341 Comments

Thank you for this. I am your typical follower. Middle aged, educated white woman who became politically involved for the first time in my life. I’ve lived in Canada for 25 years but I’m terribly concerned about the state of our country. I worry for everyone’s future. I, like many, have family who are trumpy, right wing evangelical “christians”. Their views are so misguided and seemingly without critical thought, it’s torn our family apart. Normally Kind, wonderful people who think that George Floyd got what he deserved because he didn’t do what he was asked. It’s so deeply upsetting. Your letters confirm my worst suspicions about the direction of our country and yet me give hope. Thank you.

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To change something, it must be acknowledged. That’s what your comment is, Anne. You are not typical, you sound special.

Let’s change some dang things!

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"normally kind, wonderful people" who are selective in their kindness are tribalists. They are nice until you cross any of many lines they have drawn.

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‘Well bless her heart…’

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I also have been so sad about "normally kind, wonderful people" in the Dakotas and Iowa, and other states, who appear irrational in their thinking, and have taken on a cruel attitude towards diversity.

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They are racists. Passive or outright, racists.

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"Their views are so misguided and seemingly without critical thought, it’s torn our family apart." Sadly, this is also my experience. I rather expect it of the elder population in my family who have always been staunch republicans, but what disturbs me even more are the young who embrace the current authoritarian dogma.

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Wake up. It’s about feeling.

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We rarely comment here (except on matters of mental health) that our situation in the U.S. exacerbates in many of us. There was a particularly good guest column by a local pastor (and former history major) in our paper this morning. It is about us all being victims of American "Myth-tory". We thought we'd share the link with the group because (1) it's so in sync with Heather and, (2) it was published in a well-read mainstream publication today:

https://www.telegram.com/story/lifestyle/2021/07/10/keep-faith-all-lessons-history-class-didnt-teach/7893710002/

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Thank you for posting the link. At 73, I was in junior and high school during the civil rights turmoil. I remember the scenes of the dogs being sicced on black bodies, the fire hoses, etc. I did learn about the Tuskegee experiments, but not from Mr. McClosky, my American history teacher. I got the usual "Gone With the Wind" whitewashed version I thought was only taught in the South. When I saw "Hidden Figures" I was nearly applauding in the theater! I grew up just over 100 miles from Cape Canaveral. Why did I not know about this woman???

Dad was a WWII vet, and I grew up believing all the razzmatazz patriotic 'how America saved the civilized world' BS. Until Vietnam. That was when the scales began to drop from my eyes. I learned it's possible to love your country and seriously distrust (and dislike) your government. The country I love is the aspirational one, the promise of the original idea of America that has yet to be made real. Not the Potemkin village we have been told was reality.

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American efforts in WWII did save the civilized world from the demon Hitler, and your father's contribution (and my father's and mother's) was key. But the rest...

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MaryPat, have you read "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt" by Doris Kearns Goodwin? During WWII the White House was full of anti-semites, even refusing to allow thousands of Jews to land on US soil - several thousand of them were children. The US didn't enter the war until Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. That the US helped defeat Hitler was an addendum to the story.

Many Americans went to war with the best of intentions in their hearts - ones like your parents. But it is important for us to understand how deeply rooted the sins against the Jewish people are - the movement that Emperor Constantine gave bureaucratic power to - the Christian Church - has much unacknowledged blood blood on its hand.

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No, I haven't read it and will order it (or check my historian neighbor's library for it). Thanks for the recommendation. I love Doris Kearns Goodwin. I think I knew this once, but not all of what FDR (and Eleanor) was up against. Your last sentence was so illuminating to me, raised as a good Catholic, about how much of that vitriol I still must discard. I often tell a funny story about how, at my grandmother's 100th birthday party, my Uncle Larry said to my dad, ""You know, her dad was Jewish." And my dad, stunned, said, "NO. Grandpa was Catholic!" My Uncle Ray then asked, "Then why did he wear a yarmulke?" And my dad, now in a panic, said, "He liked beanies." Then Larry said, "He has a Star of David on his headstone!" My dad, retorted "He loved stars." My kids and I listened and giggled. The next day, to my dad's credit, he went to the cemetery, took a picture of the stone, and then consulted a rabbi, who took one look and said, "Shalom, Charlie." Now, I am thinking the source of his panic was not from being left out of a family secret, but from realizing he was of the race he had been taught by the nuns to despise since childhood. That is not funny. That is a tragedy.

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Yes it is tragic. For Charlie but much more for a church that refuses to accept that their messiah was a brown-skinned Jewish rabbi.

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I find it so strange that Jews & Catholics so often marry - both intractable religions that insist "The child will be raised in the ______Faith." I had a Jewish friend married to an Argentine Catholic. I never met him he may have been absent. I attended her second son's Bris with her & her father. IDK if they went to Temple, but they kept some tenets of their faith.

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We must always strive to become that "more perfect nation."

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Here is another history myth you can add to the list of those whitewashing and anglicizing history, the story of the Alamo and the Texas Mexican war.

Nothing will probably generate more controversy here in Texas than getting the story of the Alamo right. However, we've been telling the Alamo story wrong for nearly 200 Years. now it's time to correct the record.

Carefully researched history shows the following:

Historians have explained how Mexican officials, eager to stabilize their northern borderlands after their own agreements with Apache tribes fell apart, permitted Americans to settle in what is now Texas. Americans moved to the area to grow cotton in the boom years of that era. When Mexico banned slavery in Texas in 1830, Americans rebelled. In October 1835, they joined with Mexican opponents of President Antonio López de Santa Anna’s government and went to war. By December, the Texian Army had pushed Mexican troops out of the Mexican territory of Texas, and the Texians hunkered down in the Alamo Mission near what is now San Antonio. In January, reinforcements, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett, arrived. About 200 Texians were there on February 23, 1836, when 1800 of Santa Anna’s troops laid siege to the Alamo. On March 6, Santa Anna’s troops attacked, killing almost all of the defenders (but not Davy Crockett, who surrendered and was executed later).

