Opinion | On the Wisconsin Primary, the Supreme Court Failed Us – By Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Lauren Justice for The New York Times

“The Supreme Court just met its first test of the coronavirus era. It failed, spectacularly.

I was hoping not to have to write those sentences. All day Monday, I kept refreshing my computer’s link to the court’s website.

I was anxious to see how the justices would respond to the urgent request from the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to stop the state from counting absentee ballots postmarked not by Tuesday’s election but during the following few days.

A federal district judge, noting that Wisconsin’s election apparatus was overwhelmed by the “avalanche of absentee ballots” sought by voters afraid to show up at crowded polling places, had ordered the extra time last Thursday, with the full support of the state’s election officials. Was I the only one left in suspense on Monday, holding out hope that the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices would put partisanship aside and let the District Court order stand?

In early evening, the answer landed with a thud. No, they would not.

In more than four decades of studying and writing about the Supreme Court, I’ve seen a lot (and yes, I’m thinking of Bush v. Gore). But I’ve rarely seen a development as disheartening as this one: a squirrelly, intellectually dishonest lecture in the form of an unsigned majority opinion, addressed to the four dissenting justices (Need I name them? Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan), about how “this court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.” “

Opinion | We Must Vote in November. Voting by mail etc is How to Ensure That We Can. – The New York Times

By Bob BauerBen Ginsberg and 

Mr. Bauer, Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Persily were members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Voters should not have to choose between casting a ballot and risking their health. They should not have to endure confusion over the location of polling places or the availability of vote-by-mail. Yet voters might face exactly those problems in November if we do not act now to protect the election from Covid-19.

To safeguard the inclusivity and legitimacy of our elections, the federal government should provide resources that states should use in a credible, bipartisan fashion.

We must act now. Elections — American democracy itself — should not be among the pandemic’s victims.

We’ve done something like this before. Roughly seven years ago, we led a bipartisan commission set up by President Barack Obama. There had been significant problems with the operation of the electoral process in 2012, and our task was to suggest possible solutions. Two of us (Mr. Bauer and Mr. Ginsberg) were co-chairs and the other (Mr. Persily) was the senior research director. As part of our broad charge, and in light of Hurricane Sandy, we looked at the challenges posed by natural disasters. Our recommendations on these and other election administrative issues were well received by election administrators across the country, of both parties. We also noted where more progress was urgently needed.”

Opinion | Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden – By Mara Gay – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Gay is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“At the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, things look much as they did a half-century ago.

The site is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, a remarkable collection that includes a replica of a firebombed bus ridden by the Freedom Riders as they traveled through the South protesting segregation in 1961.

Inside the museum the other day, a woman sat down beside me and wiped away tears. “I’m sorry,” she said. “What gets me is, after all this time, look what’s happening right now.”

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Southern Democrats — particularly black Democrats — are hoping to keep the history that surrounds them in the past.

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina explained this in visceral terms when he announced his support for Joe Biden late last month, an endorsement that began with Mr. Clyburn, 79, talking about the first time he was arrested protesting for civil rights decades ago. “When I sat in jail that day, I wondered whether we were doing the right thing, but I was never fearful for the future,” he said. “As I stand before you today I am fearful of the future of this country. I’m fearful for my daughters and their futures, and their children, and their children’s futures.”

Mr. Clyburn said he was sure Mr. Biden was the right choice. “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” he said. Three days later, Mr. Biden won a convincing victory in the South Carolina primary, launching him into his Super Tuesday triumph and the front-runner status he enjoys today.”

Opinion | Does Anyone Have a Clue About How to Fight Back Against Trump’s Racism? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Can Democrats diminish the bigotry that Donald Trump has unleashed in this country?

Stung by the success of Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist campaign themes in 2016, left-of-center advocacy groups — think tanks, unions, progressive academics and Democratic consultants — are developing tools this year to counter the continuing Republican assault on liberal values, based on the optimistic assumption that the reservoir of white animosity is not so deep that Trump is assured re-election.

These efforts on the left challenge the long history of Republican success in exploiting race and a host of ancillary issues — crime, welfare, social disorder, family breakdown, homelessness — a history that includes Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Donald Trump in 2016.

