Paul R. Lehman, Everyday bigotry and the language of social control

August 25, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Congress, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, identity, justice, language, lower class, Media and Race, minorities, minority, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, whites | Leave a comment
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Everyday bigotry is basically a normal day in America. What makes it normal is that it is part of the fabric of American society that hides beneath the veneer of the idea of democracy. Social conditioning is a process that occurs when someone is born into a culture or adopts a culture and experiences that culture on a daily basis. The characteristics of that culture are acquired through living with and among the people in that society. The standards and values, customs and practices that are part of that society are not usually questioned or challenged by the people, but accepted as being correct and normal. So, when the system of Anglo-Saxon (European American) supremacy was instituted into society using language that identified two major races, black and white, with white as superior and black as inferior, no one questioned or challenged it. The Africans could not challenge the biased concept because they were powerless; the European Americans did not challenge it because they invented it. The power and control of society was derived through the language the people used and trusted.

The power and control of society through language can be demonstrated in the concept of physical beauty. The European Americans established themselves and their physical qualities as representative of the normal human being. In addition to making themselves the model of humanity, they also placed the highest social value on their features, especially their skin complexion. Therefore, anyone that looked like the European American was viewed as valued more than the people of color, especially the African Americans that did not look European. The slave masters and owners began early in the system of slavery to exploit the European physical features and the degree of so-called European (white) blood reported in the slaves as a profit builder. What they did was give names to slaves supposedly having degrees of European blood, names to underscore that degree. So, for example, if a slave was said to have a European American father and an African mother, he or she would be called a mulatto; this designation would allow the slave seller to ask more money for the slave over one with no or less European American blood; the greater the percentage of European blood, the higher the slave’s value.

What this practice did in addition to bringing in more money to the slave owner was to give the slaves with a degree of European American blood a sense of being valued over the slaves without noticeable European American blood. The reality was that regardless the amount of European American blood the slaves had, they were still slaves. In addition, the language told the African American slaves that they were ugly, black and dirty; that their hair was bad because it was kinky, nappy, curly and short. Possessing these physical characteristics, the African slaves knew that being beautiful was impossible for them. However, after slavery, some African Americans believed that acquiring some of the features of the European American might increase their social value. The language as a tool had convinced them to accept the European American standard of beauty as part of a social value system.

One of the wealthiest women in America in the late 1800’s was Madam C. J. Walker who happened to be an African American. Although she made many significant contributions to African American causes during her lifetime, the fact was that she acquired her wealth by exploiting the self-denigration of many men and women of color who wanted to improve their appearance. Even today we see primarily women of color whose natural hair color is dark brown or black with blond hair or undergoing cosmetic surgery on their eyes, noses and mouth in an effort to approximate the European American look of beauty. This attention to physical appearance is due to the influence of the language that causes some Americans of color to question their sense of self and their concept of beauty.

Although the Black Power movement focused on changing the stigma associated with the word black, one of the important and consequential changes to occur was the African Americans view of self and a challenge to the European American standard of beauty. Because they could see themselves as beautiful in the natural, they became free to express that freedom in any way they desired. One result of African Americans’  freedom of expression of their natural beauty was the European Americans’ efforts to adopt aspects of it.

What Americans should understand is that the language we use if not challenged will continue to control us. The language control manifests itself in the actions and reactions of European Americans as well as African Americans. For example, when the word minorities is used by European Americans it is not defined, but has inferred connotations.  So, who are the minorities referred to in the usage of the word? Americans generally assume that the word refers to all ethnic groups of color that reflect a smaller population than European Americans.  Another suggestion that is inferred in the use of the word minorities is the deference to a majority population as being superior, not necessarily numerically, but in influence and power. How will the word be interpreted when the European Americans numerically becomes the numerical minority in the foreseeable future? Will they still be referred to as the majority because of their power and influence? In any event, because the word is not defined, the meaning is never concrete and often seen as derogatory.

With respect to language being viewed as derogatory, President Barack Obama during his last days in office signed into law H.R. 4238 stating that the federal government will no longer use the terms Negro, Oriental, and Minorities in federal writing. The passing of this measure was a rare show of bipartisan  support by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The fact that America is constantly changing demographically demands that we pay attention to how the language is used as a tool for social control as well for as liberation. Just like our demographics change, so does our language with new words coming into usage while some words no longer serve a useful purpose because they are not accurate and are no longer socially acceptable.

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Paul R. Lehman, Charlottesville, a sign of the changing times of bigotry in America

August 13, 2017 at 12:34 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Congress, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, identity, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, minority, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, the Republican Party, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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The social unrest taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia involving the extremist right-wing groups is an indication of at least two things: one, their march was organized to show society the large number of people belonging to and supporting their cause; two, although this was not an objective of the activity, it showed the fear and anxiety of the social changes taking place in society today, and their desire to stop or slow down those changes.

The lie that the founding fathers invented concerning the concept of a black race and a white race and the institution of a system of white supremacy has finally shown signs of deconstruction. As long as the Anglo-Saxons in America were in control of society, they could manage the bigoted social atmosphere. Many European Americans today do not realize the fact that they are bigots because they were conditioned to view bigotry as natural. Everywhere a European American looked in society, they saw people who looked like them always in control. All the social institutions, including the media, constantly underscored the values and standard embodied and promoted by the European Americans. So, they naturally saw themselves as superior to all others who did not reflect their image.

European Americans were so deceived by their skin color that they believed their good will and charity toward people of color and lesser whites would serve to attest to their goodness and Christian virtues while not realizing that the mere fact of viewing another human being as inferior to them or not deserving of respect and dignity was a disservice to humanity and a slap in the face of their god. The fact that the Bible and science have underscored countless times the existence of one race seem to have no effect on their sense of reality because they are constantly reminded that their skin color gives them supremacy. They prefer to hold on to a lie rather than embrace the truth.