Here is the real history from Time magazine:

https://time.com/6072141/alamo-history-myths/

The Alamo myth too many subscribe to is yet another example of a whitewashed and Anglicized retelling of history. The real danger in this is why such inaccurate retellings of history exist. These historical inaccuracies and false retellings of history exist to subjugate some groups of people while elevating others inequitably, unjustifiably, and immorally.

These inaccurate retellings of history are not limited to only the present or to Texas. However, it is important to take a lesson from this. Lies matter, truths matter. It is important to know the difference and distinguish between them. We should learn of and learn from those truths even when they are unpleasant. Hiding historical truths keeps us from those learnings. Let's be sure we do not succumb to the temptation of whitewashing or erasing history just because it makes us uncomfortable or is unpleasant.

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which is why I want every child to have a copy of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." As far as I know, there's not a better one since Zinn's...

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I completely agree. Thinking about the definition of empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Americans have long demonstrated a lack of empathy, a defining characteristic of our culture and national character. The way we recall and teach our history reflects that lack of empathy. It is truly a tragic character flaw we should aspire and work to correct.

This is one of the reasons I appreciated Zinn's work and voice and now that of Dr. Richardson as well. I have found that it requires effort, research, and persistence to unlearn much of the mythologies I first was taught. I find this same effort and critical thinking skills are required to sift through the telling and analyses of current events as well. It is always wise to apply empathy to these efforts to see the unfolding of history from the perspective of the losers and not only the winning side of every event.

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I would add 1491: New Revelations of the America’s Before Columbus by Charles G. Mann. Yes, I too have a recommended reading list going.

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That is a most insightful observation. I am going to check out Zinns! Thanks!

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This is 10 yrs old and up. Zinn’s book for Young People series adapted by Rebecca Stefoff.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1583228691/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_api_glt_fabc_KEYX36HFCM5AK512DDXH

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Okay, Rosalind, that's the 2nd book I am ordering today based on your recommendation. Do you have stock in Amazon?! Thank You.

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Wow - thanks for the compliment. No, a friend of mine, who at the time was the legal director of the ACLU, gave me the book and I've made sure all my kids and grandkids have a copy of it.

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Thanks for the information on Zinn's book; I've saved it and will be ordering a copy soon.

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What about Jill Lapore?

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Bruce, have you read the new book, Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth

by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson , et al.? I heard Burrough interviewed on NPR a few weeks back and was impressed by what he said. I have no idea what the totality of his sources were. I know he's a native Texan. He said Jim Bowie was a drunk who had failed at just about everything he'd undertaken and was best known for his knife. Davy Crockett was best known, if at all, as a former congressman. I think the interview was on Weekend Edition Saturday about three weeks ago, if you're interested.

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Yes, I have read it. It was what caused me to cite the above facts. The battle of Texans to defy the abolishment of slavery by Mexico in Texas is the proximate cause of what Texans refer to as the fight for Texas independence. The mythologizing of what was in fact the fight to retain enslavement of blacks is the real story. That enslavement was the economic underpinning of cotton farming in Texas, at that time the primary crop and economic engine of Texians.

We need to learn and remember the truths and facts of real history if we are to learn from that history and make a better future, even when that history is ugly and unpleasant.

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I couldn't agree more. I wish someone back in my youth had framed the whole Civil War as being not only over slavery, but the economic incentives to maintaining slavery. It seems so obvious once it's pointed out, but it was also easily obscured by the 'it was about slavery' explanation. (Or worse yet, states' rights).

Like Heather pointed out in one of her talks, when we're 'taught' history in school our minds and lack of life experience just are not ready to really grasp the whole picture. Throw in the deliberate distortions and propaganda, and it's near impossible! Lucky for me I loved learning about the past and continued to study to this day. But millions don't and they retain the mythology you and the Rev. pointed out.

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For those not familiar with the Kahn Academy, a non-profit committed to providing free, world-class education for anyone, everywhere, I encourage you to visit and become familiar with their website and courses available for online learning from pre-K through AP college prep.

I have used their material with my grandchildren and strongly recommend their resources.

On this particular topic - the history of the American slave economy - here is a wonderful example of the quality of the course material.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/civil-war-era/sectional-tension-1850s/a/the-slave-economy

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Was excellent resource for parents during pandemic that were doing online school with kids.

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Thank you for reminding me of Kahn Academy, Bruce. I checked it out some years back and then sort of forgot about it. I will check out the link you provided, and thanks for that, too! We can't be too proactive, I think. It's incumbent on us to educate ourselves, since our schools seemed not to have been so inclined.

A friend told me recently I need to read some fiction for a change; I was getting too intense! LOL. She thought I needed some brain candy. About all I read is history, social sciences, health and now brain science research. If I didn't have to cut the grass I'd have more time to read!

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WOWOW. I was thinking of my grandchildren when I checked your link to Kahn Academy here Bruce, but, WOW, I need it, and my grown kids would really benefit, too. My 2nd thought was. No wonder southern states are viciously fighting CRT and altering textbooks. May I share this with your comments? This was NOT in my history books.

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Yes, at Texas Capitol yesterday as well to advocate for voting rights along with many others. We do what we can. Democrats here are fighting for voting rights not just for Democrats but voting rights for all, and all truly means all... even Republicans. Republicans are truly the contemporary version of the Luddites.

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Thank you for posting this, and her website. It is reflective of where we are as a country; I could mimic the Reverend's experience. My studies in history never took me to the paths of Juneteenth, red summer, the Tuskegee experiments, or the genocide of our Indigenous population. At 63, it is to my way of thinking a crime that I am only learning of these events in the past 5 years.

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Super article - have to admit all I never was aware of any of those events till this past year and to top it off, until I saw the movie I had never heard of Katherine Johnson, the brilliant mathematician that was responsible for so much of NASA's progress! How so many of us could have been so massively snookered is really astonishing. The dumbing down of our entire educational system should be enough to stir anyone up - well, that is, unless no one is listening or reading about it. And then, there is the debacle at the University of North Carolina! I think that gal has proven her point in so many ways & made public exactly how these white, rich, empowered people think. I certainly dont blame her for moving on to Howard University - good for her.

