Category Archives: Racism

American Islamophobia. Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear – Khaled A. Beydoun.

I remember the four words that repeatedly scrolled across my mind after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. “Please don’t be Muslims, please don’t be Muslims,”

These four words reverberated through the mind of every Muslim American that day and every day after, forming a unifying prayer for Muslim Americans after every attack.

This system of inculcating fear and calculated bigotry was not entirely spawned in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks but is a modern extension of a deeply embedded and centuries old form of American hate.

Now more than ever, Islamophobia is not limited to the irrational views or hateful slurs of individuals, but is an ideology that drives the president’s political worldview and motivates the laws, policies, and programs he seeks to push forward.

Crossroads and Intersections

“Nobody’s going to save you. No one’s going to cut you down, out the thorns thick around you. . . . There is no one who will feed the yearning. Face it. You will have to do, do it yourself.” Gloria AnzaldUa, Borderlands/La Frontera

“If you know who you are, nobody can tell you what you are or what you are not.” My momma, Fikrieh Beydoun

I took my seat in the back of the Uber car, plugged in my phone and reclined my head to recharge on the way to the hotel. The road ahead is going to be a long one, I thought as I sank into the backseat, settling in for a temporary respite from the oncoming storm. “As-salamu ‘alaikum,” the young driver greeted me in Spanish-inflected Arabic, abruptly ending my break.

“Wa ‘alaikum aI-salam,” I responded, thoroughly surprised that these familiar words came out of the mouth of my tattooed Latino Uber driver, Juan. Was he Muslim? I pondered, wondering whether his neat beard signified more than a recent fad or fashionable grooming.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Professor,” he said, and continued, “I’m very familiar with your writing and work, and I’m happy you’re here speaking at Cal State LA. I wish I could’ve been there to hear your talk.” Another sign that Juan might in fact be Muslim, given that my work centers on Muslim American identity and, increasingly, Islamophobia.

“Thank you so much,” I responded, taken aback by the fact that he knew who I was, and still contemplating whether he was a recent Muslim convert or born into a Muslim family. As a longtime resident of Los Angeles and a scholar familiar with Muslim American demographics, I was well aware that Latinx Muslims were the fastest growing segment of the Muslim American population. I had attended Friday prayers with sermons delivered en espanol in California and in Florida, where I lived and taught law for two years, and prayed alongside brothers from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico as often as I did next to Muslims from Egypt, Syria, or Pakistan. However, I was still unsure about Juan’s religious identity, and to which destination he might steer this conversation.

I learned, en route from the East Los Angeles campus to my downtown hotel, that Juan was neither born to a Muslim family nor a convert. He was, rather, a man on the cusp of embracing Islam at a moment of unprecedented Islamophobia and rabid xenophobia, of imminent Muslim bans and Mexican walls.

“I have been studying Islam closely for some time now, and try to go to the mosque on some Fridays,” he shared. “I am considering making my shahada,” Juan continued, referencing the oath of induction whereby a new Muslim proclaims that “there is only one God, and Mohammed is his final messenger.” “Everybody assumes that I am a Muslim already,” he said, with a cautious laugh that revealed discomfort with his liminal status. Juan turned down the radio, and the voice of Compton native Kendrick Lamar rapping, “We gon’ be alright,” to engage in a more fluid conversation. And, it appeared, to seek a response from me about his spiritual direction.

“That’s wonderful,” I responded to Juan, who was likely no more than twenty-three or twenty-four years old, trying to balance my concern for the challenges his new religious affiliation would present with the answer that I thought he wanted to hear, and perhaps expected, from a Muslim American scholar and activist whose name and work he recognized.

As he drove, we discussed the political challenges posed by the Trump administration, and specifically, the policies that would directly or disproportionately target Muslim and Latinx communities. Indeed, Trump capitalized heavily on demonizing these vulnerable groups, as evidenced most clearly by the two proposals, the Muslim ban and the Mexico Wall, that became the rallying cries of his campaign. We also discussed how our kindred struggles with poverty complicated our pursuit of education, and how Trump’s economic vision exacerbated conditions for indigent Americans, including the 45 percent of Muslim Americans living below, at, or dangerously close to the federal poverty line. The city’s infamous, slow moving traffic enabled a fast paced conversation between my new friend and me and gave rise to an LA story seldom featured in newspapers or on television.

Juan’s responses focused on his everyday struggles living in LA and the stories of family and friends from his Pico Union neighborhood. He pointed out that the onslaughts on Muslims and Latinx communities were hardly separate and independent, or parallel and segregated. Rather, they were, and are, overlapping, intersecting, and, for him, very intimate.

“As an undocumented Latino from El Salvador living in Pico Union”, a heavily concentrated Latinx community on the margins of downtown Los Angeles, “I am most fearful about the pop-up checkpoints and the immigration raids,” he told me. These fears were more than imminent under the administration of President Obama, dubbed the “Deporter in Chief” by critics who opposed the accelerated mass deportations carried out during the final stages of his second term. But without question, Juan’s fears have become more visceral, more palpable during the Trump administration.

“I think about this every time I drive to school, work, or visit a family member,” Juan recounted, reminding me of the debilitating fear that comes over me after any terror attack. Yet his fear was far more immediate and frequent than mine, and loomed over him at every moment, including this one while he and I weaved through Los Angeles traffic, talking animatedly about politics, faith, and fear. He could be stopped at any time, whether alone or while whizzing customers through the city he knew better than the life lines on his palms.

I thought about the very imminent dangers these xenophobic policies and programs posed for Juan and people in similar situations in Los Angeles and throughout the country. I knew this city well and understood that the armed and irrational fear directed at nonwhite, non-Christian people was intense in LA, descending (among other places) on the city’s galaxy of dense and large Latinx neighborhoods. This armed xenophobia was aimed particularly at those communities gripped by poverty, where Spanish was spoken primarily, and was concentrated on people and families lacking legal documentation, indeed, the very intersection where Juan began and ended each day, and lived most of his hours in between.

Years before I rode with Juan, Los Angeles was my home away from my hometown of Detroit, the city where I began my career as a law professor, earned my law degree, and only two weeks into my first year of law school at UCLA, the setting from which I witnessed the 9/11 terror attacks. I remember the events of that day more clearly than I do any other day, largely because every terror attack that unfolds in the United States or abroad compels me to revisit the motions and emotions of that day.

For Muslim Americans, 9/11 is not just a day that will live in infamy or an unprecedented tragedy buried in the past; it is a stalking reminder that the safeguards of citizenship are tenuous and the prospect of suspicion and the presumption of guilt are immediate.

