I Comment to some press remarks made today 6/2/2019 about Liam Neeson. Keep in mind this happen 40 years ago, keep in mind he said clear how ashamed he is about it and how sorry he feels he also said no violence occur or ever did thank God he said. 40 years after he confess this secret to a journalist imagine how hurtful it was for him to have the secret inside him all those years, I am not try to excuse him for the way he thought no it was wrong but every white man would have thought and done the same because this is what society wants us to do and believe. Feel ashamed and sorry for the thoughts afterwards its the second best reaction . We need to talk and thanks to Liam Neeson I hope we will talk about this issue
“Once we had only the land. The white man came and brought us the Bible. Now we have the Bible, and they have the land” (Hare, 178). In Nathan Hare’s Brainwashing a Black Men’s Mind, Hare believes the Black society is being brainwashed into thinking that Whites are the supremacy. Nancy Larrick’s,
The All-White World of Children’s Book’s (1956), states “... white child learns from his books that he is the Kingfish [top dog].” Which leads to, how are the Whites brainwashing a Black man’s mind? Hare gave the following example, controlling and manipulating the minds and bodies of the subjects [blacks] will be the best by removing the blacks normal settings.
Hare writes that the color white symbolizes purity and black stands for evil and derogatory referent and that “... theirs brains,..., at last has been washed white as snow.”. At a young age, children are taught how to read children’s books. ‘“Why are they always white children?” asked by a five-year old Black girl” (Larrick, 63), as many books seen are only white. Nancy Larrick wrote an article about children’s book and argued how children’s books portrays only whites in books,
It Appears That Understanding Racism Is An Intellectual Milestone. It Really Isn’t.
Inside what we call the “Western Civilisation” the only race that can be racist is the white race because we have consistently acted on and, worse, enacted racism as a foundational cultural ingredient.
We, the whites who own and have created and so carefully groomed the western civilisation devised racism as a way of insuring a sort of fraternity between peoples who have so little in common other than the shade of the brown of our so called white skin.
When you as a white person understand that “black people cannot be racist” it means you have transcended a cultural brainwashing for which you are not to be blamed ever, but it is an achievement nevertheless. The key here is to grasp the cultural background of racism.
White people are not racist because they’re white. They are racist only when they oppress other races while inside the cultures which give privilege to the white race. Now I understand why his first thought was " What colour was he?" now I understand why my first thought as well was the one I said. It does make sense , this is what I know and so do my friends when I talk to them about it
However The Footballer Mr John Barnes made the right comments, himself has been a racist victim amongst the footballers years back so he knows what to say or how to deal with the sityuation. He is miles ahead of me or anyone white me and instead of thinking negative he said well done to Liam you did the right thing by admitting this and bring it to the public however we need to talk about it and yes we need to talk
We Need To Talk
As humans we all need to sit down and talk about the issue "Racism" it is with us no matter what it is. Unfortunately we never been told how to deal with racism how to not think the way we do think. There is a murder or a robbery what is the first thing it comes to our mind?
Black men must be behind the robbery or any illegal thing is happening
Why that is? Do not confuse racism with xenophobia or ethnocentrism. Racism is different than segregating from outsiders or segregating from other kin. Both xenophobia and ethnocentrism are defensive actions, while racism is attack action.
For example, I am a bit xenophobic in my belief that the influx of refugees in western Europe will alter, for the worse, the culture of western Europe. I am also one who opinionates that many folks are ethnocentric by default: some hebrew folk, some gypsy folk (rroma), some nordic folk, some Japanese folk, because they have a cultural grooming based on their ethnicity first.
Some folks are xenophobic by default, like some greek folk or some Nordic folk, because they have axiomatic belief that their culture is pristine. Ethnocentricity is visible, for example, in business where many people choose banks, suppliers, contractors and even clients, based on ethnicity. Xenophobia is less visible by default, it usually pops up when there is a nationalist or patriotic political movement to fuel it.
Some ethnocentricity is a solution. If the ethnic group is an oppressed minority business is only possible inside the group. Then it becomes custom, then obligation. Some xenophobia is natural because it takes hundreds of generations to build a well defined culture.
