My new Blade column gapes at Trump's fascist rally in Cleveland, as well as the growing scandal over Russian interference in the American election. And I examine the sharp contrast between the two parties' vice presidential candidates. Have a gander while you watch self-defeating leftists trying to sabotage the proceedings in Philadelphia.
A fine performance by the former congressman at yesterday's disgraceful hearing on the anti-LGBT, so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which is simply a continued attack on gay families waged under a new (and false) banner.
A 4-year-old girl comforts her distraught mother minutes after Philando Castile was murdered in front of them: "It's okay, Mommy.... It's okay, I'm here with you." Her mother, Lavish Reynolds, showed extraordinary composure, narrating the situation and disputing the officer's version of events, all while her blood-soaked boyfriend slumped beside her. The child will need lots of care and healing after what she witnessed, but she is a hero. The one ray of hope in this horror is her bravery and love. Her spirit is strong. At 8 pm this evening (July 7), there is a protest at the White House; I plan to go. This extrajudicial killing has been going on a long time. We have a long struggle ahead to put a stop to it.
Chelsea Manning violated the Espionage Act. She released vast numbers of documents in a reckless fashion. That being said, it does not justify abuse of a prisoner. Those who say that appropriate transgender healthcare should be withheld as punishment are damnably wrong. I hope that Manning will get the care that any prisoner deserves, as well as respect for her gender identity. Healthcare is a right; its denial is not a legitimate part of punishment.
Have you had occasion in your life to sob uncontrollably? Do you remember the raw grief and the sense of being lost, the free fall of despair? Were you 15 years old and facing TV cameras as Cameron Sterling was in Baton Rouge? His father Alton was shot multiple times point blank while already restrained. It is too awful for words; yet the heartbreaking video of Cameron's grief may be the only way to touch the humanity of some people. 61 years ago, Emmett Till's mother was faced with the awful decision of whether to have a closed casket or to open it and allow photographers to capture the horror. "I want them to see what they did to my son," she said. It is natural to want to grieve in private. Once again, a family reeling from the devastation of brutal injustice has found the courage to allow the cameras in. We are too good at distancing; we need to be confronted by the barbarity done in our name. But oh, for a child to have to bear that burden. I hope Cameron at least gets some sense of the countless strangers who longed to hold him as he shook. But he wants his father back, and we cannot give that to him. We must do more than cry in sympathy. We must make this stop.
Below, the horrific video of this point-blank killing of Alton Sterling while he was restrained. All cops are not monsters. But we have a terrible and recurring problem, and a big part of it is a refusal by people all along the chain of justice, including juries, to hold racist, murderous officers accountable. We have got to find a way to change this. But at least we can make some noise. Joan E. Biren writes: "Let the BATON ROUGE PD (@BRPD) know what you think. I did."
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Note: After he was shot, Sterling was mortally wounded but not dead. He died subsequently.
This is neither smart nor appropriate activism. I understand anger at injustice. I've been on the receiving end of "tone policing" since the moment I first spoke up decades ago. Even members of oppressed groups often dislike anyone rocking the boat, but rocking the boat is sometimes necessary. On the other hand, I've also gotten the "It's your turn to listen" aggression from people who neither know nor care that decades of listening and working in coalitions are reflected in my advocacy and writing. I will not be intimidated by or pander to ignorant and presumptuous people just because they make false assumptions and accusations about me. Reciprocity and mutual respect are key to productive alliances. Treating all white people or all police or all corporations as clueless or as irredeemable adversaries is poisonous. And it is not true. Our diversity includes diversity of opinion. You have to make your case, not just issue demands. One demand from the Toronto BLM activists was to exclude police floats or booths from future pride events. If you tried that in DC, where we are proud of our LGBT Liaison Unit, you would have a huge battle on your hands. Respect must be given to be received, and cannot be based on blackmail.
153 years ago on this day, the Battle of Gettysburg was underway. Eleven years earlier on July 5th in Rochester, what is possibly the greatest oration in American history was delivered by an escaped and self-taught slave named Frederick Douglass. His main competitors in the oratory category were named Martin and Abraham. I am attaching a passage from what has come to be known as the Fourth of July speech. Things have improved since 1852; on the other hand, the catalog of American crimes against peoples of color at home and abroad, just since 1940, is a long one.
Recalling the rebuke from Douglass so long ago is a useful counterbalance to the usual Independence Day rah-rah stuff. And it reminds us that many generations struggled so that we could continue the struggle today, in Martin's words, to make our nation live out the true meaning of its creed--a creed written in 1776 by a slave owner. The shame and the struggle, inextricably interwoven, are part of our nation's DNA.