Paul R. Lehman, What’s in a name—the “N” word and Identity

May 4, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, Disrespect, DNA, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, France, identity, immigration, language, Media and Race, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, the 'n' word, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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Several years ago I had the occasion to give a lecture to some citizens of a small rural town at the town’s library. An audience of about twenty people attended the lecture and remained for a question and answer session. In responding to a question, I made mention of European Americans and their relation to the question. Soon after I finished my comments, a small, white-haired, senior lady raised her hand, and I acknowledged her. She asked, “What is this European American you talked about?” Smiling at her, I said, “you. You are a European American.” She seemed perplexed, so I explained to her that at one time in America the only people who could become citizens had to identify themselves as either Negro (black) or white. Many immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe did not qualify as either, so they had to use their ethnic identity which set them apart from the so-called whites. In the early 1920s, two Asian men applied for American citizenship and both were denied because the courts said they were neither black nor white. Following the second trial, a Supreme Court justice said that only Europeans could be considered white and they could recognize one from another. One of the consequences of that statement led many immigrants to stop identifying themselves by their ethnicity and just identify themselves as white because it provided elements of social and civic power and prestige.

Still looking somewhat confused, the lady asked, “What is my ethnicity?  I have always been told that I am white.” I asked her where she and her parents were born if not in America. She mentioned that her family had not spoken about being from another country in general but she had heard some references to France and Italy. I mentioned that the term European American provided a more specific identity reference than simply saying white because white does not refer to nationality, country, language, religion, or culture. She thanked me for the explanation.

This incident came to mind when I heard two young African American men talking on Facebook about economic challenges and problems experienced by African Americans and people of color. What caught my attention was their reference to African Americans as “N”. They used it as though it was an accepted and legitimate term with no historical or social significance. Evidently, they assumed that because they were, apparently, men of color their use of the word was okay. Their use of the “N” word actually communicated a number of things that were not positive. They ignored the word’s history, denotation, and connotation, social and cultural significance.

The word Negro comes from the Latin language as an adjective referring to the color black but came to be associated with people from Africa with dark skin complexions. When enslaved Africans were brought to America, they were stripped of their names, language, culture, religion, and personal history. They were forced to accept and adjust to the elements of slavery in America, but most definitely the new language through which they were to be known and referred to as Africans, Negroes, blacks, and slaves. The term Negro was the most commonly used term in America with the spelling and pronunciation varying from the different geographical areas of north and south. The slaves had no choice but to refer to one another as Negro or “N” because that was the only language they were permitted to speak.

Under slavery’s rule in America, the denotation of the word Negro made reference to people, regardless of their skin complexion, who was known to have any African blood. In this context, the reference was made only for identity. However, in the connotation, the word took on a totally different meaning. As a form of projection the “N” personified sexuality, lewdness, laziness, dirtiness, and untamed hostility. In addition, the elements of foul odors, threatening, aggressive and libidinous behavior became associated with the character of the “N” and were perceived by the average European American as normal. Altogether, the concept of excrement came to be associated with the “N” to the point that his social value was equated with it and found to be of lesser value.

Before, and definitely after Reconstruction in America, African Americans have been trying to divorce themselves from the term “N” because it never did, in fact, defined or described them, but was used to enslave them mentally. Society has labeled the “N” word pejorative and socially unacceptable because of its historical significance. However, the word has been given a life-line through entertainment and artistic expressions by some African American performers. Unfortunately, the word does not lose its pejorative quality through continued use and speaks to a sense of historical ignorance or self-deprecation by the users.

An old saying advises that one cannot throw dirt on others without getting some on one’s self. This saying works equally with the use of the “N” word because it reflects on the character of the users by questioning their self-perception and their judgment of others they associate with the word. The objective of the slave masters in imposing the “N” word on people of color was to force them to see themselves through the biased eyes of the slave masters, not their own eyes. So, for as long as the people of color continue using the master’s language relative to themselves, they will remain mentally enslaved and unable to see who they really are.

If the “N” word did not carry negative social value in society then its use would not be in question. But it does still carry negative value. So, one wonders why two intelligent young African American males would constantly use the “N” word to their audiences unless they do not realize that by doing so they are showing disrespect to themselves and their audience. With all the demographic changes taking place in the world, and especially in America today, and with many people discovering their ancestral roots, one would think that constant reference to the past via a derogatory term would be counterproductive. The continued use of the “N” word seems to suggest that some people of color want to remain mentally enslaved or do not want to know their true identity.

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Paul R. Lehman, Correcting problems in the Criminal Justice System begins at the top

March 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, Department of Justice, desegregation, education, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, integregation, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, mass incarceration, Media and Race, Michelle Alexander, minorities, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President Obama, race, racism, reforms, respect, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The announcement made recently about the decision to not charge the police officers who killed Terence Crutcher and Stephon Clark might have come as a surprise to some but was expected by others because of the history of criminal justice relative to African Americans and other people of color. The decisions to not charge the officers could have been easily made by someone blind and brain-dead. When Eric Holder served as Attorney General, he along with then President Obama made attempts to challenge law enforcement to change the practices, policies, behavior, and laws that discriminate against African Americans in particular and about all people in general. Since that time, many changes relative to criminal justice have been addressed in many locations throughout the United States. The focus of these changes and challenges varies from excessive fines for people who cannot pay them to redefining sentences of people of color whose only serious offense was the color of their skin. Once they get caught up in the maze of the criminal justice system, their lives are completely and forever negatively altered.

