WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s presidency is melting down into a noxious stew of racism, failure and farce. With breathtaking cynicism, the Republican Party pretends not to notice.
Trump had to know there would be outrage and uproar over his Sunday tweet admonishing four progressive members of Congress, all of them women of color, that they should stop “telling the people of the United States … how our government is to be run” and instead “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
The president’s motives are obvious: He was proudly displaying his white-supremacist racial views, drawing a bright line between his aging white political base and the rest of the country, and clumsily trying to exacerbate tensions within the Democratic Party. But why choose now to lob this political cluster bomb? My guess is that he wanted to change the subject from Thursday’s humiliating surrender, when he had to abandon his quest to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census that would have guaranteed an undercount of Latinos.
“Trump is a Racist” does not exactly qualify as breaking news. But the silence from prominent Republicans is staggering — and telling. It amounts to collaboration — perhaps collusion is a better word — with Trump’s assault on diversity and pluralism. In the coming campaign, you will hear Republican candidates at every level claim to be color-blind and embrace all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. Do not believe them. Their failure to speak out now tells us everything we need to know about their true feelings.
The farcical aspect of this disgraceful episode is that while Trump hoped to further divide squabbling Democrats, he ended up bringing them closer together.
The four House members he attacked — Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. — have indeed been at odds with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the rest of the Democratic leadership on some issues. Calling themselves “the Squad,” they fought hard against Pelosi’s approach on funding border security. They display none of the meekness expected of first-term members and are unfamiliar with the concept of deference.
Any possibility that this intraparty squabbling would become serious was probably foreclosed by Trump’s attack, which caused Pelosi and others to rush to the Squad’s defense. Apparently living in some kind of bizarro parallel universe, Trump went further on Monday by insisting that the members of Congress he attacked owe (BEG ITAL)him(END ITAL) an apology.
The reaction from Republicans? Still crickets.
There’s nothing new about the Republican Party playing footsie with racists, going all the way back to the “southern strategy” pioneered by Richard Nixon. But as Trump has toppled the traditional pillars of Republican philosophy — fiscal responsibility, free trade, markets undistorted by government interference, muscular foreign policy, equal opportunity for all to pursue the American Dream — the GOP is reduced to being the party of no: no on abortion, no on immigration and no on diversity. Following Trump’s lead, the party practices the politics of resentment. Republican politicians appeal to voters not by stoking optimism about what can be accomplished, but by stoking fear about what will happen if “they” — the Democrats — gain power.
“They” are portrayed as perhaps living near the coasts, perhaps being intellectuals, perhaps being women, perhaps being African American or Latino or Asian American. “They” are portrayed as the kind of affluent, high-and-mighty people who look down on “ordinary” Republican voters — never mind that Ocasio-Cortez waited tables to support herself, Tlaib grew up in a struggling family in Detroit, Pressley’s father was incarcerated during much of her childhood and Omar came to this country from a Somali refugee camp.
Trump’s brand of politics is often called “tribal,” but “racist” is a better word. The wedge he is trying to drive, with his attacks on the Squad, is essentially white vs. non-white. He also seeks to portray them as immigrants, telling them to “go back” to where they came from, even though Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Tlaib in Detroit and Ocasio-Cortez in New York. Omar, indeed, is an immigrant — a naturalized citizen who enjoys the same rights and responsibilities as any other American, including President Trump.
If Republicans believed even a fraction of their rhetoric, they’d be all over Trump. They’d tell him that “telling the people of the United States … how our government is to be run” is the right of every American and the duty of every member of Congress. Instead, Republicans embrace Trump’s racism and xenophobia. Blame them just as much as Trump.
Eugene Robinson’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toy Story 3 contained an unusual amount of darkness for a kids film. Toy Story 4 has been preceded by a number of signs more darkness is in store for the toys (and their viewers). There is a poster that displays Woody posing in a “good-bye-cowboy style” pose. The poster is a darker, “un-toy story” like background, almost like a sunset. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have both given interviews warning of an “emotional ending.” So much for the hopes of the entire cast reuniting in Andy’s house and Toy Story 4 ending with a revival of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The question is no longer will it be an emotional ending, it is how will be at emotional ending?
