Annus Horribilis: The Queen Got 2017 Right 25 Years Ago
One could credibly have the impression that the Queen twenty-five years ago could have been talking about 2017 as it too is ending with a certain air of bleakness and uncertainty.Â
The November 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States set off reverberations globally across more than just the political spectrum. At home in the United States, Trump has given way to influencing, indeed, even affirming those segments of the American populace prone to racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic behavioursâ€”encouraging them to publicly utter horrid things and take ugly actions not so nakedly displayed in decades.
â€œAnnus horribilisâ€ means “horrible yearâ€ in Latin. The world got to know the phrase 25 years ago when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II used it during her televised speech marking the 40th anniversary of her Accession to the throne. At the time most assumed she was really referring to the embarrassing public divorce and ensuing scandals between her son Prince Charles and the British publicâ€™s beloved Princess Diana.
â€œ1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,â€ said the Queen with a look of pure authenticity. â€œIn the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’ I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.â€
The Washington Postâ€™s Eugene Robinson nails down the sentiment it seems most felt about this past year: â€œMany of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldnâ€™t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.â€Â
There has been a never-ending parade roll-backs, repeals, or undoings of federal regulatory oversight and previous presidential executive actions. According to Rolling Stone magazineâ€™s Tessa Stuart, â€œThe decision[s] were motivated by the fact that Trump didn’t want anything â€“ no matter how popular or uncontroversial â€“ going through if it was endorsed by President Obama.â€ Â
In yet just another of an ongoing number of unpresidential examples, Trump seemingly embraced Neo-Nazis and white supremacists after the Charlottesville, Virginia â€œalt-rightâ€ march this past August.Â
â€œWhat about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?â€ Trump said speaking to reporters in New York on August 15. â€œDo they have any semblance of guilt?â€
â€œIâ€™ve condemned neo-Nazis. Iâ€™ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,â€ he said.
â€œYou had many people in that group other than Neo-Nazis and white nationalists,â€ Trump insisted. â€œThe press has treated them absolutely unfairly.â€
â€œYou also had some very fine people on both sides,â€ he said.
More recently though, just three days before Christmas a 17-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed the parents of his 16-year-old girlfriend in their Reston, Virginia home. Scott Fricker, and Buckley Kuhn-Fricker had forbidden their daughter to see him after they discovered a Twitter account linked to the teen. The teen retweeted tweets praising Hitler, made derogatory comments about Jews, called for â€œwhite revolution,â€ and showed an image of a man hanging from a noose beneath a slur for gays, among other objectionable content, The Washington Post reported.
Weeks before according to the Post, the boyâ€™s neighbors had been distressed to find a 40-foot wide Nazi swastika mowed into a community field with a trail leading back to the home he shared with his parents. Apparently, no actions were taken as Fairfax County Police told local reporters they were not made aware of that incident.
Was this somehow Trump-inspired owing to his refusal to condemn the vitriolic statements and discriminatory behaviors expressed by his neo-Nazi and white supremacist supporters or was this an isolated incident?
Then there have been Trumpâ€™s never ending barrage of tweets, falsehoods, and attacks on the press, private citizens, and even the government itself including those institutions and agencies who are at the very heart of protecting citizens, in particular the FBI. In many ways what exacerbates these issues are the fact that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, along with other administration officials, have launched a vigorous defense of Trump, with Sanders oft times openly engaging in a patronising way with the White House press corps and often repeating the fabricated stories from her boss.
Defying the naysayers, the critics, and the facts Trump himself tweeted, “So many things accomplished by the Trump Administration, perhaps more than any other President in first year. Sadly, will never be reported correctly by the Fake News Media!”Â
There has not been a segment of the American populace left unaffected by Trump and his policies. For minority communities and marginalised groups the effect has been more damaging.Â
For the LGBTQI community, this past year under Trump was fraught with emotion from theÂ move to ban trans service in the U.S. Armed Services, to his elimination and erasure of an LGBTQI presence on the White House website as well as across the federal government. 2017 ended with his firing the entire HIV/AIDS presidential advisory group.
But the year ended up being a mixed bag, too. While thereâ€™s not enough space in one article to list all the yearâ€™s noteworthy LGBTQI news, hereâ€™s a roundup of some of the yearâ€™s biggest stories via NBC OUT:
HISTORIC POLITICAL WINS
From Virginiaâ€™s House of Delegates to Seattleâ€™s Office of the Mayor, LGBTQ Americans scored historic victories across the U.S. this year.
The yearâ€™s most notable win is perhaps that of Virginiaâ€™s Danica Roem, whose victory over 11-term anti-LGBT Republican incumbent Bob Marshall will make her the first openly transgender person to be seated in a U.S. state legislature when she takes office in January.