Oklahoma leads America, and in some instances, the world in incarceration especially of women. Efforts by many civic groups are working to reduce the numbers. Some of the efforts have been successful via bills the public supported and approved. While all the efforts of groups like the ACLU and others in addressing the problems in the criminal justice system, they have not yet focused on the primary problem of the system—the biased culture within the criminal justice system beginning with law enforcement and including the courts as well as officers of the court. That is, rather than focusing on the cause of the problems attendant to citizens who have been arrested, the majority of the efforts by interested and involved groups are on the problem of those incarcerated. In order to correct the many problems in the criminal justice system, we must look first at where the system begins—what puts the wheels in motion.

What determines the attitudes and actions of the law enforcers from the small towns to the large metropolises begins with the mayors, the councils and courts. They are the ones who make the laws and create the climate and culture that informs the police and other law enforcers. If change is to come to the criminal justice system in American then it must begin with those who administer the programs that represent the criminal justice system. Having the administrators and city or town council members undergo diversity training is generally a waste of time and money because that training does not address the issue of ethnic bigotry that is a part of the everyday cultural climate. We know this biased culture exists from the plethora of incidents that occur and are shown daily on social media. These incidents occur in spite of the diversity training these administrators, council members and court officers have received. We know this ethnic bias exists from the numerous police officers that have suffered no legal repercussion from having shot and killed a person of color.

One thing that needs to happen in order to make the criminal justice system applicable to all citizens is to educate the top administrators, council members and court judges and other officers to what democracy looks like from a perspective that recognizes the bias that presently exists and how they are implicated in the culture and climate that promotes, support, and maintains it. The fact that the majority of people incarcerated are people of color seemingly represents no call for action or consequence. The fact is that the number of people of color is adjudicated differently and more harshly than European American citizens seem to be viewed as acceptable represents a big problem that begs for attention and correction. However, if the people who administer and are the caretakers of the system of criminal justice are fine with the status quo then something needs to be done to alert them to the injustice they are delivering to American citizens who happen to be people of color.

If the problems of bigotry and injustice in the criminal justice system today are promoted, supported, and maintained through ignorance, then education, not training should help in remedying some of the problems. Other avenues of approach would be removal from office via election or for some judges, impeachment. The citizens should be made aware of the amount of money they pay out to citizens that receive judgments from the civil courts for the misconduct of police and other law enforcement officers. One would think that the officers found guilty in civil court should shoulder some of the monetary responsibility as well as the unions that support and represent these officers. That way the citizens would not have to bear the entire expense for the officers’ actions.

The American system of criminal justice is generally a good system when it is administered in a democratic and fair way; however, when ethnic and cultural biases are represented in the outcome negatively affecting people of color, then corrective action must be taken. Again, the actions of the many concerned groups addressing the problems that focus on incarceration are welcomed and, indeed, applauded and encouraged, but their efforts are focused on the citizens that are already incarcerated and part of the system. In order to impact positively the system of criminal justice, the focus must be at the beginning. Michelle Alexander noted in her work, The New Jim Crow, that “A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department and several of the nation’s leading foundations, published in 2007, found that the impact of the biased treatment is magnified with each additional step into the criminal justice system.” The evidence is clear.

The biased treatment of people of color in the criminal justice system is due to unconscious and conscious ethnic bigotry that infects the decision-making process of those entrusted with those powers. In order for the system of criminal justice to be fairly administered, those biases must be addressed at the beginning before the arrest is made. So, now that we know where to begin, if we are not part of the solution, then we are the problem.

Paul R. Lehman, Talking to kids about race should be a thoughtful, truthful, and rewarding undertaking for the kids

February 8, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Posted in African American, African American hair, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, black inferiority, blacks, Declaration of Independence, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, DNA, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, integregation, justice, language, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Oklahoma education, Prejudice, public education, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, The Oklahoman, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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An interesting and troubling article, “Diversity discussion: How to talk to kids about race,” by Melissa Erickson, (The Oklahoman 1/28/2019) appeared in the paper recently and caught my attention because of the topic and the subject mentioned. The first concern was the activity suggested that someone—talk to kids about race. The problem with that activity depends on several things:  the teacher must be someone familiar with race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality; the ethnicity of the students to receive the information, and the approach to discussing the subject. A closer examination of this article was necessary.

A six-year-old boy came home from school one afternoon and surprised his mother with the question, “are you white”? The irony in the question was the fact that his mom’s maiden name was White, so she had to ask him to be more specific. Since he did not have a grasp of the significance of “white” viewed as an ethnic identity, the mother took the time to explain that she was not white and that a person’s skin complexion does not determine an identity unless he or she believes in myths.  Since mothers are their children’s primary teachers caution must be taken in discussing the subject of race with children because the manner in which the information is presented can, and in many cases, affect the children’s psyche in a positive or negative way.