Some have speculated (especially after Hanks and Allen’s comments) that one character may make the ultimate sacrifice. Would Pixar really do that? Probably not, it’s still a kids movie. In the days of Harry Potter, many people believed Harry Potter would meet his demise in the final book. It turned out to be not true. JK Rowling claims she never intended to, but there may be another reason. If Harry Potter died, it would damage the franchise. Fewer people would buy the books, DVD’s or merchandise if they knew what ending it was leading to. With Toy Story, it is the same idea. If a toy really was killed, wouldn’t it damage the franchise? The same amount of people would not watch the first three movies replayed, or buy DVDs/Blu-Rays to the same extent if they knew one of their heroes had a death sentence waiting for them in the fourth installment.
That leaves only one other “emotional option,” Pixar has a major “good-bye” moment in the works. But with which characters? Woody and Bo? It must be…unless Buzz and Woody were going their own ways. But that couldn’t be…it would contradict everything the first three movies stood for. The slogan for the whole saga is “You’ve Got A Friend in Me.” Even Toy Story 3 (the darkest movie yet, with a strong message about letting go) ends with a song called “We Belong Together.” Besides, wouldn’t a “Buzz and Woody separation” also wreck the franchise? Walt Disney World just opened a massive expansion devoted to Toy Story. The Toy Story rides in Disneyworld/Disneyland and the short films (Like Toy Story of Terror), as well as the countless “extended universe products” like books and computer/video games all imply Buzz and Woody are always together. Even the products like “Buzz and Woody comforters” and “Buzz and Woody” knapsacks imply this. So Pixar wouldn’t go through with it…or would they?
It turns out Buzz and Woody do in fact go their own ways in this installment. Some have said Toy Story movies are about the stages of childhood, others say they are about “goodbyes” (especially Toy Story 3). Actually they are not stories about childhood, or good-byes, or even about toys. They are all stories about loyalty. Or they were. The ending of Toy Story 4 contradicts the message of the other Toy Story movies. The song lyrics are “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” not “You’ve Got a Friend in Me Until Something Better Comes Along.” National Review ran a Toy Story 4 review that read “It’s as if Dorothy Gale said, “Meh, come to think of it, Kansas sucks” and traded her ruby slippers for a condo off the Yellow Brick Road.” Actually that description more fits Toy Story 3, but same principal.
Now that we know how the story of Buzz and Woody ends (at least for now, as there does seem to be a sequel every nine years or so) can anyone really look at Toy Story Mania in Disneyland/Disneyworld the same way?
Mike Peters is recognized as one of our nation’s most prominent cartoon artists for his outstanding work as both a political and comic strip cartoonist. His favorite expression “WHAT A HOOT” certainly sums up his outlook on his life and work which are inexorably entwined. Mike’s warm, easygoing and zany demeanor is evidence that his personality matches his creative talents. As so eloquently phrased by a colleague — “Mike is the Peter Pan of the cartooning world; he’s boyishly charming, good with a rapier and doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. And he doesn’t seem to want to grow up”.
The Comic Strip Mother Goose & Grimm appears in over 800 newspapers worldwide and consistently places in the top 10 most popular ratings. Licensees distribute Grimmy products all over the world, and the Grimmy TV show continues to air in several countries. Mother Goose & Grimm is included in the Toon Lagoon theme park at Universal Studios that opened in July 1999. This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to be run on TMV and is from his website.
Shockingly, children wasted and stunted by malnutrition before age five have become an urgent global crisis, although every dollar spent on preventing child malnutrition brings a $16 return in reduced health costs and increased productivity.
A distressed joint statement unusually signed by six United Nations agencies said today: “As principals of the United Nations humanitarian system, we have all looked into the blank stare and nearly lifeless body of a badly malnourished child, whose ever-so shallow breathing is often the only sign of life. We have all been deeply affected when a child could not be saved.”