From the bathroom to the battlefield, 2017 has seen a series of attempts to roll back the rights of transgender people.
In February, just one month after President Trump took office, his administration formally rescinded Obama-era guidance that helped protect the right of transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
In a series of unexpected early morning tweets in July, President Trump attempted to reverse U.S. policy by announcing the military would â€œnot accept or allowâ€ transgender people to serve â€œin any capacity.â€ The tweets left the nation in shock and thousands of currently serving transgender people in the dark. The social media posts also set off months of lawsuits and court cases, but after four federal judges blocked Trumpâ€™s attempted ban, trans people should be able to enlist in the military starting Jan. 1.
In October, the Department of Justice, led by Trump appointee Jeff Sessions, released a memo asserting that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. The memo refers specifically to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The memo directly contradicts a 2014 memo issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which made explicit the DOJ’s position that Title VII does protect trans employees.
The number of hate crimes committed in the U.S. rose 5 percent in 2016, compared to the year before, according to data gathered from local law enforcement agencies by the FBI. The data, which was released in November, found an increase in hate crimes against the LGBTQÂ community in 2016 compared to the previous year. Of the 7,615 known hate crime victims, 1,255 of them were targeted due to sexual-orientation bias, accounting for nearly one in sixÂ hate crime victims. The number of victims targeted due anti-transgender bias also increased â€” from 76 in 2015 to 111 in 2016.
2017 however matched the previous year, especially in the murders of trans persons, more often trans women of color. Twenty-seven homicides of transgender Americans have been reported in 2017, matching the total for 2016, which was the deadliest year on record for trans Americans.Â The numbers in fact may be higher according to the U.S. Justice Department, which notes that the differences in reporting and methodology by American law enforcement agencies can affect the actual number.Â
President Donald Trump has made considerable progress in reshaping the federal courts. After inheriting 120 federal judicial vacancies, Trump has made 59 appointments to fill the seats, and the Senate has so far approved 18 of them.
LGBTQ advocates have raised concerns over his appointees. Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights group, said roughly one third of Trumpâ€™s judicial picks have anti-LGBTQ records.
â€œThis burden will be hitting the people who need the protection of the courts the most,â€ Sharon McGowan, director of strategy at Lambda Legal told NBC News. â€œAs unpopular as this president is, he has the opportunity to install over 100 federal judges who will serve the rest of their lives.â€
There is, of course, more.
Another impacted group has been the immigrant community, with the greatest negative affects on the Dreamers.
â€˜Dreamersâ€™ have grown up in this country and consider themselves to be American, but lack the documents to fully participate in society, which â€“Â in some cases â€“Â means that they are unable to pursue college or university or enlist into the U.S. Armed Services. In many other cases it means they labor at jobs under the table or on a daily cash basis. After numerous attempts to pass the legislation even with nearly 70% of Americans in support, in 2012 then U.S. President Barack Obama announced a temporary program that allowed Dreamers to come forward, pass a criminal background check, payÂ hundreds of dollars, and apply for work permits. The program is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA for short.
In September of last year, an Executive Action by President Trump effectually squashed those hopes. Now, nearly two months after Trump officially rescinded the program and essentially dumped the burden of passing DACA legislation in the laps of the Republican majority-led Congress, there appears to be little in the way of substantive action regarding the decidedly needed legislation.Â
Congress recessed for the holidays and after passing a massive tax bill cutting taxes especially for the rich, but took no action on DACA.
Politics over this past year has also turned more toxic and polarized than ever before seen in the political spectrum, as Claire Galofaro, a senior political reporter from the Associated Press wrote. Of the president’s base the AP noted, â€œThe allegiance of Trump’s supporters is as emotional as it is economic. Heâ€™s punching at all the people who let them down for so long: ‘Heâ€™s already done enough to get my vote again, without a doubt,’â€ one person said.Â
It means God, guns, patriotism, saying â€œMerry Christmasâ€ and not Happy Holidays. It means validation of their indignation about a changing nation: gay marriage and immigration and factories moving overseas. It means tearing down the political system that neglected them again and again in favor of the big cities that feel a world away.
On those counts, they believe Trump has delivered, even if his promised blue-collar renaissance has not yet materialized. Heâ€™s punching at all the people who let them down for so long â€” the presidential embodiment of their own discontent.
Lecia Brooks, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Director of Outreach said, â€œItâ€™s been an awful year with this administration pushing back on human/civil rights across the board It is disconcerting & frightening.â€ She noted that there have been bright spots such as the Womanâ€™s March and Movement coupled with the MeToo movement, thereâ€™s still been harshness as seen by the circumstances leading to the death of peace-activist Heather D. Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
Brooks also pointed out that there continues to be a resurgence in resistance and activism, citing the example of the contentious and highly controversial Alabama special senatorial race where the Black women voters â€œsaved the day, despite efforts to repress their vote. People get to a point that enough is enough.â€
The other overriding concerns of not only the SPLC but other civil rights advocates is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions turning back the clock on mass incarceration and sentencing guidelines.