Since the American government embraced the concept of bigotry based on skin color and has never sought to correct the lie, they share part of the responsibility for the civil unrest in Charlottesville. Their responsibility rest upon the fact that groups of people believe in the myth of a white race and the government not stopping to correct them, allows them to proceed as though their actions are acceptable. The right wing extremists groups base their existence on the false concept of a so-called white race. Their objectives are to preserve and promote their conception of their white race, and the government simply tells them not to break any laws while pretending to be white. The time has come for the government and society to give power to the truth—we are all part of the human family regardless of our skin color.

Some of the facts that the government does not want to be communicated is that African Americans and non-Anglo-Saxon peoples were never intended to become citizens of America, and now that they are citizens, they must be constantly exploited socially and economically. African Americans were never freed from slavery; their enslavement simply took other forms that prevented them from gaining a foothold on which to build a successful life. Those forms included segregation, discrimination, bigotry, less than standard (their standards) schools, jobs, economic and political power.

What the founding fathers never thought would happen, happened—an African American was elected to the Presidency of the United States of America. This phenomenon occurrence caused a shock wave throughout the country, but especially in the seat of government, Washington D.C. where some of the Republican politicians felt a sense of fear and dread. A plan to counter the new state of affairs was set in motion to deny the new president everything possible.

What the extremists marching in Charlottesville realize is that their sense of importance and power based on their skin complexion is rapidly diminishing, so they must use every tool available to them to try to prevent that loss from happening. Many of these extremists discovered that there were many Americans who believed as they did but were not willing to expose themselves publicly. Some use the political arena to try to meet their objectives by creating laws that seek to undo many of the social and political gains experienced by people of color. Many of the bigots believe they have support from the current President of the United States and seek to express their sense of power in ways that do not incur serious repercussions. Reference to law enforcement’s treatment of people of color is one example of how bigotry is being expressed today.

The confrontation of extremist groups and other citizens should come as no surprise since we all know that change for the bigots is devastating and final. Today we witness many injustices committed against people of color by bigots who are protected by law and numbers in power. However, one thing is certain, change is happening; America is browning and the number of people of color will eventually be the majority population. The power will change hands and if we want a society that treats all its citizens justly and fairly, we must start working on those changes now. The battle being fought by the extremists today are being waged in ignorance that continues to be conditioned by society and the lie of race.

America is going through a series of important changes that will affect how we look at ourselves as a society and how the world sees us. Too often we look at other countries and cultures and make judgment statements based on our limited knowledge of history, our and the worlds while failing to recognize that other countries are also looking at us and judging us by our words and actions. Common sense and the truth can serve as a beginning towards building the kind of society we want our children and grandchildren to live in, a society that does not judge a people by the color of their skin, but the measure of their character.

Paul R. Lehman, The American #System of ethnic injustice slowly being revealed

June 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, blacks, Congress, Constitutional rights, democracy, Department of Justice, discrimination, discrimination lawsuit, Emancipation Proclamation, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice system, law enforcement agencies, liberty, police force, Prejudice, Puritans, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social justice system | Leave a comment
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Slices of reality are slowly being cut away from the apple of delusion that masquerades as American justice when we view the many videos showing how the law enforcement establishment denigrates the lives of African Americans. What we are witnessing via the videos is the system slowly being dismantled by virtue of its inability to maintain it’s creditability as a form of reality. The system was flawed when it was invented and put into motion by the founding fathers. For certain, the founding fathers knew that a lie could not last forever. Nevertheless, they believed that as long as they controlled society, there was little chance of the lie being discovered.  What is the lie that characterized the system?

American society was created by people with biased attitudes towards people of color, but especially Africans with dark or black skin complexion. The historian Gary B. Nash noted in his book, The Great Fear, that the English were familiar with people of skin complexions darker than their own because of years of trading in the Middle East as well as North Africa. However, when the fair-skinned English came into contact with dark-skinned Africans, they reacted negatively:

Unhappily, blackness was already a means of conveying some of the most ingrained values of English society. Black—and its opposite, white —were emotion-laden words. Black meant foul, dirty, wicked, malignant, and disgraceful. And of course it signified night—a time of fear and uncertainty. Black was a symbol signifying baseness, evil, and danger. Thus expressions filtered into English usage associating black with the worst in human nature: the black sheep in the family, a black mark against one’s name, a black day, a black look, to blackball or blackmail. White was all the opposites—chastity, virtue, beauty, and peace.  Women were married in white to symbolize purity and virginity. Day was light just like night was black. The angels were white; the devil was black. Thus Englishmen were conditioned to see ugliness and evil in black. In this sense their encounter with the black people of West Africa was prejudiced by the very symbols of color which had been woven into English language and culture over centuries (p 11).

The attitude described by Nash continues today to an appreciable extent because it was made part of the fabric of the European American psyche. Looking back through American history we learn that even though America made efforts to abolish slave trade in the 1770s, it was not until 1808 that Congress ended the trade. However, slavery did not end, and while slaves were controlled by their owners, the free African Americans were thought to represent problems. Nash noted that “After 1790 the free Negro, in both the North and the South, was subjected to increasing hostility, discrimination, and segregation. Once they had turned back abolitionist crusade of the revolutionary period white Americans became less concerned about the black slave than about black men who were not slaves.” Nash underscored where that new concern led:

Southern states began passing laws prescribing heavier penalties for black felons than white, stripping away the legal rights of free Negroes, taxing free black men more heavily than whites, banning the free Negro from the polls and from political office, and forcing him out of white churches where he had been free to go and in some cases encouraged to go while a slave (p 25).

