Kennedy stood out as the only major Presidential candidate who could legitimately make both claims. 

Today, most Democrats—battered by decades of Republican charges that they’re “big spenders”—fear supporting big-ticket items to help the poor.

And the Black Lives Matter movement has made any connection to law enforcement a disqualification for higher office—as former California Attorney General Kamala Harris found out as a 2020 Presidential candidate.

America may never again see a Presidential candidate who can combine a strong stand against crime with an equally strong commitment to helping the poor and disadvantaged. 

IDEALISM DIED WITH RFK: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 11, 2020 at 12:07 am

On March 18, 1968, Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy did what few politicians have ever done: He accepted public responsibility for a war that had since become a national disaster—the Vietnam war.

Addressing a packed audience of students and faculty at Kansas State University, he said:

“Let me begin this discussion with a note both personal and public. I was involved in many of the early decisions on Vietnam, decisions that helped set us on our present path.

“It may be that the effort was doomed from the start; that it was never really possible to bring all the people of South Vietnam under the rule of the successive governments we supported—governments, one after another, riddled with corruption, inefficiency, and greed; governments which did not and could not successfully capture and energize the national feeling of their people.

“If that is the case, as it well may be, then I am willing to bear my share of the responsibility, before history and before my fellow citizens. But past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation. Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.

“Now as ever, we do ourselves best justice when we measure ourselves against ancient tests, as in the Antigone of Sophocles: ‘All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only sin is pride.’ 

Sophocles pushkin.jpg

Sophocles

And he dared to attack the war as more than a military and political disaster: He saw it as a stain on America’s moral fiber: 

“Can we ordain to ourselves the awful majesty of God—to decide what cities and villages are to be destroyed, who will live and who will die, and who will join the refugees wandering in a desert of our own creation?

“If it is true that we have a commitment to the South Vietnamese people, we must ask, are they being consulted—in Hue, or Ben Tre, or in the villages from which the three million refugees have fled?

“If they believe all the death and destruction are a lesser evil than the Wet Cong, why did they not warn us when the Viet Cong came into Hue, and the dozens of other cities, before the Tet Offensive? Why did they not join the fight?

“Will it be said of us, as Tacitus said of Rome: ‘They made a desert and called it peace?'”

Appreciating Bobby Kennedy's Stunning Transformation - HISTORY

Robert F. Kennedy

The students gave him an ovation worthy of a rock star. 

Time correspondent Hays Gorey said the electricity between Kennedy and the K.S.U. students was “real and rare.” “A good part of it is John F. Kennedy’s, of course, but John Kennedy …himself couldn’t be so passionate, and couldn’t set off such sparks.”

Jim Slattery, who would later be elected to Congress from Kansas, reread the K.S.U. speech during the second Iraq war and decided it was so powerful “because Kennedy was talking about what was right!”

As Kennedy started to leave, students rushed the platform where he stood, knocking over chairs and grabbing at him. They stroked his hair and ripped his shirtsleeves.

Later that day, Kennedy addressed another wildly enthusiastic audience—at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas.

Then he addressed the glaring disparities between rich and poor Americans—a topic now generally ignored by Democrats and turned into an attack line by Republicans:

“All around us, all around us….men have lost confidence in themselves, in each other. It is confidence which has sustained us so much in the past. Rather than answer the cries of deprivation and despair….hundreds of communities and millions of citizens are looking for their answers, to force and repression and private gun stocks— so that we confront our fellow citizen across impossible barriers of hostility and mistrust.

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Robert F. Kennedy talking with black children

“And again, I don’t believe that we have to accept that.  I don’t believe that it’s necessary in the United States of America.  I think that we can work together. I don’t think that we have to shoot at each other, to beat each other, to curse each other and criticize each other, I think that we can do better in this country.  And that is why I run for President of the United States….

“I have seen children in Mississippi starving, their bodies so crippled from hunger and their minds have been so destroyed for their whole life that they will have no future.  I have seen children in Mississippi—here in the United States—with a gross national product of $800 billion dollars.

“I have seen children in the Delta area of Mississippi with distended stomachs, whose faces are covered with sores from starvation, and we haven’t developed a policy so we can get enough food so that they can live, so that their children, so that their lives are not destroyed, I don’t think that’s acceptable in the United States of America and I think we need a change.”

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