Category Archives: Politics

Politically-focused articles contributed to the American Diversity Report

Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard

Here’s my question to the men who are about to read this piece: 

Based on what you know for sure, or have been fed by the media about her, if you were to find yourself seated next to Nancy Pelosi on a five-hour cross country plane ride and initiated the conversation, what would you talk about, avoid talking about and why?

So how about I give you, say, one minute to absorb and craft your answer to that question. Go ahead. No, wait, on second thought hold off on your answer until the end of this narrative.

Continue reading Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard

Diversity and Speech Part 32: Language Tensions of Speech and Social Justice  – by Carlos E. Cortés

Most public surveys about free speech and the First Amendment go something like this.

  • “Do you believe in the idea of free speech?” Overwhelmingly yes.
  • “Should group slurs be allowed?” Overwhelmingly no..
  • “Do you support the First Amendment?” Overwhelmingly yes.
  • “Should hate speech be permitted?” Overwhelmingly no.

What gives? Aren’t these positions inconsistent? Yes, in the abstract or in the arcane world of constitutional interpretation. No, in the walk-around world where most people reside. Turns out most people like the idea of being protected from government interference with their use of speech. But they also like it when governments and private entities step in to mute certain categories of speech, categories that they might consider harmful, divisive, offensive, or misleading. The problem is that people do not agree on which speech categories should be banned. One person’s sense of truth telling is another person’s sense of disinformation.

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 32: Language Tensions of Speech and Social Justice  – by Carlos E. Cortés

The Devil, You Know – by Marc Brenman

Some psychologists, linguists, feel-gooders, and progressive reframers want us right thinking people to seriously listen to those on the extreme right, consider their thoughts and feelings, and show empathy and compassion. This is supposed to be a route to mutual understanding, reconciliation, agreement on some issues, and a reduction in discord and violence. But is this really possible? I think it might be in a few isolated cases, if the practitioners on the left are skilled enough and the rightists open-minded enough. But the greater reality seems to be that many of those on the extreme right are white evangelical Christians who have strayed far from any real Christian beliefs. Some core Christian beliefs include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, and turning the other cheek.
Continue reading The Devil, You Know – by Marc Brenman

Georgia Election: Herschel, really? – by Terry Howard

Dashing, handsome, chiseled, thick necked and all, at age 60 it looks like Herschel Walker could still blast off left tackle for a first down in an Orange Bowl. But when he opens his mouth lately you freeze, not because of his Southern drawl but what flows out in a mess of confusion, ignorance, untruths, gobbledygook and Lord knows what else.

And here’s the kicker: he has a darn good chance of getting elected the next senator from Georgia. Really.

Now if you find yourself in the exclusive company of folks who look like you and him when he opens his mouth, “c’mon bro, you gotta be kidding,” clearly too many blows to the head,” or stuff unprintable is your likely reaction.

Now I admit that I don’t know what to make of today’s version of Herschel Walker the ex-football player and today’s senatorial candidate.

Well, okay, that’s not altogether true.

For me there’s two versions of Walker; the record-setting running back on one hand, and the bumbling politician from Georgia – or Texas? – on the other. There’s a danger in blurring the lines, connecting the two versions with the assumption that the former is a precursor to the latter.Do great athletes always make great politicians? That question just answered itself, didn’t it?

Hold on, let me get this said before the “Dawg darts start flying my way.

I’m a huge fan of the championship Georgia football team. Watching them take down Alabama got me off the couch high fiving around the TV screen.

And let me be even clearer. I was also a huge fan of Herschel Walker the football player but these days not so with him as a politician based on what I’ve heard him say lately. More on the contemporary Herschel Walker shortly.

You see, like Herschel, there was another Heisman winning running back out of the University of Southern California decades ago (I won’t pollute this narrative with his name). Like Walker, that football player had a documented history of domestic abuse against women. So are we asked to overlook the allegation that Walker abused women, and once pointed a gun at his ex-wife, because he rattled of a 75-yard touchdown run against Florida?

Sorry folks but I have a strong distaste for domestic abusers, including Heisman trophy winners.

Back to today’s Walker who is as adept at avoiding the truth as he once side-stepped would-be tacklers on the gridiron. I mean – hold your breath now Walker actually said that former President Trump never said that the election was stolen from him.

Really Herschel, really? Do we believe you or our lying ears?

And, Heaven help us, there’re more Walker jaw droppers. You may need a “mumbo jumbo” interpreter and a shot of Bourbon to figure it all out:

Jaw dropper #1: He challenged the theory of evolution. His claim is that if evolution is true, why do apes still exist?

Jaw dropper #2: He claimed that he had a cure for COVID in the form of a dry mist that you walk through.

Jaw dropper #3: He claimed then later denied that he said that he was in the top percent of his graduating class at the University of Georgia.

Jaw dropper #4: When asked if new gun laws should be enacted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas shootings, his reply was “What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.”