The European American had exerted total control over the African/African American since slavery and the tool they used to justify that control was the invention of a white and black race. Any effort to free the African American would suggest that he was capable of living with European Americans on an equal basis; this proposition they would never concede because their entire belief system was based on black inferiority. Nash commented on the challenge to the European Americans’ need for control once the African Americans were freed: “…they found themselves at the brink of giving up a system of control and a sense of mastery which they had come to believe was natural and essential to the well-being of their society.”  He continued: “It was almost as if the logic by which the African had been held in chains had been shattered. To compensate, a new system of control must be devised so that the free Negro, who remained a Negro after all, could be dominated almost completely”(p25). So, ethnic bigotry, race, was introduced into the American psyche as normal and correct.

America has always been perceived by European Americans as their country. All the other people who are not Anglo-Saxons are here through the Anglo-Saxons’ generosity. Too often some Americans associate denigration of the African American with only the South, not so, said Ronald Takaki, author of “The Black, Child-Savage,” he noted that the negative” image of the Negro served a need shared by whites, North and South; it performed an identity function for white Americans during a period when they were groping for self-definition.” He continued:

It is significant to note the way that whites imagined the Negro in relation to themselves: the Negro was mentally inferior, naturally lazy, childlike, unwholesome, and given to vice. He was the antithesis of themselves and of what they valued: industriousness, intelligence, and moral restraint. These, of course, were values which whites associated with civilized society. (p 42)

What do these references to history and some European American attitudes have to do with the previously mentioned videos.   Simply this; that attitude is reflected in many of the actions of law enforcement today, regardless of the geographical location. So, we can recognize that behavior as part of a system. For over three hundred years officers have acted with impunity against African Americans. We also know that the law enforcement agents do not act independently, but under the auspices of an administration. The primary element that keeps this system operating is the false concept of races. Accepting the concept of races, invented by the founding fathers, ensures the continuation of ethnic conflicts. Fortunately, society is changing dramatically towards the devaluing of race.

The children and grandchildren of closet bigots were told the lie relative to democracy that life, liberty, freedom was for all people; that everyone should be respected and valued regardless who they were. So, now when these children and grandchildren see an injustice committed, they come to the aid of the victims, which is exactly what the bigots do not want to see. Many European Americans believe in a system of justice for all, not the one invented to control people of color. These European Americans did not learn that the system was to work only for them and that they are a part of it. So, now they want the American society they were told exist for all. The keepers of the system are fighting with everything they have to hold it in place, but it is too late; society continues to change.  With every video recording an injustice against African Americans and other people of color, another slice of the apple is removed and the reality slowly and painfully comes to the light.

Paul R. Lehman, Group identity, not Party, the key to Republican victory

November 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Posted in American history, American Racism, Civil War, Congress, democracy, Democrats, entitlements, equality, European American, lower class, minority, political tactic, politicians, poor, President, President Obama, Race in America, Republican Party, socioeconomics, the Republican Party, upper class, whites | 1 Comment
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The results of the recent election came as a surprise to many people because they thought that many of the issues touched the lives of enough people until they would go to the poles and cast their votes in support of the people who would look out for their best interest. Unfortunately, in many instances, that was not the case and many people were disappointed. Had they given serious thought to what has been taking place recently in politics relative to history and group dynamics, they would have not been surprised.
What were at stake in this election were not so much the issues, but the survival of the group—the conservative European Americans (whites) against change. With the creation of a white race, the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons also made manifest certain beliefs, attitudes and conditions that would represent aspects of the race (group). Regardless of the numerous aspects of group membership, loyalty, dedication, and unity were required under any condition, even loss of personal goods, property and religious practices. So, the importance and protection of group membership was understood to be the top priorities from the beginning. For European Americans, loosing their white identity would be like excommunication from the church or being shunned from the family. For some European Americans, having a white identity was/is the only thing of social value they have.
Since the election of Barack Obama as President, the wheels were set in motion to eliminate and discredit him. We all can recall the words of Sen. Mitch O’Connell before Obama had taken office to prevent him another term. We can also recall the affect that attitude had on the Congress that led to it being referred to as the “Congress of No.” What was not made clear to the public was why this negative attitude and disrespect towards the new President was necessary. The answer is change; Obama’s election as an African American signaled a change in the group dynamics of America’s social structure. The social value of African Americans had never been a real concern for European Americans since they created, represented, promoted and controlled the “white race” and its standards of normalcy. That normalcy included only European Americans in the group. Obama represented a threat to the group’s unity.
The plan set in motion for the recent election followed the plan in effect since Obama’s election—blame him for everything, and praise him for nothing. In essence, Obama was made the target and represented evil, doom, destruction, despair, and of course, change. His name was to become synonymous with everything that can and does go wrong in society and the world. When anything occurred in society, Obama critics found a way to place the blame on him: problems with immigration, border security, foreign policy, the national debt, climate changes, Ebola, and a host of other things. So, when the recent election ads began to show up, no one was surprised that Obama was who the candidates were running against. The office the candidates were running for were not really of consequence, the party identity was the most important concern, and the code word for unity was Obama.
To underscore the point that group unity was the most important concern of the Republican Party we have only to look at the campaign advertisements of the candidates. Regardless of the office the candidate was running for, the important code word—Obama was found in it. The reference to Obama in the ads was not necessarily directed to Obama but the candidate’s affiliation with Obama and/or his policies or actions. This plan of making Obama the target was not only used on the national level, but also in state and local elections.
The importance of group unity took precedence over common sense issues as in the case of a number of states including Kansas, Arkansas, and Nebraska where the minimum wage issue was on the ballet and passed. However, the candidates who were against this issue were voted into office. The irony in these cases cannot be avoided—why would a citizen vote against his or her own best interest on one hand and for it on the other? The answer seems to be that group loyalty takes priority over personal interest.
In addition to the republicans holding to their group unity plan, even a number of Democratic candidates chose group loyalty over political party membership. In a number of races on both national and state level some democratic candidates distanced themselves from President Obama; they did not want their constituents to think that they supported Obama. They wanted to show their group members that they were still part of the group although they represented a different political party. They knew that the battle for their group was not so much the election victory, but the group victory to hold off social change.
What many of the voters never realize is the fact that they have been and continue to be exploited by the ruling class or “Titans” of their group. According to Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race, this group of poor and working class European American people who vote against their own best interest are used as:
“the Great Safety Valve, the system of racial privileges conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, poor and exploited though they themselves were. That has been the main historical guarantee of the rule of the ‘Titans,’ damping down anti-capitalist pressures by making ‘race, and not class, the distinction in social life.’ This more than any other factor, has shaped the ‘contours of American history.”
For Allen, the plan of the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons has always been to keep an actual gap between themselves and the lesser member of the group while exploiting them, but making them believe that their membership in the group offered them a feeling of superiority over other non-European groups—that is their reward in exchange for their votes.
Another irony of American politics occur when African Americans are accused of using the so-called race card to gain somewhat of an advantage over an opponent; the fact of the matter is that whenever the race card is brought into play, the European Americans benefit because race is a code word used to marshal their safety valve—group members.