Racism is not a synonym for oppressed minority. You can be an oppressed majority, racism doesn’t go away with numbers. Racism is only authentic if it is based on some kind of exclusionary cultural support network.
Racism is intersectional when it permeates politics and thus affects survival. Racism is institutional when it permeates economy and it affects society. Racism is structural when it permeates civilization and it affects progress.
And That is what makes racists so hilarious, especially poor, uneducated, sick, no infrastructure, wealth depleted, natality capped people. They play a politics game devised for the survival of the few exploiting groups at the top of the social pyramid.
Anyway, racism is complex but it really isn’t complicated: if you are the one who has to work to remove the weight some society’s culture placed on you because of your race or ethnicity, you cannot be racist when you express your experience carrying that weight.
Anger may be racial but only oppression is racist. Labelling may be racial but only social classification is racist. There are many people who cry racism when it is mere anger. There are also many, many people who cry free speech when in fact they help the oppression.
A Story to Be Told
A mother who tried to ban her ex-husband from taking their children to Ukip events has claimed they were being brainwashed with racist and homophobic views. She feared he was ‘abusing their childhood’ by ‘pumping them full’ of the party’s political beliefs.
Some ‘99.9 per cent of parents’ would recognise that children should not be involved in political activities, she claimed. Her allegations emerged after a judge lifted a ban on the father, who is standing as a Ukip candidate, from involving the children in rallies.
At an appeal, the judge found there was insufficient evidence that the youngsters were at risk of ‘emotional harm’ because of potentially hostile reactions to the party from the public.
But in court documents, the mother – who is not a member of a political party – feared her ex-husband’s political views were ‘influencing the children’, saying the older child in particular ‘can be racist and homophobic’.
A report said the father had enlisted the support of his children to distribute Ukip leaflets when they spent time with him. But their mother said it was ‘mentally challenging’ and ‘confusing’ for the children to encounter opposition to Ukip.
One had a leaflet ripped up in their face, while an older child had an egg thrown at them while campaigning with their father, it was claimed. She said the court had so far ‘failed to protect certain of the children from brainwashing’ as one is a member of Ukip’s youth wing and another is intent on joining.
She told how one of her children had gone into school and told classmates that they had been to a Ukip garden party at the weekend. ‘The other kids go, “Hey, what?” they have no idea what they are talking about,’ she said.
‘They shouldn’t know what they are talking about because none of them at that age should know anything to do with politics. ‘Isn’t that to do with abusing their childhood if they’re being pumped full of whatever political party?’ But the father said the child had been ‘exceedingly amused’ to have an egg land ‘somewhere near’ their feet. He added that the child was ‘very keen’ on campaigning for the party and ‘gets a lot out of it’.
The father also accused his ex-wife of herself ‘indoctrinating’ the children. At the appeal, heard at a court in the South of England on Friday, a judge overturned the ban imposed during a custody battle at a family court, saying the order was ‘invasive’ of the ‘rights of the father’.
The judge said the candidate had not been given advance notice that his membership of Ukip would be raised as an issue or an order made about it.
Lifting the ban, the judge said the case should be brought back to court for a new hearing if the parents still cannot reach an agreement. The father, who cannot be named, said last night: ‘This is a victory. People are fed of up of being told how they are supposed to think.’
He disputed the claim that Ukip was making his children racist and homophobic as ‘nonsense’. ‘Even if my children had picked up racism, which I do not accept they have, they have not picked it up from Ukip,’ he added.
We all need to wake up and do something about our lives make the world a better place to live and for some to fit in life is too short for hatred, if we do that we will live life as we dreamed off, if someone does not bother you then do not bother them live your life in peace and let others to do the same
Basic Questions and Answers
"Why do people continue to be racist after so many articles, videos and talks about how racism is dumb?"
It's a question that people ask all the time. If we're all part of the human race, why are people racist? After all, there are no biological differences between people. No race is superior or inferior to another. We're all the same. There are many reasons why people can have racist attitudes.