If the teacher or individual introducing the subject of race to children or anyone for that matter, is not knowledgeable regarding race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality then whatever information given the children will be questionable. The most important decision the teacher must make is whether to discuss race as a myth, or race as a reality, or race as a myth viewed as reality. The results of the teacher’s choice will have a lasting effect on the children’s psyche and how they see themselves as well as how they see others, and how others see them.

Serious challenges accompany each of the choices in that the invention/occurrence of race in American society must be presented and justified. If race is viewed as a myth, then its continuation in society is a problem that society must address until the facts become the guiding principle of its use. All myths can be replaced with facts, but not all people will freely accept the facts. The fact about race is that only one exist, the human race. The benefit in presenting race as the myth it is serves to discount all the derivatives associated with race like racism, racial, biracial, etc….

If race is discussed as a reality then the subjects of its derivatives must also be presented which would include bigotry, prejudice, segregation, discrimination, and integration all of which introduce the overarching topic of European American (white) supremacy. The effect that discussing European American (white)supremacy can have on children was noted in the article: “Studies from the 1940s demonstrated that black American children [African American] as young as 3 associated more negative characteristics :(”bad,” “ ugly,”) to dolls with darker skin and more positive attributes to dolls with light skin and blue eyes (“pretty, “good” ).” So, teaching information about race as a reality would produce a negative affect on how children view themselves and others based on their skin complexion. The teacher would also be tasked with justifying the system of European American (white) supremacy in its many manifestations, especially, European American (white) privileges.

If race is discussed as a myth viewed as reality then the teacher has the responsibility to acknowledge the difference between the two and deliberately choose the way of hypocrisy. In other words, if the teacher knows that race is not biological but chooses to ignore that fact and discuss the myth as reality then a gross disservice is committed against the children and society.  The teacher’s decision to follow the myth as reality involves viewing American society as two-sided—one side that wants and fights from the democratic principles imbedded in the Constitution and Declaration, and one side that is bigoted, self-centered, and controlling using a philosophy of ethnic supremacy  favoring European Americans. Although the teacher’s intentions might be seemingly good, the effect of teaching young children about race, diversity, and tolerance would condition their young minds to look for differences in each other that are man-made and minor while avoiding the majority of things they have in common that are good and biological.

When race is taught so is bigotry because it unites and divides—us and them. One cannot avoid the facts of American slavery and ethnic diversity that accompanies a discussion on race. How would the teacher explain the actions of a Christian society that dehumanized people of color by enslaving them and then blaming their enslavement on the color of their skins? How would the teacher prevent the European American children from feeling guilty for the treatment of the slaves by their ancestors? How would the teacher underscore to the children the objective of teaching diversity that should seek to unite all people as one human family and not individual biologically races, while focusing primarily on their differences? The article noted Darnise C. Martin’s comment that “Conversations can be had about dolls, hair, superheroes and just generally helping children know that they are not any less because of skin color.” The problem with that comment is the underling assumption that race is acceptable and tolerable, but can be explained to the children without any psychological effects.

What happens at time when certain subjects are considered for discussions is that little effort is given to defining the terms to be used in and during the discussion because the assumption is that everybody already knows the meanings. Too often we act as though we do not see or realize the bigoted side of American society while we are enacting laws and policies that do just that. For example, sub-standard schools did not appear by accident nor were they invented by African Americans. The history of the African American and other people of color have never been a regular part of the public school curriculum, only Western civilization’s story. So why would we want to continue to promote a history of race to young children that would continue to promote, maintain, and protect bigotry?

So, what are we suppose to do? Why not just tell the truth about race being a myth and know that as long as we act like it is real, it will appear to be so, and in spite of the fact that our DNA says we are more alike than penguins? However, the minute we decide to focus on truth and facts, the myth will begin to deconstruct.

Paul R. Lehman, Bigotry in our language is a not so hidden secret we can afford to ignore

September 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, African American hair, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, Declaration of Independence, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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The objective from the very beginning was division and on a permanent basis as the reason the founding fathers invented two races, a black and a white. Unlike the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution that said we are one people, the concept of race has kept us separate and unequal. Subsequently, if we continue believing in the concept of races we will continue to be separate and never fulfill the objective of our democracy. If we are to ever have one nation, we will have to change the way to look, speak, and act towards one another. We also need to understand that the language we use helps to keep us separate. For example, as long as some people view themselves as black and white, they will not come together because of the historical significance of those words. They were meant to keep us apart.

Many well-meaning civic groups actually work against themselves by choosing a name that creates a negative and defensive feeling in others towards them. Take, for example, Black Lives Matter, a group that has an objective that is in keeping with the concept of democracy, but because of the word black in the name, it creates a defensive reaction in the minds of many European Americans.

We also have groups that use words like white, Aryan and caucasian that they believe makes them different from people who do not look like them. Their pronounced goal is to save or preserve the so-call white race. They need to visit history to learn what happens to people who are separated or separate themselves from other people; they become extinct, like for example, the Australian Tasmanian Aboriginals, and in America, the Eire people and the colony of Roanoke.

When civic activists call for unity among people of color, they miss the opportunity to enhance their programs by not inviting all concerned people. We as a society have been conditioned to identify ourselves based on our so-called differences when our objective should be for all to use the same identity. We are all Americans, so why is it necessary to use color or ethnicity as part of identity? When visitors come to America, they come using their cultural identity. When Americans get a passport they provide a picture, but no racial or ethnic identity, because our cultural identity is American, not black or white, Hispanic or Asian etc.