The number of hungry people worldwide has increased to 820 million in recent years, after decades of falling. That includes nearly 50 million children under the age of five who are “wasted” – meaning they are suffering from acute malnutrition and 149 million who are “stunted” – meaning they are suffering stunted growth caused by malnutrition.
Eliminating malnutrition for children has been an American priority and on the international agenda for decades but the problems are worsening. Major hurdles include providing access to healthy and nutritious diets at all times and ensuring that families with acutely malnourished children can obtain life-saving treatments more easily. Currently, many parents travel hundreds of miles to get a child to a clinic. So, treatment facilities and outreach clinics must be brought to their communities.
The crisis is so urgent that the UN will launch a new Global Plan of Action on Wasting before this year end to underline commitment over the next decade to stop malnutrition before it occurs. The goal is to ensure that all children and women suffering from acute malnutrition receive the treatment they need.
The central challenge is to break the transmission cycle of malnutrition that has persisted from generation to generation. Many children are already undernourished in the womb because mothers do not have access to healthy diets.
After birth, they are at greater risk of living a life in poverty, which means their children will be more likely to suffer the same fate, turning wasted and stunted children into an intergenerational cycle.
Children who survive the risky pregnancies and the first critical months of life are more likely to have some form of malnutrition – being stunted or wasted – and millions suffer both forms at the same time. They are much more likely to die before the age of 5 because their immunity to infections is weakened by a lack of nutrients.
Those who survive may go on to suffer poor growth and mental development. In many cases, their cognitive development is permanently impaired, and they perform worse in school and are less productive as adults.
An important pathway to breaking the cycle is to improve tools available to treat and prevent malnutrition. The six agencies are supporting research to ensure improvements to existing treatments and the World Health Organization will publish comprehensive, updated guidelines on treating acute malnutrition (“wasting”) by the middle of 2021.
“With conflict driving much of the growth in hunger and malnutrition in recent years, we are streamlining treatment and prevention for acute malnutrition in complex emergencies,” the agencies said.
However, they recognize that the larger burden of malnutrition is outside of conflict zones, so they are want to work with governments and other partners to create and implement prevention and treatment programmes to deal with the scourge.
Of all those working in this domain, the UN agencies have the most hands on experience of services required to recover from wasting, including nutrition treatment, treatment of infections such as diarrheal diseases, hygiene and sanitation services, and access to clean water and the nutritious diets needed for heathy growth.
Every year, the UN provides 10 million children suffering from acute malnutrition (wasting) with services and delivers food supplements to two million malnourished pregnant women and new mothers. At a broader level, families with infants and children need more help to develop livelihoods, obtain social protections and acquire knowledge about healthy growth of their children.
The six UN agencies are: The Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Children’s’ Agency (UNICEF), the World Food Programme and the UN Humanitarian Affairs Office.
“The West is everything we want it to be: it is our potential for love and success, it is possibility and imagination. And the fence that defines the boundaries contains us, keeps us from getting lost in all of that possibility, saves us from straying too far from ourselves. I drive through the open gate, into the landscape within.” — The Secret Life of Cowboys by Tom Groneberg
Once one gets off the busy highways in the Texas Hill Country and hits the narrow “county roads,” “ranch roads,”” farm-to-market” and “ranch-to-market” roads one is in for a Texas-size treat.
One is dazzled by the beautiful scenery of rugged rolling hills flush with Texas oak, cedar and mesquite, wide-open vistas, expansive vineyards, winding rivers and deep swimming holes, and – at the right time of the year – embellished even more by the most bountiful and varied fields of those famous Texas wildflowers.
Then, there are those idyllic little towns and hamlets with names like Luckenbach and Stonewall and Gruene; towns with historical town squares, antiques stores and, of course, quaint little cafes and restaurants, every one of them serving “the best BBQ in Texas.”
