OtherWords – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 28 Feb 2021 05:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 To Stop the Rot in American Democracy, Trump must be Indicted for Incitement https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/american-democracy-incitement.html Sat, 20 Feb 2021 05:01:58 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196237 By By Mitchell Zimmerman | –

( Otherwords) – GOP senators said Trump was culpable, but he’s a “private citizen” now. Fine — indict him like one. By | February 17, 2021

In the wake of his second impeachment acquittal, Donald Trump proclaimed victory in what he called “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country.”

Trump was acquitted. But the Senate hardly absolved him: A 57-to-43 majority concluded he had incited a riot.

Few if any of those who voted to acquit did so because they considered Trump innocent of the charge. Rather, after refusing to hold the trial while he was still in office, they relied on the technicality that Donald Trump is now “a private citizen.”

All the more reason, then, to hold Citizen Trump responsible under criminal law for his effort to overthrow our democracy by force. Maybe it’s time for him to face 12 jurors.

Many Republicans agree Trump was responsible for the sacking of the Capitol.

“There is no question, none,” said GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, “that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day… A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him.”

Similarly, GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy concluded, “The president bears responsibility” for the “attack by mob rioters.”

Donald Trump whipped up his supporters, including violent white supremacists he had previously instructed to “stand by,” and incited them to march to the Capitol, “never give up,” “fight much harder,” and “fight like hell” — as hard as it took to “stop the steal.” That meant: Do whatever it takes to force Congress to set aside Joe Biden’s election victory.

A few political leaders have called for an indictment, but not many. Perhaps they don’t want to politicize criminal law enforcement.

But silence is still political. It reflects a presumption of impunity for presidents and other high officials. It’s the same impunity that protected Richard Nixon from being charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and Bush-era cabinet officials from being charged with conspiracy to commit torture following 9/11.

The First Amendment protects offensive and controversial speech, even Trump’s “right” to utter the lie that the election was stolen. But it includes no right to incite mob violence.

Supreme Court decisions have long confirmed that you can be charged with a crime if your speech is (1) “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and (2) “likely to incite or produce such action.” The First Amendment does not protect “preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.”

A Sixth Circuit case involving Trump himself explains: If a speech “explicitly or implicitly encourage[s] the use of violence or lawless action” and violent or lawless response is likely and imminent, you’ve gone beyond free speech.

That’s what we all saw Trump do on national television.

Over the last four years Trump has repeatedly been denounced for acting as though he were above the law. We can’t allow a supposed need for “unity” to confirm that he was right.

Impunity is incredibly dangerous. In Central America, it means you never worry about being prosecuted if you’re a corrupt police chief. In Russia, it means you can poison your political enemies without punishment. In Saudi Arabia, it means you can literally dismember a critic in another country’s embassy and suffer no consequences.

And here in the United States, it may mean you can incite your supporters to sack the Capitol — and feel free to try again in the future.

Impunity is a disease that rots the rule of law. Left unchecked, it will rot American democracy. America must teach Donald Trump that he is not above the law — and that his impunity has finally come to an end.

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller Mississippi Reckoning. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

PBS NewsHour: “With mounting legal challenges, what are the potential consequences for Trump?”

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Undocumented Americans need a Pathway to Citizenship; Biden’s Plan is promising but needs swift implementation by Congress https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/undocumented-citizenship-implementation.html Sat, 13 Feb 2021 05:02:53 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196120 By Vanessa Meraz ” –

( Otherwords.org) – Years of advocacy have made DACA the floor of what’s possible, not the ceiling. By | February 10, 2021

My father’s tired eyes lit up in a way that I had not seen since my sister was born. “Esto nos podría cambiar la vida,” he said. “This could change our lives.”

This was his hopeful reaction to the Biden-Harris administration’s proposal of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for immigrants like him.

He is exactly right — it could change our lives. But only if we keep the new administration accountable so that it actually does.

My family and community have lived in the shadows for decades, and I have never felt closer to basking in the sun. But too often, politicians have exploited our hopes for votes, only to backtrack. For these promises to become a reality for my father, mother, and all 11 million undocumented Americans living in the United States, we must continue to push past the status quo.

The early signs, at least, are promising.