Paul R. Lehman, We are not coming back, says Rabbi Pruzansky, because of Obama.

October 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, Congress, democracy, Democrats, discrimination, employment, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, identity, integregation, liberty, life, lower class, Medicare, minority, politicians, poor, President Obama, Respect for President, state Government, upper class | 1 Comment
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In a recent article entitled “We Are Not Coming Back,” by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a Jewish Rabbi from Teaneck, New Jersey, he laments the state of affairs in America and places the blame on President Barack Obama, totally disregarding facts, history, Congress, and common logic. His article appeared in The Israel National News. We will take a look at this article in an effort to enlighten the Rabbi.
The claim the Rabbi makes via Obama’s election is that “We are not coming back.” What specifically does he mean? Where would we come back to? Times when we had dirt roads, when women could not vote, when we had outdoor toilets, back when Jews and other lesser Americans were being discriminated against? Because the article begins with an illogical statement, we can safely assume that the remainder will be opinions and conjecture regarding the state of affairs. We are not disappointed in that respect when the Rabbi noted that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because he did not get enough votes, but then added:” That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.” He does not include justice, fairness, charity, compassion, care for the poor and helpless in his virtues—things that America is known for around the world and at home.
The reason he gave for Romney’s loss to Obama “was because it is impossible to compete against “free stuff.”Under ordinary circumstances we might give him the benefit of the doubt, but he began to employ code words of the right-wing conservatives that point an accusing finger to people of color as well as poor people as villains rather than victims:
Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.
What the Rabbi fails to point out is that long before Obama, President Reagan attacked the unions in an effort to destroy them—he fired 11,000 Air Traffic controllers. In addition, he made it easy for businesses to file reorganization bankruptcy which caused workers to loose their salaries, employment benefits, retirements, and health benefits, along with other perks. Add to these conditions in the workforce, the introduction of NAFTA. In addition to the jobs that were lost through union busting and bankruptcy, many employers started to move their businesses outside of America, thereby displacing thousands of working Americans.
We certainly recognize that some people will play any system that is created to help people in need, but to characterize all the people needing food stamps and unemployment insurance as recipients of “free stuff” are un-American. A worker cannot receive unemployment insurance unless he or she has worked and contributed to the insurance fund through the employer. So, what is society to do with the American citizens who are in need? Ignore them? That is not who we are as a society.
We also noted that the Rabbi did not mention the “free stuff” the government gave to the banks, corporations, and industries, while the Congress failed to pass a minimum wage. Even one of the world’s riches men, Warren Buffet, complained that his secretary paid more income tax than he.
So, according to the Rabbi, the “giveaways” and “free stuff” represent the first reason for Romney’s defeat. He added that Obama’s actions also helped to point out the second reason: “That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism.”Although this comment was meant for liberals and democrats, it also represents the people who continue to vote against their own best interest, especially in the red states.
A known fact in America today is that the majority of the wealth is owned by one percent of the population. We also know that the average wage has not gone up along with inflation. Because of the wide gap in income, we know that the middleclass is disappearing. So, people are working more and making less. Still the Rabbi noted:
Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending.
What are people to think when Congress wants to not raise minimum wages, cut health insurance, not fund workers compensation, but continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy? What the Rabbi did not mention, however, was that today, the economy has recovered from the 2008 fall, banks and businesses are making large profits, the unemployment rate is down to 2008 level, and the deficit has been cut in half. So, why preach doom and gloom?
None-the-less, the Rabbi sadly predicts a win in 2016 of Hillary Clinton because she will follow Obama’s lead. He closes with the statement: If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back. The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”How illogical and irrational can one be? America and the world are constantly changing.
The Rabbi places all the responsibility for all the ills, as he sees them in society, on President Obama. Any person with knowledge of history and government knows that in a democracy we have three divisions of government, not a dictator. No, we are not coming back, and indeed, we should not even think of going backwards to whatever he had in mind. The Rabbi should gather his facts and history then provide for his audience with positive information that can be used to build on, not tear down and despair over. The Rabbi should be ashamed of himself.

Paul R. Lehman, Congressman Brooks tries to use race as a political tactic.