My phone kept ringing that morning, interrupting my attempt to sleep in after a long night of studying. As I turned to set the phone to vibrate, I noticed that my mother had called me six times in a span of fifteen minutes. My eyes widened. Was something wrong at home? Three hours behind in California, I called her back to make sure everything at home in Detroit was alright, still in the dark about the tragedy that would mark a crossroads for the country, my community, and indeed, my life.

“Turn on the TV,” she instructed, in her flat but authoritative Arabic that signaled that something serious was unfolding: “Go to your TV right now.” I had an eerie sense of what she was alluding to before I clicked the television on and turned to the news, but I could not have imagined the scale of the terror that unfolded that early Tuesday morning. My eyes were glued to the screen as I awoke fully to what it would mean for me, my family, and Muslim Americans at large if the perpetrators of the attacks looked like us or believed like us.

I recall the surreal images and events of that day as if they happened yesterday. And just as intimately, I remember the four words that repeatedly scrolled across my mind after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. “Please don’t be Muslims, please don’t be Muslims,” I quietly whispered to myself over and again, standing inside my small apartment, surrounded by bags and boxes not yet unpacked, a family portrait of my mother, sister, and brother hanging on an otherwise barren white wall. I was alone in the apartment, far from home, but knew in that very moment that the same fear that left me frozen and afraid gripped every Muslim in the country.

The four words I whispered to myself on 9/11 reverberated through the mind of every Muslim American that day and every day after, forming a unifying prayer for Muslim Americans after every attack.

Our fear, and the collective breath or brace for the hateful backlash that ensued, symbolize the existential tightrope that defines Muslim American identity today. It has become a definitive part of what it means to be Muslim American when an act of terror unfolds and the finger-pointing begins.

Indeed, this united state of fear converges with a competing fear stoked by the state to galvanize hatemongers and mobilize damaging policies targeting Islam and Muslims. That state stoked fear has a name: Islamophobia.

This system of inculcating fear and calculated bigotry was not entirely spawned in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, I have gradually learned, but is a modern extension of a deeply embedded and centuries old form of American hate.

Following 9/11 it was adorned with a new name, institutionalized within new government structures and strident new policies, and legitimized under the auspices of a “war on terror” that assigned the immediate presumption of terrorism to Islam and the immediate presumption of guilt to Muslim citizens and immigrants.

Thousands of miles away from home and loved ones, my world unraveled. Islamophobia and what would become a lifelong commitment to combating it were thrust to the fore. Although raised in Detroit, home to the most concentrated, celebrated, and scrutinized Muslim American population in the country, my activism, advocacy, and intellectual mission to investigate the roots of American Islamophobia and its proliferation after the 9/11 terror attacks were first marshaled on the other side of the country. For me, 9/11 was both a beginning and an end, putting to rest my romantic designs on an international human rights law career for the more immediate challenges unfolding at home.

I left for Los Angeles a wide-eyed twenty two year old in the late summer of 2001. I was the first in my family to attend university an graduate school, the first to pack his bags for another city, not knowing what direction his career or life would take. After three years and three wars, those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the amorphous, fluidly expanding war on terror on the home front, I was fully resolved to take on the rising tide of Islamophobia ravaging the country and ripping through concentrated Muslim American communities like the one I called home. I learned about the law at a time when laws were being crafted to punish, persecute, and prosecute Muslim citizens and immigrants under the thinnest excuses, at an intersection when my law professors, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, and Devon Carbado, were equipping me with the spirit and skill to fight Islamophobia in the middle grounds it rose from, and even more importantly, at the margins.

On February 22, 2017, more than a decade and a half after 9/11, I found myself back in Los Angeles. I was now a law professor and a scholar researching national security, Muslim identity, and constitutional law. I was to give a series of lectures on Islamophobia at several colleges and community centers in the LA area. My expertise was in high demand as a result of the 2016 presidential election and the intense lslamophobia that followed. I delivered the lectures roughly one month after newly elected President Donald Trump signed the executive order widely known as the “Muslim ban.”

Seven days into his presidency, Trump delivered on the promise he first made on the campaign trail on December 7, 2015, enacting a travel ban that restricted the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. To me, the Muslim ban was not merely a distant policy signed into law in a distant city; it was personal in a myriad of ways. First, I am a Muslim American, and second, I had close friends from several of the restricted nations and had visited several of those nations. Moreover, since the war on terror had been rolled out in 2001, all of the countries on the list had been either sites of full-scale American military aggression or strategic bombings.

“The bombs always precede the bans,” my mother said out loud as she watched the news one day, observing a truism that ties American foreign policy to immigration policy, particularly in relation to Muslim majority countries.

The Muslim ban was the first policy targeting Muslims enacted by the man I formally dubbed the “Islamophobia President.” It certainly would not be the last law, policy, or program implemented by the man who capitalized on Islamophobia as a “full-fledged campaign strategy” to become the forty-fifth president of the United States.

President Trump promised a more hardline domestic surveillance program, which he called Countering Islamic Violence; a registry to keep track of Muslim immigrants within the United States; legislation that would bludgeon the civic and advocacy programs of Muslim American organizations; and other measures that would threaten Muslim immigrants, citizens, and institutions. He was poised to integrate Islamophobia fully into the government he would preside over and to convert his bellicose rhetoric into state sanctioned policy.

If Trump demonstrated anything during his first week in office, it was an ability to follow through on the hateful promises most pundits had dismissed as “mere campaign rhetoric” months earlier. He kept his promises. Islamophobia was not merely an appeal for votes, but a resonant message that would drive policy and inform immigration and national security policing. His electioneering was not mere bluster, but in fact a covenant built on Islamophobia, an Islamophobia that motivated large swaths of Americans to vote for him. In exchange, he delivered on his explicit and “dog whistle” campaign messaging by generating real lslamophobic policies, programs, and action.

Trump, like many candidates before him and others who will follow, traded a grand narrative of nativism and hate for votes, which registered to great success at the ballot box.

Memories of the trials and wounds Muslim Americans endured in the wake of 9/11, which I witnessed firsthand and examined closely as a scholar, and those unfolding in this era of trumped-up, unhinged Islamophobia raced through my head as I walked to the Uber waiting for me outside the California State University, Los Angeles campus. Scores of mosques vandalized, immigrants scapegoated and surveilled, citizens falsely profiled and prosecuted, the private confines of Muslim American households violated in furtherance of baseless witch hunts, immigration restrictions and registries imposed, and innocent mothers and children killed.