On day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order announcing his commitment to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which survived years of attack from the Trump administration. DACA temporarily protects undocumented people like me, most of whom immigrated to the U.S. as young children, from deportation.

Our families deserved this moment of relief.

President Biden’s pledge to preserve DACA is a welcome one, not only for the immediate positive impact it has on the lives of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and our families, but also because it sets a refreshing change of pace for what’s to come.

By supporting the preservation of DACA at the outset, the Biden-Harris administration has confirmed that DACA is the floor — and not the ceiling — of what’s possible. It’s a commitment to go beyond the parameters of past efforts, moving away from temporary fixes and toward permanent relief for all.

In another encouraging sign, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently reintroduced the Dream Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million eligible undocumented people, including DACA recipients. It would also include Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders seeking safety from life-threatening conditions in their countries of origin.

Passage of the Dream Act is a necessary step. But it must be just the first of many.

President Biden has encouraged Congress to pass legislation that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for all undocumented people in the United States and place DACA recipients, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers on an expedited path to citizenship.

The immediate action we’re seeing from this administration on immigration is no fluke. It’s the result of advocacy, tenacity, and resilience by many Black and brown advocates who have consistently refused to accept the status quo.

In the coming weeks and months, we have a chance to bring safety and opportunity to all 11 million undocumented immigrants and our families in the United States. While the Dream Act is indeed an important step in ensuring millions of undocumented youth no longer have to live with uncertainty, it would still leave Dreamers like me worrying about the ever-present fear of separation from our loved ones who don’t benefit from the temporary security that DACA provides.

Legalization efforts must be inclusive not just of DACA recipients, but also of our children, families, and communities — who, like mine, all call this country home.

Vanessa Meraz, a DACA recipient who immigrated to the U.S. when she was three years old, works on the Immigration and Immigrant Families policy team at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Biden To Tackle Immigration Reform With Eight-Year Path To Citizenship | NBC News NOW

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As a Muslim American, I’m heartened Biden Repealed Muslim Ban: But Rampant Islamophobia is Undiminished https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/heartened-islamophobia-undiminished.html Thu, 04 Feb 2021 05:03:32 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195948

I’m glad Biden repealed Trump’s Muslim ban, but the work of repairing the harm is just beginning.

By Domenica Ghanem |

( Otherwords.org ) – President Joe Biden has repealed the Muslim ban.

As the news rolled in, I remembered how I felt four years ago, when the Trump administration first announced its intention to ban people from from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the country.

The feeling wasn’t incredulity. I distinctly remember my first reaction being something akin to: “well, duh.”

As a Muslim American, it was the obvious outcome of the Islamophobia that has plagued my community since the 9/11 attacks, when I was in the third grade.

That’s not to say its impact was negligible.

Trump’s Muslim ban separated families who missed birthdays, weddings, funerals, and other moments they’ll never get back — a feeling many more of us can relate to now that COVID-19 has kept us apart. And it took a special kind of cruelty to deny entry to refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants whose homelands our own government’s wars have ravaged.

Despite the brutality of the policy, it should not have come as a surprise.

Donald Trump ran a campaign largely based on in-your-face Islamophobia — for example, inventing a lie that he’d seen Arab people in New Jersey cheering the attack on 9/11. As an actual Arab person from New Jersey, I can tell you we were just as shocked and saddened as everyone else.

In December 2015, Trump began campaigning openly on his Muslim ban, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

What happened next may have shocked some well-meaning Americans. An NBC poll found 25 percent of Americans supported Trump’s Muslim ban just after his announcement. By March, 51 percent were in favor.

But it didn’t shock me. Like much of what would become a hallmark of Trump’s presidency, he was merely saying the quiet part out loud. For decades, national political figures of both parties have practiced what law professor Khaled A. Beydoun has called “cautious Islamophobia,” refusing to see Muslims as anything more than a national security concern.

It’s the menacing portrait of Muslims the media paints that equates the word “terrorism” with crimes committed by brown people. Or my white middle school friends joking “Don’t bomb me!” when I expressed disagreement in regular conversation.

