EUGENE ROBINSON IN WASHPOST: The Master Of Racial Identity Politics & His GOP Stooges!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/president-trump-is-the-master-of-abhorrent-identity-politics/2017/11/02/e675bca8-c003-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.47797a94c8ea

Robinson writes:

“By now it should be clear that racism is a feature of the Trump administration, not a bug.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s hideous rewriting of Civil War history is merely the latest evidence. Can anyone really believe “the lack of an ability to compromise” caused that bloody war? Is it possible to become a four-star Marine general without knowing that the Constitution itself was structured around a compromise on slavery? Or that the first half of the 19th century saw a series of equally immoral compromises that let slavery continue?

How can a man whose son died in service of his country believe that “men . . . of good faith” is an acceptable description of military officers who committed treason and took up arms against the United States, as did Robert E. Lee and the rest of the Confederate generals? Do people of good faith hold others in cruel bondage, buy and sell them like chattel and forcibly compel their unpaid labor?

Kelly buys into the racist, revisionist, dripping-with-Spanish-moss version of history that white Southerners concocted as they were imposing the system of Jim Crow repression. Anyone ignorant enough to believe the war was about anything other than slavery should read the declarations issued by the Confederate states upon secession. Here is a quote from Mississippi’s proclamation, which is vile but at least forthright:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Those who profited handsomely from slavery — including the growing financial markets of Wall Street and the bustling textile mills of New England — knew full well that it was wrong. They just didn’t want to give it up.

Kelly’s “good faith” historical claptrap would be bad enough in a vacuum. But it alarmingly echoes President Trump’s “many sides” analysis of the Charlottesville incident — and continues a tone that Trump set at the outset of his campaign, when he vilified Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists.

. . . .

When Trump miscalibrates and strays into explicit racism, as he did in the case of Charlottesville, there are expressions of shock and horror from fellow Republicans and even members of his Cabinet. But nobody renounces him, except senators who are about to retire. Nobody quits his administration on principle. Trump’s enablers meekly go back to the all-important business of cutting rich people’s taxes.

Making whites feel embattled and aggrieved is central to the Trump presidency. It is what makes him different from all other recent presidents, perhaps going back as far as Woodrow Wilson, who imposed Jim Crow segregation on the federal workforce. It is what makes Trump so corrosive to the national fabric.

There is one master practitioner of identity politics in the United States today. Shamefully, he lives in the White House.”

*****************************************

Read Robinson’s entire op-ed at the link.

Yup! Hard to add much to this analysis! Kelly’s perverted account of the Civil War (although depressing) is not particularly surprising when you remember that this is a guy who bought into the Trump-Gonzo-Miller-Bannon racist and bogus “overrun by the immigrant hordes and Muslim terrorists” fear-mongering hook, line, and sinker, with no apparent reflection on its demonstrable falsity or stupidity.

PWS

11-05-17

THOMAS B. EDSALL IN THE NYT: DEMOCRACY SOWING THE SEEDS FOR ITS OWN (AND OUR) DESTRUCTION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/democracy-populism-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20171023&nl=upshot&nl_art=5&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Edsall writes:

“Will President Trump’s assault on the norms underpinning constitutional democracy permanently alter American political life?

On a daily basis, Trump tests the willingness of the public to accept a president who lies as a matter of routine. So far, Trump has persuaded a large swath of America to swallow what he feeds them.

. . . .

As Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the author of “Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy,” warns in The New York Review of Books:

Liberal democracies are better equipped than authoritarian states to grapple with the inevitable conflicts that arise in diverse societies, including the threat of terrorist violence. But they also contain the seeds of their own destruction: if they fail to deal with these challenges and allow xenophobic populists to hijack the public debate, then the votes of frustrated and disaffected citizens will increasingly go to the anti-immigrant right, societies will become less open, nativist parties will grow more powerful, and racist rhetoric that promotes a narrow and exclusionary sense of national identity will be legitimized.

The threat to democracy posed by the current outbreak of populist nationalism has become a matter of concern for both scholars and ordinary citizens. The central topic at a conference at Yale earlier this month was “How Do Democracies Fall Apart,” and the subject will be taken up again in November at a Stanford conference called “Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?

