On The Monitor this week:
- Last week Roy Moore won Senate runoff election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore is no stranger to controversy (among other things, he has said that homosexuality should be illegal, Muslims to not be allowed in Congress, and 9/11 was God’s punishment for Americans’ sins). We talk with Frederick Clarkson about the significance of Moore’s victory.
- The Spanish government violently responded to an independence referendum in Catalonia. Hundreds were injured or unable to vote. The result, despite (or because of the low turnout) was about 90 percent in favor of independence. Sebastiaan Faber explains how and why this happened.
More about this week’s guests:
Frederick Clarkson is senior fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is also the author of the 2016 report “When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right” and wrote the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. You can also read some of his recent work here. Quote: “Roy Moore is the most openly theocratic politician in national life — and he has a good chance of being the next U.S. Senator from Alabama. The special election to fill the remainder of the term of Jeff Sessions, who was appointed as U.S. Attorney General by president Trump, will be held on Dec. 12. Moore is heavily favored to prevail over Democrat and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones. Moore favors criminalizing abortion and homosexuality. He does not respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, and the federal courts to enforce civil rights laws. His views hark back to the time of massive resistance to civil rights for African Americans, when opponents invoked the notions of nullification and interposition — which basically meant that states could ignore federal actions; including court orders they believed were inconsistent with the Constitution. Like the nullificationists of the last century, Moore does not view the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal courts as binding on the states. Particularly if they conflict with his idiosyncratic view of what God requires. Roy Moore epitomizes the contemporary politics of theocratic Christian dominionism in his attacks on separation of church and state and religious freedom. Moore was twice elected on a statewide ballot as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He has also been removed from office each time because he violated orders from a federal judge. The first time, he had installed a two-and-a-half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the foyer of the state courthouse. A federal judge ruled that this was an unambiguous violation of separation of church and state and ordered it removed. Moore refused. The second time, he sought to undermine a federal court order to state officials to honor the Supreme Court’s 2015 stand for marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v Hodges. Moore sought to direct state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses, claiming that existing state bans on same sex marriage were still in force.”
Sebastiaan Faber is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and author of several books, including Alcalá de Henares: Instituto Franklin de Estudios Norteamericanos; Anglo-American Hispanists and the Spanish Civil War: Hispanophilia, Commitment, and Discipline; Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Intellectuals in Mexico (1939-1975) and the forthcoming Memory Battles and the Spanish Civil War. He just co-wrote “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” for The Nation. Quote: “While the repressive measures taken so far have certainly made a region-wide vote more difficult, the Catalans refuse to give up. In a nationally televised interview aired on Sept. 24, Catalan President Puigdemont vowed to go ahead with the referendum [this Sunday]. Meanwhile, the arrests of Sept. 20 have prompted massive, ongoing demonstrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Race, War, Ethics, and the American Political Landscape with Wilmer J. Leon
- What “Humanitarian Intervention” has actually meant in practice with David Gibbs
More about this week’s guests:
Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics, American Government, and Public Policy. For 11 years he was a Lecturer/Teaching Associate in the Political Science Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Currently, Dr. Leon is a nationally broadcast radio talk show host on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126, nationally syndicated columnist, and regular political commentator on national and international news programs.
Dr. Leon earned a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University. He was a contributing author to Democratic Destiny and the District of Columbia (Lexington Books, 2010). His latest book is “Politics another Perspective: Commentary and Analysis on Race, War, Ethics, and the American Political Landscape. 2016 Author House.
Dr. Leon is a regular contributor to TruthOut.org, The Root.com, Politics In Color.com, BlackStar News.com, Black Agenda Report, Black Politics on the Web, and over 200 newspapers and other web sites across the country. He can also be seen as a regular contributor and analyst on TV-One’s News On Now with Roland Martin, Press-TV and RT TV.
A serious void exists in the public discourse relating to the issues that directly and/or disproportionately impact the African-American community. Dr. Leon discusses issues such as the prison industrial complex, environmental racism, school vouchers, health care, crime policy, economic globalization, American domestic and foreign policy from as much of a non-biased and academically accurate perspective as possible. Dr. Leon’s perspective and lectures are grounded in the history of the African American community and the radical tradition of African American scholarship.
