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Tidbits - March 3, 2016 - Reader Comments: Donald Trump: Racism and Mob Mentality; After Super Tuesday; Melissa Harris-Perry; Israel; Flint; Haiti; China; UK; Announcements; and more...

Reader Comments: Donald Trump: Racism and Mob Mentality; After Super Tuesday; Melissa Harris-Perry Firing; Take Action for the Release of Tair Kaminer, Conscientious Objector in Israel; Criteria for Negro Art; Lawyers Fight for Their Rights; and Flint; Haiti; China; UK; Announcements: March 8 Celebrate International Women's Day in New York - Play on Harriet Tubman with Vinie Burrows; C.L.R. James and Race Question - New York - March 25 and more...

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - March 3, 2016,Portside
Donald Trump was the first to call for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, who were later found innocent, definitely worth the read!
Janet Campbell
By Zoilo Torres
March 1, 2016
Donald Trump reminds me of when I was growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1960s. Back then I observed ten to fifteen white guys pummel a Puerto Rican youngster to a bloody mess. He just happened to roam into the wrong playground alone in a forbidden neighborhood. It took one assailant to start the attack before the rest quickly joined the onslaught. It was the most harrowing beating of a human being an innocent eleven-year-old should not have witnessed. Later in life, I realized that the attackers were more broadly reacting to Puerto Ricans encroaching on what they perceived to be their territory, their secured enclave in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Today I see and hear thousands of people hysterically cheering Trump's hate-filled, racist verbiage and my mind clamors for an explanation.
The Trump crowds, like those ominous playground toughs, are sons, daughters, and contemporaries of working class people, replete with political and ideological inconsistencies and contradictions. Trump's social-base applauds the aspersions rightfully cast upon the country's political and corporate elite while giving resounding applause to the scapegoating rhetoric that offends and demonizes working people of color who often labor alongside their white cohorts.
Riding on the hatred of both the top and bottom echelons of society is vintage right-wing populist demagoguery meant to mobilize resentment as a means of political organizing. It provides cover for the misdeeds of the rich and powerful while making the most vulnerable appear to be evil and immoral. It, places the powerless outside of decent, mainstream society while shuttering any meaningful debate about whom and what is perpetuating economic and social inequality.
This is what the right-wing is attempting to do when it attacks undocumented immigrants. When it fear-mongers Muslims. When it maligns women, who are pro-choice. When it rejects labor unions. When it denounces government workers. When it berates the non-religious or mocks the disabled. When it ridicules gays.
And when it demands "We must take back America." Take back America from whom? The first African American President? All this and more become subjects of a right-wing narrative that sketches a sinister conspiracy against the common good. Read: the common good of Trump's white people.
This scene is taking shape in a backdrop of slow economic growth. Where wages are stagnant. Where workers are being displaced by technology and whose jobs are being outsourced. Where government on many levels is dysfunctional. And where the neighborhood is becoming "browner." In fact, it is said that the U.S. will be a "majority minority" society by 2044. The fear of an apocalyptic "End of Times" is rattling Donald Trump's followers. And Trump knows this because that's what his polls tell him.
To effectively counter this right-wing phenomenon we must better understand it.
Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons in Right Wing Populism In America; suggest that current conditions are stimulating various ideological trends within certain constituencies of the right-wing that requires responses. For example, popular among the upper-middle class and small entrepreneurs is the idea of "getting government off our backs," coupled with the rejection of established political structures including political parties. This foreshadows either a complete take-over of the Republican Party by the right-wing or the formation of a new right-wing party. It may be a harbinger of the growth of independent right-wing voters.
Another trend, especially among lower-middle class and wage workers, is based on xenophobia and ethnocentric nationalism. Combating this calls for the political unification of the various Latino constituencies and partnering with other progressive sectors of the U.S. working class, particularly African Americans.