The following day and asked a similar question:

“Well, you know, it’s always been an issue, because as I said earlier on, they want to score political points. People see that it’s a person wielding that weapon, you know, Cain killed Abel. And that’s the problem that we have. And I said, what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. You talk about doing a disinformation. What about getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women, that’s looking at their social media? What about doing that, looking into things like that, and we can stop that that way?”

Wooh Wee!

Now despite all this and more, Walker easily defeated his opponents by blowouts in the primary by skipping the debates with them and appearing exclusively in controlled events with softball questions like “how did you feel during your 85-yard touchdown scamper against Tennessee?”

His Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock, has proposed a series of three debates with Walker who has said he will debate Warnock but  hasn’t said how many times (brace yourselves for Jaw dropper #5 folks).

So fresh off winning his primaries, and ending his bromance with Donald Trump, “Dawg” Walker recently griped about how Trump is falsely taking credit for his primary win.

“One thing that people don’t know is President Trump never asked me to run. So, I’m mad at him because he never asked, but he’s taking credit that he asked,” Walker said.

Okay, enough is enough. The thought of Herschel Walker as a senator deciding and voting on complex domestic and global issues facing the nation today is as terrifying as him in the cockpit flying me to visit my new grandson in California.

But in the United States of America, stranger things have happened, huh?

Anti-abortion and the Descent into Fascism – by Marc Brenman

What can be said about the anticipated anti-abortion decision from the US Supreme Court that hasn’t been said already? From a civil rights and social justice perspective, the reasoning in Justice Alito’s draft opinion is dangerous. It presages and exemplifies anti-democratic tendencies already present and vigorous on the American right. There are many “rights” that are not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. Even though Alito’s draft says the decision should not be used as precedent in restricting other rights, the effort is already underway to do so. These include privacy, LGBT rights, the rights of people with disabilities, and the education of non-citizen children in public schools. And of course, the rights of women, educational rights, and the right to housing, to eat, and to live in a clean environment. Although we hear about it relatively little, the Equal Rights Amendment has never been added to the Constitution. However, there are many laws from Congress on protecting women, people with disabilities, and the environment. Women’s health advocates want Congress to pass similar laws protecting abortion. This is unlikely to occur, with the close division between the parties in the Senate, and the likely loss of Democratic House seats in the mid-term election. In addition, the Supreme Court can overturn acts of Congress if they believe the laws are not rooted in the Constitution. 

Nothing stops a conservative Supreme Court from declaring that statutes that provide rights not mentioned in the Constitution are not constitutional. Even school integration, required by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, can be declared bad law. The Supreme Court has already pulled the teeth of the Voting Rights Act, making voter suppression easier, and already provided religious rights mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. In an act of supreme hypocrisy, the Court has enabled Christian believers, organizations, and corporations to impose their beliefs on others. The Constitution, in its mention of the separation of church and state, nowhere permits such imposition. And of course the Court has protected and enhanced only extreme Christian beliefs, leaving out the many other religions and their belief sets. Another example is gun rights, where the Constitution refers to a “well-regulated militia,” but the federal courts studiously ignore this phrase, and let unregulated shooters run rampant. 

Although the accusation has perhaps been overused, these tendencies of the rightwing are very similar to the tenets of fascism. When democracy is eroded, the vacancy invites in fascism, anarchy, libertarianism or communism. Social media does sometimes feel like anarchy, and with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, it will probably feel more like libertarianism. We’re already seeing the victory of libertarianism in the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana growing and use. The Supreme Court, if it was consistent, could do some good in doing away with some bad old court decisions, such as the one from 1911 that declared that corporations are people. But we cannot expect consistency from this Court. They are ideologically driven. 

The descent into fascism is part of a larger trend toward the manifestation of evil in society. Elements include too many guns, lying, hypocrisy, conspiracy thinking, hate, misogyny, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, ablism, and racism. Trump, the Antichrist, manifests all of these. His followers enable and support him. We are observing in the Ukraine what can happen when a regime like communism is replaced with fascism—genocide, mass murder, crimes against humanity. And recall that Trump worships Putin. 

What prevents that from happening in the United States? Already we’ve heard from some scholars that civil war could occur in the US. Recall that we had a civil war here, in which the nominally losing side fought to preserve slavery and the benefits it drew from slavery. But the Confederacy did not really lose. Rather, it morphed into domestic terrorism and guerilla warfare, through the KKK, White Citizens Councils, Jim Crow laws, lynching, redlining, etc. Now those with nostalgia for slavery wish to enslave women, LGBT people, and immigrants. The enablers include those who vote against their self-interest, such as the 52% of white women who voted for Trump, the half of people with disabilities who vote Republican, and the increasing number of Hispanic men who vote Republican. We who have tried to educate people about civil rights and social justice have made some very bad mistakes, including telling people they should not just vote their self-interest. Unfortunately, we were listened to, and many people today vote their conscience of conspiracy and their warped moral judgments. A marginally more moral and ethical case can be made for anti-abortion if those on the right were to guarantee healthcare, education, housing, and food for all children. And to clamp down hard on men who rape, who commit incest, who do not support the children they have been instrumental into bringing into the world, who do not support the women they have forced into childbearing. 