â€œSession would have us return to the Trump law and order campaign theme,â€ Brooks said. â€œWorse though is also the fascist style ICE round ups on Immigration Sessions and his DOJ is literally moving immigrants to rural areas in an effort disappear them before families realize and then deport them.â€
But she adds that some of the events of 2017, for the first time has made it possible that maybe a real conversation about racism in the United States will be addressed.Â
There are no easy answers but Brooks is hopeful that a people movement will spur on the resistance to Trump, Sessions, and those who would hinder racial equality, LGBTQI equality, and human rights.
Other major stories that affected the American nation in 2017 also included:Â
Greater Tensions with North Korea
The Massacres in Las Vegas and Texas
The Devastating Hurricane Season
One take away as 2017 ends, said one political pundit, is that at least with 2018 there will be a chance to redeem the failures of the administration and to put the brakes on further erosion of a functioning people oriented not corporately oriented government as the resistance grows in opposition to Trump and the GOP led Congress.
Reporting by Brody Levesque for NCRM, NBC News, CBS News, Agency France Presse, Associated Press & the New York and Los Angeles Times
Brody LevesqueÂ is the Chief Political Correspondent forÂ The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody atÂ Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com
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Image by Michael Vadon via Flickr and a CC license
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‘Restore My Account Immediately’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Cries After Twitter Suspends Her Over Anti-Trans Tweets
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is lashing out at Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk after the social media company, she says, suspended her official government account for seven days for posting apparently anti-transgender tweets. At least four of her tweets appear to have been deleted.
Rep. Greene appears to have been promoting an unverified claim that “Antifa” and transgender activists are planning a “Trans Day of Vengeance.” Fox News is also claiming there is a “Trans Day of Vengeance,” and a website the report links to says it will be on April 1.
“My Congressional account was suspended for 7 days for exposing Antifa, who are organizing a call for violence called ‘Trans Day of Vengeance.’ The day after the mass murder of children by a trans shooter. Restore my account immediately,” Greene demanded, tagging Musk, Twitter Safety, and the head of Twitter Safety, Ella Irwin.
There is no evidence that “Antifa” which is not an actual group, has anything to do with the alleged Trans Day of Vengeance.
The Independent adds Greene made “unfounded” claims “about the Nashville school shooting being a product of ‘Antifa’ and ‘trans-terrorism.'”
According to The Hill, Congresswoman Greene tweeted a poster of the alleged event, and Twitter removed the post, so she repeatedly reposted it, only to have Twitter remove it.
This is a lie.
My Congressional account was suspended for 7 days for exposing Antifa, who are organizing a call for violence called “Trans Day of Vengeance.”
The day after the mass murder of children by a trans shooter.
Restore my account immediately. @elonmusk @ellagirwin… https://t.co/p9XZLtuuDF pic.twitter.com/svViCYUyhm
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) March 28, 2023
Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, tweeted: “We had to automatically sweep our platform and remove >5000 tweets /retweets of this poster. We do not support tweets that incite violence irrespective of who posts them. ‘Vengeance’ does not imply peaceful protest. Organizing or support for peaceful protests is ok.”
On her personal Twitter account, Greene also promoted a similar, baseless claim:
“In the wake of a transgender shooter targeting a Christian school and murdering kids, every American should know the threat of Antifa driven trans-terrorism. Twitter should not whitewash the incitement of politically motivated violence,” she said, pointing to another of her tweets that had been removed.
Greene on Monday made anti-trans remarks in the wake of the the Nashville shooting.
“How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking? Everyone can stop blaming guns now,” she said.
Currently, numerous right-wing and far-right wing Twitter accounts are linking the alleged Trans Day of Vengeance to Monday’s horrific Covenant Presbyterian elementary school shooting in Nashville, where three nine-year olds and three adults were shot to death. The shooter allegedly identified as transgender, according to Nashville police.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Troubling Questions’: Experts Slam Ginni Thomas’ Group That Waged Cultural War Against the Left via Web of Dark Money Orgs
Legal experts are responding to bombshell reporting from The Washington Post revealing Ginni Thomas, the spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, for years headed a secretive right-wing activist organization funded through a web of dark money groups, whose purpose was to wage a culture war against the left.
The Post reports the organization, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, took in nearly $600,000 in anonymous funds to fuel its efforts to battle “cultural Marxism,” as Ginni Thomas, who headed the group, called their mission.
Thomas had stepped away from her previous non-profit right-wing activist group “amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court,” The Post says, and yet, she led Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, which creates the same concerns. Where is the money coming from? What is the group doing with it? How much crossover is there between her activism and the group’s targets and efforts, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ work?