I contacted several of the participants at the Yale gathering and was struck by their anxiety over the future prospects of democratic governance.

One of the most insightful was Adam Przeworski, a political scientist at N.Y.U., who has written, but not yet published, his own analysis of current events under the title “What’s Happening.”

First and foremost, Przeworski stresses,

there is nothing “undemocratic” about the electoral victory of Donald Trump or the rise of anti-establishment parties in Europe.

These parties and candidates, he points out:

Do not advocate replacing elections by some other way of selecting rulers. They are ugly — most people view racism and xenophobia as ugly — but these parties do campaign under the slogan of returning to ‘the people’ the power usurped by elites, which they see as strengthening democracy. In the words of a Trump advertisement, “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.”

In support of Przeworski’s argument, it is clear that the success of the Trump campaign in winning the Republican nomination was the result of a classic democratic insurgency: the Republican electorate’s rejection of its party’s establishment.

The danger in the United States, in Przeworski’s view, is the possibility that the Trump administration will use the power of the presidency to undermine the procedures and institutions essential to the operation of democracy:

That the incumbent administration would intimidate hostile media and create a propaganda machine of its own, that it would politicize the security agencies, that it would harass political opponents, that it would use state power to reward sympathetic private firms, that it would selectively enforce laws, that it would provoke foreign conflicts to monger fear, that it would rig elections.

Przeworski believes that

such a scenario would not be unprecedented. The United States has a long history of waves of political repression: the “Red Scare” of 1917-20, the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, the McCarthy period, the Nixon presidency.

Along similar lines, Anna Grzymala-Busse, a political scientist at Stanford, replied by email to my inquiry:

My big worry is not simply that formal institutions have been eroded, but that the informal norms that underpin them are even more important and even more fragile. Norms of transparency, conflict of interest, civil discourse, respect for the opposition and freedom of the press, and equal treatment of citizens are all consistently undermined, and without these the formal institutions become brittle.

Trump, in Grzymala-Busse’s assessment, “articulates a classic populist message that we see in Europe: the elite establishment is a collusive cartel uninterested in the problems of ‘the people,’” and, she continued, he has begun to follow the path of European populist leaders:

Much of Trump’s language and actions are also familiar: there is a standard authoritarian populist template, developed in Hungary and faithfully followed in Poland and in Turkey: first, go after the courts, then the media, then the civil society, churches, universities.

The attacks on the courts, media and universities

are not simply the ravings of a lunatic, but an established strategy for undermining democratic oversight and discrediting the opposition.

. . . .

Paul Waldman, writing in The Washington Post on Oct, 17, summed up Trump’s approach to veracity and to reality itself:

Trump takes his own particular combination of ignorance, bluster and malice, and sets it off like a nuclear bomb of misinformation. The fallout spreads throughout the country, and no volume of corrections and fact checks can stop it. It wasn’t even part of a thought-out strategy, just a loathsome impulse that found its way out of the president’s mouth to spread far and wide.

Trump’s recklessness is disturbing enough on its own. But what makes it especially threatening is that much of the public — well beyond the 40 percent of the electorate that has shown itself to be unshakable in its devotion to the president — seems to be slowly accommodating itself to its daily dose of the Trump reality show, accepting the rhetorical violence that Trump inflicts on basic standards of truth as the new normal.”

*********************************************

Read Edsall’s full, much longer, article at the link.

An immigration policy based on xenophobia, racism, and White Nationalism, rather than on any rational, generally accepted socio-economic analysis, is at the heart of the Trump–Bannon-Sessions-Miller attack on America’s democratic institutions.  As I said earlier today, “The Trump Administration, and its ‘fellow travelers’ among GOP politicos and voters, is the biggest threat to our national security and the future of American Democracy.”

PWS

10-22-17

 

 

OUR BETTER ANGELS: The Gibson Report For 09-05-17 & “A Message For Dreamers”

“We are here for you.

We are inspired by you.

We know you belong here.

We share your dream.

We will fight alongside you.”