What is to be done? Marching and demonstrating don’t help much. Signing petitions has almost no effect. Only a few actions will help much, including voting for liberal and progressive Democrats all up and down the ballot, and contributing money to their campaigns. Some actions are almost guaranteed not to help, such as racial, sexual, and LGBT essentialism. Manifestations of this include the idea that unless you look like me and have my preferences, I don’t want you as an ally. We see other “shoot yourself in the foot” phenomena such as the belief among some progressives that merit does not exist. We see extreme manifestations of rights such as insisting that transgender minors can use the bathroom of their choice, the idea of “neurodiversity,” and the imposition of required ethnic studies programs in public schools while the pandemic has set educational attendance and achievement back by two years. In an ideal world, all these concepts might be marginally good, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world under extreme threat and real and present danger. The movement against the right to abortion and women’s health care is yet another area of discrimination against women, added to existing disparities such as lack of pay comparable to men, the glass ceiling in employment, and lack of pay for work that mostly women provide, such as daycare. 

Awhile back, I was researching a project on how to draw some Trump voters back toward the political center. I asked the question, and added a second one, roughly should progressives and liberals negotiate and/or compromise with those on the right? I received such angry feedback from progressives that I stopped asking the second question. If no compromise is possible, then we may well end up with two Americas—one a democracy and one a fascist empire. In addition to what we are already seeing as many women flee to states where abortion is legal and available, we may see “democracy refugees” of African-Americans making a new journey to the North. 

Political Commentary #2: Ketanji Brown Jackson – by Terry Howard

Well folks, darn, he’s back in the limelight. Ben Carson that is. Can’t say that we missed him. Last we heard was when he left his gig as a failure as Housing and Urban Director under the previous administration. 

Now maybe I missed the memo but for the life of me I cannot recall any grandiose retirement parties on “doc’s” behalf at the White House – or while he threw down on caviar and grilled mushrooms at Mar-a-Lago – before he slipped off to who knows where. What I do recall were high fives, fist bumps, “good riddance” and other sighs of relief.  

Continue reading Political Commentary #2: Ketanji Brown Jackson – by Terry Howard

Political Commentary #1: Vernon Jones – by Terry Howard

“Black Donald Trump!”
C’mon Vernon, really? 

Terry Howard
ADR Advisor Terry Howard

Vernon Jones and I are both African American. The only other thing we have in common that I’m aware of is that we are both graduates of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) colleges 80 miles apart in North Carolina. But it is on those two facts that our similarities end. Period, I must add!

The truth is that I’ve observed Jones over the past few years more out of curiosity turned mild amusement, turned comedic relief, than anything else. As with many politicians, when it comes to party affiliation and loyalty it is often political opportunism more than anything that explains their behavior. “Political chameleons” is one way to define them. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Jones, once a democrat is now a republican. Blind ambition can do that to a person.

Continue reading Political Commentary #1: Vernon Jones – by Terry Howard

Alas, poor Mitch – by Terry Howard

Hold up! Did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say what I thought he said?” rhetorically asked columnist Jonathan Capehart.

Well, yes, Jonathan, your ears didn’t lie. You heard what you heard. And if you are any person of color, neither did it come as a surprise.
Now as much as I’d like to cut McConnell some slack because of his “caught with his pants down” moment, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. In case you missed it, here is what he said when asked about concerns about voter participation by African Americans:

Continue reading Alas, poor Mitch – by Terry Howard

How I’m Trying to Make a Positive Difference – by Marc Brenman

I’m trying to make a positive difference in American political life by investigating whether and how it’s possible to draw some Trump voters toward the political center. In November 2020, about 48% of American voters voted for Trump. Voting for Trump is a proxy measure for rightwing feelings and beliefs. Many of these beliefs are extreme. None contribute to the American Dream of fairness, equity, opportunity, equality, and compassion, or the Good Society. Do we want to live in a permanently ideologically divided country, with the risk of civil war?
Continue reading How I’m Trying to Make a Positive Difference – by Marc Brenman

Bystanders and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard

Why, in many instances of social unrest, do we look the other way; that we do nothing? But before we offer some possible answers, last week’s rampage in Washington gives us some context, a starting point.

Like millions, I watched in disbelief thousands of “protesters” (or whatever you choose to call them) converge on the Capital building. The images of them scaling walls, overwhelming police and breaking windows while lawmakers cowered in hiding or were rushed out for their safety will be etched into my memory forever.

Continue reading Bystanders and the Sergeant Schultz Syndrome – by Terry Howard