A lot of our attitudes are shaped when we're young. When our family members or friends express racist opinions, it's common that we will take on those views ourselves. The problem is that, unless we do something about it, they can stay with us for a lifetime. It's normal to want to spend time with people that have the same interests, background, culture and language. It creates a sense of belonging that is really important. The downside is that it can also set up differences between other groups and, over time, this might lead to us to thinking that our group is better than others.
We often put labels on people. He dresses like this so he must be into this music. She goes to that school so she must be rich. We can also stereotype people from different racial backgrounds as "lazy", "brainy", "aggro"… you get the idea. The way to beat the stereotypes? Don't judge a whole group. Get to know people from different racial backgrounds and find out how much you have in common.
When we feel angry or frustrated, we often look for someone else to blame for our problems. As a community, we can do the same thing. People who look or talk differently to us are an easy target. You can hear it happening today in comments like, "those people take our jobs" or "they get government handouts all the time". Nearly all the time, these statements are wrong.
When we feel angry or frustrated, we often look for someone else to blame for our problems. As a community, we can do the same thing. People who look or talk differently to us are an easy target. You can hear it happening today in comments like, “those people take our jobs” or “they get government handouts all the time”. Nearly all the time, these statements are wrong.
Racial inequity exists, and it’s not decreasing.
It is a fact Minorities are less likely to be given appropriate cardiac medications or to undergo bypass surgery, and are less likely to receive kidney dialysis or transplants. By contrast, they are more likely to receive certain less-desirable procedures, such as lower limb amputations for diabetes and other conditions. When people hold a negative stereotype about a group and meet someone from that group, they often treat that person differently and honestly don't even realize it. The problem for our society is that the level of negative stereotypes is very high
If you think about it, what is race? What is racism? At its most basic level, racism is a lens through which people interpret, naturalize, and reproduce inequality. We had, on the one hand, these national ideals of freedom and equality. And, on the other hand, we had this economic reality of a slavery system that was part of the transatlantic slave trade. So, basically, this ideology developed to justify how slaves weren't equal biologically.
Our culture has shown through countless examples that people's potentials are not based on these racial groups. Up until this election cycle, I would have said that we were living in a time when explicit racism has been on the decline
But current political discourse aside, implicit, unconscious bias is still everywhere, with large, concrete consequences for people's lives—voting rights, access to education, employment, treatment by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
So then I find myself asking, why do we continue to think racially? Why do these groups persist, and why do we still have bias against certain groups?There’s another way to understand the role of racism in our society: as a way of managing relations among whites.
Children come into the world prepared to learn certain things. And they actively learn them. You don't have to teach it to them Children learn language effortlessly, even though language is incredibly complex. They’re learning language at one year old just by listening to people talk. A developing child also tries to determine which social groups will be important.
Let’s say a mother is in a conversation with another adult at the playground, and her child overhears her say, “It's so great that we have a black president.”
The child just learned a lot about the world from this remark. She learned that there's a category called “black.” Every other time she heard the word “president,” it didn't have the word “black” in front of it. She learned that this new term is really important. And she learned that her mother is excited or angry or sarcastic about it, depending on the tone of voice.
As a result, the child forms what’s called a cognitive placeholder, and she goes about actively trying to figure out what that category of people is like and using that placeholder in social situations.
Children’s brains are picking out these groups in the world. Their brains are trying to understand power dynamics. But you've also got adults—and here, I'm mostly talking about white adults—who won't talk to their children about race. And it's often for good intentions. They want their kids to be “colorblind,” and they want to protect them from the ugliness of racism.
Racial ideologies are fundamentally judgments about who is worthy, who is decent, who belongs, and who doesn't. Inclusion and exclusion The contexts you mention with admissions, those are areas where people are called to make judgments of other people. So it's inevitable that racial issues come up in those contexts.
I think that people who say affirmative action is unjust lack any structural understanding of race. They simply don't understand how racism works If you understand that we live in a society that systematically channels resources toward white people at the expense of black people, then you realize something: the fact that this white person is more qualified might itself be unfair.
But, if we can take that assumption and spin it on its head and show people how race is actually historically and culturally and socially constructed, then you've just opened their eyes to this whole way of looking at the world.
