Monday, August 14, 2017


By Cash Michaels

TRAGIC NATION - On occasion, I appear on the statewide public affairs program,
“NC Spin,” produced and hosted by Tom Campbell, a fine man. Among the guests Tom always 
has on “…to get the correct spin,” is conservative John Hood, formerly of the right-wing John 
Locke Foundation. He does write a column for the Carolina Journal online. John is smart, and 
isn’t out on the fringes like so many of his conservative brethren. He likes movies, and is a prolific author.
In short, John may be a conservative, but he does employ common sense more times than not.
So last weekend after the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, I saw a Facebook post
that John authored that left an impression:
The populism, racism, and bigotry inherent in the “alt-right” movement and its more radical 
sympathizers do not reflect the principles of the modern conservative movement, and in fact are antithetical 
to those principles. Conservative leaders should explicitly and repeatedly condemn them. To the extent that 
the Republican Party represents the political aspirations of most modern conservatives in America, GOP 
politicians have a responsibility to do the same — to explicitly repudiate alt-right personalities, institutions, 
and ideas. They should make it clear that they do not want the votes of the David Dukes and Richard Spencers
of the world. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, most did some version of this, more or less effectively.
In his initial response, Donald Trump did not. This was, at the very least, gross incompetence or cowardice on 
the part of the president and his team. That's why they are attracting so much criticism across the board. 
When Bernie Sanders, of all people, does a better job of explicitly distancing himself from the violent acts of 
someone who purports to agree with him, there ought to be a lesson here for conservatives and Republicans 
who want their movements and policies to survive and thrive. 
I appreciated those words from John, but I noticed one thing that was glaringly missing, so I responded.
John, there is only one thing I can add to your otherwise excellent analysis, and you may choose to 
disagree, but this has been my experience and observation - conservatives and Republicans may not care for 
white supremacists and alt-right crowd, but they have conveniently turned the other way, or hidden behind these
 folks when it suited their purposes. Only when something like the Charleston Church massacre, or Charlottesville
happens, do conservatives and Republicans feel the coast is clear for them to condemn abhorrent racism that is quite apparent to the rest of us. The fact that it took the murders of nine black church members, including the pastor, to finally remove what had become a symbol of racial hatred from the SC capitol, tells you how convenient it was for Republican politicians to rest on their laurels about the issue, not wanting to proactively do anything until it became too politically untenable.When people like Trump publicly assaulted the American citizenship of the nation's first black president, people like Speaker Boehner stood by and allowed it to happen for political advantage, instead of standing up for American values and denouncing such hurtful nonsense. As an African-American, these incidents of convenient outrage further deaden me to what investment I have in this nation, or it's promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I don't see brave champions of American promise, but crass opportunists jockeying for power at all costs. Oh yes, this is where that old song about "well it happens on all sides" chimes in. Of course all, or even most Democrats or liberals are not sinless when it comes to the issue of race and justice. Even a cursory look at history tells us that. But given the primary behaviors of those currently in power when it comes to voting rights, redistricting, and overall social justice, the Republican Party has made it very clear that my citizenship and well-being take an extreme back seat to its aspirations of political dominance. So, in closing, John, the question must be asked....will it take another tragic day in America, where a young white woman gave her life for an America she deeply believed in, amid scenes of Americans at a most uncivil war, for conservatives and Republicans to once again gather the GUTS and COURAGE to act like Americans, and denounce pure NAZI hate and bigotry?        Because if we have to wait THAT long.........
Of course, several of John’s right-wing Facebook friends didn’t like my response, and said so.
And the beat goes on…..