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A wonderful opportunity for Nikole Hannah-Jones. That tenure debacle was brought about by Republican political appointees to the UNC system Board of Governors and the Republican politicians who control (SIGH!) the legislature.

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Yes - I saw her on CBS - read an article by her telling the whole story. Certainly doesnt put a good light on that board or anyone else at the University except for the Dean! Thats what should be done in all of these instances of "empowered" people.

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Thank you. Great article that so many of us can attest to.

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" ... there is a Tsunami of American history I have ever even heard of ...". Thank you, Rev. Jane. Thanky you, Scott & John.

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Thanks for this article.

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Thank you, Scott and John. This brought me to tears.

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Does she preach on-line?! I am so moved by what she wrote. She is so right.

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We only know her from her writing in the Worcester Telegram, but here's her website URL: https://www.janewillan.com/

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Thank You.

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I see Scott and John have posted Jane's website. Not surprised to see, another UCC colleague of mine...

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Thank you for your perspective Rosalind. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a UCC church in Wisconsin. That positively shaped my whole social consciousness in so many ways.

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Thank you for sharing this article. It resonates with me as well.

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Thank you. A good read.

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Thank You. Important article. I will share, and share, and share...

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Thank you so much for sharing this link, Scott and John. Powerful and on target.

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Thank you Scott and John. This article shakes me to my core.

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I've never been the first to respond! I so worry that SCOTUS will eventually strip away rights for many, not just people of color, but gay, transgender people, women. Already Texas has passed and Abbott has signed a law that allows anyone to sue a person who aids a woman getting an abortion after 6 weeks. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/09/us/abortion-law-regulations-texas.html. Apparently this is a difficult law to challenge as there is no way to determine who to challenge. This is just the beginning of the stripping of rights we hold as citizens of this country. Voting rights are not far behind.

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Hey Numero Uno!!! Yes, the new law is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ comes to Texas! It’s so disturbing, I can’t even fathom where this is all going?! SCOTUS is going to change the way we have experienced freedom for many decades, and frankly, I am very concerned and more than a tad afraid! For our children especially!

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That was my standard soapbox in the 2016 election: we are not voting for President, we are voting for the Supreme Court. So many of my Bernie Bro friends sat out the 2016 election and I suspect it was some others that went third party who couldn't stand the thought of a strong woman president that gave us the SCOTUS we have today.

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Yep, I know at least two that didn't vote at all and a few who wrote in BS name.

It pissed me off no end that they were complaining before the general that the election was stolen from BS and refused to do the right thing.

They are no better than one issue voters. That is why we got the Florida retiree. It's too easy to vote like that and then you can bitch all you want because you voted. Sorry, when you throw your vote away (and brag about it) you don't get to bitch. Suck it up, you are part of the reason that we can't have nice things.

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Ahhhhhh-oooooooooo! Howlin’ like a wolf.

That’s telling them, Beth. So true.

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I voted for Sanders in the primary, but I damn well voted for Clinton in the general, and I urged other people to do so. I don't understand those who couldn't see that letting the former guy win would be the disaster that it was.

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Repubs achieved their election agenda. Put up with the polls that put him squarely behind. Keep grandstanding. Keep up the vicious outlandish remarks. Go get the non voters before the Dems do. Dems will get complacent assured of pollster prediction. And above all….screw the popular vote. We only care about the electoral vote.

As it turns out….a minority majority strategy.

Vigilance must not allow that again.

Let’s go!!!!

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IDIOTS! I became a Dem so I could vote for Bernie in the FL primary. I am pissed at the Dem party for sandbagging him. Yet I voted for Hilary in the general election because IT WAS THE ONLY CHOICE. I lost a Leftist Webfriend because I told her it was naive to vote for Jill Stein, there were only 2 choices - the reality that there would be a Dem or Repugnant winning the election. I cannot believe how really intelligent ppl cut off their nose to spite their face. :(

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And I look back at Ralph Nader and try to imagine a world without Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.

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Or without having had Bush2 as pres. Just think, no Roberts court.

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I know Jill Stein. She has a real nice husband, and one of her sons is married to a friend's niece. Nice lady--nice family, but she would not make a competent president.

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And RBG stayed until she died handing the conservatives another seat.

Will Breyer follow her path?

6-3 could easily become 7-2.

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I am right there with you in re SCOTUS stripping away individual rights. I don't understand how folks can't see that!

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Because so far the rights being stripped away aren't 'their' rights. It all depends on whose ox is being gored..............

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I just said the same thing to my husband.

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Texas creates and SCOTUS endorses a Nazi state for America.

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SMH.

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This authorizes vigillante justice. Where any kne can bring the force of the law, evidence non issue. It makes me think of the power of ordinary citizens in cultural revolution jn China to invke their “ justice” also the relentless spying in East Germany. Neighbors accusing neighbors. Texas introducing a nightmare tegime

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If you watched Rachel Maddow last night you would’ve seen two paroled people who voted not knowing that they couldn’t legally vote until their parole was up . Because they voted, they were put back into prison for voting! One man was sentenced to 25 years for Voting on parole because he now did not know that wasn’t right. IN TEXAS!!!

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TWENTY-FIVE YEARS? TWENTY-FIVE YEARS...? For voting when on parole...

Be sure that this Texan ''judge'' will provide a juicy precedent to Lukashenko, to Putin's rubber-stampers, to the Burmese generals, one that will be zealously taken up by Hell's Freisler-Vyshinsky-model bureaucrats.

Are you sure we are talking about Texas? The place on planet earth?

This is the kind of thing one might have expected at one of those punishment camps for political prisoners which the Nazis staffed with psychopaths from Germany's prisons and establishments for the criminally insane...

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That's the perspective Americans need to see, Peter. This Is Wrong in every way.

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Not just wrong, stark, raving mad. And that makes it far more difficult to handle. I do know siblings who have given up trying to reach out to one another. The one who hasn't been brainwashed cannot break through the barrage of hate-filled insults...