It’s not about attacking individual people and labeling people as racist or not. It’s about understanding the larger systems of oppression and reducing the bias that everyone has. With a social science approach, we attempt to challenge the fundamental ways we all think about this issue, which is more helpful
If we can inspire deep critical thinking on some of these issues, if I can get people to think more like a social scientist or an anthropologist, then I think we all will see things differently. And change will follow.
Understanding our own racial biases is something we all struggle with, even when we aren’t aware of those struggles. We speak with one psychologist who has been studying a more modern form of prejudice and says ridding ourselves of those biases is practically impossible. But being aware of them is the first step toward improving relations among different racial groups
We used to think about racism in a very simple way – that people had negative thoughts, negative feelings, hatred toward a group. But since the 1960s when there was civil rights legislation, it changed the way we thought about race because it was not only immoral to think that way, but it was illegal to discriminate. And what we think is that racism has become more subtle since then.
That people still have negative feelings, but they may not be aware of those negative feelings. Instead of feelings of hatred, it’s more like feelings of avoidance and discomfort. That’s where the name aversive racism comes from. Most white Americans, the majority of white Americans, about two-thirds to three-quarters, have the unconscious, implicit, racial biases.
Wake-Up Call: Racism is Alive and Well
For those of you who believe that racism is a thing of the past, think again. I received dozens of notes from anonymous posters who felt the need to trumpet their hate for Black people, Jewish people, and other oppressed groups — freely using the n-word and any other insult that came to mind. Safely hidden behind the Internet's opaque digital wall, the negative sentiments that most people are socialized to keep to themselves spilled out for all to see.
Good old-fashioned racism is alive and well, as many cling to the passé notion of a social order where Whites alone are at the top. In today's world, old-fashioned racists can no longer run around in white hoods, but they can spread hate from their personal computers. This type of attitude underscores the need for new ways of approaching our society's wounds surrounding race and ethnicity.
M I Ro
photos by pixabay.com
George Bush’s legacy isn’t so peaceful
We mustn’t forget Bush Sr’s horrific conduct as director of the CIA, write George Binette and Carole Ashley, not to mention his racist 1988 campaign
Amidst the Trump administration’s shameless venality, vulgarity and viciously reactionary policies, many liberals on both sides of the Atlantic seem to view the Reagan-Bush years through rose-tinted spectacles.
To his credit, Godfrey Hodgson’s obituary of the elder George Bush (Obituary, 3 December) provides a salutary reminder of some of the ugly realities of the time including the notorious “Willie Horton ad” from Bush’s 1988 presidential election campaign, an example of dog-whistle racism, which surely anticipated Trump’s appeal.
Curiously, however, the obituary omits mention of a particularly horrific feature of Bush’s time at the helm of the CIA. While Operation Condor, a clandestine initiative that unfolded over two decades across most of Latin America, predated Bush’s arrival, it was certainly at its bloodiest during his tenure in the mid-1970s.
The US covertly poured millions into helping regimes including Pinochet’s Chile, the Argentinian junta, and military dictatorships in Brazil and Paraguay deal with “political dissent”. Credible estimates suggest that 60,000-80,000 leftists, trade union and peasant leaders, and human rights activists perished, while more than 400,000 others wound up as political prisoners across these and other countries in the region.
The CIA’s chief recruiter of the ‘60s argued that hiring minorities meant racism against white people
While the Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to recruit more people of color stretches back decades,those efforts were unfortunately tainted by racism, as demonstrated by memos from the Agency’s chief recruiters in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In one sentence, the Agency recruiter declared that the age of hiring token POC was over. In the next, they declared that hiring POC meant passing over white applicants who were “better qualified.”
One memo, marked Confidential, described a recent conference and opened with references to “hyphenated Americans,” such as Spanish-Americans and Puerto Rican-Americans.
The last is especially surprising, as one would expect America’s foreign intelligence agency to know that Puerto Rico was part of America.