If that is not enough to fill one’s weekend wanderlust, there are always those famous, Texas-sized (hundreds of thousands of acres) and not-so-Texas-sized ranches dotting the Texas countryside. The latter, “just” a few thousand acres.
The only problem is that, even in those “not-so-Texas-sized ranches,” except for a Longhorn and a couple of lonely horses here and there, one does not really get to see the main herd or appreciate the expanse of the ranch and what must be the large and beautiful ranch houses, barns, stables and outbuildings at the end of a sometimes mile-long entrance road.
But do not despair, for a wealth of large, magnificent ranch gates more than compensate for it.
And indeed, the ranch gates of Texas, richly decorated with wrought-iron silhouettes of cattle, horses, wagon wheels, owners’ monograms and of course the Texas star, are world renowned. Entire books, photo collections and articles have been devoted to them and an entire industry has developed in Texas to meet the demand for those beautiful gates.
Decorated gates are a form of expression for ranchers who wish to show their presence and perhaps their individuality…Subtlety is not the goal: A design of longhorn cattle, for example, needs no further explanation…The designs are sometimes meant to be humorous, such as one showing a cowboy chased by a bull. And there’s a charming simplicity to the scene of a rancher playing his guitar by a campfire.
In “Changing Places: Ranch Gates of The Southwest,” Douglas Manger attributes the designs to “making a statement,” to being indicative of what the ranch , or the owner, is all about (“what is behind the gate”), to helping “distill the rancher’s vision (or bolster a Texas-sized ego).”
Credit: Carol Von Canon via flickr.com
Living at the edge of the Texas Hill Country, what a better way to spend a day than by cruising along the scenic roads, byways and backroads finding, admiring and photographing as many of the ranch gates as one can – whether they are as ornate as the one above, or as simple and rustic as the one below.
An what a better companion than one’s grandson, home for a few days from college and, in addition, a fabulous photographer.
Here are some of the gates of Texas.
Perhaps the most famous ranch in Texas, in addition to the legendary King’s Ranch, is the Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) ranch in Stonewall, Texas, known during Johnson’s presidency as the Texas White House and now part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
While I have visited the Park and the (working) ranch before, I had never seen its gate.
At the conclusion of the “photo shoot” we located the ranch’s gate and were surprised by its modesty, simplicity and condition (below). Thus, not all Texans ranch gates are grand. Nevertheless, each one is Texas charming, Texas unique and has a story to tell.
All photographs, except as noted, by author’s grandson, Preston Werner.
In August 2015, a great wrong was corrected by the U.S. government. It was then that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced that North America’s highest mountain would be officially named Denali.
Granted, the mountain has been named that for thousands of years, but it took the Obama Administration to respect Native Alaskans and their culture by making that name official from a federal perspective.
Now, starting 15 July 2019, Native Alaskans and their culture will be the stars of a new PBS program for children: Molly of Denali.
Meet Molly, her dog Suki and her friends Tooey and Trini in the new @PBSKIDS series #MollyofDenali. Join the crew on their daily adventures in #Alaska, from fishing for salon, to searching for hidden hot springs, to harvesting herring eggs. Airing Monday, July 15th pic.twitter.com/KI9qwqzwQH
The show’s premiere reveals an ugly part of U.S. history, in which Native children were often forced to attend boarding schools, where the Native children were not permitted to speak their native languages or practice their native customs.
Featured Image: Photograph of mural “Mail Service in the Arctic” by Rockwell Kent (1937). Photographed as part of an assignment for the General Services Administration. Image in Public Domain.
A Cagle cartoon at The Moderate Voice (above) uses images of Nazi concentration camps to bring attention to the plight of detained illegal immigrants and asylum seekers and their children – many separated from their parents – languishing at barbed-wire-enclosed, cage like detention centers.
The final image in the multi-image cartoon depicts a young child, almost a baby, in one of those “cages” and asks, “And when did we go from ‘Never Again’ to ‘I can’t believe it’s happening here’?”