The ultra-conservative Christian evangelicals - the kind that Texas Senator Ted Cruz targeted - are motivated by cultural and religious concerns. Berlet and Lyon write that women play a major role in this constituency showing solid middle-class income levels concentrated primarily in relatively prosperous suburban areas. This sector may be inaccessible to our community except for our progressive faith-based organizations that may have peripheral relationships. We should encourage engagement where possible.
Another detectable trend stems from workers who have been directly affected by economic downsizing and unemployment. Those of us who support the labor movement should encourage organized labor not to abandon these workers and to find mechanisms for keeping them connected. Failure to do so could lead these workers to become fodder for the right.
These are some contextual elements surrounding the current wave of right-wing populism Donald Trump is riding. It is fueled by anti-immigration, anti-choice, Islamophobia, xenophobia, nativism, economic, and social inequality. We need to stop Trump and the right-wing in the coming election and after that. We must take responsibility for making sure we as a Puerto Rican/Latino community are registered to vote and vote. It will make a difference.
No Puerto Rican should alone have to face a hostile crowd led by a bully in a changing neighborhood.
[Zoilo Torres is a life-long community, labor, and political organizer, currently an independent organizing consultant, He occasionally lectures on community empowerment at New York University. He can be reached at]
Yup this is another thing you can lay at the hands of the DN chair. Getting the party organized to turnouot in numbers is national effort. She has not been up to one iota of her job which is NOT to ensure Hilary gets elected but a Dem will get elected. Massive failure on her part
Earl Marty Price
But Bernie supporters turned out in even smaller numbers.  This is not just a bad sign for Hillary.  If the left and center don't turn out we will get the far right and a right wing supreme court for another generation (at least).
Stan Nadel
Yes, MHP will be fine, and those of us many who appreciate her and her work, will find her, I miss her show now, an important time for her voice and those differing voices she brought to her show. Am finished with msnbc ....
Ellen Zaltzberg
Please pass onto Melissa my shared sense of loss as a white 81 year old regular viewer. I suspect I will soon tire of the hyped up news the other MSNBC shows unfortunately have become (Chis Hayes being the exception). Without Melissa I will again be channel surfing to find someone like her. My loss, MSNBC's loss, and broadcast TV's loss. I hope Portside informs us where she lands in the reporting media world. Thanks for all Portside does, and for Malissa reminding us that TV news need not be all about ratings
Tom Parsons
[Thanks to Michael Eisenscher for sending this to Portside.]
They said MSNBC was deprogressiving when they got rid of Sharpton's show or exiled it to Su mornings.  I didn't mind so much.  Not compelling like Hayes and Maddow, but again did bring some different points of views and guests.  Wish they got rid of Mathews, which many of times had me do a double take in wonder.   Is that boy going rt wing republican?   Joy Reid show was short lived.  But its their election coverage with lying Brian and Nicole what's her name.   Can they get more network chicken  head newsy! 
Now to find out MHP actually stood up against this dribble, which I had hope Hayes, Maddow and O'Donnell would do.  Not too late.  Stand up in support of MHP, in support of yourselves and us the viewers.
Well, use to be viewer, cause I've been turning to Housewives and Kardashians than watch that slop of election coverage.  Back to comedy channel Daily Show for progressive news.
Great job MSNBC execs, keep it up and you can get rid of channel for low viewing, as they hired you to do.
m decime
Can we ask-- where is Rachel Maddow in all this? Resounding silence?
Louise Bernikow
At last someone is saying what I've been saying.  It was "The Feminine Mystique" and Betty Friedan that really gave rise to the women's movement. The impact on both me and my mother was profound. Steinem came later and, with MS Magazine, had more focus on upper middle-class women moving up the corporate ladder than solving the issues of working/poor women.  Thank you.
Claire Carsman
With her focus on Betty Friedan and the United Electrical Workers, Lucy Komisar adds historical insight to current stances and debates about the rival Democratic presidential candidates.  Both Friedan and the UE pursued agendas in the postwar/Cold War era that challenged existing hierarchies and the bases upon which they rested.  Friedan's contributions to the struggle for women's rights in the middle-class arena are well known. Yet, UE's challenges to employers -- especially the powerful GE and Westinghouse corporations -- to provide equal pay for equal (and comparable) work also deserve widespread recognition and their effort continues.  From its inception in 1937, UE fought racial and gender bias at every turn and continues that struggle today as the union approaches its 80th anniversary.  That Komisar believes that Betty Friedan would support Bernie Sanders today is very reasonable; that UE leaders encourage us to take the Sanders challenge to the oligarchy most seriously is established fact.