Yesterday, and with this intensified third phase of the war on terror, again today. I set my bag down in the car, thinking about the turbulent road ahead. I thought about how the challenges ahead compared and contrasted with those that ravaged Muslim Americans following 9/11. More than fifteen years had passed, and the face of the country, the composition of the Muslim American population, and I myself had all undergone radical, transformative change. I had recently bid farewell to and buried my father, Ali, who in 1981 brought his three children and wife to the United States in search of all the things Donald Trump stood against, values his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” sought to erode. Life after loss is never the same, and my season of mourning was punctuated by the fear and hysteria that followed Donald Trump all the way to the White House.

The world and the country were spinning faster and more furiously than ever before, it seemed. Locked in between the two, my life raced forward at a rate I had never experienced. The Black Lives Matter movement unveiled institutional racism that was as robust and violent as ever, as evidenced by the killing of Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, and a rapidly growing list of unarmed black children, men, and women gunned down by police, all of them memorialized and uplifted as martyrs by youth and adult, black and non-black activists marching up and down city blocks or taking protests to the virtual sphere on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Black Lives Matter inspired mass actions across the country and an ongoing march of social media protests that spawned new generations of activists and trenchant thought leaders. I saw this unfold, in dynamic fashion, on city blocks, in neighborhoods, on college campuses, and on social media feeds. It left an indelible impression on my activism, writing, and worldview.

In the face of a political world seemingly spinning out of control, I decided to write this book. I hope to provide general readers, students, and activists an intimate and accessible introduction to Islamophobia, what it is, how it evolved, how we can combat it in Trump’s America, and most importantly, how to fight it beyond the current administration.

As a Muslim American law professor and civil rights activist, I hope to help readers view Islamophobia through a unique lens. I draw on a range of sources, from court cases, media headlines, and scholarship to my own experiences in walking the walk every day. Along the way, I make links and assertions that might be new to many readers: pointing out how Islamophobia has a long, notorious history in the United States, for example, and showing how the Black Lives Matter movement intersects with, and inspires, activism against Islamophobia. My aim is to offer a succinct, informed handbook for anyone interested in Islamophobia and its prolific growth at this definitive juncture in our country’s history.

I wrote this book at a time when American Islamophobia was intensifying at a horrific clip, giving immediate importance to my research and expertise and simultaneously endangering the people I love most. In addition to examining the roots and rise of American Islamophobia, this book also looks to humanize the individuals and communities impacted by it, so they can be seen beyond the frame of statistics. Many stories are interwoven, some are well known and others are not, to facilitate an understanding of Islamophobia that treats Muslim Americans not as distant subjects of study or analysis, but as everyday citizens. Citizens who, like members of other faith groups, are not only integral and contributing members of society, but are also part of a group that will define the future of the United States moving forward.

The United States is indeed at a crossroads. The rise of mass social protest movements fueled by calls for dignity, justice, and an end to structural racism have been met by an opposing front galvanized by demographic shifts toward a majority minority population and eight years of scapegoating and systematic obstruction of the first black president. Echoing through it all is the dread of an “end of white America,” a fear that politicians on the right readily stoked and fervently fed to the masses.

Much of this opposing front is fully wed to racism and xenophobia, and it backed a businessman who peddled a promise to “Make American Great Again”, a promise that was not just a campaign slogan, but was also a racial plea evoked at a time when whiteness was the formal touchstone of American citizenship and white supremacy was endorsed and enabled by law. Trump dangled before the electorate studies that project that people of color will outnumber whites by 2044, and that over half (50.2 percent) of the babies born in the United States today are minorities, and he inflamed the ever present fear that foreigners are stealing our jobs.

As a cure for these supposed ills, Trump’s campaign offered to a primed and ready audience a cocktail of nativism, scapegoating, and racism; his campaign met with resounding success and helped polarize the nation along the very lines that colored his stump speeches. Much of Trump’s fearmongering centered again on Islam and the suspicion, fear, and backlash directed at its more than eight million adherents living in Los Angeles, Detroit, and big and small American towns beyond and in between.

Islamophobia was intensifying throughout the country, relentlessly fueled on the presidential campaign trail, and after the inauguration of President Trump on January 20, 2017, it was unleashed from the highest office in the land.

Now more than ever, Islamophobia was not limited to the irrational views or hateful slurs of individuals, but was an ideology that drove the president’s political worldview and motivated the laws, policies, and programs he would seek to push forward.

This had also been the case during the Bush and Obama administrations, but the Trump moment marked a new phase of transparency in which explicit rhetorical Islamophobia aligned, in language and spirit, with the programs the new president was poised to implement.

I found myself wedged between the hate and its intended victims. Muslim Americans like myself were presumptive terrorists, not citizens; unassimilable aliens, not Americans; and the speeches I delivered on campuses and in community centers, to Muslims and non-Muslims, cautioned that the dangers Islamophobia posed yesterday were poised to become even more perilous today. The road ahead was daunting, I warned audiences after each lecture, hoping to furnish them with the awareness to be vigilant, and the pale consolation that today’s Islamophobia is not entirely new.

I was feeling alarmed for Juan, my Uber driver, even as I felt I should celebrate his being drawn toward Islam. I could not help but fear the distinct and convergent threats he would face if he embraced Islam. As an undocumented Latino Muslim in Los Angeles, Juan would be caught in the crosshairs of “terrorism” and “illegality.” Los Angeles was not only ground zero for a range of xenophobic policies targeting undocumented (and documented) Latinx communities, but also a pilot city where, in 2014, the Department of Homeland Security launched its counter radicalization program, Countering Violent Extremism, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department.

This new counterterror program, which effectively supplanted the federal surveillance model ushered in by the USA PATRIOT Act, deputized LAPD members to function as national security officers tasked with identifying, detaining, prosecuting, and even deporting “homegrown radicals.” Suspicion was disproportionately assigned to recent Muslim converts, particularly young men like Juan, keen on expressing their newfound Muslim identity by wearing a beard, attending Friday prayers, and demonstrating fluency in Arabic, the language tied to Islam, and in line with Islamophobia, terrorism.

I feared for Juan’s wellbeing, whether Muslim or not. I knew that the dangers he dodged every day would be far greater in number and more ominous in nature if he embraced Islam. The president, from inside the White House, was marshaling islamophobia and mobilizing xenophobia to inflict irreparable injury on Muslims, Latinx communities, and the growing population of Latinx Muslims that Juan would be part of if he walked into a mosque and declared that “there is only one God, and Mohammed is his final messenger.” He would be vulnerable to the covert counter-radicalization policing that was descending on Los Angeles mosques and Muslim student associations and simultaneously exposed to the ubiquitous threat of immigration checkpoints and deportation raids. He would also be a prime target for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE, the new catchan-“illegal-alien” hotline installed by President Trump.