Meanwhile, how are the sane in a place like Texas or Florida to find each other and band together? How long will they be safe, even if they show no outward sign of differing from groupthink?

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And this is yet one more reason why I want to leave this state as soon as I'm able to do so.

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My first comment here: after 25 years I moved just before covid to get the heck out of that xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx state of TX. The best thing I ever did except I can no longer write scathing letters to those two pieces of xxxx called senators and the legislator newly elected in my former district. I hate that my like minded friends still live there.

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I hear you, Kathy. This August will be my 11th year here in Austin and while I do find some good things (mainly the music, the BBQ, and the land & environs itself) the attitude of the people and the so-called leaders suck hugely.

I'm not sure where I'd like to go yet (I'm tired of the east coast, having spent most of my life there) but I'm looking.

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This is the stuff of nightmares.

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OMG!!! Texas is so "special"......or so it would like to believe.....

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Oh, won’t Texas be bustin their proud buttons when SCOTUS tries to overturn Roe Vs Wade. “Now, didn’t we all just tell y’all so?”

Let’s all say together today….. “No, it isn’t so, you treasonous deputy dawgs.”

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As this 78-year-old white former Birmingham, Alabama practicing attorney recalls, promising to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with religious conservatives had a lot to do with Donald Trump getting elected in 2016. White religious conservatives, it turned out. The jury's still out on how far the Trump-packed SCOTUS will go in voting cases. The jury is in on Trump made white supremacists great again in America. Look at photos of the Charlottesville Confederate monuments rally while Trump was president. Look at photos of MAGA rallies before, during and after Trump was president. Seas of white people. Look at the white Jan 6 mob Trump egged on to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden had won. Look at how most Republicans in Congress sided with Trump in claiming the 2020 election was stolen. Unsaid, by blacks. Not long ago, I did that laundry list on Facebook with photos of those white seas, to which I added a photo of a Klansman in full dress raising left hand in a heil. Facebook put me in jail for the Klansman photo violating its community standards.

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Born in Dothan, Alabama (my parents couldn't afford the rents in Tallahassee, Fla.) my maternal family was part of the homesteader giveaway of the tribal lands to white settlers in Florida during the 19th century. My great-great grandfather was orphaned in the last so-called Seminole Indian war. My great-grandfather was a "cracker" - herding the offspring of the cattle that flourished in the scrubland (the Spanish left their livestock behind when they deserted St. Augustine.) He settled around Palatka, built 3 Southern Baptist Churches, and bought up lots of "shantytown" property in Palatka and Jacksonville. He was also a leader in the KKK. The KKK was the Lions Club, the Scouts for kids and the women's auxiliary back then. Anyone who thinks the Klan is a bygone nightmare does not know Florida.

My Florida family (not all, but most) has not changed a bit in its thinking. Having jumped on the Trump-Qanon bandwagon, they seem to hope for the South to rise again. Anyone who thinks the times have changed for the better in Florida is naive to the seething racism that is bred in the bone of all but those of us who have managed by grace or good fortune to escape its clutches and see the truth about the sins of our fathers.

I left the church forever at age 16 - I just couldn't stand the hypocrisy anymore.

Every time I hear or see the words "White Conservative Christian" My skin crawls. We kids would sing "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white - they are precious in his sight." What empty words those were to the grownups in our lives. They were the "feel good" with which they clothed themselves.

I did come back to church when Union Theological Seminary gave me a scholarship to study with some of the great social justice scholars, among them the mother of Black Womanist Theology Katie Cannon, father of Black Liberation Theology James Cone, Cornel West, Gary Dorrien and Rev. Donna Schaper at Judson Memorial Church in the Village. My gratitude to these great thinkers is boundless.

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I want to echo the thanks of others for your post, Rosalind, and second Heather’s insight that Reconstruction America has become surprisingly topical again. I think it’s a legitimate question to ask why it was that we needed two more amendments after the thirteenth to ensure that freed slaves would be granted citizenship and then after that the explicit right to vote. Heather explains why it didn’t just all go together—the vicious knottedness of racist discrimination and hatred and injustice requires centuries-long efforts to untangle. When I was a boy you could buy Confederate képis and cavalry hats at Disneyland alongside Union ones. Racism, it’s true, is bone deep in the South, but also in the US as a whole—bone deep but invisible to a white boy in the 50s. Not now.

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Interestingly enough, as a boy I was very interested in Civil War history (growing up in a house that had quite a bit of family heirloom Civil War memorabilia - from the Union side). I read a lot of Bruce Catton, whose histories (and novels) were very popular then. I recently ran across one of the novels and read it through and - with today's eyes - the book (though allegedly written from a "neutral" perspective) has the Northeners very respectful of the Southerners who are "men of principle" fighting for "states' rights" and there are literally no black characters and virtually no mention of slavery. I can remember my father telling me how his Civil War veteran great-grandfather (the one who I later learned studying our family history was the son of a Quaker Abolitionist who let his son leave the church to go fight for Abolition) told him the war was not fought to free the slaves, but rather to "save the Union." This is how the Great Lie settled over the country in the years of 'reconciliation" after Reconstruction, to the point a man who went to war for abolition of slavery came to believe that was not the reason he went to war. And this was a man who spent 10 months as a POW in Libby Prison in Richmond.

So there's a good example of just how much we have to "scrape off" to get anywhere close to the truth about the war.

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Wow. I need to read "Grant" instead of Catton, as you recommended, TC. But it is literally too heavy for a beach read. By the way, Bruce Catton grew up near here. A few days ago, on the way to that beach, I drove by the school where his father was headmaster. His memoir, "Waiting for the Morning Train" is required local reading. I also keep a copy of his book, "Michigan" for out of state guests. But, ya, he apparently drank the same state's rights koolaid. Darn. We have so much to un-learn.

