Efforts to Channel Protests Into More Votes Face Challenges in Kenosha – By John Eligon – The New York Times

“KENOSHA, Wis. — Gerald Holmes, a forklift operator from Kenosha, Wis., was so passionate about the importance of the election four years ago that he drove people without rides to the polls. But this year, Mr. Holmes says he is not even planning to vote himself.

The outcome in 2016, when Wisconsin helped seal President Trump’s victory despite his losing the popular vote and amid reports of Russian interference, left Mr. Holmes, 54, deeply discouraged.

“What good is it to go out there and do it?” he said. “It isn’t going to make any difference.”

As protests have unfolded across the country this summer over the death of George Floyd and the police treatment of Black people, activists and Democratic leaders have pleaded with demonstrators to turn their energy toward elections in November.

A block party on Tuesday honoring Jacob Blake, a Black resident of Kenosha who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back by a white police officer, included voter registration booths near where the shooting occurred. And Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president, was scheduled to visit Kenosha on Thursday, two days after Mr. Trump appeared in the city in the wake of unrest over the shooting.

But people like Mr. Holmes reflect the challenges that Democrats face as they try to channel their anger over police violence into voting. In interviews with more than a dozen Black residents in the Kenosha area, many said they were outraged over the shooting of Mr. Blake, but some said they had grown dispirited and cynical about the political system. The shooting was further evidence, some residents said, that decades of promises from politicians have done little to alleviate wide racial inequalities or stem police abuses, leaving them seeing little value in one more election.

“Let’s say I did go out and vote and I voted for Biden,” said Michael Lindsey, a friend of Mr. Blake’s who protested for several nights after the shooting. “That’s not going to change police brutality. It’s not going to change the way the police treat African-Americans compared to Caucasians.”

Mr. Lindsey, 29, who lives just outside of Kenosha, said he had never voted in a presidential election and did not plan to start this year, as much as he despises Mr. Trump and is fed up with feeling like he has to live in fear of the police because he is Black.

Many factors have slowed voting. The state’s high rate of incarceration of Black people — among the highest in the nation — strips many African-Americans of their voting rights. Wisconsin’s voter identification law and other strict regulations, such as a shortened early voting period and longer residency requirements compared with 2016, also present major hurdles.”

Opinion | Trump’s Racist, Statist Suburban Dream – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Joseph Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

“Conservatives do love their phony wars. Remember the war on Christmas? Remember the “war on coal”? (Donald Trump promised to end that war, but in the third year of his presidency coal production fell to its lowest level since 1978, and the Department of Energy expects it to keep falling.)

Now, as the Trump campaign desperately searches for political avenues of attack, we’re hearing a lot about the “war on the suburbs.”

It’s probably not a line that will play well outside the G.O.P.’s hard-core base; Joe Biden and Kamala Harris don’t exactly come across as rabble-rousers who will lead raging antifa hordes as they pillage America’s subdivisions.

Yet it is true that a Biden-Harris administration would resume and probably expand on Obama-era efforts to finally make the Fair Housing Act of 1968 effective, seeking in particular to redress some of the injustices created by America’s ugly history of using political power to create and reinforce racial inequality.”

Opinion | How Has the Electoral College Survived for This Long? – By Alexander Keyssar – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Keyssar is a professor of history and social policy at Harvard and the author of “Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?”

“As our revived national conversation on race has made clear, the legacies of slavery and white supremacy run wide and deep in American society and political life. One such legacy — which is particularly noteworthy in a presidential election season — has been the survival and preservation of the Electoral College, an institution that has been under fire for more than 200 years. Our complicated method of electing presidents has been the target of recurrent reform attempts since the early 19th century, and the politics of race and region have figured prominently in their defeat.

It is, of course, no secret that slavery played a role in the original design of our presidential election system — although historians disagree about the centrality of that role. The notorious formula that gave states representation in Congress for three-fifths of their slaves was carried over into the allocation of electoral votes; the number of electoral votes granted to each state was (and remains) equivalent to that state’s representation in both branches of Congress. This constitutional design gave white Southerners disproportionate influence in the choice of presidents, an edge that could and did affect the outcome of elections.