This seemed far too much for any one person to endure all at once, and the boundary Juan contemplated crossing by becoming a Muslim, during the height of American Islamophobia, might very well be one that he should drive far away from.

All of this rushed through my head as Juan drove me to my hotel, sharing with me his concerns and fears about the country’s current condition. I remained silent, gripped by the desire, if not the responsibility, to advise Juan to reconsider embracing Islam at this time. I tried to muster up the courage to tell him to postpone his conversion for a later time, when Islamophobic attitudes and policies were abating, when, and if, that time should come. I feared that if he did convert, the ever expanding and extending arms of the state would find him at once, brand him a radical, and toss him from the country, sending him far from the only home he has ever known, and the second home that summoned me back during a fateful moment in his life and mine.

*

Before my conversation with Juan, I’d been gripped by memories of the post 9/11 period. But for those moments in the car, I felt overwhelmed by the dangers that would encircle Juan if he took his shahada. Islam in America has never been simply a religion one chooses. From the gaze of the state and society, Islam was and still is an indelible marker of otherness, and in war-on-terror America, it is a political identity that instantly triggers the suspicion of acts of terror and subversion. The urge to advise Juan against converting reached its climax when the car came to an abrupt stop near Grand Avenue and 11th Street, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, not far from Pico Union.

Juan stepped out to greet me on the right side of the car. “It was an honor to meet and speak to you, Brother Khaled,” he said, extending his hand to bid me farewell.

“Likewise Juan, I wish you the best,” I told him, extending my hand to meet his. I then turned away from the stranger who, after a thirty minute drive through grueling city traffic, had pushed me to grapple with my most pressing fears and had given me an intimate introduction to new fears that I could not turn away from.

I stopped, turned back toward Juan, and mustered up the strength to implore him, “But I ask you to think about whether now is the right time to become a Muslim,” attempting to cloak a desperate plea with the tone and language of evenhanded guidance. This was more difficult than any lecture or presentation I had given during the past several months, and the many more I would give later. “Your status already puts you in a difficult position, and falling victim to Islamophobia would put you in a more dangerous place,” I pled.

Voicing the words released a great weight off my shoulders. At the same time, they felt unnatural because they clashed with the spiritual aim of encouraging interest in Islam. The paradox mirrored the political confusion that gripped the nation. But the challenges and perils I lectured about in university classrooms, community centers, and mosques had to be extended to the street, and to the most vulnerable. My words were met with a look of utter surprise by Juan, who stood there and said nothing.

“Either way, you are my brother,” I closed, before we walked off in opposite directions. He thanked me, circled back to the driver’s seat, and turned right on 12th Street, in the direction of Pico Union, perhaps feeling disappointed in or spurned by the individual whose activism he admired.

I often wondered what decision Juan made, and whether he made his shahada. I also feared the worst, wondering whether he was still in the country. Was he profiled on the grounds of his Latino identity and detained because he was undocumented? Did he embrace Islam and fall victim to the counter-radicalization policing unfolding in Los Angeles? Or had he become a victim of the intersecting xenophobic backlash and Islamophobic violence authorized by Trump’s rhetoric and policies, inflicted by a bigot on or off campus?

My fears were stoked daily by bleak headlines and backward actions taken by the Trump administration, but I tried to remain optimistic. I hoped that Juan was still enrolled in classes, zigzagging his car through the maze of Los Angeles traffic to help his mother make rent, to pay his college tuition, and to drive toward his goal of becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree. And most importantly, I prayed that he was safe and sound while working toward realizing this and other aspirations, academic, professional, and spiritual, in a country where informants and officers, bans and walls threaten to crush these very dreams and the people precariously holding onto them.

*

from

American Islamophobia. Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear

by Khaled A. Beydoun

get it at Amazon.com

Jesse Jackson on Martin Luther King’s assassination: ‘It redefined America’ – David Smith * “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 1963.

The civil rights veteran, one of only two surviving witnesses to King’s murder 50 years ago, says his mentor’s response to Trump would have been: ‘We must not surrender our spirits’

Jesse Jackson still remembers the sound of the gunshot and the sight of blood. They have been with him for half a century. “Every time I think about it, it’s like pulling a scab off a sore,” he says. “It’s a hurtful, painful thought: that a man of love is killed by hate; that a man of peace should be killed by violence; a man who cared is killed by the careless.”

Jackson and fellow civil rights veteran Andrew Young are the last surviving disciples of Martin Luther King who witnessed his assassination on 4 April 1968. Others who were at the Lorraine motel in Memphis, Tennessee, that day have been claimed by the passing decades. And each milestone anniversary has offered a snapshot of Jackson’s, and the nation’s, jagged and jarringly uneven narratives.

Twenty years after the deadly shooting, in 1988, Baptist preacher Jackson was mounting his second bid to become America’s first black president. He invoked King and his death repeatedly as he took on Michael Dukakis in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. He won 11 contests but failed to gain the nomination.

At the 40 year mark after King’s death, the torch had been passed to Barack Obama, locked in a Democratic primary of his own against Hillary Clinton and under pressure over his relationship with the outspoken pastor Jeremiah Wright. The senator praised Jackson, a fellow Chicagoan, for making his run possible. On the night Obama won the presidency, Jackson wept.

Now it is 50 years and the wheel has turned again. Jackson announced last November that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Donald Trump, endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, is in the White House.

Just as many saw King’s assassination by the escaped convict James Earl Ray a white man partly inspired by the segregationist governor George Wallace as a reactionary strike against revolution, so Trump’s election has been interpreted as (in King’s phrase) a “white backlash” against Obama.

Amid the tumult of the 1960s, King, outspoken against the Vietnam war, was one of the most hated men in America and his life was in constant danger. His house was bombed, his followers were killed, his name was trashed by newspaper editorials and his phones were tapped by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. His two thirds disapproval rating in a 1966 Gallup poll sits at odds with today’s “I have a dream” sanctification.

“They loved him as a martyr after he was killed but rejected him as a marcher when he was alive,” recalls Jackson, 76, still a dedicated activist, speaking by phone from an African development conference in Morocco. “We tend to embrace martyrs. In many ways he has a moral authority now you wouldn’t see if he was still alive. He is a universal frame of reference for moral authority, the global frame of reference for nonviolent justice and social change. If he had not died, that probably would not be the case.”

King and a group of close aides, including Jackson, headed to Memphis to support predominantly African American garbage workers who had gone on strike for better safety conditions and pay after two colleagues were crushed to death in the back of a truck. On the night of 3 April, members of the civil rights leader’s inner circle went to a public gathering at the Mason Temple. “He was reluctant to come to the meeting that night,” Jackson says. “He had a migraine headache, he didn’t feel like talking. Ralph Abernathy [a close friend of King] and I went to the church. The people saw us coming in: they were cheering.