This kind of Islamophobia has consequences. It breeds a culture that dehumanizes your Muslim neighbors. That way, when you see people who look like them being bombed because the United States wants to control their oil exports or make billions selling weapons, you can write them off as dangerous, their deaths deserving neither thought nor prayer.

Donald Trump may be gone and his Muslim ban repealed, but if we want to say “That was not my America” and mean it, we have a long way to go.

For instance, we should create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who want it and expand the number of refugees and asylum seekers we welcome, as President Biden has proposed.

But that’s not all.

We should also permanently end our weapons sales to countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, who have used them again and again to kill civilians and violate human rights. We should rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and abide by its terms. We should end our “forever wars” in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. And we should stop the surveillance and over-policing of Black and brown communities.

In short, ending the Muslim ban should begin a bigger process of healing the harms this long-term dehumanization has caused.

Before we let the horrors of the Trump administration fade away like a fever dream, we have to ask ourselves how we got here. Otherwise, it’s going to become a recurring nightmare.

Related posts:

  1. Don’t Play Into Trump’s Hands on the Muslim Ban
  2. ISIS Must Love Trump
  3. The ‘Blue Wave’ Was Also a ‘Muslim Wave’
  4. The Reduction of Muslim Americans

OtherWords commentaries are free to re-publish in print and online — all it takes is a simple attribution to OtherWords.org. To get a roundup of our work each Wednesday, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.

Domenica Ghanem is a communications consultant on political and social justice campaigns. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video aded by Informed Comment:

NEWS CENTER Maine: “Maine’s Muslim community leaders respond to end of Trump’s ‘Muslim travel ban'”

]]> Preventing Future Election Violence: Peacebuilding to avoid becoming a failed state https://www.juancole.com/2021/01/preventing-election-peacebuilding.html Sun, 31 Jan 2021 05:01:51 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195869 By Kerri Kennedy | –

( Otherwords.org ) – I have spent my entire career working to end election-related conflicts, mostly overseas. Unfortunately, this experience is now increasingly relevant at home.

Ahead of the Capitol insurrection, the U.S. met several criteria that increased the likelihood of election violence: pay-to-pay politics, weak electoral management bodies, ongoing conflict and division, and civil unrest and violence against protesters.

Meeting even one of these criteria would have been concerning. We met them all.

The successful inauguration demonstrated a moment of hope. But those of us who work in peacebuilding know that we have a lot of work ahead to ensure election violence doesn’t happen again.

There are important lessons to be learned from countries that have weathered similar crises and come out on the other side. Here’s what we know about how to restore stability and keep a country running after an attempted insurrection.

First, both sides must denounce the incumbent’s violent attempt to stay in power.

Without this, countries can remain in protracted conflict or in a fragile state for years. Existing divisions can intensify, which further undermines trust in democratic institutions and normalizes violence.

Following the Capitol attack, one of the most alarming signs was how many Republicans still voted against certifying President Biden’s election victory. This will prove to be a difficult hurdle to overcome but is absolutely necessary to address if we are to move forward.

Still, we also saw Republican governors, senators, and election officials cross party lines to affirm the election results, placing the integrity of our democracy over partisan politics. This is an important step towards de-escalation.

Second, there needs to be accountability.

When there is no accountability after violence, it can decrease political participation and trust in public institutions.

There are a number of strategies to prevent this. One is enhancing election management infrastructure. Another is establishing bipartisan commissions designed to build national cohesion by addressing the conditions that enabled violence.

In our case, a bipartisan consortium will need to acknowledge the harms caused both by these attacks and by the country’s long history of violence and oppression — and then take action to remedy these harms.

The process of accountability has begun with investigations and impeachment proceedings, which have support from Democrats and Republicans. This won’t be a cure-all, but it’s an important step.

Finally, the country needs a community-based process to address racism and build national cohesion.

The U.S. needs to begin a process to better understand and prevent radicalized violence and white nationalism.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there’s been a 55 percent increase in white nationalist hate groups since Donald Trump took office. The unabated growth of this movement is deeply troubling, and it should not have taken an attack on the Capitol to finally take right-wing extremism seriously.

Around the globe, there are many success stories of community-based processes to unite countries following unrest. And during previous violent periods in the United States, we have made progress through grassroots organizing, community dialogues, and courageous actions from community leaders and policy makers.