According to The Post, in tax filings of its think tank sponsor, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty is described as an “informal, unincorporated nonprofit association which serves as an incubator for ideas across a network of conservative leaders, cultural entrepreneurs, and cultural influences.”
READ MORE: ‘Heist’: Ginni Thomas Tells J6 Committee Election Was Stolen, Says She Never Discussed Efforts to Overturn With Spouse
It appears great efforts were made to ensure the donors to Thomas’ Crowdsourcers group would not be able to be publicly identified.
“In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes,” The Post explains.
Thomas, who is reportedly active in another secretive far-right wing group, the Council for National Policy, brought two well-known far-right wing activists from CNP into Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty: former Trump attorney, ally, and advisor Cleta Mitchell, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
The New York Times last year described the Council for National Policy as an organization that “brings together old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.”
But despite all the obvious red flags, an attorney for Ginni Thomas, Mark Paoletta, told The Washington Post she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas ‘Intertwined’ With ‘Vast’ Campaign Pressuring Supreme Court to Overturn Roe: Report
“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta also told The Post.
“There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas,” he claimed.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is also an attorney, responded to The Post’s report by mocking Paoletta’s claim there is no conflict of interest.
“Donors Trust was central to the far-right Court-packing operation, and now they pass secret donor funds to a justice’s spouse, but ‘no plausible conflict of interest’? Please.”
Sen. Whitehouse went on to explain his additional concerns.
“Plus, remember that the secrecy conduits like Donors Trust keep the *public* from knowing what’s happening, but nothing prevents the secret donor from telling the spouse or the justice, ‘Hey, that money that secretly came through to you — that’s me.'”
Adam Smith, Vice President for Democracy Initiatives at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), observed: “Seems like the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice shouldn’t be able to hide the source of huge donations that could be from people with business before the court.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas’ Attempts to Influence Overturn of Election Even Wider Than Previously Known
CREW’s President, Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor, adds: “Hundreds of thousands in anonymous donations to an activist group led by Ginni Thomas, spouse of a Supreme Court justice, raises all kinds of troubling questions about who could be influencing decisions that affect all of us.”
Attorney and Slate Magazine senior writer covering courts and the law, Mark Joseph Stern, pushed back against any idea the nearly $600,000 funding came from small donations.
“Ginni Thomas’ various political ventures have never had any small/grassroots donors. They have ALWAYS been funded by a handful of ultra-wealthy individuals and organizations who are very obviously trying to curry favor with her husband,” Stern said.
Former White House aide and CNN commentator Keith Boykin, also an attorney, called for Justice Thomas to recuse from certain cases: “If Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had to recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, then Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from all the cases on right-wing issues in which his activist wife, Ginni Thomas, is involved.”
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Christian Nationalist Group Working to Get Its ‘Biblical Worldview Spread Across the Nation’
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation prohibiting transgender people from using public school facilities that match their gender identity. That legislation was crafted by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a right-wing organization that seeks to elect “godly leaders in our nation at every level” and then use them to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation.”
Following the signing of this legislation into law, Jason Rapert, a longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist who founded the NACL, took a victory lap, crediting his organization for the law and celebrating its success in pushing back “against the things of the devil in our country.”
As Rapert reported, this legislation had first been proposed by Arkansas school board member David Naylor during an annual NACL meeting and then brought to the Arkansas state legislature by state Rep. Mary Bentley, who serves on the board of the NACL.
On Friday, Rapert interviewed Bentley on his “Save The Nation” program, where she celebrated the NACL’s efforts “to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
“Thank goodness we’ve got some common sense left here in Arkansas,” Bentley said. “[It was because of the NACL] that we were able to get that passed as model policy and bring it forth. I just love seeing grassroots come together and school board members coming to the capitol and going to the governor’s desk and just seeing it all work and flow just exactly how we want to. So, for the folks that are supporting NACL and what we’re doing, this is what we want to do across the country.”
“This is an example of the power of the NACL’s ability with model legislation,” Rapert replied. “This was brought by one of our members, and this policy actually could be immediately adopted by school boards in every school district across this country. If the school board wanted to adopt it, this is the model that they can utilize. And in addition to that, just like you did, go and pass it for the state so that this is going to apply to all the school boards in your state.”
Rapert and Bentley agreed that Arkansas has now blazed the trail on this issue, thereby making it easier for legislatures in other states to enact the same law.
“That’s what happens when you can be a leader,” Bentley asserted. “Once you make a trail, it’s a lot easier for people to follow once you get that trail made.”
“Thank you again for being a part of the NACL,” Bentley declared. “It’s just what we need in this nation right now to have it moving forward, to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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