As sometimes happens when parallels are drawn, or even suggested, between the Nazi atrocities and current politics, a thoughtful discussion ensued between two of our readers.
One of them suggested, in part, “’Never again’ is not restricted to the Nazis’ ‘final solution’ (as I understand it), but encompasses all the steps that led to that ultimate atrocity.”
As a descendant of Jews and having had over 100 relatives murdered by the Nazis, I had to put in my two-cents in and commented:
…I would be the first one to take offense to any abuse or misuse of Holocaust symbolism or comparisons but – as [the reader so well says] — the ‘Never Again’ to me means exactly that, Never again condone or turn a blind eye to even the slightest tendencies or indications that we may once again be on our way to conditions reminiscent of the pre-Nazi period.
A few days later, I read about an astonishing, most offensive and bizarre comparison.
Dan Bishop, the Republican candidate for an open House seat in North Carolina, likened his efforts to undermine LGBTQ rights via religious exemptions to the work of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
I wanted to comment on this as an instance of one end of the political spectrum seeking to “draw on [the Holocaust’s] emotional and historical power to advance [its] completely unrelated agenda.” However, comments are closed.
What I wanted to say is that it is understandable for people to find it offensive when Nazi atrocities, or the Holocaust in general, are used to warn against perceived trends or similarities in our politics or everyday lives.
However, what is not understandable by any measure – what should be categorically condemned — is the use of some of the very few, noble things that occurred in Nazi Germany during that hellish period in history to justify some of the injustices that continue to be perpetrated today.
Beorn, West Point graduate, Iraq combat veteran, Holocaust and genocide studies historian and the author of “Marching Into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus,” after citing examples of “both sides do it,” asks, “Can we truly never compare the Holocaust to events in modern politics?” He answers:
If we truly adhere to the oft-intoned “Never Again,” then we also bear the responsibility of helping others recognize when “again” is now. Shunning comparisons misses an opportunity to mobilize important history for the public good.
Focusing on present-day politics, Beorn offers:
We are not dealing with a genocidal regime in the United States…Many of the elements of the Nazi remaking of Germany into a fascist state are missing or unlikely to arise in the United States…the Nazis themselves did not begin with [the Final Solution] in mind…Rather,[genocides — and dictatorships, for that matter] begin incrementally, with authoritarianism, racism, ethnic myths and dehumanizing language, among other things.
Beorn discusses “Trump’s well-documented use of dehumanizing language,” his “relativist ‘blame on both sides’” comment after the demonstrations in Charlottesville, etc., but makes it clear: “Trump is not Hitler; Hitler was arguably a far more astute politician with deeply held convictions and the means to turn a fledgling democracy into a totalitarian state, something that should be much more difficult here. Nonetheless, these historical comparisons are not hyperbolic and should at least give us pause.
Observing that Americans are woefully ignorant of the Holocaust, Beorn concludes:
Judicious, reasoned and thoughtful comparisons and analogies to the Nazi period, particularly its early years before gas chambers and Auschwitz, could not only encourage the public to take a closer look at current events but also inform them more about the Holocaust that some politicians are now denying ever happened…rather than withdraw the Holocaust from our analysis, we should employ its lessons carefully but powerfully where appropriate to highlight troubling developments in our own country.
Brazil is a country whose citizenry rarely enjoy good governance. They were doing well in recent years despite the fact their politicians seemed to be regularly impeached, locked up or otherwise disgraced, a fact which exasperated many Brazilians but in reality is proof of a system working. In the old days, and in other places (ahem) even now law breakers, narcissists and corrupt grifters are hardly called to account at all.
So it was to the disappointment of many a former army man Jair “Tropical Trump” Bolsonaro was elected last year, a strange chap we’ll get to in a moment.
