awareness among Americans of the injustice that exists into the very
corners of the nation’s structure has been growing at a steady
pace since the most recent civil rights movement of the 1950s and
1960s, but police shootings of black men and boys in recent years has
again kicked that awareness into high gear.
latest manifestation of the fight for justice has been the refusal of
professional football players to stand while the national anthem is
played before the game. It’s more than just a player or two.
Now, whole teams and, really, the National Football League (NFL) have
begun to participate in one, silent and profoundly effective protest
that something is wrong. As is usually the case, there is not
unanimity on how that should be done.
from the response to the NFL’s “taking a knee” in
protest of the shootings of black motorists and others, as well as
the rantings of the president and political campaigns involving
scofflaws like Roy Moore in Alabama, the nation appears to be openly
splitting down the middle, like the popular vote in the Trump-Clinton
a recent poll taken by the Cato Institute shows that 61 percent of
the American people believe that football players who do not stand
for the national anthem should not be fired or otherwise punished for
expressing their political opinions. This is in direct contrast to
what Donald Trump, the president, believes: That any player who
doesn’t stand for the national anthem should be fired. “Fire
the son of a bitch,” he said on national television. Most of
the people don’t agree and it’s not by a slim margin.
to the Cato poll, only 38 percent agree with the orange wizard in the
Oval Office. That is not enough support to carry him very far. That
percentage is likely his base and, if they knew on what principles
the U.S.A. was founded that base would be a lot smaller. But they
don’t seem to know much more about the founding principles than
he does, that this is a nation of laws, not men, and that the First
Amendment is one of the foundation blocks of the nation.
has the instincts of an autocrat and he would love to rule as an
autocrat more than he loves himself, but that’s not what a
president is allowed to do. There are processes and procedures,
there are laws, there is that little thing called the separation of
powers in the U.S Constitution. He doesn’t realize that. He
would like to rule as a monarch. What angers him most is not getting
his way on much of anything. “Fire them all” would be
his answer to any problem he perceives he has, just like his reality
he has been attempting to do is fix the nation as if he is back on
the small screen and he’s the boss. He isn’t there yet,
but he daily tries to set up the national government so that it
functions like a reality show. So, he spends his time poking the
dictator of North Korea in the eye with a sharp stick, just to get a
rise out of him and he rules by “tweets,” which require
little thought and even less action, and…he plays golf.
he were just gambling with his own life, that would be one thing, but
he is bringing the world dangerously close to World War III and this
war would be worse than the two previous world wars put together. It
matters not to him and no one in his administration can convince him
to keep his mouth shut or tape his thumbs to his hands.
smart, intelligent, historically-aware chief executive would have let
the simple and peaceful protest of football players take its course
and, when it was done, more people would be aware of the rampant
abuse of black and other minority Americans by law enforcement.
Trump is none of those things. For once, it would have been good for
him to acknowledge the idea that Black Lives Matter is a natural
extension of the civil rights movements of the previous centuries.
He has, instead, gone along with the charge that BLM adherents and
supporters are terrorists, as described by the worst of his
supporters, among them white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
violence against blacks and other minorities is not the only problem
that faces the nation, but it is one that can bring into sharp focus
the problems we all face in trying to unify the country (as in
united, or “United States of America) and make the benefits of
a free nation available to everyone, regardless of race, color,
creed, national origin, or sexual orientation.
egregious wound in the body politic is the disparity in poverty
between white and black children. The Economic Policy Institute
(EPI) recently quoted the U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers on
income, poverty, and access to health care (insurance). The bureau
reported that there had been a slight decline in the national poverty
rate, from 14.7 percent in 2015, to 14.0 percent in 2016.
the rub: One-third of black and Native American children still live
in poverty. For black children, the racial difference is stark.
“Native American, African American, and Hispanic children
continue to face the highest poverty rates, all hovering around 30
percent. Despite a small increase in Native American median household
income over the year, 1 in 3 Native American children were in poverty
in 2016—completely unchanged from 2015.” The child
poverty rate for these two groups is three times greater than the
poverty rate for white children.
you heard much about the poverty rate among black and other minority
children? Most people have not. It’s not of interest to the
mass media and it surely is not of interest to Trump, Republicans,
and most politicians, in general. That goes for both major parties,
since the Democrats don’t get off the hook so easily either.
Because those children, urban and rural, are the ones suffering and
they are in desperate need of a good start in life, politicians at
every level should be falling over themselves to make it a major
issue in a campaign near you.
they are interested in trying to perpetrate one of the worst excuses
on the planet for a “universal” health care program. The
Republican-inspired plan that just failed to make it to a vote in
Congress turned out to be worse than the previous GOP plan, which
even made Obamacare look somewhat useful. Fortunately, this latest
atrocity is dead for another year, but be sure that they’ll try
again. They need this plan to facilitate their gift to the richest
Americans in the form of yet another tax break. Meanwhile, the
children are in poverty and seem destined to stay there.
EPI reported: “Childhood poverty declines when working parents
are able to find quality jobs with a decent wage and benefits
including child care and paid family leave. While the federal minimum
wage sits at $7.25, many states and localities have increased
their minimum wages, which helps lift working families out of
report also noted that government programs, such as Social Security,
Medicaid, food stamps, low-income earner tax credits and many other
programs are “directly responsible” for keeping tens of
millions out of poverty. The very Republicans who are more
interested in the NFL protest and in perpetrating a fraudulent health
care “system” are the ones who are trying to gut the
programs that help keep food on the tables of many children.
major party has lifted a finger to create real and sustainable jobs
programs for the poorest of Americans. Government programs to
provide those jobs need to be brought to the places where the poor
children and their families live. There was once a program for
community development that did just that. It brought money into the
neighborhoods for infrastructure improvements and housing, and it
worked. Jobs were created and neighborhoods were reclaimed and whole
cities were saved from decline. Right-wingers claimed that it was
“throwing money at the problem,” but the grants from the
feds were made to local governments and the evidence of the program’s
effectiveness was visible. That could happen again.
that program was an outcome of President Lyndon Johnson’s War
on Poverty, and there hasn’t been much mentioned about poverty
or a plan to eradicate it from either major party through the
intervening years. We have unacceptable poverty among our children
and the answer is for some brave soul in the swamp of politics to
propose another “War on Poverty,” but this time with
thing that could provide enough funding to take such a program to
every poor community in the nation: Instead of giving the War
Department and weapons manufacturers another $100 billion in the next
budget ($600 billion a year was already obscene), put that money into
all the places where our children are left out of nearly everything.
That kind of money works.
the past few years, Black Lives Matter has started the conversation
about race and the racism that has existed for many generations.
There has been some progress, but it is slow in coming to fruition.
The “take a knee” protest is pushing the conversation,
but there is a yawning gap in the effort to bring the nation
together, just as there is a yawning gap in the wealth and income
between the top 10 percent and the other 90 percent.
first gap or divide can be bridged by a never-ending effort on the
part of the people, who can accomplish that through education and
good will, even though the U.S. has a president who cares nothing
about bridging that divide and wouldn’t be inclined to do
anything about it, even if he understood that it exists. The other
gap, connected to the first, is something that can be solved by
political and governmental action. It just takes will power. And,
remember a great man, a prisoner and a politician, Nelson Mandela,
said: Poverty is not an accident.