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The South's money crop was cotton. The Confederacy's anthem was "Dixie" - the land of cotton. Who picked cotton in Dixie? Black slaves. What would happen to the South's economy, if there were no black slaves? Indeed, the Civil War was about state's rights. The Confederate state's rights to have black slaves to pick their cotton.

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Today, when I hear a white patriotic American back America's foreign wars, such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, which sure looked to me like rich white men's wars for corporate profit, I wonder if black service men and women, who fought in those wars were still picking rich white men's cotton? After he got cold feet about Vietnam, President Kennedy was killed. After he opposed the Vietnam war as a rich white man's war, Martin Luther King was killed.

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So sadly, you may be on to something.

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Yes, "states' rights" to have a slavery-based economic system, and "freedom" to own slaves.

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As usual, TC, your comment is right on the money. I would add "root out" to "scrape off", however.

I was lucky enough to be born into a family of "woke" (at least by 1950s and 60s standards) northern Yankees. My father's grandfather was the third in a line of Unitarian ministers, and his mom (my grandmother) directed the New York Chapter of the US Labor Relations Board under FDR, not the sort of post women often held in those days. And even she revealed an anti Semitic streak in her final years of ill-health when she'd had too much to drink. A real character.

But when we all get together these days, we are mostly preaching to the choir, though that doesn't keep us from pissing each other off now and then

I haven't seen any of them, except online, for 20 months. Thanks a lot, Covid.

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Good post David - "root out," "scrape off," - whatever it takes, and it's going to take a lot.

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That’s right. NOT NOW. Thank you Randy for your change. That’s all it takes to then change somebody else’s perspective. Lots of us white people can do that. One at a time but then 2 squared equals 4. That’s the change that is needed.

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Thank You for these important insights Rosalind. When you wrote, "The KKK was the Lions Club, the Scouts for kids and the women's auxiliary back then. Anyone who thinks the Klan is a bygone nightmare does not know Florida," it deeply chilled and saddened me. I have watched my sweet, generous, kind brother turn into a greedy, nasty, prejudiced stranger since his marriage to a southern woman. I try to think of other reasons for this change in personality, give her the benefit of the doubt, be nice, and do my darndest not to label all southerners as such. But it feels so onerus. How do we uproot hate (and I suppose fear) that runs that deep? How do we create the America Lincoln envisioned?

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MaryPat, it is not fear but inbred white exceptionalism and anger that their status feels devalued when those who they consider less worthy than themselves. I grew up in Miami and was fortunate to be a musician from the get-go. My friends were Jewish and Cuban kids - practically the only kids with any interest in classical music. Also, being a literalist, I actually believed that Jesus did love us children.

Hate is bred in the bone and few are able to imagine a reality other than what we are born into. Florida was among the most brutal slave states. The enslavement of migrant workers is an ongoing battle in the state.

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I cannot “like” this,I accept and “sad” it

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Rosalind, you and I have some common threads. My mother was a Florida cracker, born near Ft. Myers during the Depression. My granddaddy was a fisherman. My dad's people were from the Bahamas. I grew up 60 miles from Miami, spent many summers there with a dear aunt. We did all our school and holiday shopping in Miami, as the only shops locally were for tourists, and charged accordingly!

Mother was never prejudiced against anyone, near as I could tell. Her last years, for sure, she mellowed a lot. If there was any Klan activity on the Keys, I never knew about it, and I think I would have. There was racial prejudice, of course. Which is one reason I moved to Miami after high school and luckily fell in with a bunch of musicians! LOL I was lucky enough to work at one of the folk clubs and be introduced to lots of broad-minded and well-traveled folks who taught me a lot.

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Folk Clubs! Coffee Houses!

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🤗 Best days of my life! I learned so much.

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Spooky, a quick story. In the late '60s, my mother told me my step-father didn't like hearing me say certain words, one in particular, that starts with 'f'. I told her to tell him I'd stop saying THAT when he stopped saying the 'n' word (which wasn't called 'the n word yet, at that point). End of conversation.

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Unbelievably common in some places, I'm afraid.

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I have written here before about a former best friend who is a Trump and Fox News devotee. I wonder if your brother, like my gardening, painting, carpenter-friend felt rejected by society in any way? My friend is a gay man whose father was a white entrepreneur, who had inherited money with which to invest and who became wealthy. So my friend stayed in the closet and thought he must be meant for the priesthood for he surely could not come out in his proper, well-to-do Catholic community or family. In college, he met other gay men and finally acknowledged—after graduating— to himself that he was only attracted to men. But he received messages from his parents and his sister—who married a millionaire hedge-fund manager—that he should never “come out” to them. So, it is my belief, which I have shared with him, that he follows Trump in order to still feel he belongs in his family. I think it’s weakness, and feel sorry for him. I can’t respect him as much as I once did. It helps me to think of him as childlike. But mostly, I have had to distance myself, which is heartbreaking.

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There are actually a surprising number of gay men who support Trump--libertarian types like Peter Thiel.

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It constantly amazes me that somone would want to be a member of a club that hates them. Then I recall being a social "out" growing up and how much I tried everything I could do to change that (which can all be described as "turning myself into who I wasn't") and I think how much more I would have tried if the people I knew would have killed me (back in the 50s, that would have been a very distinct possibility) for who I was, rather than just dislike me. So instead of marveling at their cognitive dissonance to do what your friend has done, I feel sad for them. But I'm not going to forgive him for supporting Trump.

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I can’t forgive him that, either, TC.

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Oh. Now that makes sense. Sadly.

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Thank you for this eye-opening, honest and very depressing family history which I’m sure is repeated over most of the country. I thought education, common sense and respect had won out, but I was wrong. “You have to be carefully taught” or brainwashed. Michael Flynn telling people to run for local school committees tells me that we are in for long term stupidity.

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Screw Flynn. Different influential groups getting candidates ready, including myself, for possible runs for school board seat next year and will crush any Q-leaning candidate.

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Good to know. You go, girl! Our experienced liberal candidate lost by less than 30 votes and the conservative winner said he would now study up on what the job entailed. ☹️💔

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We have always had long term stupidity. There’s no dumbass vaccine.