Much has been written about the wave of populism over the last few years exemplified by our own Trumpocolypse as well as Brexit and various styles of dictatorship-lite in Central Europe, Russia, the Philippines, Turkey and Israel. Most of the dictators are narcissists in a clinical sense and a few are actual psychopaths pursuant to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (Hare, 1999). All have been able to sell those on the left side of the IQ bell curve a bunch of simple “solutions” to complex problems and most have empowered those whose habitats are areas of their countries that don’t seem to matter: the rural, the flyover, the de-industrialized “heartlands”. They’ve been sold a mix of “family values” and bigoted xenophobia. Denizens of that side of the curve lap up the scapegoat satisfaction, the aggrieved aggression against “those people” doing “us” wrong, particularly foreigners as they simultaneously steal jobs and sponge off welfare. And the “elites” – the rich and educated.
Another appeal of the populists is their authoritarian aggression. There’s a psychological theory that Trump supporters aren’t sticking with him because of his policies, many of which hurt them directly, and in fact his policies are largely irrelevant to them: his appeal comes from the fact that he is their weapon. A weapon doesn’t need to be clean, respectable, coherent or honest – it just needs to hurt the other side. Dishonesty actually helps because to publicly state one’s belief in 2+2=5 evinces a greater loyalty to the cult. The punitive joy of slamming the libtards, sticking it to the smart kids (science in general), and smacking those uppity bitches (gender equality) is instinctively appealing to the angry, the aggrieved, the aggressive. Never underestimate that appeal.
Bigotry does track with IQ, suggesting support for authoritarians and their tub thumping racism doesn’t trend towards our best and brightest. Authoritarianism a trait much more common in conservatives than liberals but the left is not immune and we see equally unsettling left wing authoritarianism expressed in the call-out/cancel culture, the fetid depths of Twitter, identity politics on campuses, the sharper end of the #metoo movement (with the mob justice it can represent) as well as in fanatical environmentalism or “greenism”. We see it because the appeal of authoritarianism is a psychological pathology not entirely an ideological one even though, as mentioned above, it fits the right wing better.
Further, while fans of authoritarians comprise a minority (about a third) of a given population that minority can be increased significantly by rapidly changing, challenging times, like now.
Within the authoritarian (ruler or ruled) personality’s brain, the pursuit of righteous punishment is a neurological “good” – actually visible on brain scans in the goal seeking part of our brains, the striatum, which positively lights up when provided schadenfreude and sadism. This is well documented in biology: pleasurable dopamine levels rise as stress hormones like glucocorticoids fall in a chemical cocktail of immense satisfaction, a nasty frothy lather in the human wet-wear. Pleasurable tribal bonding, in-group hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin are similarly charged by a common out-group enemy.
The commonality of all these populist monsters on the right is the prioritization of “family values”, a creepy catch-all for the oppression of women and the destruction of their reproductive rights, both of which are efforts to re-domesticate them, deny them choice in all aspects of sex and fight the promiscuity that seems to electrify the right with anger. This usually accompanies a disdain and victimization of the LGBTQ community, always a convenient punching bag for the populists as well as for the three toxic monotheistic faiths. Our views on gender occupy the core of our ideology and personality as moderated by culture and religion.
Predictive of (right wing) authoritarianism is religiosity. This is not a new thing. Religion, particularly the Catholic Church, has inhabited the extreme right on the political spectrum for over a century and history informs us that the mid-century fascist parties of Hitler and Mussolini were in tight with the Vatican at every level. Further, fascists like Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, the Croatian Ustashe as well as far right parties in Hungary and the rest of Europe were all with the Christian church. As writer Christopher Hitchens noted: political Islam being the most dangerous religion of our times is a relatively new phenomenon, for half of last century it was Catholicism via its fascist allies that was the greatest theocratic threat to freedom and humanity.
Religion and the right wing authoritarians in Brazil are in lockstep regarding the “evils” of anything queer, the empowerment of women, abortion, science education and in a bonkers move too extreme for almost all of the other authoritarians of this planet, Bolsonaro wants to teach Creationism in Brazilian schools.