August 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Congress, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, GOP, justice, political tactic, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, Race in America, Republican Party, Respect for President, skin complexion, whites | Leave a comment
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Race is a power-packed word in American society and has been for decades because it possesses the power to separate and divide human beings into groups. Regardless of the context in which the word race is used, if the suggested meaning involves a group identity, then it separates and divides people. As early as the 1800s, society was advised to avoid using race along with color as a social or cultural identity because it could not be defined and employed with any accuracy or certainty. Nonetheless, society ignored the warnings and proceeded to use the word race in a social context. One reason for the word’s longevity is due to the social rewards derived by some groups from the identity. And old saying that underscores the manipulation of race by color determining social value stated: “If you’re white, you’re right; if you’re yellow, you’re mellow; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re black, get back.”The sentiments suggested in that old saying still has some currency in society today whether we want to believe it or not.
When the word race is used in conjunction with a so-called racial group identity, the mere mention of the group automatically creates separation and division. This separation and division occurs because of the social conditioning experienced in the society and the accepted views of society relative to different social groups. The nature of most groups is to defend and protect itself against any and all criticism that might cast negative views of it. Whether the claims are true or false makes no difference because with respect to race nothing can be validated unless and until race is defined. Nevertheless, some people will use race as a tool or tactic because it generates feeling of loyalty, protection, pride and unity by the people who identify with a race. For example, people who identify themselves as belonging to the white race automatically gives credence to a belief in many races biologically different from the so-called white race. Rather than recognizing the fact that all races are social creations and therefore bogus, some people hold on to the belief and adopt a defensive character relative to the group. Hence, we note the separation and division quality of the word.
The conception and accepting of the word race with the focus on it divisive powers were displayed recently in an article by Erica Wemer from The Associated Press, “Republican congressman says Democrats are engaged in ‘war on whites’” (8/5/14). The article noted that “Congressman Mo Brooks made his comment on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingram’s program Monday. He said the Democratic Party claims white people hate everyone else and that it’s part of President Barack Obama’s strategy of dividing people on the basis of race, sex and class.” Whether the claim is true or not, one of the obvious reactions is for the groups to unify. From a political perspective, this tactic could be used to gain support for an individual identified as belonging to that so-called white group because the suggestion is that the other group is ganging-up on him; which will seem unfair.
The article noted that Brooks stated that “Race should not be an issue in public policy debates, we should be colorblind, we should be the melting pot.” Every one of these phrases is a relic of the past and lacks logic or value in our society today. The fact is, is that race should not be an issue in any debate whether public or private since it has never been defined, just assumed. The fact that America is a diverse society and draws it strength from it diversity would make the suggestion of being a colorblind society hypocritical; our strength comes from accepting the individual regardless of color. The concept of the melting pot is a flawed one because the metaphor never reflected the reality of society. All those old, over-used sayings might sound fine, but in reality, they are meaningless.
The obvious intention of Brooks is underscored in his comments:”But so long as the Democrats have a political campaign strategy to divide Americans based on skin pigmentation then they are the ones who are fanning the fires and doing a disservice to our country, not those who try to hold the Democrats accountable for what is very counterproductive and sinister campaign tactic.” Brooks, in essence, is attempting to charge the Democrats with using many of the same tactics Republicans have used for years and ascribing things to the party that have long been a part of the general social perspective. The argument goes back to “us versus them,” or “good guy, bad guy,” with the one making the claim being the good guy.
Brooks have forgotten, evidently, the litany of incidents where many representatives of his party have shown disrespect to the President with no justification other than his skin complexion. For anyone to fall for Brooks’ argument would be to totally ignore that Senator Mitch O’Connell stated at the outset of President Obama’s first term the objective to prevent him having a second term. In addition, when we examine the lack of action of the Congress, we recognize that the President has been limited in what he could do as one individual.
In his statement, Brooks wants to create a division within society based on old prejudices and bigotry but make it seem that he is really trying to defend the cause of freedom and justice for all. He focused his attentions directly on the Democrats and said: “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they are launching the war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.” A phrase that fits Brooks’ contentions is “reverse psychology” or “projection” where the deeds or misdeeds of one party are associated with another party, and then is criticized as unacceptable.
Wemer ended the article with the following passage: “To a request for comment, the spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emily Bittner, wrote in an email: ‘Wow. Congressman Brooks is living in his own world of paranoia, but sadly, this is precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric that has come to define House Republicans.’”
Although the word race is power-packed any attempt to use race by color as a tactic or ploy will enviably fail because any definition offered for it cannot withstand close scrutiny.

Paul R. Lehman, 50 Years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 still needed