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Learning some actual, fact-filled American history might help.

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My mother and stepfather moved from Pennsylvania to Temple Terrace, a Tampa suburb, when he became a member of the charter faculty when University of South Florida opened. An interesting displacement for my mother, who was 17 when Hitler took her country. My father had primary custody of me so I was raised in upstate New York and spent summers with my mother. I quickly learned to use Ma’am and Sir when addressing any adult, a habit by the end of the summer that got me in trouble at my northern high school for sassing the teachers.

My mother had a black maid who came one day a week to clean. After the maid had read her copy of Ebony magazine, my mother would borrow it. We had a school fundraiser selling magazine subscriptions and I (in my still northern innocence) gifted my mother with her own subscription. There was a great uproar in that all white neighborhood when word went around about it. It finally settled when the neighbors concluded that university professors were (shudder) liberals and she was a foreigner who didn’t know better.

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Your mom sounds like a great gal! Also appears the apple didnt fall far from the tree - if you know what I mean!

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And I bet your mom loved her subscription. It was a fabulous magazine. And guess what? The digital relaunch happened this year on March 1st. No more of those “mailbox burning”.

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My family is from Mississippi and I had an uncle, deacon in his Southern Baptist church who was a member of the KKK. How these racist bigots can rectify their actions with those of Jesus is mind-boggling. In 1992 the Klan showed up at our Gainesville FL Gay Pride Picnic, but were cordoned off to the side by the cops. I got a lot of fotos, some published in the gay papers around FL. What surprised me was seeing these haters bowing their heads and praying before robing up. “Forgive us Oh Lord, for the sins we are about to commit in Jesus’ name – Amen” is the only prayer I could imagine.

The song you mentioned reminded me of another such event where we knew the uninvited Klan would attend. I made a drawing of faces trying to capture “Red & Yellow, Black & White” features from that song. It was published in the Pen Points of the Gainesville Sun in April 1994. I made xerografic copies and brot crayons to the event for kids to color.

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Thank you for this. The Southern Baptist church, I'm sure you know, broke and reformed when the Baptist Church condemned slavery. They kept their vile misinterpretation of the Bible and kept their slaves. It took courage for you to do what you did. My life as a musician and then theologian has been blessed with many gay and trans men and women, without whom I cannot imagine coming this far. Many of those friends I lost in the 80s and early 90s to the AIDS epidemic, for me and for many a personal and spiritual catastrophe.

By the way, the church of my childhood was the University Baptist Church in Coral Gables - now called Christ Journey. I have no idea what goes on there now and don't really want to know!

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Historical documents to read...."Letter on the Ku Klux Klan", Sept 17, 1921, by William Allen White and "The Klan's fight for Americanism", 1926, Hiram W. Evans.

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Yes - seminal documents. Thanks for bring them up...

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or ovular documents...

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kimceann with the daily twist. Love it!

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Appreciate and have listened carefully to your story. You know it takes a measure of courage to speak of family as you do.

You mention a few great names.

Cornel West. I can listen to the man preach on about anything on any given day. What a great honor to experience study with these scholars and for them to experience you.

The stuff of healing.

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In the late 70s, my high school boy friend lived on the same street as the Grand Dragon of the KKK in Stone Mountain Georgia. Land for Stone Mountain Park was donated by the Grand Dragon's family.

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A student at Emory U in the 70s, I could see the flaming cross on Stone Mountain in the distance.

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I am fortunate I never saw that from Emory in the early 80s.

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Rosiland, thank you for sharing today. I'm grateful that you found your way to the UCC, and Global Ministry. Your story is poignant and hopeful. Your words are powerful!

(Another long-term UCCer;)

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I hope my Texas kids don't move to Florida as planned. They go where there's no state income tax. Ugh.

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My seminary advisor, Gary Dorrien, said repeatedly that democracy cannot survive without a functioning social contract. Social democracy has nothing to do with authoritarian socialist autocracies. Social democracy is the underpinning of a democratic society. I'm sure you've asked your kids who will pick up the slack when they shirk their responsibility to country. Paying taxes is our responsibility to our country.

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The Gary Dorrien we hope to see at our high school reunion next month!

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Please give him a warm hello from Roz!

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The Gary Dorien from Midland, Michigan?

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The Gary Dorrien who payed baseball with my husband, writes lots of theology books?

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That’s the Gary Dorrien I mean. A brilliant and kind man.

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Living in a state without state income tax (not for that reason) I find WA tax system incredibly regressive, penalizing the poor and those of us on Social Security, aka fixed incomes. The sales tax rate in my county is 9.1%.

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The NC GOP controlled legislature is trying their damnest to put us in the same boat. Our income tax is already one of the lowest, but they are pushing to lower it more and the corporate tax even lower. While they haven't raised the sales taxes to your level, they have raised fees like crazy, things like drivers licenses, car tags, transfer fees, etc., as well as making sales taxes apply to all labor charges now, in addition to whatever materials are used. So, when you get an oil change in your car, or mechanical work done, sales tax is levied on the labor part of your bill. And we all know that is usually at least 3 times the cost of materials.

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yes, goods and services; and tourists pay an additional 2% for lodging. And the FEES... The property taxes. and still the schools suffer

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In most of Europe there is a "Value Added Tax" on most things one can buy. Last time I checked it was 22% in Italy ("only" 4% on food), and is included in the sales price, not added on at the cash register. When I complain to my Italian friends that this tax is regressive, not progressive, as called for in the Italian Constitution, they look at me as if I'm nuts. Habits die hard. Of course, it's no wonder how much of the Italian economy is under the radar. Recently the Govt. has tried to force everyone to use traceable plastic for all purchases above 1,000€ (one of many similar formulae), but they can't make it fly. No one actually likes paying taxes, but they need to be paid most by those with the most money.

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Born in Tuscaloosa, AL and grew up during the turbulent 60's and early 70's when they finally accomplished integration in the schools. I had friends of many faiths and visited their places of worship out of curiosity. I was tossed out of Junior High Girls Bible Study for asking our teacher, the minster's wife: Why is it, when I hear music and my body begins to move in rhythm with the music and a boy lusts after me that I am the sinner? I knew early that I was uncomfortable in Alabama.

