AFAM Newsbits – November 2016

DOUBLING DOWN ON A BAD BET
It makes little sense to double down on a bad bet when everybody has already seen your cards. That’s why Mayor Domenic Sarno looks so bad in the continuing drama involving police officer Greg Bigda, whose vicious assault on two Hispanic suspects have received so much public attention that the Feds invited themselves in. And, as so often happens, the cover up is turning out to be much worse than the crime. Some diligent city councilors and a vigilant media have exposed a disheartening conspiracy among top local government officials to conceal the truth about the seriousness of Bigda’s crimes and his favored treatment. And the cover up keeps growing by the day even as criminals’ sentences are reduced and some accused are set free because of Bigda’s credibility problems as a witness in court. It would be a comedy show if it was not so tragic! Sarno, who in the past has shown such cool under pressure, is behaving like Donald Trump on steroids trying to defend the indefensible. We know that Trump rarely listens to his advisors but Sarno usually does. One wonders who is advising him in this situation. Or maybe he’s doubling down because he made a second bad choice in police chiefs (as many of us believe) and is too proud to admit it. Or maybe there is something more damaging than what we already know that he is still covering up. Or maybe he has simply lost his fast ball after so many years as mayor. They’ve all been caught (the mayor, his top lawyer, our district attorney, our police commissioner)! And every day of denial only makes the mayor, and all the others look silly and more conspiratorial. It’s time for the adults in the room to ‘fess up’ and move on.

NEW POLICE COMMISSION, NEW POLICE CHIEF, NEW POLICE CULTURE
A police commission with real power would be a step up for Springfield as would be a new police chief who doesn’t carry the old cultural baggage that governs too much of the behavior of Springfield’s current police commissioner and that of too many of those whom he supervises. And it won’t do any harm to allow the current civilian review board to stay in place along with a powerful new commission because it doesn’t do much of anything anyway.

NEW YORK TIMES’ PAUL KRUGMAN ON WHY HILLARY WILL WIN
“First of all, who was this other, stronger candidate that the GOP might have chosen? Remember, Trump won the nomination because he gave his party’s base what it wanted, channeling the racial antagonism that has been the driving force for Republican electoral success for decades. All he did was say out loud what his rivals were trying to convey with dog whistles, which explains why they were so ineffective in opposing him.” (As reprinted in The Republican, October 24, 2016) Of course, I would have used fewer words as in “chickens coming home to roost.”

WASHINGTON POST’S MICHAEL GERSON ON GOP LEADERS
“The Trump ascendency is the triumph of anti-reason – of birtherism, of vaccine denialism, of suggestions that Justice Antonin Scalia was smothered with a pillow and that Hillary Clinton may have been involved in the death of Vince Foster. It is the triumph of nativism – of a political appeal based on hatred against migrants and Muslims. It is the triumph of white nationalism, which has moved inward from the fringes of Republican politics. It is the triumph of misogyny, demonstrated with words that require a disinfectant shower after hearing. It is the triumph of authoritarian impulses. Since the Constitution is “broken,” argues Maine Gov. Paul LePage, “we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country.” (As reprinted in The Republican, October 17, 2016)

GERSON AGAIN
“This much is clear: Republican leaders offered no effective resistance to the ideological and political demolition of their party. Which may, at worst, give George W. Bush the distinction of being the last Republican President. (October 17, 2016)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’S BRET STEPHENS
“More dangerous is that a Trump administration would give respectability and power to the gutter voices of American politics. Pat Buchanan would be its intellectual godfather, Ann Coulter and Ms. Ingraham its high priestesses, Breitbart and the rest of the alt-right web its public trumpets. American Jews shouldn’t have to re-live the 1930s in order to figure out that the “globalist cabal” might mean them. (October 18, 2016)

WHAT EXPLAINS THE NAACP’S REJECTION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS
According to an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, what explains the NAACP’s rejection of charter schools in America is that “The nation’s two largest teachers unions contributed nearly $400,000 to the outfit between 2011 and 2015, and other labor unions are also financiers. But don’t underestimate the degree to which the venerable outfit is now dominated by gentry progressives who are well-to-do themselves and are more attached to the Democratic Party than they are to poor black families.” (October 14, 2016)

AND WHAT DO MOST BLACK FAMILIES THINK ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS?
“Charters are proliferating because minority parents are voting with their feet. About two-thirds of black voters in Louisiana, New Jersey and Tennessee support charters and vouchers according to a 2015 survey by the Black Alliance for Educational Options. An Education Next poll last month found that blacks backed charters by nearly two-to-one. Two thirds of blacks also favored tax-credit scholarship programs such as Florida’s which the NAACP has sued to block. Meantime, only 8% of blacks gave their local schools an A grade.” (The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2016)

AND WHAT DOES THE WALL STREET JOURNAL THINK OF THE NAACP?
“The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a storied history, but many organizations outlive their moral purpose and it’s now clear this one has.” (October 17, 2016)

HERE IS ONE FOR THE BOOKS! FRONT PAGE NEWS?
The Boston Globe gave high praise to Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh for a speech he gave to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce urging members to do a better job of confronting Boston businesses’ lack of diversity and urging them to assemble workforce and leadership teams that are more reflective of the city’s demographics. And he got a standing ovation from Chamber members and high praise for saying the “unthinkable (?).” And he got a Globe photograph with a grinning Flash Wiley, a distinguished Black Boston attorney who has served on the Chamber for years sometimes as its chairman. My first thought was “What took the mayor so long?” And my second thought was why did the Chamber members have to hear the obvious from the mayor? And I was even more puzzled as to what the standing ovation was all about. But I was absolutely floored by Flash Wiley’s grinning and skinning over a recognition of a problem that he, of all people in the room, should have kept front and center all along as he served on the board of this prestigious, disproportionately White operation that has never come even close to mirroring its population or even caring that much to do so. It didn’t impress me that they were all praising themselves for having a mayor mention the problem out loud and for them listening to a mention of the problem out loud. This is twenty-first century America, for crying out loud! Where have all these people been! And let’s not forget that it’s a problem that would be properly mentioned and, even more, properly acted upon in Chambers of Commerce all over America. And when it’s “acted upon,” I’ll stand up and cheer!

SOME WHITE PEOPLE JUST DON’T GET IT
A recent Wall Street Journal “Notable & Quotable” rewrite from an October 5, 2016 article by Adam J. White in the Weekly Standard really points out how some White people just don’t get it. White was upset that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was left out of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. He wrote, “…it’s a shame to see the new museum marred by its own decision [to] expunge from is historical narrative one of the most important African-American statesmen of our time: Justice Clarence Thomas.” (October 10, 2016) The Wall Street Journal editors and this guy, White, just don’t get it. They have no understanding of how visceral and deep Black folks dislike of Thomas runs. They treat our feelings about him like a family spat and have no understanding of how Thomas is viewed as a person who has completely lost or abandoned his historical moorings and thoroughly betrayed his own people in the process. For most Black folks it would almost be like celebrating the accomplishments of Benedict Arnold in the Springfield Armory Historical Museum or the likes of Adolf Hitler in a National Jewish Museum. Some of the most highly regarded Black people in America made the decision to exclude Thomas and it was the right decision because what they would have had to say about him would have been far worse a fate than his exclusion has been. His exclusion is a favor to Thomas that he did not deserve. And to include him in the Museum as he is actually viewed by most Black folks would have done a grave disservice to the positive message the museum strives to portray. ■

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