Not surprisingly, the slave states strenuously opposed any changes to the system that would diminish their advantage. In 1816, when a resolution calling for a national popular vote was introduced in Congress for the first time, it was derailed by the protestations of Southern senators. The slaveholding states “would lose the privilege the Constitution now allows them, of votes upon three-fifths of their population other than freemen,” objected William Wyatt Bibb of Georgia on the floor of the Senate. “It would be deeply injurious to them.”

What is far less known, or recognized, is that long after the abolition of slavery, Southern political leaders continued to resist any attempts to replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote. (They sometimes supported other reforms, like the proportional division of each state’s electoral votes, but those are different strands of a multifaceted tale.) The reasoning behind this opposition was straightforward, if disturbing. After Reconstruction, the white “Redeemer” governments that came to power in Southern states became the political beneficiaries of what amounted to a “five-fifths” clause: African-Americans counted fully toward representation (and thus electoral votes), but they were again disenfranchised — despite the formal protections outlined in the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, which stated that the right to vote could not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” White Southerners consequently derived an even greater benefit from the Electoral College than they had before the Civil War.”

Opinion | John Lewis: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.

“While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.


John Lewis, the civil rights leader and congressman who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death.

Opinion | Help Me Find Trump’s ‘Anarchists’ in Portland – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“PORTLAND, Ore. — I’ve been on the front lines of the protests here, searching for the “radical-left anarchists” who President Trump says are on Portland streets each evening.

I thought I’d found one: a man who for weeks leapt into the fray and has been shot four times with impact munitions yet keeps coming back. I figured he must be a crazed anarchist.

But no, he turned out to be Dr. Bryan Wolf, a radiologist who wears his white doctor’s jacket and carries a sign with a red cross and the words “humanitarian aid.” He pleads with federal forces not to shoot or gas protesters.

“Put your gun barrels down!” he cries out. “Why are you loading your grenade launchers? We’re just standing ——” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Kristof wrote: “I’m against all violent attacks on officers, and I worry that Trump’s provocations are succeeding in seeding violence — as we’ve already seen in Seattle, Oakland and elsewhere. Every time angry progressives burn a building down, they win votes for Trump.’ I agree with this.
The protestors lose when this happens, and Trump wins. The mayor should announce a curfew, and enforce it, so after a few hours of evening protest, all the law abiding citizens leave the scene peacefully, It is time to stop giving Trump the civil war he needs for re-election.

 Opinion | Yeah,  – Let’s Not Talk About Race – by Damon Young – The New York Times

“The people doing the least can be found in every viral video clip of a white person hysterically refusing to wear a mask at Trader Joe’s. These people are unhinged, dangerous and just plain goofy, willing to die (and kill) over Jicama Wraps and Kale Gnocchi. And the people doing the most? Well, the most happens anytime a white person encounters a Black person who writes about race — or just a Black person who just happens to be Black — and the Serious Conversation About Racism (SCAR) must ensue. This isn’t a new phenomenon. I’ve been SCARed before in the grocery store express aisle, between pickup hoop games at the gym, while getting a colonoscopy, and at least 82 percent of the unsolicited emails I get are drive-by SCARings. But now America feels like a deleted scene from “Get Out.” Or better yet, “The Sixth Sense.” But instead of seeing dead people, white people see us as walking, talking, antiracist book lists.

There’s no better example of the absolute most than the recent ABC News feature on Ernest Skelton. Mr. Skelton, an appliance technician, was just doing his job when the white woman whose house he was working on grilled him about the plight of blacks in America. He shared that racism is, um, bad. The woman, Caroline Brock, wrote a post about their conversation on Facebook, and it went viral. Local news stations called, and they eventually appeared on “Nightline” as an example of what happens when America allows itself to “heal from the heart.” But all I can think about is this man trying to fix a sink while taking a random pop quiz about redlining.