David N. Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, who specializes in international relations and military intervention. His most recent book is First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia from Vanderbilt University Press.
Quote: “U.S. policy is embarking on a reckless course, one that is unlikely to produce any positive results, either in terms of enhancing U.S. security or alleviating human suffering. Even if the policy is successful, regime change in Syria would only increase the ongoing chaos and humanitarian catastrophe, as the multiple rebel groups turn on each other. In general, the history of U.S. efforts at overthrowing dictators in such cases as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya has led to instability and many years of civil war, as well as new terrorist threats against the West. There is no reason to believe the situation in Syria would be any different. In addition, military interventions in Syria are sure to worsen U.S. relations with Russia, and will thus increase the risk of nuclear war.”
- “Why Trump is Pushing the Doomsday Clock to the Brink of Midnight: Noam Chomsky Discussed Trump, Russia, History, and the Future at the University of Arizona,” Salon, April 2, 2017. For full text, click here. For French translation, click here. For Japanese translation, click here.
- Interview with Joan Brunwasser, “Trump Might Actually Be Right about NATO?” OpedNews, July 23, 2016. For full text click here.
- “The Future of NATO,” RT News, April 4, 2016. For full text, click here.
- “Why the Srebrenica Massacre Should not be Used as an Excuse for Intervention,” History News Network, December 27, 2015. For full text, click here.
- On the Cynicism of the Clinton Foundation with Ken Silverstein
- On America’s Racial Wealth Divide with Josh Hoxie
Josh Hoxie is the director of the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies. Josh joined the Institute for Policy Studies in August 2014 heading up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation. Josh’s main focus is on addressing wealth inequality through the estate tax, a levy on the intergenerational transfer of immense wealth. Josh grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and attained a BA in Political Science and Economics from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.
Josh worked previously as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest serving independent in Congressional history, both in his office in Washington, DC and on his successful 2012 re-election campaign.
According to a new report, it would take the average black family 228 years to accrue the same amount of wealth that white families have today. The report is called The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come . Josh is one of the main authors. You can read analysis of the report here by Chuck Collins (senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.inequality.org) and Dedrick Asante-Muhammed (director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development).
The report release coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer, which spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice across all segments of society. Here’s a summary of key findings within the report:
- “If current federal wealth-building policies remain in place, it will take the average African-American family 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families have today and it will take Latino families 84 years to reach that goal
- “By 2043, when households of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. population, the racial wealth divide between white households and African- American and Latino households will have doubled from about $500,000 in 2013 to $1 million.
- “The Forbes 400 will see their average wealth skyrocket to $48 billion by 2043—more than eight times the amount they hold today. During that same period, the average wealth for white families will increase by 84% to $1.2 million compared to $165,000 for Latino families (69% growth) and $108,000 for African-American households (27% growth).”
The Corporation for Enterprise Development and IPS call for a range of reforms to address the problem, including fixing an “upside down” tax system that currently doles out more than half a trillion dollars annually to help primarily wealthy households get wealthier, while providing almost nothing to lower-income households.
On The Monitor this week:
- The Confederacy and the Confederate Flag – a short history lesson with Jim Loewen
- Race Class and Violence in America – The South Carolina shootings in a wider context with Kevin Alexander Gray
More about this week’s guests:
Jim Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. He is the author of many books, including The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause”; Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. We will talk with him about the impact of myths of the Confederate past on the present and how those myths are part of the environment of places like South Carolina.
Selected quotes from The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: “At its best, history embodies the triumph of evidence over ideology. Textbooks do not embody history at its best.”
“There is a reciprocal relationship between truth about the past and justice in the present.”
“Gradually, four key elements of neo-Confederate mythology emerged during the Nadir. First, slavery was good, and slaves liked it. (This was a throwback to arguments made in 1850.) Nevertheless, ending slavery was also good, because slavery was a burden on white planters. Second, the South seceded for states’ rights, or perhaps over tariffs and taxes, not for slavery. Third, during the “War Between the States,” Confederates displayed bravery and stainless conduct. They only lost owing to the brute size of the North. Conversely, slaves displayed loyalty to their “masters” during the war. Finally, and most important, during Reconstruction, vindictive Northern congressmen, childlike African Americans, and corrupt carpetbaggers and scalawags ravaged the prostrate South.”
