Connect with us

What 2009 Taught Me About 2010

Published

on

How To Make Good Use Of A Bad Year And A Bad Decade

It seems appropriate that 2009 would be a terrible year, to top off a terrible decade. Eight years of George W. Bush & Co. ensured much of the first decade of the twenty-first century would be terrible, but I don’t think many foresaw just how bad it was going to get  – and that’s lesson number one.

We pay our leaders in large part, not to “predict” the future, but to see the potential pitfalls and to steer us clear from them. And yet, time and again our leaders croaked, “No one could have predicted…”

At the start of this year, commenting on an interview former Vice President Cheney gave, Jon Perr in “Cheney Defends the “Nobody Could’ve Predicted” President,” summed Bush & Co. up nicely:

“Cheney deflected blame for the calamity on Wall Street and the deepening recession by declaring, “nobody anywhere was smart enough to figure that out” and “I don’t know that anybody did.” Then, Cheney magically converted failure into a virtue and ignorance into a shield in explaining away the Bush presidency:

“No, obviously, I wouldn’t have predicted that. On the other hand I wouldn’t have predicted 9/11, the global war on terror, the need to simultaneous run military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq or the near collapse of the financial system on a global basis, not just the U.S.”

At every turn, of course, voices both inside and outside the government warned a Bush administration asleep at the switch.”

Yes, many had warned Bush all along the way of what could happen. But he ignored them all, and the world in which we live today is the result of his ignorance and denial.

As I said, we pay our leaders to see the potential pitfalls and to steer us clear from them. The trick is in finding the right leaders, leaders who have enough wisdom and insight to look into the future and steer the ship of state through the right waters – not necessarily the calmest – but the right waters.

As a community, we haven’t done a very good job of this. The LGBTQ community is about as diverse and fractured as any group out there today. As a result, we suffer infighting, lack of an agreed common purpose – heck, we can’t even agree on what to call ourselves, much less what our priorities are. Leadership? That’s a far-off dream. What we need right now, more than anything, is a uniter – someone who can harness the best of who we are and enable us to meet to achieve some shared goals.

We don’t have that in HRC, the Task Force, the ACLU, or even our grassroots organizations. As much as the National Equality March in D.C. literally brought together thousands of people from our community, it was equally in effective in pushing members of our community apart.

And so 2009, despite our wins, was also a year of great loss. We won marriage in Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and just recently, Washington, D.C. And we lost marriage in California (Prop 8 supreme court decision,) Maine (repeal of marriage law,) New York (38-24 Senate vote,) New Jersey (decision to not vote.) By my count, that’s five wins and four losses. As much as it feels like at least we had a stellar year in marriage, we really didn’t.

Did we at least win hearts and minds? Well, it feels like we did, a little, but the numbers say, not really. And, certainly, not enough.

However you slice it, we still have a lot of work to do to win hearts and minds – and that’s lesson number three.

Elsewhere, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act finally was signed into law. Sadly, just two weeks later, the murder and decapitation of a Puerto Rican teenager, whose Governor refused to label a hate crime demonstrated clearly the need for the law.

Passage of ENDA, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, along with repeal of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” appear stalled. Nancy Pelosi has declared there will be no “controversial” legislation taken up by the Houise in 2010, so seeing these pillars of modern gay rights goals stalled is at best, disheartening.

The Democratic Party is not our friend. Not by my definition of what a friend is. At best, we can call the Democratic Party a “fair-weather friend” – there when they need us, not there when we need them. And right now, we need them and they’re not answering the phone.

This is lesson number three – know who our friends are, and reward them appropriately.

Obviously, lesson number four is the opposite: know who our enemies are. Let’s just call them Maggie & Co. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM,) along with those hate icons (that blogger Joe.My.God lets you vote for the worst!) like Matt Barber and Peter LaBarbera, along with Tony Perkins. And so many more. Like the C Street crowd. And Rick Warren.

The point here is we need to stand vigilant and ready to counter all their lies, hate, and misinformation. This is critical, and I have dedicated myself to this task. I hope you’ll join me this coming year in confronting their attacks.

So, what did 2009 teach us for 2010?

  • Look to the past while protecting the future. There will be many more attacks against us and the narrow victories we have achieved. We need to never say, “No one could have predicted.” Someone always predicts. We need to listen and be ready to take action.
  • Choose the right leaders and work toward uniting along common goals and issues.
  • Keep fighting to win hearts and minds – regardless of how hard it gets.
  • Identify and support our true friends.
  • Identify, stay vigilant, and battle our enemies to protect our rights, our reputation, and our future.

Stay safe, have a Happy New Year, prepare, prepare, prepare.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

Published

on

Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

Continue Reading

OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Published

on

A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

Continue Reading

OPINION

Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

Published

on

Once again the Trump campaign is claiming massive attendance at his latest rally, and once again internet users are making a mockery of those claims – as a local ABC reporter reveals a few facts about attendance and the attendees.

“Trump vows to ‘save’ deep-blue New York City in massive, historic Bronx rally,” Fox News‘s Brandon Gillespie, Paul Steinhauser, and Michael Ruiz reported Thursday evening. “25,000 supporters of the former president descended on Crotona Park, Trump’s campaign said.”

The Associated Press offered a different take.

“Former President Donald Trump campaigned Thursday in one of the most Democratic counties in the nation, holding a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo minority voters days before a Manhattan jury will begin deliberations on whether to convict him of felony charges in his criminal hush money trial.”

ABC 7 New York’s Jim Dolan, reporting from the Trump rally in the South Bronx Thursday, served up a reality check (video below).

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Donald Trump can now say he held a rally in the South Bronx, home to immigrants and minority communities, and that it was well attended. It’s just not clear that the people who attended were from the Bronx. The campaign controlled who got in and the campaign of course, picked only supporters,” Dolan revealed. “Trump’s motorcade arrived in Crotona Park tonight. The crowd surged to get a look at him, more like a pop star than a politician. Not everyone wants a pop star for President.”

One person in the park told ABC 7, Trump is “a big fat bigot. And he just doesn’t have any love in his heart, for anyone, anyone of color. Anyone who’s in the LGBTQ plus community.”

Another called Trump, “a crook, a liar, and he tries to make money off people. And that’s what he’s doing right now,” and claimed the attendees are “all from out of state.”

“Go out there and look at all them cars that are parked and check where they came from? Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas.”

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who represents the South Bronx, was also at the park and told ABC 7, “If you did a poll about who’s more popular, Donald Trump or lead paint. I suspect lead is more popular than Donald Trump in the Bronx.”

READ MORE: ‘Not an Accident’: Trump’s ‘Unified Reich’ Video Alarms Historians and Fascism Experts

Congressman Torres also posted this commentary to social media:

The Trump campaign’s claim of 25,000 in attendance was belied by ABC 7’s aerial photography (screenshot, above), which was from Dolan’s report:

Meanwhile, some internet users had a good time mocking the Trump campaign’s claims by posting images clearly not of Trump’s Bronx rally.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.