“Then Ralph Abernathy said to me, ‘Jesse, they’re not cheering for us. They think Martin’s behind us.’ He laughed. He went to the back of the church and called Dr King on the phone. He said, ‘Martin, come to the church and let them see you.’ Dr King said, ‘I’ll be there in a few minutes,’ and he came. Then Ralph Abernathy gave him a rather long introduction to give him time to think.”

King went on to deliver a speech unbearable in its prescience. He described the “threats out there” and what fate might befall him at the hands of “some of our sick white brothers”. He said: “But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promised land.”

Jackson says: “There are those who think he was anticipating the next day. He had just come from a plane which had been emptied because of the threat of the plane being hit by a terrorist attack. He was aware but he felt that ‘a coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once’. He refused to be afraid because of the risk of ambush and sabotage; he refused to stop what he was doing out of fear because he did it out of courage.”

The next day, King was staying at his regular Memphis haunt, the Lorraine motel. It was 6pm and the group were preparing to head out for dinner. King was standing on the balcony outside room 306. As Jackson tells it: “He said, ‘You’re late for dinner You don’t even have on a shirt and tie.’ I said, ‘Doc, the prerequisite for eating is appetite, not a tie.’ He laughed and said, ‘You’re crazy.’ We joked around that way.”

King turned to Ben Branch, a saxophonist standing next to Jackson, and asked him to perform his favourite song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord, at a rally later that night: “Play it real pretty.” Then came the shot. King was hurled back violently, blood gushed from his jaw and neck as his spinal cord was severed. His tie was ripped off by the force of the bullet.

Jackson heard police shout, “Get low! Get low!”, and pour into the scene with guns drawn. He adds: “We were traumatised to see him lying there soaked in blood, 39 years old. He’d done so much to make America better, built bridges, sacrificed his livelihood, sacrificed his life. I remember Ralph Abernathy coming out and saying, ‘Get back my friend, my friend, don’t leave us now,’ but Dr King was dead on impact.”

Jackson walked to his room and called King’s wife, Coretta. “I said to her I think he’s been shot in the shoulder. I couldn’t say what I saw. She had a certain resolve, a certain understanding of the danger of the mission. She’d seen him stabbed, she’d heard the threats. She knew the price you paid for trying to make America better. She had made peace with the fact he could be killed, they both of them could be killed, the house could be bombed. She’d made peace with it over a 13-year period.”

King was taken to hospital but never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead about an hour after being shot. It was a seismic shock. “In many ways it redefined America: before and after Martin Luther King,” Jackson says, claiming: “When he was killed, the FBI in Atlanta jumped on the tables in jubilation.” But the news also unleashed fury across the country. Riots broke out in more than a hundred cities, leaving 39 people dead, more than 2,600 injured and 21,000 arrested, with damage estimated at $65m.

The civil rights movement was at a crossroads. Some African American leaders called for greater militancy; others vowed to adhere to King’s nonviolent confrontation and disruptive resistance. Jackson reflects: “We had to make a big decision: allow one bullet to kill a whole movement for which we worked and forfeit the game, or light even harder, and we did that. In his name we kept fighting. We’ve never stopped, as a matter of fact. He laid the groundwork. The coalition started rebuilding on the ground laid by his philosophy.”

There were many strides forward, school integration, affirmative action and bitter reversals, school resegregation, voter suppression, a shift from spending on poverty to mass incarceration along the way. He draws a biblical comparison: “Barack won the election in 2008. That’s 40 years after ’68, which means that it was 40 years in the wilderness. We never stopped working, never stopped raising issues, never stopped fighting poverty, never stopped fighting the war. And then, with the momentum of 40 years, we take the White House, win it twice in a row. That an African American man can win in this hostile nation toward black aspiration is significant all by itself, it seems to me.”

And yet then, as if in malign mockery of King’s now overly quoted phrase, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”, came Trump, who rose to political prominence by questioning whether Obama was born in America and has used the presidency to stoke racial divisions. The author and journalist Ta Nehisi Coates has called the 45th president a white supremacist.

Would Jackson use the same description? “Self declared. It’s not exactly a secret. Trump’s cabinet makeup, the decision makers: there is white male supremacy ideology. The dangerous part of the white supremacy is in a global world we need the desire and the vision to compete and communicate with the world. We’re surrendering world leadership. There’s no leadership on climate change, on African development. We share 2,000 miles of border with Mexico and they’re a trading partner; to offend Mexico is irrational; to offend Canada likewise.

“Dr King believed in multiracial, multicultural coalitions of conscience, not ethnic nationalism. He felt nationalism whether black, white or brown was narrowly conceived, given our global challenges. So having a multiracial setting said much about his vision of America and the world, what America should stand for as well as the world.”

It is this intemationalist, outward looking perspective that nourishes Jackson as he looks back on achievements of the past half century that his mentor would surely have applauded. He points to the restoration of Haiti’s exiled president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, the release of Nelson Mandela and end of apartheid in South Africa, the liberation of Africa from colonialism and occupation and, back home, the rising number of African Americans in Congress and other political offices.

“The moral arc of the universe is long and it bends towards justice but you have to pull it to bend; it doesn’t bend automatically,” Jackson muses. “Dr King used to remind us that every time the movement has a tailwind and goes forward, there are headwinds. Those who oppose change in some sense were re-energised by the Trump demagoguery. Dr King would have been disappointed by his victory but he would have been prepared for it psychologically. He would have said, ‘We must not surrender our spirits. We must use this not to surrender but fortify our faith and fight back?”

Martin Luther King, ]r.

I Have a Dream

Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table ofbrotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification”, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

How Australia ended up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television – Jason Wilson. 

Australia doesn’t need a Breitbart, our conservative media does the job just as well.
Australia’s ‘African gang crisis’ has been brewing for years.

How do you end up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television? To answer this question, you need to understand how a racially motivated moral panic has brewed in right-leaning media over months, and even years. You then need to see how such a panic is part of a political project, which includes state and federal politicians.
The panic over Sudanese immigrant gangs has reached fever pitch in this new year of 2018. Even though it’s rooted in selective distortions, both of crime rates, and the concept of a “gang”, it’s triggered a hasty policy response.

This month, it has dominated the news in Victoria to such an extent that it seems that premier, Daniel Andrews, is unable to talk about much else. After his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, inflamed the situation, the prime minister has recently chosen to weigh in on an issue which is clearly not on his constitutional patch.
But if the panic has only come into bloom in recent weeks, it has been nurtured like a delicate sapling for two years. This long-term effort has been made by the rightwing outlets that still dominate print and online media in Australia.