Also read: Five myths about why the South seceded
Kevin Alexander Gray is based in South Carolina.His books include co-editing Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence. and The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama. He posted the following on his Facebook page: “Some tried to chide me on issuing a call of sorts to white people about the environment that creates a Dylann Roof. Well, the Confederate flag, a flag of white supremacy flies on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds along with a statute of white supremacist ‘Pitchfolk’ Ben Tillman. Countless streets and buildings are named after Confederate heroes. The president of the College of Charleston routinely dresses up as a Confederate general and fights mock battles. And this is the same man who blocked putting a statute of Denmark Vesey on the Statehouse grounds calling him a murderer of white people. This is where we live and what is ingrained everyday in our psyche without apology. I’m against white supremacy and I apologize to nobody for being against it.”
Gray and his younger sister Valerie were among the first blacks to attend the local all-white elementary school in 1968. Since then he has been involved in community organizing working on a variety of issues ranging from racial politics, police violence, third-world politics, race relations, union organizing, workers’ rights, grassroots political campaigns, marches, actions, political events. Gray is currently organizing the Harriet Tubman Freedom House Project which focuses on community based political and cultural education.
On The Monitor this week:
- The Saudi attack on Yemen is using Billions of dollars worth of US-supplied weapons. Is the US-Saudi relationship contributing to instability in the region? We talk with William Hartung
- The White House Military proposes a ban on the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and a restriction on the availability of others. How does this impact the problem of police-community relations? We talk with Justin Hansford
More about this week’s guests:
William Hartung is a senior advisor to the Security Assistance Monitor and the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair,” about the White House “summit” with leaders from Arabian Peninsula monarchies which states: “In its first five years in office, the Obama administration entered into formal agreements to transfer over $64 billion in arms and defense services to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, with about three-quarters of that total going to Saudi Arabia. And new offers worth nearly $15 billion have been made to Riyadh in 2014 and 2015. Items on offer to GCC states have included fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, radar planes, refueling aircraft, air-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, small arms and ammunition, cluster bombs, and missile defense systems.”
Hartung is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and the co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations. From July 2007 through March 2011, Mr. Hartung was the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams. Bill Hartung’s articles on security issues have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and the World Policy Journal. He has been a featured expert on national security issues on CBS 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, the Lehrer Newshour, CNN, Fox News, and scores of local, regional, and international radio outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post and TPM Café.
Recent news coverage: A representative of Doctors Without Boarders has a piece in the Washington Post on Thursday: “The Saudi-led blockade is devastating Yemen.” Earlier this week, AP reported: “Iran’s navy said Tuesday it will protect an aid ship traveling to Yemen.”
Justin Hansford is an Assistant Professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law. Professor Hansford’s research incorporates legal history, legal ethics, critical race theory, human rights, and the Global Justice Movement in a broader attempt to interrogate injustice in society. He has a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a founder of The Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives. He joined the law faculty after clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and he has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to study the legal career of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Living just 10 minutes from Ferguson, Hansford has been at the forefront of legal organizing and advocacy in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown. He co-authored the Ferguson to Geneva human rights shadow report, accessible at http://fergusontogeneva.org/(link is external), and accompanied the Ferguson Protesters and Mike Brown’s family to Geneva, Switzerland to testify at the United Nations. He has served as a policy advisor for proposed post-Ferguson reforms at the local, state, and federal level, testifying before the Ferguson Commission, the Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
As a result of his work in Ferguson, Hansford has been featured in the USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Ebony, and the Globe and Mail, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, National Public Radio other national and local news outlets. He has been honored by the National Bar Association as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40, selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar by the Aspen Institute, and recently was named by Revolt TV as one of the 25 New Leaders of Social Justice.
Here is Hansford’s testimony before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Background: The New York Times reports: “President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said.”
Guest Quote: “This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launders or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to ‘deracialize’ the debate, and make it about anything other than race. But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers’ ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse.”