Posts Tagged ‘KKK’

A One-sided Story: Trump Must Go

Friday, August 18th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

A white supremacist carries a Nazi flag into the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Aug. 12. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A white supremacist carries a Nazi flag into the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Aug. 12. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Apparently a lot of people in this country are under the impression that the news media are obliged to present both — indeed, all — sides of a story equally, which is to suggest, fairly, and which is to imply, inevitably, that both (or all) sides have equal legitimacy.

This is nonsense. In the first place, a free and unfettered press as protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution is under no obligation to be fair, unbiased or even factual. You just can’t make stuff up with the intent to hurt someone. That’s why there are so many unreliable sources of information in this country making money while posing as responsible journalism. Take Fox News, as Henny Youngman said, please.

The idea of the press being responsible and reliable as a source of useful information has evolved over time with the most responsible sources establishing themselves with readers and listeners through dedication to one thing overall — truth. Not truth as a publisher sees it. Not truth as a big advertiser sees it. Not truth as a politician, even a president, sees it. And not necessarily truth as everyone on all sides of an issue would like it to be seen.

Just the plain and simple facts of the matter. Here’s what happened. Here’s what people did. Here’s what people said. And yes, here’s what we think based on all those facts.

The United States and its Allies fought a worldwide war to defeat Naziism, anti-semitism and the belief that certain fair-haired, light-skinned people were born superior to others and that millions of those “others” had to be murdered to protect the so-called super race. The U.S. and it Allies won that war, at great cost. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died to defeat Nazis, white supremacists, fascists, anti-Semites. Fact.

There is no “other” side. Those who sought to subjugate and slaughter others because of their religion, nationality, or race were rejected. Nazis and fascists were rejected. Those who defended or sought to appease them were rejected. Some were sent to prison.

The United States also fought a bloody Civil War to defeat white supremacists who believed they were born superior to people with dark skin and, thus, could use and treat those “other” people as property, as slaves. Many Americans, including President Abraham Lincoln, disagreed. Some people in the South tried to argue — still do — that the “other,” legitimate, side of the story was that the war was over states’ rights. That’s only if you consider that the “right” the Southern states sought to protect in seceding from the Union and starting a war (treason) was to own and treat people of color as slaves. The South lost. Fact.

Hate was rejected. White supremacy was rejected. Slavery was rejected. Nazis and fascists were rejected. Anti-semites were rejected.  Case closed. We did not agree to disagree. In words the current president of the United States might understand, Americans agreed that bigotry and racism were “bad.” That the KKK, neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups were “evil.” That there were no “fine people” who support such groups and their hateful messages. That America stands for inclusiveness. That our differences make us stronger. That it is the primary job of the president to spread that message and to make sure it is enforced.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — “alt-right” is a bogus word created to give a veneer of legitimacy to white supremacists, Nazi sympathizers and wannabe fascist bullies. These are hate groups parading under the absurd banner that white men have been somehow denied their due because of the color of their skin. To deny this absurdity or to remain silent about it is to give these groups a false standing. It suggests a moral legitimacy that hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to deny.

This is a time of serious unrest in America, stoked by the divisive language and actions of Donald Trump and those who advise and enable him. There is no other side to that story either. He was elected on a campaign built on lies, bigotry and bullying. The Republican Party allowed it. They continue to allow him to shred the fabric of this nation. They own him even though he is not and never has been one of them. That is the price of silence in the face of fascism.

There was never any chance that Trump was going to “grow into the job” of president. He has not grown emotionally in his 71 years. Regressed, more likely. He must be removed from office, by Republicans or Robert Mueller, the special counsel. More likely the latter.

But ultimately every American has a stake in this fight against authoritarianism. Trump has disgraced the Office of the President. He has failed at every opportunity to display moral leadership. Congress, world leaders, his own staff do not respect him. At most, the white supremacists in his circle use him for their own agenda.