The 1964 memo goes on to state that “the “Negro in positions of visibility” phase” was over and that “the stubborn barriers” POC faced had been “broken down.” It immediately follows this bold declaration by stating that “better qualified” white applicants were passed over in favor of “a qualified Negro.” According to the CIA, this was “discrimination in reverse.”
Later, the memo states that POC “are not given the public relations red carpet treatment.” This apparently coincided with a reduced (not eliminated) “so-called “Red Carpet Treatment” accorded [to] white graduates.”
The Agency’s chief recruiter apparently needed to be told to “start with the best-qualified Negro you can find.” This insight was apparently counterintuitive enough to the recruiters that it was memorialized in writing and passed on to others.
The memo then states that the conference “did not [say]… that it takes a Negro to recruit a Negro.” Nevertheless, “it was made clear” that recruiters should bring “a satisfied Negro employee” for best results.”
The chief recruiter then noted that everyone at the conference agreed that “the Negro does significantly poorer on every test.” According to the CIA’s chief recruiter, this meant that “hiring a qualified Negro when a better qualified white applicant is available.” They saw this as “discrimination” against white people for “corporate image.”
The memo also argued that POC “flunk tests with great regularity” because they were taught not to try. While expectations can play a role in this, it’s now widely acknowledged that these tests are racially biased. As noted by some, this was not incidental but deliberate and used to reduce the number of POC admitted to higher education.
The Agency’s chief recruiter then goes on to over-sexualize black women and state that their attractiveness was the only reason they would be hired. Hiring “an especially attractive Negress secretary in the boss’ office” was apparently a technique justified by unnamed black leaders. The same paragraph concludes by stating that “painting out the “White Only” signs with transparent paint is losing its touch of humor.”Despite the exceptional degree of ignorance and racism built into that statement, the end of the sentence manages to exceed it by saying it was no longer appropriate to ask where “the spear-rack” should be put.
The memo concluded by noting that the Agency was “more receptive to black candidates” than it had been the year before. The Agency even had “a full-time black recruiter,” a boast reminiscent of their idea that “it takes a Negro to recruit a Negro.”
The Troubling Fate of a 1973 Film About the First Black Man in the C.I.A.
Ivan Dixon’s 1973 film, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” which is playing at Metrograph from Friday through Sunday (it’s also on DVD and streaming), is a political fiction, based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, about the first black man in the C.I.A.
After leaving the agency, the agent, Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook) moves to Chicago, and puts his training in guerrilla warfare to use: he organizes a group of black gang members and Vietnam War veterans into a fighting force and leads a violent uprising against the police, the National Guard, and the city government.
The film’s radical premise was noticed outside of Hollywood: produced independently, the film was completed and released by United Artists, but it was pulled from theatres soon after its release.
Its prints were destroyed; the negative was stored under another title; and Greenlee (who died in 2014) claimed that the F.B.I. was involved in its disappearance, citing visits from agents to theatre owners who were told to pull the movie from screens. (No official documentation of these demands has emerged.)
On these grounds alone, a viewing of “The Spook Who Sat By the Door” would be a matter of urgent curiosity. But the movie is also a distinctive and accomplished work of art, no mere artifact of the times but an enduring experience.
A supreme aspect of the art of movies is tone—the sensory climate of a movie, which depends on the style and mood of performance as much as the plot and the dialogue, the visual compositions as well as the locations, costumes, and décor, the editing and the music (often a sticking point), all of which are aligned with—and sharpen and focus—the ideas that the movie embodies.
Dixon—who starred in one of the greatest of all independent films, Michael Roemer’s “Nothing But a Man,” from 1964 (and then spent five years on “Hogan’s Heroes”)—begins with a tone bordering on sketch-like satire that soon crystallizes into a sharp edge of restrained precision.
A senator (a white man, played by Joseph Mascolo) campaigning for reëlection finds that he needs the black vote and decides to criticize the C.I.A. for having no black agents. Even in his office, the senator speaks in a pompous, stentorian voice seemingly inflated to a constant podium bluster.
Dixon devotes careful attention to the recruitment and training process (Greenlee had himself been an employee of the U.S. Information Agency) that Freeman and the other black recruits who are his competitors endure—and to the behind-the-scenes chicanery of white officials who treat the process as a sham and hope not to integrate the agency at all.