Jim Young
Harrisburg, PA
Bernie is doing fine in his sincere and well thought out presentation.  All he needs to do now is get rid of those LL Bean button down collar shirts and get some cool shirts with nice collars and he can go all the way.
Stan Maron
Geez...wish someone would "translate" all this into use-able talking points or even better a graphic to be used in ORGANIZING and politicizing voters!
Leanna Noble
Why would this woman who "worked so hard for healthcare for all" during her hubbies reign now reject single payer healthcare coverage that would cover everyone? I think it must have something to do with BIG insurance companies, jus sayin!
William Proctor
If Mrs Clinton loses the election - yes, the election - Democrats may see 2016 as Republicans see 1976: The chance to put country ahead of party was lost, energy was sacrificed to expediency. Gosh it feels awful to feel the Bern flicker and fade.
Larry Colby
Great article by Dubois on black arts. Thanks much for this one.
Ernest Brill
One thing that constantly irritates me is white (or wannabe) scholars who consider themselves "progressive/and or socialist," yet can only point to the white, elitist controlled Harlem Renaissance writers as their finest examples...Of course, we champion the great DuBois, and Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes (who wasn't mentioned, by the way), Claude McKay, and the other greats.
But these scholars constantly raise these writers in the face of a Cultural Revolution, which was led by both male & female writers, who produced over 11 revolutionary journals, distributed in mainly Black communities nation-wide...Who, in the 1960s, according to scholar James E. Smethurst, created the largest cultural movement in U.S. history...What was the main ruling ideology? Revolutionary Black Nationalism/Pan Africanism & Third World socialism, led by radical doctor, Franz Fanon, whose "The Wretched of the Earth," was a founding document.
These Black Arts cultural radicals, led by Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, and Askia Toure' (yours truly) went to revolutionary Cuba, joined SNCC in the Civil Rights movement, and RAM, in the northern ghettoes...Writers belonging to this Movement, were Hoyt W. Fuller, Stephen E. Henderson, Carolyn F. Gerald, Sarah W. Fabio, Carolyn Rodgers, Mari Evans, Johari Amini, Jerry Ward, Kalamu ya Salaam, A.B. Spelman, Sonia Sanchez, Marvin X. Jackmon, Edward Bullins, Woody King, Jr., Nikki Giovanni, Joe Goncalves, Edward S. Spriggs, & musicians,Sun Ra, Milford Graves, Andrew Hill, Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, and actors, Barbara Ann Teer, Danny Glover, Louis Gossett, to name a key few. They were closely allied to Umbra writers, Ishmael Reed, Thomas C. Dent, David Henderson, Lorenzo Thomas, dramatist Brenda Walcott. These were the great 1960s artists, who created a generational Cultural Revolution inside U.S. society.
If you colleagues are ignorant of this great radical Movement, I suggest you read, "Black Fire," by LeRoi Jones and Larry Neal, "The Black Arts Movement" by James E. Smethurst, and the current revolutionary anthology, "SOS--Calling All Black People, A Black Arts Reader" (2014) dedicated to the late Amiri Baraka. Then compare this great upsurge to the white American-sponsored Harlem Renaissance -- as comparative Renaissances. 
Askia M.Toure',
Black Arts Movement co-founder
(posting on Portside Labor)
I've been in this world. Demeaning doesn't come close to describing the way document review and temporary lawyers are treated. I began to do this work after years of having been a prosecutor and a trial attorney. Unlike the young kids, those of us who were older, didn't have mountains of student debt. But we did have family bills. And we often had far more practical legal experience than the people for whom we worked. That hardly translated into respect. We were not seen as lawyers. Not seen as equals or even as professionals. Not only was food often controlled, bathroom breaks were monitored in some agencies, monitors literally following you to the restroom to make sure that is where you were going. Talk of any kind was frowned upon. Interaction with firm or agency lawyers was frowned upon. I pods were forbidden by some agencies. Pay dropped from $42 an hour to $27 in the space of a couple years. Many jobs demanded 50-70 hours a week, no overtime.