This is not a theoretical exercise. It is personal. The question for every American is: Do you support the statements from the president that “both sides” bear responsibility for what happened in Charlottesville, Va.? In sum, do you grant neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Klansmen moral standing to the point that you create words like “anti-Nazi” and “antifa” (anti-fascist) when all that used to be necessary was “them” and the rest of us. Evil. Good.

I have spent more than half a century in journalism, three decades writing editorials about every possible topic. This is simply by way of saying that I am programmed to look for both sides of any story and then write about it. For this, because he is uncomfortable with any straight reporting of the things he says and does — including pointing out inconsistencies and lies as well as insults — the wholly unqualified president has declared me and my colleagues to be an “enemy of the people.” That’s a line used by every fascist in history about the press.

Trump should not be president. Those who voted for him were wrong. Many have had the honesty to admit it. Some, for their own reasons, never will. History will remember those who allowed him to disgrace this nation. It will not be a pretty tale. There’s only one side to this story.

The Truth Shall Make us Free, and Angry

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Mexican Preidnet Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump ... a language barrier?

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump … a language barrier?

I wrote a column last week in which I said that the media’s decision to give Donald Trump’s core supporters the dignity of a legitimate-sounding political movement name was, essentially, a bunch of hooey. A lazy, cowardly way of saying that the folks most passionate about Trump’s candidacy are bigots.

When you say Alt-Right, read it to mean the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, previously closeted fascists, anti-gays, and a bunch of woman-haters. The kind of people who, in previous eras stole land from Native Americans and slaughtered thousands of them. Who started a war to preserve slavery. Who had whites-only schools and bathrooms. Who herded fellow Americans of foreign descent into internment camps.

I thought it was a fair, truthful representation of what Americans have been subjected to for nearly a year now. Would that the major media had done the same for the past year. One reader suggested there must have been spittle on my laptop when I got through writing. Quite possible. I’ve been known to get a little messy when I’m angry. To me, one of the most disappointing aspects of this presidential campaign is that not nearly enough people are angry and downright embarrassed that one of our two major political parties has handed its presidential nomination to a congenital liar. A bigot. A misogynist. A narcissist. … There I go again.

Another reader noted a lot of “name-calling” in the piece. I don’t know. It seems to me when I use words to describe the reality of what is going on, it’s not name-calling, it’s doing what Trump says he does. You know, telling it like it is; calling a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot. I think Trump’s own words and actions legitimize every label I affixed to him. You can deny this if you want, but that merely puts you in line with the Republican National Committee, which is in bed with Trump, against its will but for its own selfish purposes. There are names for that, too.

Last week, Trump took his ego to Mexico to meet with that country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto. After the meeting, Trump said they discussed the infamous wall he has repeatedly vowed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico, but he said the two men did not discuss his demand that Mexico pay for it. Pena Nieto disagreed. He said he “made it clear” at the beginning of the conversation that Mexico would not pay for any wall.

If somebody is lying here, I’m going with Trump. Just hours after his cordial photo op/meeting in Mexico, the candidate was in Phoenix giving as extreme an anti-immigrant speech one could imagine. A wall. Mass deportations of migrant criminals. “Extreme-vetting.” “Ideological certification.” David Duke, former Klan leader, called it “excellent.”

Back in Washington, D.C., Priebus and his RNC crew were once again left trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on Trump’s latest hateful broadside. Their decision was to say nothing because, really, what was there to say. The RNC has made its bed. Now it has to lie in it and about it. Week after week, it has been waiting for Trump to become more … presidential? No, that hope disappeared long ago. Perhaps simply more sane, more rational, more compassionate. Compassion would help. If Trump had any.

Cliche after cliche after cliche comes to mind. What you see is what you get. He is what he is. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Anything beyond that is merely ignoring the loud elephant in the room.

When this campaign is over and Hillary Clinton has become the first woman president in U.S. history — by default, if you wish — Priebus and his fellow GOP travelers will have a major decision to make.

Many Republicans who finally summed up the courage to say they cannot support a candidate with no redeeming social values to be the leader of this country are already trying to figure out where their party goes from here. Or where they go from here, if not with the GOP. For votes and power, they surrendered their party to the likes of the Koch brothers, Fox News and the fearful demands of the Tea Party fringe. Rich bigots lying to not-so-rich bigots.