To confront these issues, President Biden should appoint a Cabinet level position, a Secretary of Peace, with the budget and authority to address our legacies of violence.

This position should lead a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and develop specific policy recommendations that address our societal fragmentation. Then we need government-led programs to strengthen our democratic institutions.

A country that experiences post-election violence is not doomed to become a failed state. But it does need to proceed deliberately to end the conflict and overcome existing divisions.

At this crossroads, we must call on leaders of both parties and all levels of government to pledge their support to peacebuilding, bridge divisions, and commit to strengthening our democracy.

Via Otherwords.org

Kerri Kennedy serves as the Associate General Secretary for International Programs at the American Friends Service Committee. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Bonus Video added Informed Comment:

TMJ 4 News: “Preventing violent riots in Wisconsin”

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Dreamers Deserve a Path to Citizenship https://www.juancole.com/2020/12/dreamers-deserve-citizenship.html Fri, 25 Dec 2020 05:02:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195158 By Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde | –

( Otherwords.org ) – DACA changed my life. But after four years of fear, it’s clear that undocumented young people need more protection. By | December 21, 2020

I grew up undocumented in America. As a kid, I often saw little hope for the future in the country I considered home.

In high school, I was denied scholarships, financial aid, and college admissions because of my status. It seemed like all I could hope for was a job cleaning homes, like most undocumented Mexicanas did in my hometown.

Luckily, the support of my community — and a big change in immigration policy in 2012 — changed that.

First, with the help of many teachers, family, and friends, I was able to attend Amherst College with a generous financial aid package. Then, in 2012, President Obama finally bowed to pressure from the immigrant rights movement and created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Under DACA, undocument applicants like me who’d arrived as young children were temporarily shielded from deportation. If we’d arrived early enough, stayed in school, and stayed out of trouble, we got temporary Social Security numbers and two-year work permits.

This program changed everything for me. For the first time in my life, I could apply to jobs where I could receive health benefits and save for retirement. If I got sick, I could go to the doctor. If I wanted to buy a home, I could. And if I wanted to pursue a professional degree, I could.

So I did. And today I’m an immigration attorney.

Countless other young people also benefited. Tom K. Wong, a political scientist at the University of California, surveyed over 3,000 DACA recipients from across the country. Wong found that after receiving DACA, about 69 percent of respondents got a higher paying job and about 56 percent got a job with better working conditions.

With their new jobs and spending power, these “DACAmented” youth started contributing approximately $4 billion dollars in taxes every year. Clearly, DACA benefitted not only individual DACA recipients but the economy at large.

But if these past four years have taught us anything about DACA, it’s that DACA is simply not enough. As soon as President Trump came into power, he worked tirelessly to abolish DACA by executive action, throwing the futures of hundreds of thousands of young Dreamers into jeopardy.

These incessant attacks spread fear throughout the community. I constantly feared that one day ICE agents would break into my home and tear me out of bed. I dreamt of men in black suits with guns pursuing me through dark streets.

At work, DACAmented clients pleaded with me with fear in their eyes. “If Trump eliminates DACA, I’ll lose my job as a teacher,” one said. “Can you help?” Sadly, most of the time, there was nothing I could do.

For me, the fear ended only a few months ago after an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office with my U.S. citizen husband, when I was finally granted permanent resident status.

This is the first time since President Trump’s election that I feel safe. It’s the first time I feel like ICE can’t burst through my living room door and take me away from my loved ones to a place I barely remember. I finally feel like I can plan for my future.

That feeling is priceless. And it is a feeling that all young undocumented people who have grown up in this country deserve to feel.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have promised to protect Dreamers and our families. They need to keep that promise and reverse all of Trump’s attacks on DACA within the first 100 days. But that’s not enough. They also need to push for legislative reforms that would grant us a pathway to citizenship that can’t just be taken away by the next administration.

It is the right thing to do. All of us deserve to live a full, safe, and fearless life full of promise.

Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde is an immigration law attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

NBC2 News: “Dreamers react as Biden says he will re-enact DACA

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What President-Elect Biden and all Americans owe the Black Voters who Saved our Democracy https://www.juancole.com/2020/11/president-americans-democracy.html Sat, 28 Nov 2020 05:01:37 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=194666 By Tracey L. Rogers | –

( Otherwoods.org) – Black voters waited in 10-hour lines to show up for Joe Biden. Now Biden needs to return the favor.

During a pandemic that has killed Black people at disproportionate rates, we still managed to save our democracy by getting out the vote in what may have been the most contentious presidential election in modern history.

Considering what we were up against — an administration that has put the lives of the American people in danger as COVID-19 spreads like wildfire — there was no choice but for Black people to show up at the polls in droves. Our lives depended on it.

Even President-elect Joe Biden acknowledged in his victory speech that “the African-American community stood up again for me.” Recent exit polls showed that 87 percent of Black voters backed the Biden-Harris ticket.

The odds were stacked against us, including voter suppression the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. In Georgia, Black voters sometimes waited 10 or 11 hours to cast their ballots.

But Black people proved resilient once more in our fight to preserve the Union — a Union that too often has failed to return the favor.

Joe Biden said he would have our backs in his administration. But given his authorship of the controversial 1994 crime bill that led to a deeply racist mass incarceration crisis — and Biden’s hostility to defunding the police 26 years later — I will manage my expectations.

Let’s not forget, too, that Black voters overwhelmingly backed former president Bill Clinton, who then went on to sign the 1994 crime bill into law, among other laws that deepened racial disparities in this country.

Still, 55 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, Black people continue to cast ballots as a unified front because there is always so much more at stake for us. Health inequities, racial inequality, economic wealth gaps, and a lack of representation in government keeps the Black community stuck in a vicious cycle of marginalization.

And yet, even when history relentlessly reminds us that Black lives don’t matter, we continue to reclaim our legacy as the backbone of American democracy.

Biden’s historic win in Georgia, for example, may well have marked a turning point. Stacey Abrams’ founding of Fair Fight, along with dedicated work by countless grassroots volunteers, ensured many more Americans had a voice in our election.

These extraordinary efforts are necessary in part because — in spite of a pandemic, recession, and everything else — most white voters stuck with President Trump.

In fact, if it wasn’t for non-white voters — from our Latinx brothers and sisters in Nevada to our Indigenous siblings in Arizona — we may have seen different results. According to the same exit polls, 57 percent of white voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump, making this a very tight race.

Joe Biden may have won the presidency. But so too did white supremacy, xenophobia, and corruption. And as the violent pro-Trump protests that broke out in the capital recently show, we are indeed a nation divided.

But there’s still plenty to find encouraging. In my home city of Philadelphia, I witnessed Black voters standing in long lines with lawn chairs and prepared lunches, dressed for inclement weather, just to participate in democracy. It was a proud moment.

Time will tell if the Biden-Harris administration returns the favor by showing up for us. In such a closely divided country, they can’t afford not to.

Tracey L. Rogers is an entrepreneur and activist living in Philadelphia. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwoods.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

CSRD UT: “Tressie McMillan Cottom: How Black Women Are Shaping the Future of American Democracy”

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Republicans Aren’t Just Bad Losers — They’re Traitors to Democracy https://www.juancole.com/2020/11/republicans-traitors-democracy.html Tue, 17 Nov 2020 05:03:43 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=194467 By Mitchell Zimmerman | –

Trump’s insidious rhetoric on the election won’t stop Biden from taking office, but it’s not harmless either.

( Otherwords.org) – Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the judgment of the American people might just seem like denial. But in denying the legitimacy of over 77 million votes against him, Trump and leading Republican politicians are implementing a design more sinister than poor sportsmanship.

Trump and his party have declared war on the fundamental principle of American constitutional democracy: When an incumbent loses an election, they leave office. A peaceful transfer of power follows.

Republicans know full well that Biden won. Republican as well as Democratic election officials from across the country confirm there’s no evidence of voter fraud. The election was not stolen.

Nonetheless, Trump and Republican politicians are scheming to persuade tens of millions of Republican faithful that our elections cannot be relied on and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.

In doing so, they are undermining the bedrock of American democracy: trust in peaceful elections in a constitutional order. And they demonstrate their animosity to electoral democracy itself.