If you search Australia’s news archives, there are relatively few mentions of the “Apex gang”, a group which has increasingly come to stand in for the Sudanese-Australian community as a whole, before 2016. On 13 March that year, people identifying as members of the group were involved in a brawl in Melbourne’s CBD, during the Moomba Festival.

That led to an initial flurry of coverage. Some of this was in the Age, but the story was led by News Corp’s Melbourne tabloid, the Herald Sun, and the Australian edition of the Daily Mail, which presented the brawl in populist terms.
By 14 March, the Mail and the Hun had established the habit of referring to the young men in these groups as “thugs”, a term which has, in the USA, been described as a “nominally polite way of using the N-word”.

The same day, Andrew Bolt wrote in a column that “there seems almost a conspiracy to stop the public knowing that our refugee and immigration policies have become a threat, introducing new levels of violence and gun crime to our cities”.
This take was dutifully, and approvingly, reposted on several far right forums. That’s unsurprising – the idea that refugees are in themselves social poison, and that this is being covered up, is a central claim of the contemporary far right.

From this moment on, the “Apex gang” became a way for right-leaning media to establish a connection between crime, immigration, race, and even terrorism.
While Fairfax, the ABC and Guardian Australia gradually turned to other matters, rightwing outlets continued their focus on the gang over the succeeding two years.

According to Nexis searches, the Australian edition of the Daily Mail has published the largest number of articles on the “Apex gang”, with 344 in the last five years. But the Herald Sun is close on its heels with 320. Each have run more than four times the number of articles that the Age has run, with a mere 76. The Age only just beat out News Corp’s national daily, the Australian, with the quantity of its coverage.

Many of the Age’s articles came around specific incidents. But the combined News outlets and the Daily Mail kept things bubbling along even when there was little to write about.

News and MailOnline breathlessly reported run of the mill property crimes as the work of “Africans”. The Australian took the opportunity, to try to connect the Flinders Street car attack to Sudanese youth, as did Peta Credlin in News tabloids. Stories about ”African” crime persisted in the face of efforts by police to point out that the story had been blown out of proportion, and the refusal of local residents to say there was a problem.

On the other hand, the same outlets soft-soaped far right vigilantism when it emerged in 2016. When the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group, announced that they would be the patrolling Melbourne’s CBD, the Daily Mail ran their comments uncritically, including the idea that they were representing “old-school Aussie values”.

In a way, Channel Seven’s uncritical interview with Blair Cottrell was just following the precedent set in moments like this, and in the fawning coverage given to Milo Yiannopoulos late last year.

Rightwing politicians picked up this ball and ran as far and fast as they could with it. Their interventions show the symbiotic relationship between racial politics, ginned up in conservative newspapers, and conservative politics. Last November, federal liberal MP Jason Wood was calling for 16 year olds who had offended to be deported to their home countries. In December, Liberals worked hard to insert a discussion of Sudanese crime into a parliamentary committee report on immigration late last year. So the ground was well prepared for Peter Dutton to threaten deportation of young offenders, too.

This is all part of the normal, repetitive functioning of Australia’s conservative media and its conservative politics. The reason Australia has never given birth to a Breitbart-style far right outlet is that there is no niche for them to occupy. The country’s print media market is dominated by outlets whose politics – on immigration, culture wars, and the “war on terror” – are indistinguishable from websites that elsewhere, dwell on the margins.

So we shouldn’t be shocked when far right ideologues, whose views on immigration don’t really differ much from the conservative consensus in Australia, get on TV. Tabloids and mainstream politicians have worked long and hard to push ideas that, as a by-product, accord legitimacy to the far right. All sides benefit from a project that leads to heightened fear, demands for a crackdown, and political problems for a Labor government.

The reason that Channel Seven felt that Blair Cottrell’s views on Sudanese crime needed to be aired – despite his history of far right street activism, and his criminal history – is that by degrees, Australia’s right-leaning media have come to frame the issue in terms of reactionary populism for some years.

This is what they do.

The Guardian 

    How Black Businesses Helped Save the Civil Rights Movement – Louis Ferleger and Matthew Lavallee. 

    News that Montgomery police had arrested Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus spread quickly. Within twenty-four hours, leaders of the city’s black community called a meeting to propose a bus boycott. The next evening, leaders in the African American community gathered in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The leaders included small business owners, lawyers, clergy, teachers, postal workers and union leaders. Though all agreed on the necessity of a boycott, alternate transportation lingered as the final question of the meeting. The city’s relatively large network of black-owned taxi companies – eighteen companies operating approximately 210 cabs – provided the first solution. Each small taxi business eagerly offered its assistance, lowering its fares so that passengers paid the same as they would to ride the bus, lending critical tactical support to the early days of the boycott.

    But when city authorities learned that this network of small black-owned businesses was providing critical organizational support to the protest, the police began enforcing a minimum fare law, prohibiting the cabs from offering the same low fare as the busses. But this did not hinder the boycott in the way that white city leaders hoped because a volunteer carpool replaced the cheap taxi service. And with this solution, too, the assistance of the organizational network of small businesses proved vital. Black pharmacist Richard Harris worked tirelessly to orchestrate the carpool and offered his drugstore as a makeshift dispatch hub. Although city authorities prohibited one sector of small businesses from supporting the protest, another black-owned business filled the taxi companies’ void.

    The story of the Montgomery bus boycott usually focuses on two key figures: Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But without the development of car pools and the support of small businesses, the boycott could not have succeeded. These stories demonstrate that the support of small black-owned businesses helped the civil rights movement to succeed in a variety of ways. King, for example, traveled widely during the civil rights movement. One magazine estimated that King travelled nearly 780,000 miles per year in the late 1950s as he preached against segregation. Such wide travel would have necessitated considerable material support. Local businesses played a key role.

    In Mississippi, black business owners were also on the front lines, enduring pressure from the white community. In addition to preaching at four different congregations, Reverend George Lee ran a prosperous printing business and a grocery store, positioning him as a prominent leader in Belzoni, Mississippi’s black community. He was the first African American in Humphreys County to get his name on the voting list and organized the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the NAACP in 1953 along with his friend Gus Courts, another grocery store owner. Lee and Courts registered hundreds of black voters in a county where no black person had voted since Reconstruction. In 1955, after regularly receiving telephone threats that said, “You’re number one on a list of people we don’t need around here anymore,” Lee was shot and killed while returning from picking up his preaching suit at the dry cleaners. The investigating sheriff dismissed the death as merely an automobile accident and said the lead pellets lodged in what remained of his jaw were just dental fillings. Gus Courts then endured threats that wholesalers would not deliver goods to his grocery store and a local bank refused to do business with him unless he handed over NAACP records. But this did not deter Courts.