—- From The Gibson Report

The Gibson Report 09-05-17

Here are this week’s headlines:

Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

 

Effective immediately, the Department:

  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum.
  • Will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after the date of this memorandum.
  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case by case basis—properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the date of this memorandum and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.
  • Will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.
  • Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program, although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. Notwithstanding the continued validity of advance parole approvals previously granted, CBP will—of course—retain the authority it has always had and exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border and the eligibility of such persons for parole. Further, USCIS will—of course—retain the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.
  • Will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole filed under standards associated with the DACA program, and will refund all associated fees.
  • Will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.

 

Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’

WaPo: “The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would begin to unwind an Obama-era program that allows younger undocumented immigrants to live in the country without fear of deportation, calling the program unconstitutional but offering a partial delay to give Congress a chance to address the issue…The Department of Homeland Security said it would no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. The agency said those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals as long as they do so by Oct. 5.”

 

From NYIC:

  • The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates. The NYIC will also email updates and put them on our social media.
  • Immigrant ARC is working with MOIA for a large scale event. More details coming soon.
  • If you are an Immigrant ARC member and develop materials etc. that can be shared, please send them my way and I will upload them into the databank.
  • We will be uploading flyers for events, etc onto the nyic calendar (link on our front page).

 

TOP UPDATES

 

Article: Immigration Agency May Be Expanding Anti-Fraud Program

Posted 8/31/2017

Bloomberg reports that immigration attorneys are seeing what could be an expansion of a USCIS effort to root out fraud in the immigration system. It’s “clear” the agency is looking for fraud across all visa categories, AILA Treasurer Allen Orr said.

AILA Doc. No. 17083138

 

Article: Federal Judge Blocks Texas Ban on Sanctuary Cities in Blow for Trump

Posted 8/31/2017

The Guardian reports that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks key parts of Texas’s ban on sanctuary cities, two days before the law was scheduled to go into effect. AILA moved its 2018 conference out of the Dallas area in protest at SB 4.

AILA Doc. No. 17083140

 

CALLS TO ACTION

 

DACA Rally – The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates.

 

NYIC SIJS Request: As a follow up to ongoing conversations that have come out of our liaison meetings and other conversations with the local USCIS office, they have asked me to put together a list of A numbers of over 18 year old SIJS cases that have been pending with no movement or decision so that they can get more information from the NBC. If you have cases like that could you let me know. I would love to get this to them in mid-September so that they have the information by our next liaison meeting.

*****************************************

In times like these, all of us on the “right side of history” —  who have reflected on things like the causes of World War I and World War II, the horrors of Communism, Jim Crow Laws, the failure of the American Legal System to stand up to racism during most of the century following the Civil War, and the costs of “science deniers” —  need to stick together and work as a team to resist and ultimately defeat the forces of darkness and evil that have taken over our Government, our country, and are now threatening the future and safety of our world. They can’t be allowed to prevail with their ignorant, yet disturbingly arrogant, messages and actions of hate, disdain, racism, and selfishness.

Time for the “good hombres” to stand up and be counted in opposition to the “bad hombres!”

PWS

09-05-17

 

Immigrants Bridge The Gap With Local Communities — “The Haters Are Always Wrong, And The Haters Will Eventually Lose.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/working-to-build-bridges-between-immigrants-and-their-new-communities/2017/06/23/03c1bb1a-4d2a-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.2bcde1762b2f

Steven V. Roberts writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“These are all good examples that will, hopefully, ease the “cultural anxiety” Noorani writes about. But he shies away from discussing a key dimension of Trump’s appeal: racism. “A significant portion of the American electorate felt their country had been taken away,” he writes, but he doesn’t complete the thought. Taken away by whom? Let’s be honest. Many of those voters believe that their country has been overrun by dark-skinned, foreign-language-speaking aliens.

While it is wildly unfair to call all Trump supporters racists, it is equally inaccurate to ignore that the president deliberately inflamed racist impulses to win the election.

 

Moreover, Noorani lacks a larger perspective. Trump is a very American figure. Anti-immigrant fears didn’t start with globalization and weren’t “triggered” by the election of Barack Obama. Throughout our history, spasms of nativist hostility have erupted against each new group arriving on our shores: Germans and Jews, Irish and Italians, Japanese and Chinese.