Trump himself made his views all too clear before the election, when he repeatedly refused to agree he would accept it if he lost. His excuse was that mail-in votes were going to perpetrate a massive fraud. Consistent with that fabrication, he now asserts he won the election.

Voting by mail is allowed under the law of every state in the union, and citizens have voted that way for decades without fraud or other issues. In all their lawsuits, Republicans have presented zero evidence of even remotely significant fraud.

Trump’s insidious rhetoric on the election won’t stop Biden from taking office, but it’s not harmless. For if the election was “stolen,” the hate groups Trump asked to “stand by” could well take it as a signal to move against the new government and its supporters.

Of course, this is not the first time Trump and the GOP have disputed the legitimacy of a Democratic president. When Barack Obama became the first Black president, Trump built his political career trumpeting baseless claims that Obama was born abroad and wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

And it’s not the first time they’ve fomented violence either.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump routinely encouraged violence against peaceful protestors at his rallies.

This summer he defended a supporter who shot and killed two anti-racist protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And he lauded the “passionate” nature of two young men who, citing Trump’s policies, beat a 58-year-old Mexican American man with a metal pole.

Trump retweeted a video in which a supporter says, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” And when a caravan of Trump supporters, some armed, menaced a Biden bus in Texas, reportedly trying to drive it off the road, Trump expressed his delight.

American democracy is a flawed instrument. Still, imperfect as it is, it’s worth saving — and the majority voted to save it from Trump’s creeping authoritarianism. But the danger is not over, because the party that lost has turned to challenging the foundation of our constitutional democracy.

What could more openly display contempt for democracy than crowds of Trump loyalists, echoing the demand of the great man himself, chanting “stop counting votes!”

Our election has been decided — by the lawful civic engagement of over 150 million Americans, peacefully casting ballots, nearly all of them already counted. A clear, plain majority gave their votes to Joe Biden.

Donald Trump and those who promote his lies and his refusal to yield to the voters are traitors to our Constitution.

Via Otherwords.org

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller Mississippi Reckoning. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Bonus Video:

The Hill: “Democratic Senator TORCHES Republicans on Senate floor for not acknowledging Biden won”

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Make This Election About Health Care https://www.juancole.com/2020/11/election-about-health.html Tue, 03 Nov 2020 05:03:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=194221 By Elaine Shelly | –

(Otherwords.org ) – There should only be one America: one where we all get the best care and the widest range of choices. By | October 28, 2020

My mother is a Black woman. But when I had to place her in nursing home care in 2016, I intentionally chose a home in a largely white community.

Why? Because she was more likely to survive there. Let me explain.

After President Trump’s recent COVID-19 hospitalization, people said there were two Americas — one where people like him top shelf medical care and drugs, while the rest of us don’t.

But the impact of the pandemic on communities of color has demonstrated at least four different Americas: one with infinite choices, one with few choices, one with only pseudo-choice, and one with no choices at all.

I see the America of Michael Hickson, a 46-year old Black man, who died on June 11 in an Austin hospital from COVID-19. His medical treatment and tube feedings were withdrawn because his doctor thought Hickson, who was quadriplegic, “didn’t have any quality of life.”

Hickson lived in the America without choices. Life and death decisions were made for him, regardless of what he or his family wanted.

I see the America of Rana Zoe Mungin, a 30-year-old Black woman. She died on April 27 from COVID-19 after being turned away from hospitals twice, despite having a fever and shortness of breath.

Mungin, a well-educated Black woman with a bright future, lived in the America of pseudo-choice. Despite her education, full time job, and benefits, she was denied care.

I see my friend Anne’s America. She struggles to pay for life-saving medication for her pre-existing autoimmune disease, despite working and having insurance. Anne, a woman of color, worries about losing access to health care if the Trump administration dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

She lives in the America that wavers precariously between few choices and no choices. Today, she lives with few choices. Tomorrow she may have none.

Finally, I see the America of Donald Trump, who received oxygen at home and proprietary experimental treatments. He was flown to a first-class medical facility and stayed in a suite more spacious than my apartment.

Trump lives in the America of choice and privilege. He is cavalier with his COVID-19 diagnosis and in exposing others because he will always get top-shelf care.