I guess I understand the compulsion to find somewhere to engage this national conversation, even if that space is shoehorned. It feels sometimes like double dutch, as if white people are waiting on the sidewalk for a cue to jump in. And today’s best seller lists are stocked with guidebooks for navigating this terrain. Two of the most popular picks — “How to Be an Antiracist” and “So You Want to Talk About Race”— are by my friends. But I doubt either author wishes to be SCAR-bombed at Jiffy Lube.”

David Lindsay: This young man, Damon Young, has some important things to say, but I find his tone so rude, that I am repulsed by his bad manners, and his ugly self-absorbed self-centeredness. Maybe he reminds me of myself as a younger person when I was at my worst, so I am very critical. After the tragic death of George Floyd, and his the miraculous movement the video of his death inspired, I learned for the first time of the Tulsa Massacer in 1921. Such readings changed my heart, and I began to seriously support reparations, which I had been reticent to consider seriously.  I have some sympathy for the white neighbors who ask this new author of a book on race, to discuss the topic further with him if he is interested.

In his defence, Kathleen S. finds very little rudeness from the author of the piece. She points out that the man simply feels rudely objectified by whites, who do not approach him as an individual, who might not want discussion while out and about, but an official black spokesperson who is always on duty, which he clearly isn’t. I asked Kathleen to define objectify, and she said, in this instance, it means to treat someone not as an individual, but as a role or position.

Facebook Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights,’ Audit Finds – By Mike Isaac – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has not done enough to fight discrimination on its platform and has made some decisions that were “significant setbacks for civil rights,” according to a new independent audit of the company’s policies and practices.

In a 100-page prepublication report, which was obtained by The New York Times, the social network was repeatedly faulted for not having the infrastructure for handling civil rights and for prioritizing free expression on its platform over nondiscrimination. In some decisions, Facebook did not seek civil rights expertise, the auditors said, potentially setting a “terrible” precedent that could affect the November general election and other speech issues.

“Many in the civil rights community have become disheartened, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they implored the company to do more to advance equality and fight discrimination, while also safeguarding free expression,” wrote the auditors, Laura W. Murphy and Megan Cacace, who are civil rights experts and lawyers. They said they had “vigorously advocated for more and would have liked to see the company go further to address civil rights concerns in a host of areas.”

The report, which was the culmination of two years of examination of the social network, was another blow for the Silicon Valley company. Facebook has been under pressure for allowing hate speech, misinformation and other content that can go against people’s civil rights to fester on its site. While rivals like Twitter, Snap and Reddit have all taken action in recent weeks to label, downplay or ban such content, Facebook has said it will not do so because it believes in free speech.

 

That has spurred civil rights groups to organize a “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign aimed against the social media company. More than 300 advertisers like Coca-Cola and North Face recently agreed to pause their spending on Facebook because it had failed to curtail the spread of hate speech and misinformation on its platform.

On Tuesday, civil rights leaders met with Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, with 10 demands, including appointing a civil rights executive. But those who attended said the Facebook executives did not agree to many of their requests and instead spouted “spin.”

DL: Social Media does not have to follow the same rules as newspapers, and that has to change.

Opinion | Bring On the 28th Amendment – By Richard L. Hasen – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Hasen is the author of “Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Threat to American Democracy.”

Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

“What if we made voting an agent of equality, not inequality? And how can we get there?

If you are a college student or a working recent high school graduatepoorLatino, or someone who moves more frequently, you are less likely to vote. Seniors are much more likely to vote than young people, in some elections at twice their rate. Those with college degrees vote in higher numbers than the less educated. Minority voters are more likely to wait longer in line to vote in person, sometimes for hours, and they, young people, and first-time voters are more likely to have an absentee ballot rejected for nonconformity with technical rules. Poor voters are less likely to have the time off work to vote at all, much less wait in a long line to vote. Voters in big cities, who tend to be younger, poorer and browner, have coped with more serious election problems than others in voting in person and by mail during our coronavirus-laden primary season, like the voters in Milwaukee voters who saw 175 out of 180 polling places closed during the April 7 Wisconsin primaries.