We do ourselves a constant disservice by identifying ourselves as separate groups which have been our legacy since slavery. We have to grasp the reality of our situation understanding that the concept of biological races is a myth, invention, social construction, and lie. Prior to the Human Genome Project, everything about races with the numerous divisions, classifications, and characteristics was conjecture and opinion. We now have scientific proof, validation, and evidence that all human beings are more alike than penguins, and the skin complexion, eye shape and color, and hair texture are not unique to a select group of human beings. We are of one race of beings whether we like it or not.

We might think that language does not play so great a part in our lives and our behavior, but studies old and recent underscore the fact that when the words black and white are used in a sentence referring to an identity, a measured reaction occurs. The reaction for the European American, usually an increased heartbeat, is observed when the word black is used because of the social conditioning associated with the word. African Americans do not experience a similar reaction when the word white appeared in a sentence because they are conditioned to seeing it and without feeling threatened.

The media in American society contributes greatly to the separation of ethnic groups by the way they use inappropriate identity language. For example, if a bank is robbed and the robber was apprehended, nothing pertaining to the robbery is gained when the ethnicity of the robber is identified. Except, in American society today the identity of the robber is omitted if he or she happens to be European American, but the identity is almost always given when the robber ‘s identity is a person of color. The effect of the naming the identity of the ethnic person serves to strengthen the negative stereotype society already has of the person of color.

Another way in which the media contributes to the negative stereotypes and biased attitudes held by some Americans relative to people of color has to do with the mentioning of the geographic location of an incident that is readily identified as being in a location where predominately people of color reside. Again, the mere mention of the location adds to the negative stereotype held by many people familiar with the location.

Today, with all the problems America is facing relative to our government and the various policies being addressed both positively and negatively, we need to take the opportunity to add our concept of race and identity into the mix and deal with it once and for all. We continue to talk about racism as if it was legitimate rather than bigotry which is what has been and continues to be practiced in society. Yes, our language uses the word racism to talk about social biases, but simultaneously serves to keep the concept of races alive and our society separate. We need to decide what kind of society we want to live in as well as our children and grandchildren. Once we make that choice, we need to get to work and make it happen. We have been talking about racism for three hundred years to no avail because we are still talking about it without a change in the daily behaviors of people. Racism is not the problem, we are because we refuse to accept the fact that we have been living in a false reality. What we cannot continue pretending to not see is the rapidly changing demographics that will force changes in society relative to cultural and ancestral identities.

We currently have an opportunity to make great strides in addressing our oneness as a society by debunking the myth of race and working to make America what it was meant to be a democracy. We will not and cannot get to where we want, and need, to be if we do not change from using our misleading ethnically biased language of bigotry.

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.

Paul R. Lehman, The power of language continues to enslave American society

August 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, education, employment, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Genealogy,, identity, integregation, justice, language, law, lower class, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, socioeconomics, Stokely Carmichael, the 'n' word, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the constant conundrums challenging America today is race; the reason for it being constant is because while we experience and observe it, we can only describe it, not defines it. We cannot define race because it is a concept based on conjecture and myths.  Since the Greeks and Romans did not know why the sun rose and set every twenty-four hours, they made up a story about it. The story had some facts in it relative to the movement of the sun, but the facts were surrounded by fiction. Apparently, they thought that Apollo drove his chariot around the heavens riding up to the center of the sky in the morning, and down to the horizon at night. Fortunately, scientists came along to give more precise information about the sun and its relations to the earth. Today, the world knows the actual movement of the sun as well as the other celestial bodies in the universe and no longer need to invent myths. Unfortunately, we have not arrived at that point with the use of the term race. The myth continues because we have not decided to rid ourselves of its power to control our mind and bodies.

Language is the most important tool used in transmitting not only information but also a controlling influence over society. When the slave masters took away the slaves’ identity, history, and culture, they forced on the slaves a language that was meant to keep them enslaved. The language was such an important tool that the slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write it. The punishment for anyone caught teaching a slave to read or write were heavy fines, whippings, or imprisonment, depending on the state in which it occurred. The slave owners knew that language as a tool could be used to control minds, but they also knew that it could also be used to liberate minds as well.

One way in which language was used to control society was when it constantly reminded European Americans that they were superior to all people of color, and it reminded people of color that they were inferior to European Americans. Once the captive Africans arrived in America and were stripped of their identities and past; they were forced to accept the reality of slavery. The language they used always pictured them as inferior and European Americans as powerful, privileged, and in total control of society. The African captives knew that they were not Negroes, blacks, or other terms associated with their identity, but they were defenseless to do anything about it for fear of repercussions, including death. After years of social conditioning in which the language constantly reminded the African Americans that they were Negroes, blacks, colored, and a host of other denigrating terms, their actual identity became less of a concern than their civil rights as citizens.