April 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Congress, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, fairness, liberty, minority, Pledge of Allegiance, politicians, President, segregation, skin color | Leave a comment
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The recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) gives us an opportunity to evaluate a number of concerns relative to that Act, and society in general. Although the process of acquiring the Civil Rights Act was started by President Kennedy, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was the man who championed it through Congress. He paid a large political price for doing so. Nonetheless, we are thankful for his efforts and success. Today, when we look at the Civil Rights Act, we can identify a number of things that are directly related to society then in 1964 and now.
The first thing we realize by the signing of the CRA is that a need was present for such action. After the Civil War, African Americans were literally kept in slavery via a lack of education, jobs, housing, and political representation. Although segregation, discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry were present and visible in everyday life of America, little was being done to recognize the problems. Americans, both African Americans and European Americans tried fighting the injustices on a variety of fronts, but the sentiment of the majority population was against social change. With continued pressure on the Federal Government and the presidents, the civil rights activists over the years since the Civil War were able to acquire an audience with people in power. So, for the first time in American history, Congress and the American people were able to see and accept the fact of injustices visited on African American and other ethnic Americans.
As a result to recognizing the un-American treatment of African Americans and other ethnic Americans, discussions took place relative to how to go about identifying these injustices. With regards to the individual’s rights, safeguards must not be placed in the hands of the states, because a lack of uniformity would exist. So, if efforts were to be made, they must come from the Federal Government. Under the status quo in society up to 1964, segregation was the law and it existed in every aspect of the African American’s life. The sit-ins and marches helped to call attention to the social injustices regarding public accommodations for African Americans. Some success had been achieved in a few areas of education, but the concept of separate but equal was still in effect. So, through the efforts of a number of Civil Rights leaders working directly with President Kennedy and some of his associates, the plan to create a Civil Rights Act that would address some of the injustices experienced by African Americans and other Americans was crafted.
Now that a plan of action was in place, the question was how to get it approved by a Congress that felt no need or urgency to enact a bill that would, in effect, take away some of their power. President Kennedy knew that he would be in for a long and hard fight with certain sections of the Congress in winning approval of this Act, but he was convinced it had to be done. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was killed before he had an opportunity to engage Congress relative to the Civil Rights Act. The task of bringing the CRA successfully through Congress fell to President Johnson. The undertaking for President Johnson would not be an easy one since he was viewed as a Southern politician from Texas and Southern politicians were not very keen on giving equal rights to the sons and daughters of former slaves. For many politicians, the rights and privileges enjoyed by the European Americans and Caucasians were not to be shared equally with African Americans and other ethnic groups. The concern for so-called white supremacy being negatively affected by passage of the CRA troubled many of the political group known as the Dixiecrats. President Johnson was well aware of this group and their concerns because he was consider part of them prior to becoming Vice President. However, Johnson also was aware of the importance of the CRA since its creation acknowledged the existence of injustices as reflected in the status quo, and the label of hypocrisy of America and its claim of democracy.
Nonetheless, Johnson showed political acumen and courage in getting the CRA through Congress. The passage of the CRA represented the success of the efforts of many civil rights activists who labored many years in this regard. With the passage of the CRA, the Federal Government assumed control of the protection of the individual American’s rights. Rather than representing the end of a struggle, the CRA actually was the beginning of a new sense of democracy where all Americans regardless of skin color, religion, gender, and ethnicity could challenge the previously biased conditions. The challenge came from the mindset of many European Americans who felt deceived by the Federal Government who gave the minorities the same rights as they enjoyed. Somehow, they saw this as wrong and an injustice to them as European Americans.
Today, as we look back on fifty years of American life with the CRA, we can recognize how that Act has benefited the society in progressing towards that democracy that gives each citizen the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can also recognize the struggles that come from making changes in a society based on bigotry. The struggle is still in progress and will be until we educate ourselves and each other of the commitment we made and make as Americans. In essence, what is the responsibility of each and every American? We find the answer in our pledge of allegiance to our country:”I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
In this pledge we recognize, accept, and embrace the United States of America as one. We underscore that understanding when we add to the pledge “and to the Republic for which it stands.” The remainder of the pledge states what we stand for as a nation. No where in the pledge is there a reference to a state as an independent entity? As a society, we need to confront those who would like to make American into a nation that caters to their wants based on skin color or ethnicity. The CRA was passed as a measure to confront the injustices of the past and present. As American citizens, we have the responsibility of protecting those rights and privileges. To witness injustice and not call attention to it is the same as accepting it. Ayaan Hirsi Ali stated that “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” To that we add that acceptance of intolerance by Americans is hypocrisy

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama knows the value of criticism and patience

October 29, 2013 at 12:46 am | Posted in Congress, Disrespect, fairness, justice, Obamacare, politicians, Prejudice, President, President Obama, the Republican Party | 2 Comments
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An old saying that advises us to keep our friends close and our enemies closer hold a lot more truth than meets the eye. At first the advice might appear to seem puzzling, for why would we want to keep our enemies closer to us than our friends? The answer is simply that our enemies will try to find fault in and criticize everything we do. If we are wise, we will listen to what they have to say because regardless of how angry or hateful they are towards us, the faults they point out to us actually can serve to benefit us.
If we take the critics of President Obama as an example of fault-finding people, then instead of him trying to retaliate against them, he listens to what they are saying. When he does this, he can find out just what and where the problems exist. Once he learns of the problems and where they exist, he can then proceed to correct or at least, address them. The key to having criticism work in ones behalf is to not take it the way it is offered. From the beginning of his term as President, President Obama has been blamed for the rising level of the debt. He ignored them and continued to work. Fortunately, the President can say to his critics today that the debt is on the decline. So, rather than the debt being a consistent problem for the President, something that could be used to try and denigrate him and his administration, he turned it into a positive experience.
More often than not, criticism is offered with negative and emotional force focused on trying to discredit and/or denigrate the President or his administration. Just because it is offered in a negative way does not mean that it cannot be put to positive use. Take for example, the Affordable Health Care system and the problems associated with getting it to work properly. President Obama’s critics began condemning the program and by saying how destructive it was to the country. Fortunately, the President and wiser heads listened to the criticism and put in place a process to correct the problems. The criticism of the AHC focused on getting rid of the entire program. To even entertain thoughts related to abandoning the entire program makes as much sense as getting rid of a new car that only has a defective battery. To correct the problem would be to repair or exchange the battery. A result of the criticism of the AHC program is that it will be better after the problems are corrected.
One of the usual consequences of reacting emotionally to negative criticism is a show of weakness and illogical thought. When someone reacts illogically to a criticism, he or she relinquishes his or her power to the judgment of the source of the criticism. Name calling is not the same as criticism because a judgment can be made only about what a person does or says, not who they are. In evaluating criticism, one must always consider the source. If the source is deemed credible, then the criticism can be taken as coming from a valid judgment, and deemed constructive. If, however, the criticism is meant to cause harm, then it is deemed destructive. Criticism regardless of its intent can always be instructive.
The majority of the criticism President Obama has received since his tenure in office has been of the destructive kind by his many critics. The intent has been to hurt or harm him politically in some way. We have learned from watching President Obama’s reaction to criticism, however, that he does not act impulsively, but patiently and therefore discern what benefits can be acquired from the criticism. In this way, he avoids any emotional reaction expected from the criticism. For example, when the President’s critics accused him of lacking leadership abilities as Commander-in-Chief, he never acknowledged or reacted to it but proceeded to rid the world of some of its most feared terrorists. His actions spoke louder than his words.
Again, when his critics accused him of reckless or irresponsible spending, President Obama simply let the various financial reports show that his administration has spent less than any of the recently previous presidential administrations. None-the-less the criticism continues to flow, except now many of the citizens are slowly beginning to wonder if one person, President Obama, can really be as inept, unqualified, and unintelligent as his critics paint him and still run the country effectively.
What we will discover if we look carefully, is that President Obama has used the criticism of his detractors as fuel for constructive and instructive actions. The irony of it all is that his critics never realize the value of their negative words and actions. At some point society will recognize the folly of the President’s critics when they finally realize that they are wasting their time and energy trying to attack the President with tactics that in effect, help the President.
One of President Obama’s harshest critics is Senator Ted Cruz who tries to paint President Obama as the destroyer of America. He has attacked President Obama actions as destructive to the country and the AHC as the most dangerous program in America. Of course many people know that the Cruz criticism is intended for destructive and harmful results regarding the President. In his criticism of President Obama, Cruz tries to convince voters that the AHC program is dangerous and a failure. In an effort to hurt President Obama, Cruz is credited with helping to shut down the government. Once the government was back up and running, he complained that the AHC program was not running correctly because of computer problems in the program. So, we should get rid of the program. For criticism to be effective, it must make sense, at least a little sense. For President Obama, Cruz is a valuable asset.
Consequently, criticism is actually what one makes of it; accepting it as a judgment of the individual is to confuse its value. Taken correctly, criticism could be a stepping stone for instruction in problem solving. So, we should not be so quick to dismiss our critics; we just need to recognize the value of patience.