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Thankfully, the statue of R E Lee was just removed in Charlottesville...many more to go here in VA!

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Another reason to drop FleeceBlock and hope Widdle Markie soon Makes America Great Again as guest of honor at a single-car fatality.

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Such an important letter on why originalists on SCOTUS are so dangerous right now. Should be required reading!

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Dr. Richardson, This post is so good. I could teach for two or three class periods at almost any grade level just with what you’ve provided here. I want you to know that I am deeply committed to bringing your work into K-12 classrooms and to teenagers especially via any and all means. I’m wondering what your reaction to this would be. I feel that the key to safeguarding our democracy is to be found in increasing the percentage of voters between 18 and 29. Currently, it is very low. These young people are overwhelmingly liberal/progressive/humanistic/democratic. Evrn galvanizing the 18-21 vote would fix many problems. Each year, approximately 5 million kids in the US turn 18. Across a four-year election cycle, that’s 20 million new voters. I have seen surveys suggesting that this group—just 18-21 year olds voters—votes approximately 80% for democratic candidates. But that less than 25% of them vote. Moving that percentage merely to 50% would “solve”, I believe, the current crisis of a minority of the country holding the majority hostage and turning our democracy into an autocracy, a theocracy, an oligarchy, and poddibly even a Russian-style kleptocracy. The key to catalyzing the youth vote is getting your message, and the messages of other authorities like you, into the minds and hearts of teenagers. I’ll do everything I can to make this happen. I’ve worked in education in every US state. I’ve worked in every subject and at every grade level in thousands of schools and tens of thousands of classrooms. I also know how to reach teens outside of the education system. This is the key, I believe, to permanently ensuring the existence and health health of our democracy. Kind regards, Steve Peha, Founder, Teaching That Makes Sense

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Steve! I do not know how you came onto HCR’s Letters or this forum but HIP HIP HOORAY! Several on this forum have education experience, have raised kids, or have a grounded interest in our young people. I, too, am proactive about the youth voting and have eyes that see them collectively as as easily connected with others without the usual barriers that separated many in my generation. Where I see an obstacle, they roll their eyes and kick it aside. The innocence of it makes it true. There are a few on this forum that regularly post about “things that can be done NOW”. I have heard of your program and will check the blog. Glad you are here and we CAN make a difference. I welcome your influence and reach. I think a strong 18 to 40 vote can shore up an end of our powerful voice to save the country. Dramatic business I know, but we need a bit of sauce on the cause.

I suggest sharing Letters From An American with as many colleagues as you can and get the high school kids to bookmark it on their browsers and read daily. My daughter is actually the one who brought me here. She reads it daily and has indicated many in her gen read it. Most do not subscribe, but reading HCR is a huge influence. It’s an education. Accept before correct.

Blessings!

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Acknowledge before changing something. Racism will not change until it is simply acknowledged by white people. Yet, recently, an opportunity to do so with the media blast and uprising over Critical Race Theory has turned it into another weapon to foster more divisiveness. The irony is as astounding as the people that do not realize it.

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Can those of us who see the crucial impotance of gettimg this work to young people start getting together virtually somehow? I have a private social community I can set up and run called “Wriying Changes Lives”. Ot is dedigned for initiatives just like the kinds of things we are talking about here. Write me at stevepeha@gmail.com and let’s see if we can pull a dedicated group of talented educators together motivated by the most important teaching we will likley ever donin our lives.—Steve

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YES!!! Kudos, Steve, to you for your teaching and committment to bringing HCR's insights to the classroom, and into the voting booth! Thank you for this lift today!

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Can those of us who see the crucial impotance of gettimg this work to young people start getting together virtually somehow? I have a private social community I can set up and run called “Wriying Changes Lives”. Ot is dedigned for initiatives just like the kinds of things we are talking about here. Write me at stevepeha@gmail.com and let’s see if we can pull a dedicated group of talented educators together motivated by the most important teaching we will likley ever donin our lives.—Steve

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The fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was intended to grant all rights, privileges, and immunities granted to U.S. citizens by the Constitution and prevent individual states from abridging or restricting those rights. This is known as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment and is stated in Section 1 of that amendment as follows:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It now seems Justice Alito's recent SCOTUS majority opinion in the Brnovich vs. Democratic National Committee decision has perverted this original intent. The SCOTUS majority opinion has apparently ruled that unintentional racism is O.K. by declaring that a differential impact on minorities resulting from state legislation permitted so long as the legislation does not make that distinction based on race. This certainly seems to be a case of the State denying equal protection by depriving a person of their Constitutional rights, in this case, voting rights, without due process. Justice Kagan's strongly stated minority opinion, in this case, makes that point quite clearly.

It is now time to reinforce the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment with federal voting rights legislation nationalizing voting rights standards in accordance with Section 5 of the 14th that states, "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

The 14th amendment says Equal Protection Under Law means equal rights for all, and all means all. It does not state, nor did it intend to make unintentional racism O.K.

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Just spent the night ala HCR mode, studying the bill line by line and writing up my recommendations for Texas HB 3 - Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021. It is being discussed and testimony taken in a committee hearing this morning in the Texas legislature. The committee is chaired by my state representative. I put a lot of emphasis on the Poll Watcher provisions of the bill which basically gives "certified" poll watchers with no training carte blanche to observe everything going on including driving behind a car taking ballots from one location to another. And the presiding election officials are restricted and criminally liable if they try to remove an unruly poll watcher for example. I had a number of recommendations on the poll watchers having basically the same training as the election workers so they understand what is going on in the voting process. And, put some restrictions on the poll watchers -- like keeping their distance from voters trying to keep their vote confidential. The good news is the bill is considerably better than the one that would have been voted on on May 30 the last day of the legislative session where the Democrats broke quorum by walking out. So, certainly some gains here, but still some worries. Now time for a nap. It does feel good to know my voice is going to be heard.