In the early 1960’s language was used as a tool for protest by African Americans who combined identity with the fight for civil rights with the phrase “Black Power.”  Africans were forced to wear the identity of black from the beginning of American slavery and it was used as a derogatory and denigrating term. Even African Americans used the term as derogatory within the African American community. However, when the phrase “Black Power” was used by Stokely Carmichael during a 1960’s civil rights rally, it gained legs and moved throughout the national African American community as well as society at large via music and media. The reference to “black” was used to engender a new sense of pride and positive value to what was once viewed as insulting and denigrating to African Americans. The power of language to influence worked to change the negative concept of blackness as an identity for African Americans to one of positivity, pride, and beauty.

While the language shift worked to provide a new sense of self for the African Americans relative to a black identity, it accomplished little for the European American since no change occurred in their conception and use of the word black as derogatory. The major misconception of the African American community nationally was that the word black would somehow be transformed to represent a new identity. The problem with that happening is that the space the word black occupied in the language could and would not be replaced simply by repetition. Although European Americans could use the word white for their identity, it carried no negative connotations, just the opposite.  Many Europeans abandoned their cultural identity to accept the white identity because of the power and prestige it provided them. African Americans because they did not use their cultural or ancestral identities were forced to be identified as blacks and Negroes. Two reasonable identity choices are African American or people of color, but only for ancestral identities. The cultural identity has always been American.

Many people of color in America accept the word black as a form of identity without realizing that the words black and white are adjectives, not nouns; that is, as nouns they represent colors, but as adjectives, they usually precede the noun race. Therefore, if the word black is used as a noun, it serves no purpose as an identity because it represents no cultural or ancestral ethnicity. If the word black is used as an adjective proceeding race, then the identity is based on a false concept of a black race that is viewed as a monolith which is also incorrect. In other words, the use of the slave masters’ language still represents some control over society’s identities.

The late Malcolm X learned that language as a social tool could provide an element of power and influence. So, he worked hard to become proficient in the use of language, and as a result was able to educate, enlighten, inform, irritate, and intimidate his audiences. Partly due to his early death he had not gained the level of understanding that would have helped to unlock the door of ignorance relative to how language managed to retain control of the concept of race. He did, however, recognized that the identity given the African captives upon their arrival was not their true identity and so he rejected his family name (usually taken from the slaves’ former owner or master) and replaced it with the letter X which is symbolic for the unknown.  American society’s challenge now is to recognize how language has been used to control us so we can set about the business of freeing ourselves. We cannot resolve a problem if we do not recognize that it exists.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s positive contribution to a better America in spite of his bigotry

July 25, 2018 at 3:02 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, Donald Trump, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, Media and Race, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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One of the most important results of Donald Trump’s election was America’s recognition of its diverse population. For certain we all knew that America was a diverse population but we were not as aware of the bigotry that existed within some Americans towards others. Trump did not create the bigotry but he has been very instrumental in bringing it out in other people. Many Americans did not realize that they were bigots until Trump along with members of his administration and party began focusing on the concept of ethnic bigotry. Even today, many Americans do not realize or accept the fact that we have been socially conditioned to accept bigotry as normal as it pertains to people of color.

Regardless of the efforts of Trump to point out and comment on ethnic diversity in American society, because of the rapidly changing demographics, the fact would have eventually presented itself—America continues to change. The effect of America’s changing demographics is like the bottom of a lake that has dried up because of a drought or being drained; a lot of debris is uncovered and what becomes visible for the first time in a long time speaks to a variety of discoveries. Many European Americans have never seen themselves as being biased towards other Americans for any reason. They might be considered ignorant since they lacked the knowledge of their social conditioning towards people of non-European heritage. That form of ignorance can be easily seen and experienced if these Americans live in a predominantly European American environment where they have little exposure to people of color or of diverse ethnicity. If nothing ever happens to call their attention to social and ethnic differences, then their perception will continue.

For many European Americans, ignorance is an excuse to continue to practice bigotry because they believe that they cannot be held responsible for something for which they are ignorant. Unlike the European Americans who are rarely exposed to ethnic differences, these European American are fully aware of the social privileges provided them because of their identity. However, when and if these European Americans are questioned about their display of social bias, they usually feign ignorance of their bias. Since they are not aware of their bias, they cannot be held responsible for their actions or judged negatively because of them; they believe that get a pass.

Another group of European Americans with biased social conditioning believe these biases to be normal and an accepted way of life. Rather than accept the social privileges they received as based on ethnic bigotry, they choose to ignore the reality and continue to accept the illusion of ethnic superiority as real. Anyone who challenges their view of society and the world is viewed as an enemy or at least suspect. We have over the past few years witnessed many instances of European Americans using their social privilege to call attention to their lack of comfort relative to an incident involving ethnic Americans of color. Unfortunately, many of their efforts are rewarded by the law enforcement establishment because they too, in many instances, share the same biases.

The biased social conditioning of many European Americans gives them a sense of not only privilege but also entitlement. Their sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they should feel safe and comfortable in any and all situations, and when they do not enjoy these feelings, they can call 911 and receive immediate satisfaction. To many of these Europeans Americans, they believe that they are not bigoted or biased; they are simply exercising their God-given rights as they interpret them. They have not accepted the fact that America is a diverse society and all Americans deserve the opportunity to exercise the same rights and privileges as they enjoy.