Rebecca Kirkman
It is difficult to get the congress to open its eyes, but not impossible. Thank you Mr. Gordis---"Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the universal and the visionary. These values have been subordinated to a cruel and oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism, severe inequalities rivaling the worst in the western world and distorted by a fanatic, obscurantist and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behaviors rather than the best.
And most depressing of all for me, is that I see no way out, no way forward which will reverse the current reality. Right wing control in Israel is stronger and more entrenched than ever. The establishment leadership in the American Jewish community is silent in the face of this dismal situation, and there are no recognizable trends that can move Israel out of this quagmire. So, sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure."
Chuck Weed
This title pretty much says it all.
To quote:
"In this way, Flint's water crisis is not unlike Haiti's. It never comes down to one bad decision made about pumping water from the Flint River or dumping sewage into the Artibonite River. It is neglected - or absent - infrastructure that's deadly. And neglected infrastructure stems not only from impoverished governance, but also from impoverished communities, deprived of their capacity for self-reliance by a lack of access to quality education, health care, social services and income. With average household water and sewer charges of $140 per month (in 2014), Flint's rates are among the highest in the country. Residents, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line, spend an average of 7.2 percent of their annual income on water and sewer bills alone. It's not uncommon to find bills as high as 10.3 percent, and outrageous rates are still being billed in spite of the water crisis. In Haiti, one study revealed families spending 12 percent of their annual income on water. Poverty, eroding infrastructure and unaffordable water aren't unique to Haiti. They also devastate communities as seemingly far as Flint, Michigan."
Larry Aaronson
Thank you Tariq Ali, LRB and Portside for this important piece about Jeremy Corbyn.
Carole Travis
Because many friends and family members live in the UK, I visit often and follow UK politics. I was shocked, in the last election cycle, when the Labor Party program added up to the Tory program (Tories cut medical care? Labor agreed; Tory cuts to housing, legal aid? Labor campaigned in agreement). The election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labor Party leader promises some leftward movement. (and caused great distress among UK pundits, always a good thing). Here Tariq Ali offers a good recounting of Corbyn's election and some of the subsequent events. Thanks to Portside for the link.
Daniel Millstone
(posting on Portside Labor)
Read the section entitled "The true nature of China Labour Bulletin and China Labor Watch" at
Don DeBar
Tell Prime Minister Netanyahu: release Tair Kaminer, conscientious objector and all arbitrary detainees! 
Tair Kaminer, an Israeli teenager, has spent 45 days behind bars for being a conscientious objector to the Israeli occupation. She is about to start her third term in military jail because of her choice to take a moral stand against Israel's perpetual occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Tair began her time in prison in January and has now refused to join the Israeli army before three separate tribunals. 
In all three cases,Tair was not permitted to have a lawyer or to give testimony. She was simply sentenced and sent to jail. Join Refuser Solidarity Network in telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to FREE TAIR and all arbitrary detainees! 
Tair is just 19 years old, but she understands the negative impact that the Israeli military and government's policies are having on her country's future. While most teenagers in the world are busy with school and a social life, she chose to sacrifice these things and go to jail for refusing to serve. For Tair, joining the Israeli military would make her complicit in policies that destroy Palestinian lives and deteriorate life in Israel. She writes: 
"My refusal comes from my will to make my contribution to my society, and make this a better place, and is part of an ongoing struggle for peace and equality." 
Arbitrary detention is illegal under international law Tair is the latest in a long line of Israelis to refuse service in the Israeli military in response to the government's policy of settlement expansion, occupation, and denial of rights to the Palestinian people under its control. Refusers come from all segments of Israel's society. They are women, LGBT people, Russian, Druze, Ethiopian, from large cities and small towns. 