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

The searing images of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists battling on the streets of Charlottesville, Va. 
with counter-protesters last Saturday, culminating in the tragic murder of a young white woman when a car
driven by an alleged Nazi sympathizer slammed into an unsuspecting crowd, are still in the minds and hearts
of most African-Americans almost a week later.
“The hate and violence we’ve witnessed in Virginia is reprehensible and has no place in our society,” said
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-12-NC). “As a nation, we are better than this. It’s time we come together to stand up and boldly stamp out bigotry and hate.” 
Rep. Adams was joined in her expression of concern about the racist violence in Charlottesville by some of her North Carolina Republican colleagues, representatives Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, and Sen. Thom Tillis.
The hate, bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville is despicable and represents the complete opposite of what America stands for,” Sen Tillis tweeted Sunday.
But some black religious and social justice leaders, like Bishop William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, say statements of racist outrage from Republican leaders about Charlottesville ring hollow when the policies of these same NC GOP congresspeople against the interests of African-Americans are taken into account.
  To say you are against white supremacy without standing up against the policies that embolden white supremacist reeks of a terrible ignorance or deliberate hypocrisy,” Bishop Barber said in an interview.
“[Republican leaders] and others oppose the white supremacy in Charlottesville. OK, we all do. But here is the test - will they call for [White House presidential adviser Stephen] Bannon and alt-right policies to be removed from their agenda? Will they fully reinstate the Voting Rights Act to stop racist voter suppression and gerrymandering? Will they acknowledge the racist voters suppression in 2016 and join [the US Supreme Court] to condemn racist gerrymandering? Will they stop the racist attacks on immigrants? Will they challenge and stop [US Attorney General Jeff Sessions]  from ending affirmative action? Will they increase and call for support of federal investigation of unarmed blacks killed by police? Will they repent from how silent they were when Trump used birtherism [against Pres. Obama] to rally white supremacists for his campaign?”
Wilmington native Rev. Kojo Nantambu says the racial violence the world saw in Charlottesville on Saturday was something the country has been slowly moving towards ever since Dr. King’s death,
and could certainly happen here in North Carolina. White militia groups have been stocking up on weapons, preparing for a race war, especially after the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.
The only reason they hadn’t emerged until now, Rev. Nantambu contends, is because the Obama Justice Dept. had clamped down on them during his eight years in office. But now that Donald Trump is 
president, the white supremacist movement is beginning to rebound.
What Nantambu rails against most is the difference in how black demonstrators and white protesters are traditionally treated by police. As seen on Saturday in Charlottesville, where law enforcement did little to stop gun-wielding white neo-Nazis from parading their weapons in public (Virginia is an open carry state, but since most of those “Unite the Right” demonstrators were from out-of-state, if they brandished a gun, they were
breaking federal law for illegally transporting firearms across state lines). The neo-Nazis were able too push and shove police officers without incident, a stark difference from Ferguson, Mo. three years earlier where police confronted black demonstrators with tanks and high-powered weapons.
In Charlottesville Friday night, white supremacists even threatened a black church where ministers and counter-protesters were rallying in peace. Again, police did nothing to protect the churchgoers.
“So yes, this is going to get worse, even here in Wilmington,” Rev. Nantambu said.
Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, has indeed seen Neo-Nazi and KKK violence before, right here in North Carolina. 
On Nov. 3, 1979, five protesters in an anti-Klu Klux Klan march and rally were fatally shot by KKK and neo-Nazis. Rev. Johnson was the leader of that rally, and was arrested by police, who curiously were nowhere to be found once the shooting occurred. It was later determined that the white supremacists went to rally with the soul intention to kill, and yet, after two trials, none of them were ever convicted.
Now, 38 years later, Rev. Johnson looked back, knowing full well, that the “atmosphere” is ripe, for more 
racist violence like was seen in Charlottesville, and Greensboro.
“Everything that happened in Charlottesville is relevant, and North Carolina should be paying attention to all of it,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. Johnson went on to say that there are “political and economic forces that have been out of kilter” for many years, resulting in both whites and blacks to suffer accordingly. But while there are many whites who have struggled and are struggling economically - the very group that powered Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory -  there is little question that African-Americans have suffered more, and continue to do so.
Rev. Johnson believes that both groups are being manipulated to turn against each other by politicians and the wealthy, with poor whites being made to believe that African-Americans are to blame for their economic struggles.
“The fact that we are manipulated against each other is rooted in white supremacy itself,” Johnson maintains,  adding that the solution lies in “raising people’s moral and ethical understanding” about how they are being exploited by the institutional “undergirding economic forces.”
Rev. Johnson noted that beyond the documented fact that white supremacists went to both Charlottesville and Greensboro with violent intentions, another similarity was how public officials in Greensboro, and President. Trump after Charlottesville, all tried to equivocate that everyone involved was responsible for the fatal outcomes.
Veteran civil rights leader Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem agrees with Bishop Barber that denouncing extremist racists is easy for Republican lawmakers, but taking stock of the cultural and institutional racism that laces their public policy when it comes to voter suppression, redistricting, LGBTQ rights or helping poor communities of color achieve equal opportunity, is something they’re not willing to acknowledge.
“A lot of people will jump on [what happened Saturday] because they think that’s what racism is…extremism, the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, etc. But they reject or deny everyday racism that goes on in subtle ways in public policy.”
Rev. Mendez agrees that it is not a stretch to conceive of the  same events in Charlottesville happening here. The election of President. Donald Trump to office has exacerbated growing racial and political divisions that can only fuel even more confrontations if strong, moral leadership does not rise to the occasion.
“It’s a national atmosphere now,’ he said. “What happened Saturday was a strategic run, a test …to see if 
[white racist violence] could fly.”
Rev. Mendez added that unlike Ferguson, Missouri, where local police “attacked” protesters after the police
shooting of Michael Brown, police in Charlottesville were noticeably restrained against the neo-Nazis and other 
white supremacists.
Religious and social justice leaders say in light of Charlottesville, and what they say is Pres. Trump’s lack of moral leadership, there must be a coming together of people from all corners to help save this nation.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist activity across the nation,
there are numerous Klan and neo-Nazi groups headquartered in North Carolina, particularly in the western part of the state.
On Monday evening in Durham, anti-racist demonstrators pulled down a confederate statue that previously stood in front of the old Durham County Courthouse, and took turns stomping it. Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted in response, saying, “the racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments."
By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