We Americans owe Trump and his administration a debt of gratitude for bringing out the problems relative to cultural biases that exist in society today. The warning America has been given relative to our diverse society is that we must learn to live together as brother and sisters or perish as fool unable to resolve our differences. What we must learn to accept is that all Americans are ethnic Americans and no one ethnicity is superior to another. The problems we face affect all Americans because they either add to or detract from us all regardless of our petty differences. Once the problems from the Trump experience are exposed, we will become aware of the challenges we must address to make certain we do not face the same ones again.

Ignorance is a key ingredient used by society to keep the status quo from succumbing to reality. For example, the contributions of African Americans to American society from Crispus Attucks to Katherine Johnson are quite relevant to our American story but mention either one to almost any educated European American and he or she would not recognize either name. Unfortunately, one could do the same with almost any educated African American with the same results. The problem is that knowledge of these individuals and their accomplishments would provide an element of pride in the African Americans and a sense of surprise in many European Americans. The fact that the information relative to these two Americans is available but not included in most American History books is due to both ignorance and bias. The ignorance represents a lack of knowledge; the bias represents a deliberate action to keep positive and image-influencing information from the readers.

American society, in general chooses, to ignore the factual information and knowledge relative to the myth of races but refuses to accept and promote it as an act of ignorance. Fortunately, facts and truth have a timely way of pushing ignorance to the side like water bursting from a dam overwhelms anything in its path. For American society, the changing demographics are like that dam water waiting to find its path. Ignorance can prevail for just so long before the truth comes in to replace it. When the truth comes, ignorance will be destroyed.

Paul R. Lehman, Why Steve Bannon wants to be called a racist and wear it as a badge of honor

March 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, Human Genome, Media and Race, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Steve Bannon, whites | 2 Comments
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For almost a decade this blog has advised readers to stop using the word racist because it was inaccurate and counterproductive.  The fact is that when someone who has a bias against people of ethnicities different from his or her own is called a racist that serves to underscore, support, and compliment them and their beliefs. When people speak and behave in bias ways that show their bigotry towards other people, they can usually hide behind the word racist. Let us look briefly at what forms the basis of the word racist.

When the word race came into popular usage by the Anglo and Saxons with reference to the British, no concern for physical appearance was at issue. The word was used to signify a difference in character and social behavior. The British were referred to as “brutes” by the Anglo and Saxons with the understanding that their ancestries were totally different and not akin; that is, they did not want to be associated with them in any way. A change in the use and significance of the word race came into effect when slavery was introduced in Europe, and especially in England. As long as all people regardless of their skin complexion and social status were viewed as human beings treatment of them showed respect for their humanity. Once, however, some people could be viewed as less than human, then, less humane treatment of them could be justified. So, the word race began to take on a different usage, one that took into consideration not only the character, and social status of people but also their skin color.

When the founding fathers introduced the concept of race by skin color, they did so base on nothing more than their desire to avoid having to justify slavery. The bias against people of low social and economic status was already in place before they left England. In order to have people of color viewed as inferior, the European American or Anglo-Saxons had to be seen as superior, hence, white supremacy. As long as European Americans controlled society, they could also control the concept of European American supremacy which they did through all the social institutions as well as through the churches. What the founding fathers did not realize was that their concept of race by skin color was flawed and based on simply a false concept that could not withstand the test of time, and their control would not last forever.

Consequently, today many European Americans conditioned by society to see themselves only through their skin color are being impolitely awakened to the reality of their delusion—no such thing as a black race and a white race exists. In fact, the only race of human in existence today, as far as we know, is human beings. Unfortunately, many European Americans who have for many years viewed themselves as superior to all people of color are unwilling to accept the fact that they were deceived about race. The deception has been such an integral part of American society that having to come to grips with reality is a monumental challenge.

For years, many groups in America have based their identity and social significance on the color of their skin and the concept of skin complexion being the basis of a biological race which they wish to preserve. The total number of groups are too numerous to name here, but a few that are generally known as white nationalist groups, focus on white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, and they often focus on the alleged inferiority of people of color. A few of these groups include Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, Christian Identity, and Aryan nation among many more. These kinds of groups are not restricted to America but exist in parts of the world where the concept of a white race is cultivated. These groups are now experiencing pressure from the changing demographics around the world that debunk the concept of race. Their natural inclination is to fight back, which is what they are trying to do primarily through propaganda in a variety of forms.

In a recent article by Daniel Politi in The Slatest (3/10/2018) “Let Them Call You Racist…Wear it as a Badge of Honor,” we learn that President Trump’s “former chief strategist Steve Bannon told a gathering of the far-right in France that they should be proud of being called racists.” Speaking to members of the French National Front party Bannon added: “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.” Each of the labels focuses on the idea or concept of a mythical race of so-called white people. Bannon attempted to justify his advice to these far-right groups in general: “Why should members of the far-right wear the racist label as a badge of honor? ‘Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker,’ Bannon told the crowd. In his travels throughout the world, Bannon has learned that ‘history is on our side’ because ‘globalists have no answers to freedom.’” Bannon’s philosophy defies rational and common sense in that he does not identify or define who the “other side “and the “globalists” are nor does he state the group’s objective.