    Despite threats that he would face a similar fate as Lee, he continued to push for voter registration. In response, white-owned gas stations stopped selling gasoline to him. Recognizing the power of black-owned enterprise, Courts started pooling money within the black community so that it could purchase its own gas station. After refusing to remove his name from the voter registration list, Courts was shot twice while standing inside his store, but survived.

    Black small business-owner George Washington refused to stop supporting the civil rights movement, leading a local oil supplier to remove the pumps at his gasoline station and distributors to refuse to deliver groceries to his store. In retaliation, his property was bombed and police arrested Washington for “failing to report the bombing.” As in other states, Mississippi’s black community developed effective measures to counter such economic pressure thanks to the power of black-owned enterprise. In response to the economic reprisals conducted by the Citizens’ Councils, the national office of the NAACP established a war chest at the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Memphis. These funds could be lent to Mississippi activists to help evade the possibility of losing their homes, farms, or businesses.

    Amzie Moore, a World War II veteran, owned a gas station in Mississippi. He also endured frequent threats and a reporter in 1964 noted that Moore would receive three calls threatening his life in an evening. Moore developed a relationship with Bob Moses when Moses was recruiting SNCC volunteers from Mississippi. But Moore flipped the recruitment drive on its head. Moore felt that, while it was fine for SNCC to recruit young people from Mississippi as it was doing, it would be even better if SNCC sent students into Mississippi to register voters.

    Moore’s position in the community as the owner of a gas station also enabled him to assist with logistics, such as transportation for the volunteers. Moore even presented his proposal for SNCC students to assist voter registration to the SNCC conference and hosted meetings of leaders of the voter registration drive at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi.

    Histories of the civil rights movement that emphasize the glory and successes of charismatic leaders only tell part of the story. Small black-owned businesses were critical because they were empowered to engage in civic participation. These businesses were uniquely situated to support the civil rights movement and also parted the waters.

    Institute For New Economic Thinking 

    BEHIND THE MASK OF CHIVALRY. The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan – Nancy MaClean.

    “Back of the writhing, yelling, cruel-eyed demons who break, destroy, maim and lynch and burn at the stake is a knot, large or small, of normal human beings and these human beings at heart are desperately afraid of something.”  W. E. B. DuBois

    This book is about the most powerful movement of the far right that America has yet produced: the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.

    The story it tells is disturbing. For it has to explain, among other things, how it was that sane, ordinary men came to believe that Catholics were stockpiling weapons to take over the country, that a cabal of Jewish bankers controlled world affairs, and that white people must ready themselves for an imminent race war with people of color.

    By mid-decade, well over a million, perhaps as many as five million, white, native-born, Protestant men had paid their dues and pledged their loyalty to the order’s leaders and its program. The Ku Klux Klan of that decade recruited more members and amassed more power in communities throughout the United States than any Klan before or since.

    Since its first incarnation after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan has occupied an enduring place in American politics. Like the proverbial phoenix, the Klan has died in one setting, only to be reborn in another. The key themes of Duke’s recent campaigns in fact echoed the appeals of the second Klan: a form of populism that combined hostility to established élites with dedication to white supremacy, support for conservative family values, enthusiasm for “old-time religion,” and antipathy to welfare recipients, trade unionists, immigrants, liberals, and leftists.

    Understanding the drawing power of such themes in the past can help us see why they still pull in our own time.

    One has to give up the notion of the essential otherness of the kind of men attracted to it. In the 1920s at least, Klan members were not the deranged outcasts of popular imagination. A score of historians have now painstakingly researched the membership and activities of Klan chapters in localities across the nation. And they have found that most often the men who donned the order’s robes and assembled beneath its flaming crosses were, as one contemporary put it, “if not the ‘best people ,’ at least the next best . . . the good, solid middle -class citizens.

    Not only did the Klan draw from the broad middle of the nation’s class structure, but it most commonly mobilized support through campaigns waged on the prosaic theme of upholding community moral standards.

    Without attention to how notions of proper manhood, womanhood, and parenting infused Klan thought and action, no analysis would be complete. For the Klan’s conservative ideology was a deeply gendered phenomenon. Klansmen could not discuss issues of race, class, or state power apart from their understanding of manhood, womanhood, and sexual decorum.

    This fusion of private and public imparted to Klan prejudices much of their peculiar force. Yet, as the classic example of the plantation mistress and the female slave illustrates, and as black feminists have argued most eloquently, it is impossible to understand ideas about gender or the sexual politics they inform without attention to their class and race moorings.

    The Klan’s hostility to such things as teenage sexuality and birth control both emerged from and contributed to the racism, anti-Catholicism, and opposition to labor struggle it is conventionally and rightly known for.

    So many scholars of the second Klan seem to assume that church-going, civic minded middle-class men would never have espoused the views or conducted the deeds the Klan is commonly associated with.

    It was at once mainstream and extreme, hostile to big business and antagonistic to industrial unions, anti-élitist and hateful of blacks and immigrants, pro-law and order and prone to extralegal violence.

    This study aims to demonstrate the basic consistency of their motives and positions. The source of that consistency was a world view and politics best characterized, in my view, as reactionary populism. In it, the anti-élitism characteristic of populism joined with the commitment to enforce the subordination of whole groups of people.

    The appeal of this politics was rooted deep within American society and culture : in the legions of middle-class white men who felt trapped between capital and labor and in the political culture they inherited from their forebears.

    Fearful for the future, Klan leaders drew from the wellsprings of American politics to fashion an ideology that would enable them to hold on to their basic values, make sense of rapidly changing social relations, and fend off challenges to their power. They drew from classical liberalism their ideas about economics, and from republicanism their notions of citizenship and the commonwealth, in particular its long exclusion from the right to participate in political affairs of economic dependents, whether slaves, free women and children, or propertyless men.

    The synthesis Klan leaders fashioned extended and modified, but by no means contradicted, values widely held in American society. It proved compelling enough to attract millions.

    My emphasis is on how Klansmen understood their world, why they thought the way they did, and what moved them to action. Such an understanding can only be developed through a sustained examination of Klan ideology.

    This work employs a local case study to anchor its analysis of the Klan’s ideology and practice nationwide. The site of the study is Clarke County , Georgia, home of the University of Georgia and, in the 1920s, of Athens Klan Number 5. Once described by W. E. B. Du Bois as the “Invisible Empire State,” Georgia was the birthplace and national headquarters of the second Klan.