Let’s remember to not lose our heads, though. To contextualize all this: the new authoritarian populism is an outlier, limited in social and geographic scope. Brexit sneaked through while the grownups thought it too insane to bother voting against and Trump lost the popular vote before being spanked in the mid-terms. The other countries mentioned above currently fevered with authoritarians and right wing blowhards are a small minority of the wider world while democratic, cosmopolitan and crucially secular values are progressing apace pretty much everywhere else. Let’s be thankful for that.
David Anderson is an Australian-American attorney and writer in New York City. He was educated at the University of Melbourne and Georgetown University in political science and psychology and writes for various publications.
The bevy of Democrats running for president seems determined to test my silent vow never to vote Republican, especially for Donald Trump. The truth is that I cannot imagine that happening, but I can imagine entering the voting booth with about a colonoscopy level of enthusiasm. Please, can we get this over with?
At the moment, the party is squabbling over what is called forced busing to achieve school desegregation. It seems the party has forgotten that, with the possible exception of the Civil War draft, no program has been more hated by working-class Democrats — more whites than blacks, but plenty of blacks as well. In large American cities, busing was seen as an effort by liberals to send white kids to schools they would not, for a moment, send their own kids to. In Boston, the spiritual home of the anti-busing movement in the 1960s, the populace had not been as furious since George III bivouacked his unwashed Redcoats in the tidy homes of American patriots.
The leader of that anti-busing movement was Louise Day Hicks, a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a fearsome racist firebrand. She rode the movement clear into Congress, and she came close to becoming Boston’s mayor, losing by only 20,000 votes. By then she had proved that busing was loathed in white, working-class America. Mobs formed in the streets, and the cops had to be called. Busing was sometimes the only remedy for school-board gerrymandering, which carved districts in such a way that schools were racially segregated. Since you could not move the schools, you had to move the kids. The law, not to mention equity, demanded it. Hicks and others, not to put too fine a point on it, did not give a damn about the law.
Busing as an issue eventually faded. It took Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to revive it and remind us that Joe Biden was on the wrong side of the issue. Harris also reacted to the fact that Biden had made common cause with some of the Senate’s more repugnant racists, such as James O. Eastland, D-Miss., in opposing busing. In a bit of prepared treacle at last month’s debate, Harris told the story of a young black child who benefited from being bused to a better school. “That little girl was me,” she said — words that now appear on a T-shirt her campaign is selling for $29.99 and $32.99, depending on the size.
Harris’ exhumation of busing was greeted over at Fox News with the delirium usually reserved for striking oil in one’s own backyard. Laura Ingraham was almost at a loss for words as the Democrats endeavored to be the brain-dead party she always said they were. Then, to presumed great glee in Trumpland, Biden did not take Harris to task for a cheap shot, but employing his usual logorrhea, he meandered his way to an explanation that lacked, among other things, clarity. Should Biden become the Democratic nominee, he’s going to have to answer for his party’s sudden fondness for a loathed program no one has much discussed in years.
But the Democratic Party is on a tear. One by one, its candidates have embraced losing issue after losing issue. First came reparations for slavery, a noble idea lacking only popular support and practicality and possibly amounting to yet another attempt to right a wrong with money. Before that, the various candidates raised their hands in support of Medicare-for-All, which could strip millions of people of their private insurance plans. That is sure to be characterized by Trump as socialized medicine with the sick growing old and dying, covered in cobwebs while waiting to see the doctor. GOP strategists must be hyperventilating over all the goodies arrayed before them. This is a campaign even Trump could win.
The Democratic Party has a possibly fatal inability to prioritize. The urgent challenge is to rid the nation of Trump, not to mollify this or that identity group or wrestle over issues that could not be solved when they were relevant — like busing. As it is, the candidates are campaigning in an America of their own imagination — a bit to the left of Sweden and as racially unified as one of those old Coke commercials. They pander to the extremes of the early caucus and primary states, thinking they can seduce the middle later on down the road or, in my case, giving me a choice of one of them or Trump. Sedate me first.
Richard Cohen’s email address is email@example.com. (c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group