When Barak Obama became President of the United States, the fact that he was a man of color, an African American, sent a shock wave through the bigots of America and around the world. The shock was to their belief in European American/white superiority. While the myth of race and skin color representing symbols of superiority and inferiority have been debunked for many years, bigots have no rational way of accepting the reality that all human beings are brown; just different shades of brown. Hence, the foundation of their philosophy and belief in a white race and its superiority have no basis on which to sustain itself other than propaganda. With 80% of the observable world’s population being people of color, and the rapidly changing demographics representing mixed ethnic populations, the numbers are greatly against Bannon and his like-minded followers.

Bannon and his followers enjoy being called racist because that word supports their philosophy of a white race; however, the use of that word also removes any direct responsibility of bias from the individual and assigns it to the so-called white race of which the individual is only a representative. The fact is that Bannon is not a racist, but a bigot, a word he does not use. He does not use it because it is accurate and places all responsibility for the bigotry on the individual, not a group, and it does not support a superiority concept. So, for the record, Bannon is not a racist, but a bigot.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Georgia cop’s statement “We only shoot blacks,” underscores culture bigotry

September 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, Department of Justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Norm Stamper, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, whites | 1 Comment
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Many European Americans are beginning to see and realize the attitude and treatment received by African Americans from law enforcement. For too many years African Americans have been made to look like the evil and dangerous villains that deserve the abuse and even death they receive from law enforcement. When African Americans complained about the injustice and bigotry of the criminal justice system, many European Americans turned a blind eye and deaf ear to those complaints. Today, with the benefit of video technology the public is able to witness the behavior of law enforcement agents and their treatment of people of color. A recent incident involving a police officer and an assumed European American woman provides evidence to support the problem of ethnic bigotry in America.

An article by Terence Cullen in the New York Daily News (8/31/2017) told about the incident that underscores many of the claims against law enforcement and the deaths of many African Americans. The officer involved in the incident was Cobb County (Georgia) Lt. Greg Abbott and the article noted that “Abbott pulled the sedan over on suspicion of driving under the influence and told a woman in the passenger seat to use the cell phone in her lap. The woman tells the 28-year veteran she’s afraid to move her hands. ‘I’ve just seen way too many videos of cop,’ the woman says before Abbott cuts her off. ‘But you’re not black’ he says. ‘Remember, we only shoot black people.” The officer’s comments tell us much about him and our society.

One of the first things the officer does with respect to his comment about the woman not being black is to show his biased social conditioning relative to the concept of races. He does not question the authenticity of the concept; he simply accepts it and proceeds with his beliefs. All Americans have been conditioned to accept the concept of races, black and white, as legitimate when we know that the concept is false, an invention to control society. By the officer identifying the woman as white, he has made a judgment about her that gives her power and privilege over people of color whether she wants it or not. The only reasonable assumption we can make about this officer’s comment relative to the woman not being black is to consider her skin complexion. We can safely assume that her complexion is deemed by the officer acceptable enough to be considered white. Whether the woman is European American or a member of some other ethnic group, we do not know. However, that determination is of little consequence to the officer who has already made his judgment relative to her identity.

American society has conditioned European Americans to view African Americans as inferior to them. As such, the need to show respect and curtsey to them is never an issue because no repercussions result from disrespecting and abusing them. This attitude of bigotry is not something taught to each generation, but shown in our way of life as being natural and normal. We ignore the facts that we are one race of people, facts given to us through the sciences, history, and even the Bible. Because the people who invented this system of bigotry also controlled all the institutions in society, they were able to keep the system alive and well. Today, many European Americans would not know their identity if they were told that they were not white; that is how extensive the social conditioning has become. They also believe that regardless of the educational, economic and political status people of color attain, the European Americans with no comparable credits is made to believe they are better. So, the color white is important to the officer as well as to the woman in the car.

Community relations have never been good between the African American community and the law enforcement community because law enforcement has always viewed African Americans as inferior. When one side of a community has preconceived ideas about the other that places them at a disadvantage, no reasonable or mutually just solution to any problem will be forth –coming. Most community relation programs instituted by law enforcement for the African American community always favor law enforcement because of their conditioned biases. Although some members of law enforcement desire to faithfully perform their jobs, they cannot deny that the culture inside of law enforcement is anti-black (African American) and that sentiment is reflected in the officer’s statement: “Remember, we only shoot black people.”

Norm Stamper, a retired European American police officer, noted in his book, Breaking Rank, (2005) that contrary to what European Americans believe, “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘color blindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”Stamper’s comments are underscored by another former member of law enforcement. In his book, Choke Hold, (2017) Paul Butler, an African American former federal prosecutor and law professor at Georgetown University, defined chokehold as laws and social practices made to control African American men: “It is a two-step process. Part one is the social and legal construction of every black man as a criminal or potential criminal. Part two is the legal and policy response to contain the threat—to put down African American men literally and figuratively.” Given their experiences in law enforcement, these two individuals have no reason to make false statements about the culture of law enforcement regarding African Americans.