That history points to the relentless power of racial resentment in American politics. Despite polling that shows greater acceptance of racial equality, this issue is as potent a source of political strength for Trump today as it was for Nixon a half century ago.

There are myriad studies, as have noted (along with many others) that show the continuing effectiveness of race and immigration as wedge issues. These studies continue to appear at an alarming rate.”

Opinion | Shifting Collective Memory in Tulsa – the 1921 massacre – by Russell Cobb – The New York Times

The aftermath of the attack on black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District in Tulsa.

Credit…Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

“Down the street from the actual Greenwood Cultural Center, Cleo Harris sat in his T-shirt shop remembering the first time he talked about the tragedy with a white man. Mr. Harris was working as a truck driver, and somehow the event more commonly known as the Tulsa Race Riot came up. When Mr. Harris said it should be recognized as a massacre, the white man became belligerent. “He thought it was all about reparations,” Mr. Harris told me.

No one is sure how many people died; estimates range from around 75 to over 300. Virtually every black citizen was left homeless. Over 30 city blocks were completely destroyed. Commandeered airplanes dropped firebombs on Greenwood. The change in the wording around 1921, then, is more than mere semantics. “It reflects the intentionality of the destruction,” Mr. Armstrong said.”

Opinion | Remembering Ella Baker on Martin Luther King Day – By Barbara Ransby – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Ransby, a historian, is the author of “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.”

Credit…Jack Harris/Associated Press

“When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1964, he observed that anytime an award is given to “the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit,” the prize is also bestowed on “the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth.”

Ella Josephine Baker, a black North Carolina native who migrated to New York in the 1920s, was a major part of that ground crew for over 50 years, and her legacy lives on in today’s social movements.

Her political activism began in Harlem in the 1930s. She worked with the cooperative movement during the Great Depression; supported the campaign against Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia; and opposed the racist conviction of the famed Scottsboro boys.

Baker was a field secretary and director of branches for the N.A.A.C.P. in the 1940s, and she traveled throughout the Jim Crow South, organizing against discrimination and recruiting people to the Civil Rights Movement. She worked alongside King and others in the Southern Christian Leadership Council in the 1950s and was a mentor to the young activists who founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960. S.N.C.C. went on to lead the “Freedom Rides,” in which participants risked life and limb to desegregate interstate transportation, and then to organize “Freedom Summer,” a massive voter registration drive targeting disenfranchised black southern voters.”

Opinion | An Open Letter to John Lewis – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — Dear Mr. Lewis, I write with a heavy heart. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is a brutal diagnosis, so it’s no surprise that last Sunday night the internet erupted with anguish as news of your illness became public. Treatment may give you a “fighting chance” to continue working “for the Beloved Community,” as you wrote in a statement, but it’s painful to think of what you will be called on to bear in the coming months. You have already borne so much for us.

In the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, a massive screen plays a montage of film and still photos from March 7, 1965, a day now commemorated as “Bloody Sunday.” The images were made at the beginning of a planned march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, to claim voting rights for the African-American citizens of the state. I grew up in Alabama, not far from Selma, and I’ve always known the story of Bloody Sunday, but knowing the story is not the same thing as watching it unfold on a life-size screen. Standing in the National Civil Rights Museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few years ago, I watched in horror. What you and your fellow marchers, 600 strong, found waiting for you on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge was 150 state police and local law-enforcement officers armed with billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. They gave you two minutes to disperse.

As the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, you were standing at the very front of the march. You were wearing a light-colored trench coat, and that coat is what makes it possible to follow you in the black-and-white footage of those next chaotic moments. One minute and five seconds after the two-minute warning, evil advanced and the carnage began, even as you knelt in the road to pray.

The beating you took that day from an Alabama state trooper may have fractured your skull, but it didn’t crack your resolve. National news stories carrying photos and film footage from Bloody Sunday finally woke this nation to what was happening in the Jim Crow South, and that awakening ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later.”

J.K. Rowling’s Maya Forstater tweets support hostile work environments, not free speech – Washington Post

“But here’s what really happened.

In early September 2018, Forstater had been a consultant to the Center for Global Development, which focuses on economic inequality, when she began using her personal Twitter account to tweet about her opposition to potential changes to the U.K.’s Gender Recognition Act, writing, “I share the concerns of @fairplaywomen that radically expanding the legal definition of ‘women’ so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women’s rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls.”