    In one respect the Athens Klan was unique in the South, and rare in the nation. Unlike most of their peers, its leaders failed to hide or destroy their chapter records. They left behind a rich cache of materials that found their way into the archives.

    If white Southerners’ racism was less unusual than most white Northerners like to admit, other aspects of Southern life at the turn of the century were distinctive: the prevalence of sharecropping, tenant farming, disfranchisement, and lynching, to name but the most obvious. These regional traditions influenced the Klan’s development in the South. Their sway was most obvious in Southern Klansmen’s more frequent indulgence in vigilante violence and in the tacit consent, if not outright support, that violence gained from regional élites.

    What proved most striking in the research for this study was less the differences between Southern Klansmen and their counterparts elsewhere than how much they all shared. The assumption of Southern distinctiveness with which the author embarked on this project gradually had to be shed in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.

    In their basic values, as in their targets, the area of agreement between Klansmen in different parts of the country proved wide. Where they diverged, the differences tended to be of degree, not character, or in focus or tactics, not principles. In key ways, in fact, like the election of the Southerner Woodrow Wilson to the presidency not long before, the Klan of this era was both effect and cause of the reconciliation of North and South.

    The expanding powers of the federal government and the changes in the structure of power at all levels of the state affected citizens in every area. The plight of agriculture in the 1920s ruined farmers in the Midwest and West as well as the South. The powerful image of the “New Negro” resonated among racists nationwide as Southern blacks moved north in record numbers, while Harlem’s radicalism filtered outward. And the youthful pioneers of modern morality drank, danced, drove, and necked from one end of the country to the other. So it is not surprising that white men around the country rallied to Klan appeals with common core elements.

    The goal of this study, then, is to situate Klan members in the world of their day, to take seriously what they did, and to listen carefully to what they said. In this way, we can learn a great deal about what made them tick.

    ***

    BEHIND THE MASK OF CHIVALRY. The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan – Nancy MaClean.

    get it at Amazon.com 

    Black Woman Can’t Stop Laughing When White Supremacist Finds Out He’s Part African – Daily Native News. 

    Nobody would be so dumb to be a supremacist battling against their own particular race, correct? Well the guy in the video thought the color of his skin is just enough to make him a white supremacist, but he was so wrong!

    Daily Native News

    New Zealand can stand up against racism – Dame Susan Devoy, NZ Race Relations Commissioner. 

    New Zealand can stand up against racism.

    Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has called on New Zealanders to stand up against racist taunts and attacks, drawing an apparent contrast with President Donald Trump’s America.

    “The world is at a crossroads when it comes to race relations. The way we treat each other will decide what path New Zealand goes down,” she said, marking Race Relations Day today.

    She said people from ethnic minorities reported an increase in the number of personal racist attacks in recent times, “in step with events taking place overseas”.

    “What we do now matters and that’s why we want people to be prepared to stand up for what they believe in. Whether we let our country become a place where abusing someone because of their race is normal or not, that part is up to us, all of us,” she said.

    “We want people to record attacks, to support people who are being attacked and to ensure attacks are reported.

    “When we see yet another racist attack on the news we need to ask ourselves: is this us? Is this the kind of country we want to be? If the answer is no, then we need to do something.

    “What we do today is our insurance policy for the future of our nation.

    “This year we are focused on encouraging New Zealanders to answer these two questions: what do you stand for? What do you stand against?”

    Race Relations Day marks the Sharpeville Massacre when 69 black South Africans, including 10 children, were shot to death by police for protesting against apartheid laws on March 21, 1960.

    A series of events in provincial and urban communities to celebrate Race Relations Day are being held throughout this month.

    The Human Rights Commission has produced a short video highlighting what people can do if they experience or witness a racist attack.

    Simon Collins, NZ Herald

    I’m a rabbi, and I’m applying for a German passport. Here’s why. 

    Why on earth would I want a German passport? My feelings about Germany were pretty negative for the best part of 50 years. Most of my mother’s family, from Heilbronn in southern Germany, perished. Some of my father’s family perished too, including his beloved grandmother.

    I have felt enormous admiration for Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her open arms to the refugees from Syria and elsewhere, which is in deep contrast to the meanness shown by our own government – with the enormous effort needed even to persuade it to take a few hundred children from Calais.
    Britain took 10,000 Kindertransport children before the second world war, and many others, my mother included. Why could we not do the same now?

    The Guardian 

    You have a special responsibility as a white person. – Michael Moore. 

    White people, no matter how painful, have a responsibility to reject anybody who stands in front of a camera who spews racism. Who spews sexism, misogyny. Who brags about being a sexual predator. I don’t care what your race is, but especially if you’re white. Because that means that you belong to the race that’s been in power forever.

    This a country that was founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves.

    So you have a special responsibility as a white person to always object to anybody who uses racism, who spews this hatred.

    And do not call yourself a Christian if you are not willing, literally, to put your body in front of whoever is coming to hurt the other — the people who are not you.

    Racism. The Growing Reality in Trump’s ‘Merica’. 

    The casual racism that has come to define modern-day conservatism shows no signs of abating. A West Virginia official, Clay County Development Corporation Director Pamela Taylor, just shared a racist message about First Lady Michelle Obama.

    “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels” she wrote on Facebook in a now-deleted message that has been replaced with a cursory and insincere apology.

    Beverly Whaling, the Mayor of Clay, responded to the post saying “Just made my day Pam.”

    A classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House? She talking about Melania? Don’t be ridiculous.


    Dutch MP Geert Wilders, just another scumbag, redneck wannabe. 

    “If you ask me whether this case is a political process that may have far-reaching consequences, not only in the Netherlands but the whole world, I would say so.” Paul Cliteur

    NZ Herald 

    Stand up to racism. Growing up Samoan in New Zealand and the racist microaggressions I’ve faced along the way. 

    bY 
    That’s Us

    Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops. 

    I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. ThatsUs 

    Zianna Oliphant’s emotional testimony to Charlotte City Council. 

    YouTube 

    Paris is opening a space for nudists because being naked is OK in France but wearing a burkini will get you arrested. 

    It will come as a kick in the teeth to the women who were forced out of their clothes across beaches by armed police in France this summer that a nudist park in Paris has been approved, because the rights of those who would rather eschew their clothes must be respected. The hypocrisy is absurd. The Independent 

    A Racist Liar for President?

    The big question going into the the first US presidential debate – an 90-minute encounter that had the power to decide the future of the world – was which Donald Trump would show up. 

    Would it be the subdued, disciplined candidate, seeking to prove his credentials for the highest office in the land, or would it be street fighter who brawled and bullied his way to victory in the Republican primaries?

    Within moments of the debate getting underway, it was clear it was the latter. 

    The Independent