Hispanics and Muslims are now the objects of this animosity, and the language directed against them is the same that’s been used to demonize newcomers for more than two centuries: This group will degrade our culture and alter our identity. But today’s targets can take comfort from the clear lessons of history.

Immigrants do change our culture — for the better. They reenergize and revitalize our civic spirit. The haters are always wrong, and the haters will eventually lose. Tiwana and Noorani himself prove that truth.

*********************************************

Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Trump and his supporters might be on the right side of the political equation at this point in time, but they are squarely on the wrong side of history. Before joining up with the Trump Team, folks ought to think about being remembered by their grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that we think about such notorious racists as Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Governor Lester “Pickax” Maddox, and Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubis, or those who engineered and championed such abominations as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Even iconic American historical figures like President Woodrow Wilson and Gen. Robert E. Lee have recently had their racism and support for racist causes eventually catch up with them and tarnish their reputations. In the long run, the cause of intolerance, fear, and bias promoted by Trump, Pence, and today’s GOP will look pretty bad. Yeah, we’ll all be gone by then. But, our descendants and history will remember where we stood.

PWS

06-25-17

IMMIGRATION HISTORY: Here’s The Chase-Burman Mini-Library Of Immigration History, Courtesy Of “The Green Card!”

75 Years of the BIA

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Spring-2016-updated.aspx

“Matter of L-, 1 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 1940), was issued on August 29, 1940, the day before the Board of Immigration Appeals came into existence.2 Some background about the Board’s early history is required to explain this. From 1922 until 1940, a five-member Board of Review existed within the Department of Labor to review all immigration cases. The Board of Review had no decision- making authority of its own; it could only recommend action to the Secretary of Labor. In 1933, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was formed within the Department of Labor,3 and from 1933 until 1939 the Board of Review made its recommendations to the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.4″

**************************************

Commentary on “Pattern or Practice” Persecution

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Fall-2016-.aspx

In INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, its landmark 1987 decision establishing that the burden of proving a “well-founded fear of persecution” is significantly less than fifty percent, the Supreme Court relied on the following scholarly example: “Let us…presume that it is known that in applicant’s country of origin every tenth adult male person is either put to death or sent to some remote labor camp… In such a case it would be only too apparent that anyone who managed to escape from the country would have ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’ on his eventual return.”2 While the Court’s decision predates the “pattern or practice” regulation by more than three years, the example it relies on (which predates the regulation by 24 years) presents a classic “pattern or practice” scenario. The hypotheti- cal establishes (1) a group, i.e., all adult males in a particular country; and (2) information establishing systemic persecution of one in ten members of such group. all members of the group therefore have a well-founded without the need to explain their individual circumstances.”

***************************************

The History of Racism in U.S. Immigration


http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/the-green-card-winter-2017.aspx

“Racism was codified in this country’s original natu- ralization law. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited the right to naturalize to “free white persons.” Following the Civil War, the Act of July 14, 1870, added “aliens of African nativity” and “aliens of African descent” to those eligible to naturalize. However, all others considered “non-white” continued to be barred from obtaining United States citizenship. In 1922, the Supreme Court denied Takao Ozawa, a Japanese immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for 20 years, the right to become a naturalized citizen because he “clearly” was “not Caucasian.” In interpreting the term “free white persons,” the Court found that “the framers did not have in mind the brown or yellow races of Asia.”1 In United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind,2 the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion regarding an “upper-caste Hindu” who claimed a lineage classi ed as “Aryan” or “Caucasian.” The Court determined that “Aryan” related to “linguistic, and not at all with physical, characteristics,” and concluded that the term “free white persons” as understood by the common man, would not include those of Hindu ancestry.3 It was not until passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 that the naturalization law was amended to read that “[t]he right of a person to become a naturalized citizen shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex…”4

***********************************

Read all three of Judge Chase’s outstanding histories and get some “instant perspective” on how we got to where we are today as a nation of immigrants. There was no shortage of hypocracy. And, I submit that in the course of history some of today’s politicians advocating restrictive racially and religiously charged immigration policies are going to look just as distasteful, arrogant, prejudiced, and ignorant as some of the judges, lawmakers, and government officials described in these articles.