Paul R. Lehman, “Opinion”letter underscores hatred of President, as well as ignorance, arrogance, and bigotry

October 8, 2013 at 12:08 am | Posted in African American, Bigotry in America, Congress, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, Miami Herald, politicians, President, President Obama, Respect for President, rightwing conservatives, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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President Obama’s critics have done a tremendous job in vilifying him in every way possible. In many instances, no rationale or proof exist for the doom and gloom or fear and anger that is always associated with the mere name of Obama. Pick up almost any newspaper and a negative letter blaming President Obama for everything negative can be found. As an example of this attitude towards President Obama, a letter to the Oklahoman’s “Opinion” page (10-4-13) should surf ice. The letter is from Ray Cunning who writes as if he has empirical data at hand to inform his comments.
Cunning’s letter began with the statement that “This country is tearing itself apart, hammered by President Obama’s top two priorities. He desperately needs ‘accomplishments’ to offset his five-year history of corrupt, destructive failures.” We must assume that Cunning has data to support his claim of corrupt, destructive failures; however, he does not mention a single one. He continued by stating that “To improve his image he’s obsessed with forcing Obamacare on us and pretending that he personally defeated terrorism.” Again, we get information concerning President Obama’s deeds, but no facts to indicate its accuracy or validity. We must remind Cunning that the Affordable Care Act was passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court. No one is forced to sign-up of the coverage, but not doing so will result in a fine, because the people will eventually pay of the health care of the uninsured if they have no coverage.
In addition, the President never said that he defeated terrorism because he knows that this type of violence cannot be met with the same approach used against conventional war efforts. As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has experienced some success in eliminating a number of individuals that represented threats of terror to America. Whatever the President’s actions were, they did not satisfy Cunning.
The criticism continued with the accusation that “Obama’s multiple false promises of a health care system that does everything for everybody with better and cheaper service is now recognized as a train wreck.” If Cunning had read the paper or watched the television new, he would have been better informed about the healthcare program and the success it has been recording since the sign-up began last week. No data or support for Cunning’s charges were offered. Evidently, he just does not like President Obama.
His gross dislike for President Obama is revealed in his next statement where he continued to fictionalize the negative affects supposedly created by the President: “Now, even those who helped write it are running from it. Anyone with any political connection is screaming for wavers.” Unfortunately, we have no idea of what the subject is here . We can only assume his subject is healthcare. He continued, “Still, politicians openly waste hundreds of billions of dollars, kill millions of jobs and force more to become part time while destroying the greatest health care system ever know, solely to help the worst president in history improve his image.”Again, we have no data to examine or source to which we might refer to validate the charges against President Obama. The anger does, however, seem to increase.
Our objective in examining Cunning’s letter is not to criticize his comments or his attitude towards the President, but to underscore the fact that the charges against the President are made without any data or documented support to justify them. The fact that he does not like President Obama seems to be enough for him to create anything he feels comfortable saying. For example, He noted that President Obama claims to have captured Osama bin Laden himself as support for creating a positive self-image: “Obama’s other ‘image prop’ is his purported, single-handed destruction of Osama bin Laden and ridding our country of danger from terrorism.”Had Cunning wanted the truth, he could have easily consulted any traditional media outlet to get the story. He nevertheless prefers to castigate President Obama with false charges in an attempt to damage his reputation.
Cunning’s next statement shows just how out of touch he is with reality: “He’s [President Obama] now pressuring everybody to lie about future armed attacks. He saw on video the attack on our embassy in Benghazi—as it was happening—and declared it wasn’t terrorism and went to bed leaving four Americans to die.” Why would someone falsify details of an operation except to try and create an image of the President that reflects a lack of compassion, integrity, and patriotism, if he did not hate and /or fear him?
Cunning has tried to paint an image of the President that would and should be repulsive to anyone if it were true. The fact of the matter is that it is not true. All Cunning had to do if he wanted accurate and reliable information is go and investigate the media and read what they had to say about each and every charge he makes against President Obama. If Cunning’s letter was an exception to the ones published on a daily basis in many newspapers across the country, we could say it was one of Presidents critics letting off steam. That, however, is not the case. Day after day vitriolic letters creating a demonic image of President Obama are published to the point that we have to question the sanity of people making unsubstantiated charge. When we take a closer look, we find many of our politicians doing the same things which tells the average citizen that it’s okay to demonize the President.
We must again ask the question why? Why President Obama is disliked so much by people who know very little about him? When we look back over the letters we find the same things consistently—ignorance, arrogance, and bigotry. The only reason left from which to choose is bigotry. Bigots do not want data to help them with their argument, they believe if they said it, then that should be enough. After all, they have some of their politicians baking them up. Their aim is to destroy President Obama ‘s image and legacy by creating and promoting as much false data as possible. As citizens, we have the right to state our opinions whether someone agrees with them or not. What we do not have the right to do, as Cunning certainly should know, is to make -up our own facts.