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It feels good to know you are ever so vigilant, Cathy Learoyd!! Texas and America are so lucky to have you, and The League of Women Voters! Thank you for your diligence.

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Right on, Cathy. Any improvement is what us needed at this point. One less thing to eliminate. When you get up from nap, please enlighten us with any details about their newest “attention all vigilantes—now anyone can get money for opposing and policing abortions.”

I will admit to not admiring or agreeing by any means, but rather fascinated by the sheer audacity of their politics. It’s something to watch how pure opposition for opposition’s sake can be such a strong agenda in this moment in our country.

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Cathy, In spirit and unity we join you. Thank you for raising your voice and modeling our way forward.

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THANK YOU CATHY 🎉👍🏆🏆

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🤩🤩🤩

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Cathy, you're right about the danger of turning untrained poll watchers loose. We don't have such a law in NC (yet) but I have seen over-zealous (is there any other kind?) GOP 'helpers' in one precinct I worked and diddledy squat was done about it when I reported it. It sounds like Texas is trying to turn every GOP voter into a vigilante.

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There will be poll watchers that will look for what they want to see and see a conspiracy in almost anything. Having conflict and controversy is what is desired with the way this bill is written. We'll lose a lot of dedicated election workers that don't want to deal with these hassles and be criminally liable no matter how they handle the situation. The bill passed out of committee in the wee hours of Sunday.

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Many people, in all states, are ignorant of how elections are conducted, I mean the nuts and bolts. They have no idea how hard it is to find poll workers, and in many states, even under what used to be good conditions, these workers are aging out and not being replaced by new volunteers. In rural areas, especially, most 70-80 somethings don't care for driving out to far-flung precincts, usually in the dark, because it's a pre-dawn to after dark job.

I suppose an alternative that the GOP would like is contracting the work out to a private company, one they control, of course. I'm not sure that would even be legal.

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Thank you Heather.

I did read this on my Facebook feed last night. Wonderful Letter.

What impresses me most is how little we have come in this concern.

It's groundhog day, all over again.

Be safe, be well.

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I had not thought of the “Originalists” as wanting to undo the 14th amendment, but of course, it makes sense. Only white men of property should be able to vote and govern, that’s the “original” idea. Reading HCR’s essay today, after reading Rolling Stone’s story on Supreme Court Justice John Robert’s decades long mission to undo voting rights (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/supreme-court-john-roberts-voting-rights-brnovich-dark-money-1194487/) reenforces the idea that conservative Republicans are still trying to restore the Confederacy. When do conservatives stop fighting the Civil War?

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Heather's Thursday talk was titled "What is a modern "conservative"?" Really great untangling of this whole idea. Who is a radical extremist and who is a conservative? Am watching it for the third time this morning. https://www.facebook.com/100044557238708/videos/529751478168693

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Thank you for pointing this out. I keep thinking I'm going to go back and binge watch, but I need this now.

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I love clarity. Morning, Becky.

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Morning, Christine!

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Their Civil War bloodlines are now their “Culture War” movement, for they fear they're losing their America of the 1950s. I often hear statements of reclaiming “our America." Their patriarchal, Christianized, Anglo Saxon memory of the past is torn asunder, basically by modernity: racial and cultural diversity; gender equality; globalism; environmentalism and sustainability efforts, and so on. Is there a commonality between these forces, and the “traditionalist” American Christian standards? ........

I’d love to see liberalism and progressivism address a “Morally Just Capitalism”, in which greed and destruction are challenged by a loving distribution of resources for the human family. (or something like this)

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HEAR! HEAR! FREDERICK!! Yes! "Morally Just Capitalism!" It may be this country's financial engine, but it must not be our driver.

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Yes Indeed MP! I A “Moral Capitalism” - placing citizens first and profits second.

Do I sound like Prez Joe Biden? YES! Catholic Social Teachings!

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Our nuns were good for something afterall!

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Thank You for the article, JR. Just reposted it. Feel so helpless in this Civil War II. But we soldier on.

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When they win and America loses.

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Thank you. Your insight brings a rush of relief.

We who love our nation must be adamant about protecting the living instrument that is the Constitution.

The Originalists develop an artificial body of Law that is represented by the the specter of the Dred Scott Decision.

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As you and others havepointed out, Heather, we are still fighting the Civil War. The real, perhaps eternal Civil War, is between “greed is good” and “love thy neighbor as thyself”, between our basest, most self-centered passions and “the better angels of our nature."

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I don’t see any evidence of better angels in 80% of the white Southern electorate.

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LOL. Well, it’s not just the white Southern electorate, but I agree with you. On the other hand, I think we have to treat people as though they have better angels. Even when we can’t see evidence of it. That does not mean that they will act on them, but that they have some potential. Unfortunately the “worse” angels are the worst qualities that most of us wrestle with: greed, fear, ambition, hypocrisy, lust, jealousy. If we don’t give the benefit of the doubt, we ourselves become fascistic.

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It’s surprising how much I have come to enjoy and depend on your insights to start my day; I woke up this morning and opened my tablet to check the weather and make sure the world had not ended overnight, and my first words were “where’s Heather?” Thank you for being there.

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Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose -- a pessimistic French expression which means "the more things change, the more they stay the same". I'm afraid that applies to America and racism.

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The more things change, the more people will accept the change. So let’s get going. Change is the only permanent thing in the Universe. We’ve got that going for us.

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Yes, and some folks just need a lot of time to adjust to change.

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Or sameness.

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I used to worry something was wrong. Now I know it’s just an occasional ball drop by a master juggler. You do so much, all of it good. Thank you.

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I read your letter, Dr. R on Facebook last night and knew I’d be able to read it more clearly this morning. Thank you as always. What is going on with state governments trying to pass and passing laws that limit the rights of all but white men, preferably white men in the Trumpublican mode is disturbing and scary. “1984” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” are not exactly fiction anymore. All of us who voted for Joe Biden, and those who would not vote for the previous President must work and keep working for democracy.

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