Officer Abbott, a 28-year veteran on the Police force, exhibited the ethnic bias that is part of the culture in which he works. Since he was conditioned by society to be biased against people of color, joining the police force did nothing to relieve him of his biases but, evidently, provided an environment in which they could be exercised with impunity. Removing Abbott from the force will not eliminate the problem of bigotry since it is societal. Whether we interpret Abbott’s statements as sarcastic or not, they flowed freely from his mouth without hesitation.  Abbott does not simply represent law enforcement, he represents American society. Until American society can label this biased culture despicable and stand together demanding justice for all our citizens, we must share in the responsibility of what this culture produces.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Trump and Goldberg uninformed on Confederacy monument removal

August 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, blacks, Catherine Pugh, criminal activity, Criticism, Democrats, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, extremists, fairness, justice, justice system, language, law, Leftists, Media and Race, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President Trump, protest, Race in America, racism, respect, Slavery, social justice system, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, whites | Leave a comment
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A Bernard Goldberg commentary “Where Does current Movement End?  Question posed by Trump is one worth considering,” (The Oklahoman 8/23/17) gave pause for concern. The part of the title is a question that President Trump asked while making comments relative to the Charlottesville protest recently. The second part of the title makes the statement that the question was worth asking. For someone knowledgeable of history both question and statement would seem disingenuous. Nonetheless, we will examine both concerns as best we can.

Goldberg begins his comments by relating an incident from his youth, the 1960s when his family drove South from New Jersey to Florida. He recalls his reaction to his father stopping at a restaurant that feathered a “Whites only” sign by refusing to go in and eat. His family decided not to eat there. From this experience, Goldberg makes the statement that “My parents weren’t bigots. They were appalled at what they saw on TV coming out of places like Mississippi and Alabama.”Goldberg still does not realize that all Americans, European Americans, as well as African Americans, were conditioned to see bigotry as something natural. One wonders why Goldberg chose the South to use as an example of ethnic bigotry when he could have just as easily selected any part of New Jersey with its isolated ethnic populated communities. That is, of course, unless he did not live in a segregated community, attend a segregated school, worship in a segregated church, which he possible could have. But one thing was clear from his story; he and his family saw themselves as white. As a white person in America, viewing people of color as inferior was natural and commonly accepted by whites. That conditioning allows European Americans North and South to see bigotry in others, but not in themselves. That might be why Goldberg could say that his parents were not bigots.

He subsequently, made the comment that a case can be made for Trump asking the question: “Where does it end?” He continued: Is taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson or Jefferson Davis enough?” Goldberg, evidently, does not understand the reasons for removing the statues and monuments in the first place. New Orléans major, Mitch Landrieu,  offered a host of reasons for the removal, for example, he noted that “ New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.” He added that “America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.”Speaking specifically regarding the monuments he stated: “So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.”

In addition to Mayor Landrieu, Baltimore, Maryland, mayor Catherine Pugh, had several statutes removed under the cover of darkness to avoid protesters and possible violence. One statue was “A monument of Taney, the supreme court justice who oversaw the 1857 Dred Scott case declaring that black people could not be American citizens, was to Pugh particularly disgraceful. She remarked: “How does a statue like that, a supreme court judge who oversaw the Dred Scott case, even exist? Why does someone like that even deserve a statue? Why should people have to feel that kind of pain every day?”Many other local and state officials have joined the movement to remove the offensive statues and monuments.

Goldberg shows his bias when he posed the question: “Is that where it ends—with a mob deciding what statues stay and which one go?” Evidently, Goldberg has not been watching or reading the news reports of how the mayors in several Southern cities decided to remove some statues honoring Confederate men. The references to two mayors of two major cities should more than underscore who makes the decisions to remove the statues and monuments. Why would Goldberg think the decisions are made by mobs? If Goldberg and Trump fully understood the reason for the movement of remove the statues and monuments, the question of “where does the movement end” turns rhetorical. The movement has its bases in history, not conjecture or assumed notions of correcting a wrong. The wrongs committed cannot be correct, but a constant reminder wrongs perpetrated against a people can be removed.

Another of Goldberg’s comments seems to go beyond the boundaries of common sense and logic: “Asking who’s next and where does it end doesn’t make you a white supremacist, or even unreasonable.” One would hope that before questions of the nature posed that a working knowledge of the movement in question might be acquired. Asking questions would never make a person anything by seems informed or uninformed about the subject matter. The answer to the question “who’s next” would depend on whose asking the question and what Confederate statue or monument is being considered. The history of the statue or monument relative to the time and place it occupies and why it was erected. A question important to the significance of the statue or monument would be does this monument honor the Confederacy or reflect some aspect of ethnic bigotry? In any case its presence on public property would be of concern.

What Goldberg seems to suggest is that the people who find the monuments the Confederacy offensive and sensitive are somehow taking their 1st Amendment rights too far. He added: “Leftist already shut down speech they don’t like on college campuses, including public universities funded by taxpayers. Is it such a stretch to silence people we detest from the public square?” Identifying but not defining some people as “Leftists,”  Goldberg, apparently, believe these people go about indiscriminately creating and causing problems simply because they do not like something. Also, why would he think these people are not taxpayers? Goldberg totally missed the point of the movement and its proponents and it shows in his uninformed comments and questions. Most people in the movement do not want to silence anyone, but they do want to exercise their rights to protest and seek to remove anything that historically has been shown to be offensive and hurtful to them and other citizens.

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