PWS

06-19-17

UPDATE

Judge Chase has reminded me that there is a fourth part to this collection:

The History of U.S. Asylum Law

http://www.fedbar.org/Image-Library/Sections-and-Divisions/Immigration/Green-Card-Summer-2016.aspx

“U.S. asylum policy is a product of the tension between the public sentiments of compassion and fear. In the words of a former Deputy UN High Commissioner: “The public will not allow governments to be generous if it believes they have lost control.” 1 Although asylum can be traced back at least to the Old Testament, for all practical purposes, U.S. asylum policy began on the eve of World War II.”

PWS

06-21-17

HISTORY: Paul Fanlund In Madison Cap Times: How We Got From Nixon To Trump!

http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/column/paul_fanlund/paul-fanlund-so-why-can-t-america-just-be-good/article_e8734a95-ed8b-5544-a32f-f5ee791264a3.html#tncms-source=behavioral

Fanlund writes in an op-ed:

“When Roger Ailes died, essays about him ranged from adoring to vilifying. As creator of Fox News, he was perhaps the nation’s most influential political messenger — or propagandist — of the past 50 years.

One aspect of any honest obituary, of course, was his misogyny. Ailes was finally forced out at Fox in 2016 after years of sexual harassing women employees. His 17-year-old son threatened his father’s accusers at the funeral, warning mourners that he wanted “all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them, and hell is coming with me.”

But what I found most interesting in immersing myself in analyses of Ailes’ life was how little his craft had to do with liberal versus conservative ideology.

Rather, Ailes was perhaps the master of the dark art of inventing and relentlessly reinforcing hateful caricatures of political opponents — in his case, people of color, bureaucrats, university professors and, of course, the media.

His brilliant execution of that art culminated in Donald Trump.

Ailes, as is widely known, learned from Richard Nixon, for whom he worked as a young television consultant. Nixon launched his political career much earlier by championing “forgotten Americans,” lunch-pail-toting working men whose fortunes, in Nixon’s telling, were stymied by taxes and regulations imposed upon them by far-away elites.

The rest, as they say, is history. Nixon appealed to his “silent majority” to stand against anti-war and civil rights protesters. Democrats opened the floodgates to Republican demagoguery by advancing civil rights. The GOP today has broadened its pool of villains to include Latino and Muslim immigrants.

The 1980s brought jolly Ronald Reagan with his fantastical stories about welfare queens, followed by George H.W. Bush’s law and order and patriotism themes, and so on.

“Individual issues would come and go — acid, amnesty and abortion in 1972, and immigration, political correctness and transgender bathrooms in 2016 — but the attacks on liberals as elite, out of touch and protective of the ‘wrong people’ came from the same playbook,” wrote David Greenberg, a Rutgers professor of history and journalism, in a New York Times op-ed on Ailes.

OK, but why does it always work?

Why are so many — especially older, white, middle-class people — so susceptible to this toxic narrative when it is clear that the trickle-down GOP policies that follow do them so little good?

Maybe, I theorize, it has something to do with how we were all taught.

I’ve talked with many friends about the flag-waving jingoism of our pre-college education, in which our nation was portrayed as perfect, our leaders without fault.

My formal education began when Dwight Eisenhower was president, an era of unfettered national pride. We were a paragon of liberty and justice and never fought in unjust wars. It was as if someone decided that American children could not process the slightest balance or shade of gray.

In this frame, Andrew Jackson was, as Trump likes to say, a glorious “swashbuckler” like himself, not a president who drove Native Americans from their homes, killing thousands in the process. Nor were we ever taught that Jackson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other forefathers owned slaves.

It seems the goal was always to convey “American exceptionalism,” or, more bluntly, reinforce a cultish sense of American superiority.”

************************************************

Fanlund’s entire op-ed, at the above link, is well worth a read!

Lots of folks don’t like it when we put US history in perspective. For example, during the “glory days” of my childhood in the 1950’s millions of African Americans throughout the nation, and particularly in the South, were deprived of the basic rights of US citizenship. This was notwithstanding the clear dictates of the 14th Amendment, which had been added nearly a century earlier.