She then added: “Some transgender people have cosmetic surgery. But most retain their birth genitals. Everyone’s equality and safety should be protected, but women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams.”

Note that, in both cases, Forstater explicitly and unmistakably referred to trans women as “males”; the law to which she was referring — the Gender Recognition Act — explicitly recognizes trans women as female, not male, and the changes being contemplated were about increasing transgender women’s inclusion.

Later that month, in a long series of tweets, she repeatedly misgendered Credit Suisse senior director Pips Buncewho identifies as gender fluid, referring to her as “a man who likes to express himself part of the week by wearing a dress,” “a part-time cross dresser” and “a white man who likes to dress in women’s clothes.” As part of that discussion, she also tweeted, “I think that male people are not women.” (In her own words, Pips prefers to “default to ‘she’ as a pronoun.”)

After that series of Tweets, in a Slack conversation published by the court, Forstater reiterated that her stances — “‘women are adult human females’ or ‘transwomen are male'” — are “basic biological truths,” and “‘transwoman are women'” is one of a number of “literal delusions.” “

Source: J.K. Rowling’s Maya Forstater tweets support hostile work environments, not free speech

J.K. Rowling tried to make her work more inclusive. Then she tweeted support for an anti-trans researcher. – The Washington Post

Dec. 19, 2019 at 12:24 p.m. PST

“J.K. Rowling has long used the Internet to tweak the Harry Potter universe she created, surprising fans with trivial revelations from Ron Weasley’s patronus to the fact that wizards used to poop in their robes. But on Thursday, Rowling changed many fans’ views of her own character when she tweeted her support for a woman who was fired over her anti-trans social media posts.

“Dress however you please,” Rowling wrote on Twitter early Thursday. “Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

The woman named in Rowling’s tweet is Maya Forstater, a tax expert who lost her job at a think tank after tweeting that trans women can’t “change” their biological sex. Forstater’s contract as a visiting fellow at the Washington- and London-based nonprofit Center for Global Development was not renewed in March, according to the Guardian, after they found her tweets to be exclusionary toward trans people. On Wednesday, Judge James Tayler at the Central London Employment Tribunal dismissed Forstater’s claims of wrongful termination, per the Guardian, calling her “absolutist in her view of sex” and her expressed beliefs “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

Rowling’s tweet triggered backlash almost immediately, attracting condemnation from individual users and organizations alike: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. CC: JK Rowling,” the Human Rights Campaign account tweeted. Replying to Rowling’s tweet, one fan wrote that she grew up reading the Harry Potter series as a trans child, and that the author’s decision “to support people that hate me” brought tears to her eyes.

Rowling’s representatives declined to comment to The Washington Post.”

Source: J.K. Rowling tried to make her work more inclusive. Then she tweeted support for an anti-trans researcher. – The Washington Post

Opinion | How to Be a Whistle-Blower – By Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

Credit…Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile, via Getty Images

This article is part of a limited-run newsletter. You can sign up here.

“Last week, at a conference in Portugal, I met John Napier Tye. He is a former State Department employee, a whistle-blower and a co-founder of Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm that represents individuals trying to expose wrongdoing. As you may have noticed, whistle-blowers are very much in the news these days, and Tye is very much in the center of that world.

Today’s newsletter is a Q. and A. with Tye. We talked about whether it’s possible to stay anonymous in 2019, how to protect your privacy like a spy, whether regular people are at risk of becoming targets and how to become a whistle-blower if you’re a witness to something troubling.

This is a condensed and edited version of our conversation:

What are the biggest threats right now to privacy for normal citizens?

It’s useful to distinguish between bulk collection and targeted surveillance. Both are threats. The average citizen is likely already caught up by bulk collection, although the proliferation of targeted surveillance technologies are increasingly threatening whistle-blowers, journalists and others that find themselves on the wrong side of unaccountable governments and security agencies.

Bulk collection affects everyone. A number of governments and companies have the goal of building databases with detailed profile information for every person on earth, or at least every internet user — including where you are at any given moment, who your friends are, what kind of messages and photos you are creating and how you think about the world. They are closer than you might expect.”

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