According to reliable legislative sources, after the Special Session reconvenes Friday, preliminary redistricting maps may be completed then (or by Monday), with public hearings tentatively scheduled to take place either Tuesday, August 22nd or Wednesday, August 23rd in six to eight locations across the state. Depending on the location, various state lawmakers are expected to be present at those hearings.
Then on Thursday, August 24th and Friday, August 25th, there will be committee votes on the new maps. Floor
votes the following week (of August 28th) in both the state House and Senate are scheduled, with each voting to approve their respective redistricting maps, and then ratifying the other chamber’s version. That is the tentative schedule, with all relevant materials submitted to the three-judge federal court panel that ordered them submitted by Sept. 1st for judicial review.
Given the criteria adopted by the Republican-led Joint Redistricting Committee on August 10th, the 
new voting districts - to be drawn to remedy the 28 of 170 districts that were determined by the federal court 
to be illegal racial gerrymanders in the 2011 redistricting plan - will use the population figures from the 2010
US Census, employing the data from each legislative district to make them as equal numerically as possible, within
+ /or - five-percent deviation, as required by federal law.
The legislative districts will also comply with county boundaries as much as possible, maintaining county
groupings and not crossing county lines unless permitted by previous case law.
Using 2010 Census data and respecting county lines was all Republicans and Democrats could agree on
during the four-and a-half-hour session. The other seven voting map criteria were adopted amid fierce partisan debate, including criteria allowing for use of previous election data, split precincts and protection of sitting incumbents who were ironically elected from illegal districts in the first place. Democrats argued that ultimately, their views and concerns about the process weren’t being fairly considered at all.
What seems evident is that there may also be “double-bunking,” where some districts are redrawn in a manner forcing two current incumbents in separate districts to suddenly be redrawn into the same district, having to compete against each other for reelection. Democrats fear Republican leaders may use this redistricting tactic to punish the minority party.
Of particular concern was the Republican requirement that race not be used as a factor in redrawing the new
maps at all. This was a complete about-face from how the GOP “stacked -and-packed” black Democratic voters into
as few legislative districts as possible per the 2011 maps for the expressed purpose, according to the three-judge federal panel with concurrence from the US Supreme Court, to insure that they had as little influence as possible on surrounding legislative races between white Democrats and Republicans.
The court ruled that race was the predominate, illegal reason why those 28 districts were drawn. But now, Republicans were swinging the other way, saying that race, which legally can be a contributing factor in drawing maps, not the main factor, would not be used at all. For many current black elected lawmakers, all Democrat, that meant the percentage of black constituents in their respective districts could be reduced. There was also concern about the 1965 Voting Rights Act being violated, thus forcing the federal court to ultimately throw out the new maps, and further delaying the redistricting remedying process.
“We live in the South,” said state Sen. Paul Lowe Jr. (D-Forsyth). “When, in the South, has race not been a factor?”
“You’re still short-changing a group of people when you don’t consider us,” lamented veteran lawmaker Rep. H.M.“Mickey” Michaux, Jr. “The districts were declared unconstitutional because of race. If you don't use race to correct it, how are you going to show the court that they're not still unconstitutional?"
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chair of the House Select Committee on Redistricting who oversaw the 2011 redistricting maps, ignored Michaux’s reasoning, replying that he would not respond.
Legislative sources say leaders in the state’s African-American community should pay very close attention at how the new maps are drawn, given that race has now been totally divorced from the proceedings.
At the end of the long session, Democrats found little comfort in the outcome. They found even less comfort in knowing that the same Republican mapmaker responsible for drawing the 2011 voting districts found to be illegal because of  racial gerrymandering, Thomas Hofeller, has been rehired at $50,000 to redraw his original work.
So far, the GOP strategy has been to delay as long as possible to protect their veto proof majority,”wrote political analyst Thomas Mills in his online PoliticsNC column recently. “Maybe drawing maps under criteria that might not pass muster is part of that strategy. Either they get maps that will heavily favor Republicans again or they can draw out the suit over the next election cycle, keeping the current districts intact. Seems that’s a bad bet, but who knows?”


[PELHAM] The Grand Dragon for the Loyal Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said in a voicemail to a 
local television station Monday that he was “glad” a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman was killed Saturday when 
a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Grand Dragon Justin Moore said,  “I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died. They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all. I think we're going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events.” Moore and his group were in Charlottesville last Saturday along with several other white supremacists. “We should have been able to go out there and have our protest and it should have been peaceful but it's the anti-fascist and the communists...continuing to try and stop us,” he continued. “So I think there will be more violence like this in the future to come.” Moore also later praised the alleged killer police have arrested for the murder in a recorded message at his headquarters.

[RALEIGH]  Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources to determine what the costs would be
to remove confederate statues from state property. In a public message, Cooper advocated removing the historic monuments, and also wants a 2013 law passed by the Republican-led legislature protecting them repealed, saying  that cities and counties across the state should have the authority to remove them if they wish.

[DURHAM] Takiyah Thompson, a member of the Workers World Party, was arrested Tuesday a day after she
and an estimated 100 demonstrators pulled a confederate statue in front of the old Durham County Courthouse. Thompson allegedly climbed the ladder to put the rope around the statue to allow others to pull it down. Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews vows that everyone involved in destroying the statue were on videotape, and would be apprehended. “No one is getting away with what happened,” he said.



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