Martin Luther King Jr Day, Trump style

Today we honor Martin Luther King Jr, yesterday we had this:

President Trump, on the defensive in the wake of recent disparaging comments about Haiti and African nations that have revived questions about whether the leader of the world’s melting pot is a racist, declared Sunday that he is not one.
‘‘No, No. I’m not a racist,’’ Trump told reporters who asked for his response to those who think he is a racist. ‘‘I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.’’

But today is not the day to remember that we have a racist, sexist, xenophobe for a President. It’s a day to remember MLK and not only the warm fuzzy King of “I have a dream” but the one who agitated, the one who campaigned against the Vietnam war, the one whose last campaign was on behalf of a union. So some quotes:

  • We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that it signed years ago. And we are coming to engage in dramatic nonviolent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment; to make the invisible visible.
    Why do we do it this way? We do it this way because it is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.
  • In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, “Now you are free,” but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town. You don’t give him any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet again in life.
    Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply said, “You’re free,” and it left him there penniless, illiterate, not knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.
    But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
    We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.
  • A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
  • Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
  • You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

Nixon and the Vietnam War

This has been known for a while:

Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative.

So now it’s proven. And shades of President Obama and the Russian hacks:

Johnson’s closest aides urged him to unmask Nixon’s actions. But on a Nov. 4 conference call, they concluded that they could not go public because, among other factors, they lacked the “absolute proof,” as Defense Secretary Clark Clifford put it, of Nixon’s direct involvement.

Oh, for all those ‘Democrats are the real racists’:

They contain other gems, like Haldeman’s notations of a promise, made by Nixon to Southern Republicans, that he would retreat on civil rights and “lay off pro-Negro crap” if elected president.

Racism strikes back

So, here’s Steve King:

“This whole business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes interjected.

“Than—than western civilization itself that’s rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of western civilization.”

Gee, Steve, language almost definitely started in Africa, writing is thought to have originated in Sumer (that’s in the Middle East), and agriculture also is thought to have first originated in the Middle East. Those are the bases for all civilization and none originated in Europe, which is why civilization itself is thought to have first originated in the Middle East.

This is about as racist a comment as it gets.

Math and the American Heritage Education Foundation

Like everyone else, I get a lot of spam in my email boxes. Sometimes they can be fun. Case in point:

Dear Teachers and Citizens,
A unique Social Studies/U.S. History reference text book is now available!
The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) announces a new resource/text that reveals the connection between America’s historical founding ideas and the Bible..
The Miracle of America: The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief
By Angela E. Kamrath, American Heritage Education Foundation
This would be the group that wrote a history book for Houston strongly based on a work by W. Cleon Skousen, a far right crazy in the mold of the John Birch Society (for example, he believed Eisenhower was a Communist dupe).
It seems their mailing list is about as accurate as their history: they send an email about a high school history book to a college math teacher. Hey, maybe I’ll use it for a probability course?

Kent State

46 years ago today, four students were killed at Kent State University. In commemoration, here’s Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young:

I really wanted to put up the version by Devo, but I can’t seem to find one. The history of the band (two of the band members were at Kent State at the time and one knew two of those who were killed–it’s basically why the band was formed) makes the song a bit more powerful. Here’s a different song by them that gives a bit of the same feeling:

Hmm, something seems to be missing

So there is now scientific evidence that there was genocide (via here) in the Americas:

The first largescale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonisation on the Indigenous American populations of the time.

Led by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), the researchers have reconstructed a genetic history of Indigenous American populations by looking directly into the DNA of 92 pre-Columbian mummies and skeletons, between 500 and 8600 years old.

Published today in Science Advances, the study reveals a striking absence of the pre-Columbian genetic lineages in modern Indigenous Americans; showing extinction of these lineages with the arrival of the Spaniards.

“Surprisingly, none of the genetic lineages we found in almost 100 ancient humans were present, or showed evidence of descendants, in today’s Indigenous populations,” says joint lead author Dr Bastien Llamas, Senior Research Associate with ACAD. “This separation appears to have been established as early as 9000 years ago and was completely unexpected, so we examined many demographic scenarios to try and explain the pattern.”

“The only scenario that fit our observations was that shortly after the initial colonisation, populations were established that subsequently stayed geographically isolated from one another, and that a major portion of these populations later became extinct following European contact. This closely matches the historical reports of a major demographic collapse immediately after the Spaniards arrived in the late 1400s.”

Now, what happened?

The indigenous people would go on to become great civilizations like the Aztecs, Inca and Maya, as well as countless other small tribes. The arrival of the first European explorers, however, brought new diseases such as smallpox, typhus and the flu, which they had never been exposed to. After the epidemics had finished their deadly rampage, the number of indigenous people was reduced to a mere handful. Those who survived were quickly absorbed into European bloodlines.

So, they weren’t killed by Europeans? It was all the diseases? The writers must be conservatives.

Clinton apologizes for saying Reagan had some good points

As is typical, Hillary Clinton said some nice things about Nancy Reagan but she went too far and had to apologize:

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s,” Mrs. Clinton, who was attending Mrs. Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley, Calif., told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it.”

Mrs. Clinton wasted little time apologizing.

“While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on H.I.V. and AIDS,” she said in a statement about two hours after her interview had been shown on MSNBC. “For that, I’m sorry.”

As the article notes, the Reagan administration was horrible on AIDs. This will probably hurt her a bit, but it might be good for Democrats since it will remind people that the favorite president of almost all Republicans was nowhere to be found when the US faced one of the worst public health disasters of recent times. In fact, the President’s press secretary literally laughed at questions about it.

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