In a democratic system, we expect our elected officials to be responsive to the views and interests of the voters. If the universe of voters — and, of course, campaign donors — is skewed toward older, wealthier, better educated whiter voters, political decisions will be as well. We need equality in voting rights and turnout to assure responsive representation and social policy that reflects everyone’s needs, not just those most likely to turn out with their votes and dollars.

Let’s start with the causes of the problem. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare three pathologies with how we protect voting rights in the United States, and why the skew in voter turnout remains persistent.”

Opinion | The Tulsa Race Massacre, Revisited – By Brent Staples – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Staples is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

“The lynch mobs that hanged, shot or burned African-Americans alive during the early 20th century sometimes varied the means of slaughter by roping victims to cars and dragging them to death. The killers who re-enacted this barbaric ritual in Tulsa, Okla., on June 1, 1921, committed one of the defining atrocities of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the bloody conflagration during which white vigilantes murdered at will while looting and burning one of the most affluent black communities in the United States.

The helpless old black man who was shredded alive behind a fast-moving car would have been well known in Tulsa’s white downtown, where he supported himself by selling pencils and singing for coins. He was blind, had suffered amputations of both legs and wore baseball catcher’s mitts to protect his hands from the pavement as he scooted along on a wheeled wooden platform.  . . . . “

“Greenwood, whose business district was known as the Negro Wall Street, was the seat of African-American affluence in the Southwest, with two newspapers, two movie theaters and a commercial strip featuring some of the finest black-owned businesses in the country. White Tulsa’s business elite resented the competition all the more because the face of that competition was black. Beyond that, the white city saw the bustling black community as an obstacle to Tulsa’s expansion.

The white press set the stage for Greenwood’s destruction by deriding the community as “Niggertown” and portraying its jazz clubs as founts of vice, immorality and, by implication, race mixing. As was often the case in the early 20th century, a false accusation of attempted rape opened the door for white Tulsans to act out their antipathies.

A black man accused of accosting a white woman in a downtown elevator in broad daylight was predictably arrested, and, just as predictably, a mob convened at the courthouse spoiling for an evening’s lynching entertainment. Black Tulsans who appeared on the scene to prevent the lynching exchanged gunfire with the mob. Outmanned and outgunned, they retreated to Greenwood to defend against the coming onslaught.

The city guaranteed mayhem by deputizing members of the lynch mob — a catastrophic decision, given that Oklahoma was a center of Ku Klux Klan activity — and instructing them to “get a gun, and get busy and try to get a nigger.” The white men who surged into Greenwood may well have been told to burn the district. Greenwood’s defenders fought valiantly but were quickly overwhelmed.”

Opinion | Georgia Set Up a Polling Place in a Nursing Home – By Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown – The New York Times

By Cliff Albright and 

Mr. Albright and Ms. Brown run a civic engagement organization based in Georgia.

“ATLANTA — On what should have been a signal day for democracy last week, when voters cast ballots in the statewide primary elections, the signs of a debacle were visible early: malfunctioning voting equipment, a bungled response to the pandemic, too few polling stations and the looming specter of police violence.

The lines in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward stretched three long blocks. At one site, voters couldn’t even cast ballots until four hours after the polling station opened. Some workers weren’t properly trained to use the new machines. Voters showed up at polling places that had quietly closed. It was a “hot mess,” said Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.

How could Georgia be so unprepared, especially after state officials twice delayed the primary vote?

Wait times of four to six hours were the last things we needed in a pandemic that has disproportionately killed black people and older people, and in a state that reopened prematurely. It’s part of a pattern of course, given Georgia’s long history of voter suppression and the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.