Trump told them what they wanted to hear. Then he changed his mind. Then he said he never said that. Then he said, the greatest insult of all — that he was going to make America great again.

Listen, great isn’t all it’s trumped-up to be. When this election is over, I would rather be proud of my country again.

A Monument to Hatred and Ignorance

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest

By Bob Gaydos

A good friend of mine recently had a WTF???!!! moment on Facebook and it had nothing to do with Mitt Romney. For a writer who is thoroughly disgusted with the American political system, this is the best gift of all.

The posting concerned an effort in Selma, Ala., to renovate, reconstruct, replace and in general spiffy up a monument to Civil War Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Now, for starters, I have had it up to my red, white and blue boxers with Southerners who continue to fight the Civil War. It was over almost 150 years ago. It was a brutal war, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. It was, if you will, a treasonous war for all the states who chose to leave the union and attack the government of the United States of America. It was a war fought to defend an indefensible principle — slavery. And the South lost.

What is there to celebrate with all the flags and monuments? A failure to destroy the country to which you now pay very public and presumably proud allegiance?

This is annoying and, just my opinion, stupid. But that is not the WTF???!!! element of this story. It turns out that Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (last time I use all three names), who is revered in his home state of Tennessee, as well as Alabama, was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

I’ll wait while that sinks in.

It’s true. In Selma, no less, where Martin Luther King Jr. began his march to Montgomery for racial equality, there has been a statue honoring a founder of the Ku Klux Klan and a group known as Friends of Forrest wants to repair and replace what has been damaged or stolen (the head) from it over the years. The City Council is debating the issue.

A little history on Forrest. He was by most accounts, one of the South’s brightest generals. Also one of its most ruthless. With no military training, he quickly rose in the ranks to serve as, what is widely regarded, the best cavalry general in the war. A brilliant tactician, who emphasized having a fast, mobile force, his motto was, “Get there first with the most men.”

His unofficial motto might well have been take no prisoners, since he is blamed by most historian for several violent assaults, including the Massacre at Fort Pillow in 1864. A large force headed by Forrest attacked a small Union force that sought to surrender. Forrest’s troops killed more than 200 black Union soldiers and a like number of white troops who were fighting side by side with them.

That reputation for violence, especially against blacks, went with him after the war and the founding of the Klan in Tennessee. There, the violence continued. Ironically, Forrest is said to have given the order to disband the KKK after five years because it became even too violent for him. That order was probably so much 19th century spin, however, since he couldn’t really control the Klan groups outside of Tennessee and everyone knew, with increased attention from government forces, the group was taking its activity underground.

Now for the hopeful part of the story. Even in Selma, common sense and decency exist and technology has taken root. Malika Fortier, a citizen of Selma, heard about the plans to buff up Forrest’s image and began a campaign to stop it. A community leader proud of her city’s contribution to the civil rights movement, and aware of the KKK outrages committed against Selma’s citizens — many whose families still live there — she started a petition to the mayor and city council to stop the monument renovation.

Fortier posted the petition (which has about 300,000 signatures) on social media outlets on the internet, which could be viewed as a 21st century version of getting there first with the most troops. The petition is posted at Here is the link: Stop the Renovation of Ku Klux Klan Leader Monument – ForceChangeSign it if you agree.

To be thorough and legally accurate, this is an effort at moral persuasion. The city council probably has no legal grounds to prevent this renovation since the monument was moved off public land years ago to a private cemetery after public outcry. And people have a legal right to be racists in this country, so long as they obey the law. And, some argue that Forrest was a great general.

But really, Selma, is this what you want to teach your children? Is there to be no end to the war fought 150 years ago? Cannot healing and conciliation finally replace hate and fear? Do Selma’s residents need to be reminded of the atrocities committed there by one of the most hateful groups in this country?

Forrest (yes, Gump was named after him) was a brilliant general and a horrid human being. Surely, the people of Selma can find someone more deserving to honor with a monument.