Dixon’s direction of the white actors’ performances exposes the dual meaning of the term “bad actors”: the officials’ fat-cat presumptions and facile attitudinizing are mocked in the characters’ exaggerated B-movie cadences. (The title of “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” plays on the racial slur as well as the slang for “spy,” and alludes to the conspicuous deployment of the agency’s one black officer to display its phony integration.)
By contrast, in the role of Dan Freeman, Cook is laser-focussed and controlled, keeping himself under high pressure to contain tremendous heat. When Dan leaves Washington, D.C., and returns to Chicago, he does so under the guise of joining a social-services group as a street-level teacher.
But when he gets there, he returns to his earlier identity as Turk, a member of a gang called the Cobras, and he organizes and trains its members as part of his battalion—with lessons that he learned in C.I.A. training courses.
The sequences of their training, their planning, and their launching of action—as well as of Dan’s relations with other black men and women there, including his former fiancée, Joy (Janet League); a prostitute whom he recruits as an infiltrator (Paula Kelly); and a police detective who’s his longtime friend (J.A. Preston)—deliver a frank yet delicate reckoning with the pain and the conflict of black American lives.
The power of what Dixon accomplishes is revealed as much in what’s not onscreen as in what is. “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” isn’t about the ideological or organizational development of a political party; it’s not about a public-relations war or an advocacy campaign.
Rather, it’s about a cold, clear truth that infuses the movie with an existential ferocity: Dixon’s film doesn’t offer a litany of disparate grievances; it displays the bedrock of racist attitudes and assumptions that renders racist policies both inescapable and irreparable. In effect, the question that the film poses regarding the revolutionary action of black Americans—and that renders it so daring—isn’t “Why?” but “Why not?”
The longest scene in the movie, nearly at the center of it, features Dan in conversation with a fighter named Willie (David Lemieux), a college student and writer whom he recruits as “propagandist” and appoints Minister of Information. When Willie expresses contempt for his college education, Dan unleashes a calmly impassioned monologue about his illiterate grandmother learning to read when he did and telling him,
“Get an education, because that’s the only thing the white man can’t take away from you.” In another extraordinary scene, as four of the guerrillas sit around chatting, two of them improvise an elaborately antic parody of a Hollywood plantation movie, complete with a servile and grateful former slave, to which Dan responds, “You have just played out the American dream, and now we’re going to turn it into a nightmare.”
Dixon, working with the cinematographer Michel Hugo (who also shot Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop”), composes the film with a severe, wide-eyed stillness that has the sense of a hard stare at unbearable realities and phantasmagorical practicalities alike.
His stylized blankness seems to stare beyond the specifics of the drama toward vast imaginary possibilities. The power of his work was noticed by the severest critics of the era, who forced it out of theatres and nearly into oblivion. It was the second and last feature that Dixon directed—and a glance at the filmographies of its cast shows that few had significant feature-film roles afterward.
As with so many independent films—sadly and unsurprisingly, particularly ones directed by women and people of color—the disappearance of this one also contributed to the erasure of careers, mentorship, influence, and power of another sort, which, judging by the fate of “The Spook Who Sat By the Door,” seems to have mattered desperately to law-enforcement officials: power in the world of movies itself.
The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice
The tributes to former President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday aged 94, have been pouring in from all sides of the political spectrum. He was a man “of the highest character,” said his eldest son and fellow former president, George W. Bush. “He loved America and served with character, class, and integrity,” tweeted former U.S. Attorney and #Resistance icon Preet Bharara.
According to another former president, Barack Obama, Bush’s life was “a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.” Apple boss Tim Cook said: “We have lost a great American.”
In the age of Donald Trump, it isn’t difficult for hagiographers of the late Bush Sr. to paint a picture of him as a great patriot and pragmatist; a president who governed with “class” and “integrity.”
It is true that the former president refused to vote for Trump in 2016, calling him a “blowhard,” and that he eschewed the white nationalist, “alt-right,” conspiratorial politics that has come to define the modern Republican Party.
