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Watch: Melissa Harris-Perry Slams Mississippi Gov. For Signing Anti-Gay Law

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My husband and I love the weekends. It gives us a chance to relax and reconnect, to build traditions and to return all that stuff to Macy’s we bought for our new home. (OK, maybe we don’t love that part.) We love sleeping late, taking the dogs for a walk and grabbing breakfast from the amazing Leo’s Bagels. And then we love watching Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC.

MHP writes an open letter every Saturday, usually slamming someone for something awful they did. But, being a college professor in her non-MSNBC time, she teaches he readers why what the  subject of her open letter did was so wrong.

Here’s Melissa’s letter to Mississippi‘s Governor Phil Bryant, who, as regular New Civil Rights Movement readers know, last week was all too quick to sign an anti-LGBT, pro-discrimination bill into law. And then Governor Bryant hightailed it over to hate group leader Tony Perkins‘ radio show (Perkins was on stage at the bill signing, so they probably drove over to the radio station together) to mischaracterize and brag about the bill.

MHP calls this, “A letter to Phil Bryant about putting rights in God’s hands.”

Below, text and video via MSNBC:

http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_mhp_11letter_140405

Dear Gov. Bryant,

It’s me, Melissa.

You signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday, and here’s what you said about the new law: that it will “protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference.”

Now, I’ve got to hand it to your party’s lawmakers, governor. They were able to avoid a national firestorm by making their bill’s language even more vague than that of the Arizona bill. All the new Mississippi law says is that persons can use their religious beliefs to challenge or defend themselves against state law. It does not define “person,” which the Arizona bill did, to include businesses. And it does not define the “exercise of religion” beyond the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

An earlier version of the bill – which died in the outcry over Arizona – had defined religious exercise to include the refusal to act in a manner that conflicts with one’s beliefs. Like, say, refusing to take wedding photos for a gay couple. So the whitewashing of the language was enough to placate the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce, which had originally opposed the bill. It passed this Tuesday.

But we see you, governor!

The ACLU says the bill will still open the door for individuals and businesses to use claims of religious freedom to discriminate. And we only have to look to Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, who was at your side during the private bill signing, to get a clear example of just who the law will protect. Like, as Perkins said, quote,

“…a wedding vendor, whose orthodox Christian faith will not allow her to affirm same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Yeah, we can see you, governor.

It’s not like the people of Mississippi are under the thumb of onerous state laws that protect LGBT people. Same-sex marriage is banned in Mississippi by constitutional amendment. You can’t even have a wedding for a vendor to refuse to work!

And you can already be discriminated against for your sexual orientation in Mississippi. You can be fired or not hired just for being gay. You can be denied housing. So, governor, what you did was make it even easier than it already was to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians. To deny them services available to everyone else. Basically, you gave bigots yet another avenue to dehumanize their LGBT neighbors.

That’s not all the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does. It also adds the words “In God We Trust” to the official state seal, something that was such a legislative priority for you that you made special reference to it in your January State of the State address:

“With your help, the seal of the State of Mississippi will, from this session forward, reflect the simple yet profound words ‘In God We Trust’.”

Governor, you made it a priority to add a few words to the state seal. A priority for Mississippi, where more than one in five people live in poverty, more than any other state in the country. The state where more people struggle to afford food than in any other. The state with the shortest life expectancy and the highest infant mortality rate. The state with the second-lowest high school graduation rate and the lowest math and reading scores of any state.

“In God We Trust.” But that goes both ways, governor. The way God works – at least in the Christian tradition, which you and 84% of Mississippians follow – the way God works is throughhis followers. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.

So when you put Mississippi in God’s hands, governor – you gotta hold up your end of the bargain.

Sincerely,
Melissa

One quick note: Melissa says the the Mississippi bill varies from the Arizona bill in part because it ors not classify corporations as people. But as Zack Ford reported, Mississippi law already does that, so there was no need to repeat that language. In short, the bill is more like Arizona than many believed.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

The ‘White Power Movement’ Is Ramping Up Its Attacks on Energy Infrastructure – Anti-Terrorism Expert Explains Why

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Professor, historian and author Kathleen Belew, one of the United States’ top experts on white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism, has often stressed that violent, racially motivated attacks shouldn’t be viewed as isolated incidents, but as part of a broader movement. And when Belew made a Monday night, February 6 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” she explained how a Maryland woman’s alleged role in a plot to attack five energy substations in the Baltimore area fits into the overall “white power” game plan.

Earlier in the day, law enforcement officials had announced the arrest of Maryland resident Sarah Beth Clendaniel, who, they allege, conspired with fellow white supremacist Brandon Russell in that plot. Clendaniel and Russell, according to officials, hoped to completely disable energy infrastructure in Baltimore and deprive the city of electricity for an extended period of time.

During her conversation with Maddow, Belew emphasized that this was not an isolated incident. White supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, according to the professor, are targeting energy infrastructure in general — not just in Baltimore, Maryland.

READ MORE: Why the power grid is an ‘attractive target’ for domestic terrorists and white supremacists: report

Belew, author of the 2019 book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” told Maddow, “The electrical part may be new, but infrastructure attacks by this movement are not new. This is a strategy that was pioneered by a group called The Order in 1983…. Infrastructure attacks are one kind of violence among several others that are all laid out in a strategy in common in order to bring about what the movement seeks, which is the overthrow of the United States and the creation of a white ethno-state — mass violence against communities of color and even genocide against non-white peoples.”

According to Belew — who teaches at Northwestern University in the Chicago suburbs — attacks on energy infrastructure and the January 6, 2021 insurrection are both part of the “white power” game plan.

Belew told Maddow, “Infrastructure attacks sit next to a show of forced violence like the January 6 attack on the Capitol and mass casualty violence like the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these exist together within one broad ideology in the white power movement.”

READ MORE: Terrorism expert explains why the Great Replacement theory is so central to white racist ideology

Watch the full video at this link.

Image via Wikimedia and a Creative Commons license

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COMMENTARY

Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

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For decades White House press secretaries, military officers, and reporters have used the words “tick-tock” to denote an overview of a conversation, or a chronological telling of a series of events – and not the now-popular Chinese app “TikTok,” which some allege has major national security implications.

And yet, the far-right-wing website Daily Caller, a veteran Fox News host, and many others on the social media site Twitter attacked Karine Jean-Pierre Monday afternoon, after the White House Press Secretary told the press: “I know there was a tick-tock that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything broke down for the past week.”

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin mocked The Daily Caller, (which was founded by Tucker Carlson,) for getting something so basic so wrong.

READ MORE: Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

Longtime journalist Keith Olberman blasted several people on Twitter who assumed the worst, including veteran Fox News reporter David Asman.

He didn’t stop there.

 

 

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News

House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers

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The U.S. House Committee on Ethics has begun questioning staffers for embattled Rep. George Santos, who on Friday was accused of sexual harassment and improper hiring practice by a prospective aide the New York Republican interviewed and hired.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, reporting the committee’s questioning, calls it “a sign that the committee is looking into some of the allegations against Santos, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a formal investigation has been launched yet.”

“It is unclear what exactly the committee asked these staffers about, but multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Santos,” Zanona adds.

READ MORE: Watch: Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against George Santos After GOP Leadership Calls It an ‘Internal’ Matter

Most recently, a prospective staffer filed a complaint that the congressman made an unwanted sexual advance.

Two New York Democrats last month also filed an ethics complaint against Santos over his financial disclosure reporting.

 

 

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