The US and many state governments merely decided not to enforce the law of the land. So much for all of the “rule of law” and “nation of laws” malarkey purveyed by right wingers today.

Indeed, many southern states enacted discriminatory laws that were directly contrary to the 14th Amendment. And, amazingly, for the majority of the 19th and 20th Centuries, courts of law at all levels were complicit in enforcing these unconstitutional laws and ignoring the14th Amendment!

PWS

05-26-17

HISTORY: GEORGE WILL: War Is Hell On The Home Front Too — World War I Unleashed Deadly Nationalism, Xenophobia, & Racism In America, All In The Guise Of False “Patriotism” — Set The Stage For Even Worse Things To Follow!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-world-war-i-unleashed-in-america/2017/04/07/4a8412b4-1b07-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.e64d2fbd91cf

“Woodrow Wilson imposed and incited extraordinary repressions: “There are citizens of the United States . . . born under other flags . . . who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life. . . . Such creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy must be crushed out. . . . They are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them.”

His Committee on Public Information churned out domestic propaganda instructing the public how to detect pro-German sympathies. A 22-year-old Justice Department official named J. Edgar Hoover administered a program that photographed, fingerprinted and interrogated 500,000 suspects. Local newspapers published the names of people who were not buying war bonds or otherwise supporting the war. People were fired or ostracized for insufficient enthusiasm. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime to “collect, record, publish or communicate” information useful to the enemy.
In Illinois, Robert Prager, a German American coal miner suspected of spying, was stripped, marched through the streets and hanged. The Post deplored such “excesses” but applauded the “healthful and wholesome awakening in the interior part of the country.”

Josef Hofer and his two brothers were South Dakota Hutterites whose faith forbade any involvement in war, including wearing a military uniform. They were arrested in March 1918, and a week after the armistice they were sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Arriving at the military prison around midnight, they stood naked for hours in a 17-degree November night. Then they were suspended naked from the bars of their cells, their feet barely touching the ground, refusing to wear the uniforms left in their cells. Fed only bread and water, after two weeks David Hofer was allowed to telegraph Josef’s wife, telling her that her husband was dying. He died the morning after she arrived. Prison guards mocked his corpse by dressing it in a uniform.”

************************************

I have to admit that the experience of the Trump Administration is making me look at George Will, whom I had previously related to on few topics than baseball, in a new, more appreciative, light.

I continue to be amazed at how many folks seem to delight in the idea of their country going to war. Of course, the overwhelming number of celebrants are those who don’t actually fight the wars.

But, it’s still going on! Donald Trump has been bumbling through the first hundred days of his Presidency. But, finally, in contradiction to his recent statements, his campaign promises, and his cutting America’s already inadequate humanitarian response to vulnerable Syrian refugees, he lobs some missiles at a Syrian airbase.

The result, of course, was militarily insignificant, particularly since we warned the Russians (who presumably warned their  Syrian clients) in advance. Syrian (or Russian) bombers took off from the same airbase the next day to hit the same Syrian cities, only this time being careful to kill civilians with “conventional” weapons rather than gas. Are civilians hit with conventional bombs really less dead than those killed in gas attacks?

Trump couldn’t begin to tell you what his strategy is or what he sees as the “endgame” in Syria. Yet, the next morning, many (not all) of his critics were congratulating him for finally doing something “Presidential.” I guess it doesn’t get much more “Presidential” than ordering a missile attack.

Back to World War I. It started for no apparent reason, and there were no discernible principles or values at stake. It was a product of weak leaders, irrational nationalism, a gullible public, and imbecilic generals on all sides. In the end, it not only killed and maimed millions, but set the stage for Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, large scale genocide, and the absolute horror of World War II.

Although the U.S. has fought some smaller wars since World War II, we haven’t really “won” any of them (except for fairly insignificant skirmishes like Grenada and Kuwait). But, that hasn’t stopped folks from thinking that the next one will be the “best war ever,” and Presidents from believing that dropping bombs and sending missiles will make them look like brave, courageous, and wise leaders — in other words, “Presidential.”

PWS

04-09-17