He helped end the Cold War without, as Obama said, “firing a shot.” He spent his life serving his country — from the military to Congress to the United Nations to the CIA to the White House. And, by all accounts, he was also a beloved grandfather and great-grandfather to his 17 grandkids and eight great-grandkids.
Nevertheless, he was a public, not a private, figure — one of only 44 men to have ever served as president of the United States. We cannot, therefore, allow his actual record in office to be beautified in such a brazen way.
“When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms,” as my colleague Glenn Greenwald has argued, because it leads to “false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts.”
The inconvenient truth is that the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush had far more in common with the recognizably belligerent, corrupt, and right-wing Republican figures who came after him — his son George W. and the current orange-faced incumbent — than much of the political and media classes might have you believe.
He ran a racist election campaign. The name of Willie Horton should forever be associated with Bush’s 1988 presidential bid. Horton, who was serving a life sentence for murder in Massachusetts — where Bush’s Democratic opponent,
Michael Dukakis, was governor — had fled a weekend furlough program and raped a Maryland woman. A notorious television ad called “Weekend Passes,” released by a political action committee with ties to the Bush campaign, made clear to viewers that Horton was black and his victim was white. As Bush campaign director Lee Atwater bragged,
“By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.” Bush himself was quick to dismiss accusations of racism as “absolutely ridiculous,” yet it was clear at the time — even to right-wing Republican operatives such as Roger Stone, now a close ally of Trump — that the ad had crossed a line.
“You and George Bush will wear that to your grave,” Stone complained to Atwater. “It’s a racist ad. … You’re going to regret it.” Stone was right about Atwater, who on his deathbed apologized for using Horton against Dukakis. But Bush never did. He made a dishonest case for war.
Thirteen years before George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq, his father made his own set of false claims to justify the aerial bombardment of that same country. The first Gulf War, as an investigation by journalist Joshua Holland concluded, “was sold on a mountain of war propaganda.” For a start, Bush told the American public that Iraq had invaded Kuwait “without provocation or warning.”
What he omitted to mention was that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, had given an effective green light to Saddam Hussein, telling him in July 1990, a week before his invasion, “[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Then there is the fabrication of intelligence.
Bush deployed U.S. troops to the Gulf in August 1990 and claimed that he was doing so in order “to assist the Saudi Arabian Government in the defense of its homeland.” As Scott Peterson wrote in the Christian Science Monitor in 2002, “Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated … that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key U.S. oil supplier.”
Yet when reporter Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times acquired her own commercial satellite images of the Saudi border, she found no signs of Iraqi forces; only an empty desert. “It was a pretty serious fib,” Heller told Peterson, adding: “That [Iraqi buildup] was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn’t exist.”
He committed war crimes. Under Bush Sr., the U.S. dropped a whopping 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, many of which resulted in horrific civilian casualties. In February 1991, for example, a U.S. airstrike on an air-raid shelter in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Pentagon knew the Amiriyah facility had been used as a civil defense shelter during the Iran-Iraq war and yet had attacked without warning. It was, concluded HRW, “a serious violation of the laws of war.” U.S. bombs also destroyed essential Iraqi civilian infrastructure — from electricity-generating and water-treatment facilities to food-processing plants and flour mills. This was no accident.
As Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported in June 1991: “Some targets, especially late in the war, were bombed primarily to create postwar leverage over Iraq, not to influence the course of the conflict itself.
Planners now say their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance. … Because of these goals, damage to civilian structures and interests, invariably described by briefers during the war as ‘collateral’ and unintended, was sometimes neither.”
Got that? The Bush administration deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure for “leverage” over Saddam Hussein. How is this not terrorism? As a Harvard public health team concluded in June 1991, less than four months after the end of the war, the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure had resulted in acute malnutrition and “epidemic” levels of cholera and typhoid.
By January 1992, Beth Osborne Daponte, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, was estimating that Bush’s Gulf War had caused the deaths of 158,000 Iraqis, including 13,000 immediate civilian deaths and 70,000 deaths from the damage done to electricity and sewage treatment plants. Daponte’s numbers contradicted the Bush administration’s, and she was threatened by her superiors with dismissal for releasing “false information.” (Sound familiar?)