COVID-19 has hit Black and brown Americans especially hard due to racial health inequities that can have a domino effect across a lifetime.

Limited access to quality healthcare means Black and brown people experience higher levels of disability and are more likely to need long-term care. Yet insufficient community-based services in our neighborhoods cause us to be placed in nursing homes, where we’re more likely to contract and die from COVID-19.

I knew this firsthand, because I stayed in nursing homes several times while recovering from flares of multiple sclerosis. That’s why I made a different choice for my mom, and it was the right one: During COVID-19, none of the residents where my mother lives have contracted the disease, compared to multiple outbreaks and several deaths at every nursing home where I had stayed.

Nursing homes need to be held accountable — after all, the public health issues that plague nursing homes didn’t start with COVID-19. But we also need to ask ourselves why nursing homes are the only choice for so many families, including my own. Universal long term supports and services, with an emphasis on home and community-based care, is a much better option.

There should only be one America: one where we all get the best care and the widest range of choices, no matter the color of our skin, our level of ability, or how much money and power we have.

Voting for candidates who support strong care policies up and down the ballot is the first step towards building an America that cares for us all equally.

Elaine Shelly is a freelance writer and public policy volunteer. She lives in Oakland, California. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Jimmy Kimmel Live: “3-Year-Old Billy Kimmel on What This Election is About”

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Amy Coney Barrett Has No Business Ruling on This Election https://www.juancole.com/2020/10/barrett-business-election.html Fri, 09 Oct 2020 04:02:09 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=193756 By Rev. Susan K. Smith

The president has openly said he expects her to back him in a contested election. She should recuse herself — and we should resist her.

( Otherwords.org ) – Well before Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the United States Supreme Court, every step in the frenzied process had seemed terribly amiss.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his party are playing by two sets of rules, ramming through Donald Trump’s nomination to fill a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year, despite McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to hold a hearing for President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

McConnell claimed at the time that no Supreme Court nomination should be processed in an election year, and that “the people should decide” after the election. Four years later, “the people” apparently only includes those whom McConnell decides should be considered.

As polls continue to indicate that Trump may lose the election, McConnell has thrown away his concern for “the people” out with the garbage in fealty to Trump.

Now comes Barrett, whose record is quite troubling.

Barrett will likely provide the final vote to gut the Affordable Care Act, which could throw 20 million Americans off their health insurance. She may also help overturn Roe v. Wade. Both are goals that conservatives have tried to achieve for years.

She is also likely to vote against Black people’s civil rights, as she has in the past. Conservatives will likely try and soften this record by noting she is the mother of two adopted Black Haitian children — despite her nomination by a president who called that country a “s—hole.”

In addition to Barrett’s concerning record, Trump has admitted outright that he needs this vacancy filled immediately to give him a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to rule on cases that could emerge out of a contested election.

Stunningly, Barrett recently indicated in her Senate questionnaire that she has no intention of recusing herself from such cases.

In the past, many Americans believed that our government was fool-proof against authoritarianism. There was a sense that ethics, protocol, and precedent would prevail in our political and legal systems. But for many of us, that trust has since evaporated.

The Trump administration has shown that they believe the rich and powerful are above the law. They call for “law and order,” but do not believe it applies to them. Now it seems that Barrett may join their ranks.

For months, Trump has spread misinformation about the integrity of our elections. He has called for his base to go to the polls on Election Day to intimidate voters, and has encouraged people to break the law and vote for him twice. He has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and has been clear that he will rely on the Supreme Court to determine the winner of the election.

That should be evidence enough that this president is an agent of chaos who is intent on dismantling our government, and our democratic norms and values. There are many reasons not to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and we will raise our voices about all of them.

But if she is confirmed, out of love for her country, respect for American democracy, and her professed commitment to God, Barrett should stand firm against Trump’s lawlessness and lack of moral principle and recuse herself from election-related matters.

That’s the least she can do.

Rev. Susan K. Smith is an ordained minister and the director of Crazy Faith Ministries in Columbus, Ohio. She serves on People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers In Action. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Sen. Van Hollen: Barrett ‘Should Recuse Herself’ From Any Split Decision On Election Results | MSNBC

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