Paul R. Lehman, The power of bigotry seeks to destroy either Obama or America

October 1, 2013 at 12:42 am | Posted in Affordable Health Care, African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Congress, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, GOP, integregation, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, Republican Party, the Republican Party, whites | 1 Comment
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Call it hatred, fear, politics, or any other stressful experience, but we all know that the primary reason for the Republicans shutting down the government is bigotry. Almost fifty years have passed since society has witnessed the degree of bigotry displayed through the actions of some conservative Republicans to deny President Obama and the country any success. The fact that this group of people is willing to let the country suffer because of their bigotry shows the degree to which the fear, hatred and ignorance have taken the place of common sense and decency.
Now that these politicians have shown the length to which they will go the deny President Obama any element of success, what will the rest of America do as our society slowly descends into a dysfunction state of confusion? For too long, America has tried to hide the bigotry that rests beneath the surface of everyday life. We pretend that bigotry does not really exist, or if it does exist, the degree is so small that it presents no serious problem to society. With the recent actions of the Republicans in Congress, we can rethink the seriousness of the problem of bigotry in society. The hatred for the President by certain Republicans has been underscored many times by any number of television commentators, including Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell, both on MSNBC.
Although the approach taken by the President’s critics usually focus on some piece of legislation or some action he has taken. Recently, the focus has been solely of the Affordable Care Act, or as some refers to it, as Obamacare. In any event, they are hell-bent on trying to delay its enactment since they could not defund it. This program of healthcare that will make care available for most Americans for the first time has been demonized by the Republicans. The only reason for their efforts to have the American people dislike the Affordable Health Act is their hatred for President Obama, an African American. Some will continue to see the actions of President Obama’s critics as political; after all, he is a democrat. But when reasonable approaches to the political problems are dismissed or rejected outright, what is one to believe?
To understand fully the reason for the Republican bigotry against President Obama, we must go back in history to the beginning of our country. Before the Europeans came to America, the word race was used to distinguish groups of people who looked alike, from one another. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, hated the Brits, and viewed them as brutes, and even considered them to be of a different biological race. The Anglo-Saxons thought themselves superior to all their neighbors, mainly because of their German ancestry. When the English came to America, their belief was that God had provided this land for them, and wanted them to take it away from the savages (Indians). If we stop for a moment and examine the names of the towns that the Pilgrims and Puritans settled, we discover that these town- names, many with biblical references, reflect the objective of these new immigrants, to possess this new God-given land. The objective was never to share the land with people who did not look like them; that was why they tried to eliminate the Indian population. In their minds, America was supposed to be a white country, owned and controlled by whites. One problem with that belief was it was based on a myth. Their words were put into God’s mouth.
When the first introductory lines of the “Declaration of Independence” were written, the language used was to help create an image and attitude that would attract world support. The phrase “All men are created equal,” was a catch-all construction that could not withstand actual scrutiny since slavery and class distinctions were intricate parts of American society at the time. A quick look at the signers of that “Declaration” will show that each and every man would not have been thought to be average or ordinary citizen, but all were considered Anglo-Saxons and member of the upper class. Fortunately, the document Jefferson wrote followed by The Constitution, years later, included language that could not be avoided without society being accused of hypocrisy. Nonetheless, the idea of a society owned, governed, and controlled by whites persisted throughout history in spite of its being based in myth.
When the Anglo-Saxons whites realized that their numbers were decreasing, they slowly started to recognize some of the lesser whites as acceptable to their society, but not as “real whites,” only Caucasians, because they were not of pure blood. Around the time of WWII segregation and Jim Crow issues brought about by civil right concerns aided in the consolidation of the “real Whites” with the Caucasians. The terms white and Caucasian became, for some, interchangeable. This change opened the doors of opportunity for many Caucasians. The point of interest for the society during this time is that it could call itself a white society, governed and controlled.
The idea of America as a white society began to come under attack during the middle and late ’60s when African Americans began to struggle for civil rights in earnest with great participation from many segments of society representing other ethnic groups. With the success of the civil rights movement came the fear of whites loosing privileges, power and prestige. The turning point came with the election of an African American as President. That was never supposed to happen. However, since it has happened, the bigots cannot accept the fact. So, they do everything they can to discredit President Obama. They could not prevent his re-election, so they are determined to reject any and all legislation they can to try to show that President Obama is unqualified to be president. Their effort to shutdown the government is aimed directly at foiling President Obama, to somehow make it look like he is responsible for the shutdown.
The bigots believe that they are in a war for the image of America, a European American image. Any success experienced by the Obama administration represents a nail in their coffin for retaining the image of America as a European American (white) nation. These bigots would prefer to see America’s people and its reputation destroyed rather than have President Obama achieve any measure of success. As we witness the descent of American society into a state of extreme confusion, we can also witness the power of bigotry and the ignorance that informs it. Those who have eyes need to see, and once they have seen, need to act to help prevent the power of bigotry from destroying what should be a beacon of freedom to the world, America.

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