Bush leaves mixed record on race, civil rights
Early in George H.W. Bush’s political career, when he was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, he came out against the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, deriding his opponent as “radical” for supporting the bill that ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination. “The new civil rights act was passed to protect 14 percent of the people,” he said. “I’m also worried about the other 86 percent.”
The stand seemed at odds with his family’s long history of supporting civil rights (his father, Prescott Bush, a Connecticut senator worked to desegregate schools and protect voting rights) and with his own work raising money for the United Negro College Fund.
But in Texas, where the Republican Party was steadily becoming more conservative and embracing the Southern strategy of appealing to white voters, Bush’s position made sense.
He would later regret opposing the groundbreaking bill, even apologizing to his pastor, according to historian Timothy Naftali, author of “George H.W. Bush: The American Presidents Series.” “He came from the northern Republican tradition, which was moderate and somewhat progressive on race at the time,” Naftali said. “But George Bush sometimes chose expediency in his campaigning.
He didn’t always have the courage of his convictions as a candidate, but more often than not, he had the courage of his convictions in office.” As a freshman congressman from Texas, Bush joined a group of moderate Republicans to support civil rights legislation and voted in favor of the 1968 Fair Housing Act – a move that did not sit well with his conservative constituents back home.
David Greenberg, a professor of history and journalism and media studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said Bush, who died Friday at the age of 94, was often torn between “the right thing to do versus the political thing to do.” Bush's campaign in his 1988 bid for the presidency is often cited as one of the nastiest in political memory.
An attack ad mined ugly stereotypes of African-Americans, and Bush questioned the patriotism of his opponent, Michael Dukakis. The Willie Horton ad, which focused on a convicted murderer who committed a rape while out of prison on a furlough program Dukakis supported, was put out by a conservative PAC, not the Bush campaign.
However, Bush repeatedly brought up Horton’s name in speeches, including one to the National Sheriffs' Association. “Horton applied for a furlough,” Bush said. “He was given the furlough. He was released. And he fled – only to terrorize a family and repeatedly rape a woman.”
The Bush campaign released an ad that showed footage of prisoners going through a revolving door – a strategy that played on white voters’ fears and prejudices, said Jason Johnson, a professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Susan Estrich, Dukakis' campaign manager, accused the Bush campaign of stoking racial tensions.
"If you were going to run a campaign of fear and smear and appeal to racial hatred,” she told The New York Times, “you could not have picked a better case to use than this one.'' In 1990, Bush vetoed a civil rights act that would have expanded job protections.
He and Ronald Reagan were the only presidents to veto a civil rights measure since the start of the civil rights era. Bush said the bill would have introduced the “destructive force of quotas into our national employment system."
“It was not a good look to be vetoing a civil rights bill when you are trying to offer a kinder, gentler version of Reagan,” said Greenberg, who noted that the backlash led Bush to work on a compromise bill, the 1991 Civil Rights Act, which passed the following year.
Bush’s most lasting legacy in race relations may stem from his nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his role in escalating the war on drugs. By selecting the conservative Thomas, an ardent opponent of affirmative action, to replace Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, who championed equal rights and challenged discrimination,
Bush stalled or set back progress on civil rights issues for decades, said Johnson, who likened the choice to “trolling.”“This is crack cocaine seized a few days ago by Drug Enforcement agents in a park just across the street from the White House,” he said. “It could easily have been heroin or PCP.
It’s as innocent-looking as candy, but it’s turning our cities into battle zones, and it’s murdering our children.” He called for a $1.5 billion increase in drug-related federal spending to law enforcement and pushed to “enlarge our criminal justice system across the board, at the local, state and federal levels alike.
We need more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors.” That approach, along with the mandatory minimum sentences passed under Reagan, contributed to the so-called 100-to-1 drug sentencing discrepancy, in which the penalty for crack possession and sale was 100 times greater than that for cocaine, said Joshua Clark Davis, a University of Baltimore history professor.
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