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has determined that Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which ensures freedom of thought, conscience and religion, applies to military refusers like Tair. Even though the ICCPR does not explicitly mention conscientious objectors, countries are in violation of this provision when they jail those who refuse to serve for reasons of political conscience. In 2002, the Committee ruled that Israel violated international law when it jailed six young men repeatedly without giving them access to counsel because they refused, for reasons of conscience, to serve in an army that was perpetrating crimes against innocents. Additionally, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also recognized in a 2001 report that jailing conscientious objectors runs contrary to Article 18. 
Join Refuser Solidarity Network in calling on Netanyahu to #FREETAIR
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 -- 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Hunter College's The Lang Recital Hall
4th floor Hunter North Building 
(Enter on 69th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues)
Bring Photo I.D.
Light refreshments provided
The Granny Peace Brigade (New York) invites you to celebrate this special day with a performance by Vinie Burrows, the Broadway actor/writer. For three years Dr. Burrows hosted a radio program, More Than Half the World, on Pacifica station WBAI in New York. She was honored by Actors Equity with their Paul Robeson Award, and by M.I.T with their McDermott Award.
Vinie Burrows will portray Harriet Tubman's intense spirit and search for freedom and justice. This enslaved Diasporan African woman escaped bondage and led scores of her sisters and brothers to freedom in the North. As a scout for the Union Army and Navy, she was invaluable. Now she may possibly replace Alexander Hamilton on a ten dollar bill !
Looking to the present and future, learn about CEDAW (United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women) and what you can do to help make it a reality in the U.S.A.
FREE RAFFLE at the event - Two copies of Butch Lee's book "JAILBREAK OUT OF HISTORY, the `Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman and The Evil of Female Loaferism'"
This event is cosponsored by The Hunter College Departments of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies and Women and Gender Studies
New Politics is proud to announce a forum centered on its release of a never-before-published lecture by Afro-Trinidadian socialist C.L.R. James on Oliver Cox's Caste, Class and Race.
Speakers will include:
  • Paul Ortiz, oral historian and C.L.R. James expert who discovered the lecture.
  • Scott McLemee, C.L.R. James expert.
  • Reginald Wilson, retired educator who worked with James in Detroit in the `60s.
From the Introduction to James' lecture in the latest New Politics:
"For those like us who came of age in the Reagan Era, the radical triumvirate of Cox, Du Bois and James provided vital introductions to Marxism and social theory, as well as analyses of capitalism as a system that had to be viewed globally if one ever hoped to grapple with its deformities. These scholars taught many of us how to integrate history and theory into our movement-building work. Above all, they demonstrated that the systems of domination were not all-powerful - that they could be challenged and even overthrown given the right amount of energy, organizing, and solidarity."
- Paul Ortiz and Derrick White
Friday March 25  --  7 PM
PLACE: VERSO's beautiful loft at 20 Jay St., Dumbo
(Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Brooklyn)
Refreshments will be provided.
Please join us or tell your friends who live in the area to attend.
Celebrating ILRF's 30th Anniversary -- ILRF's founders came together in 1986 to put human rights conditionality on U.S. trade policy. Ever since, we have advocated, tested and frequently won policy reforms to protect workers' rights.  Yet those government and industry reforms are only effective when workers can speak out and demand their rights.
Please join us this year to honor the bravery and dedication of international leading worker rights advocates as we celebrate ILRF's 30th Anniversary.
  • Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur -- for her advocacy to eliminate child labor in agriculture and to protect workers' rights in global trade agreements;
  • The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers -- for their deep commitment to justice for all workers; and
  • Human Rights Defenders In Uzbekistan -- including Dmitry Tihonov, Elena Urlaeva, and Uktam Pardaev, for their leadership, bravery, and dedication to ending the state-run system of forced labor in the cotton sector in Uzbekistan.
1634 I St NW, Suite 1001
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 347-4100  -- Fax: (202) 347-4885