Paul R. Lehman, Arizona Rep. Stringer’s comments on (im) migration show a lack of understanding of democracy

June 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, desegregation, discrimination, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, immigration, Pilgrims, Prejudice, Puritans, race, respect, skin color, social conditioning, The Associated Press, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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When the Puritans came to America in 1630, they came with the idea that God had given this land to them based on the Mayflower Compact that John Winthrop drew-up while on board the Arbela during a storm. The Compact was not preplanned but was deemed a necessary safeguard against death and destruction. Winthrop stated that “Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.” So, the possibility of being shipwrecked prompted the compact which stated these requirements: “For we must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”(John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”)

The “we” of which Winthrop spoke was not a diverse ethnic group, but Anglo-Saxons who believed that God gave America to them. The idea of America being the country of Anglo-Saxons and later European Americans (whites) continued throughout America’s history. The discriminatory treatment of the African Americans has been a never-ending story. Some Americans came to the belief that the European American was the God-ordained superior human being on the planet and would eventually rule the world. The idea of the superiority was based on the belief of a race by skin color with the Anglo-Saxon (white) being the highest order of mankind. All the laws and practices supported that concept of Anglo-Saxon or Nordic supremacy. The challenge for the Anglo-Saxons in America was knowing how to control the population so as to keep the race as pure as possible.

In the late 1800 and early 1900’s, a fear among many Nordic (white) Americans were the expansion of power by people of color over them. One concerned European American, Lothrop Stoddard, stated in 1920 the fear that wars between white countries would provide an opportunity for people of color to take over power in those countries. He added: “However, such colored triumphs of arms are less to be dreaded than more enduring conquest like migrations which would swamp whole populations and turn countries now white into colored man’s lands irretrievably lost to the white world.”He saw migration as the destruction of whites.

Echoing the same fear of migration of people of color as the enemy of the Nordic people, Madison Grant stated that “Democratic ideals among an homogenous population of Nordic blood, as in England or America, is one thing, but it is quite another for the white man to share his blood with, or intrust his ideals to, brown, yellow, black, or red men.” In effect, measures must be taken to control the population of immigrants in order to protect the Anglo-Saxon or Nordic racial superiority. Grant was a lawyer, writer and more importantly, a eugenicist. He was responsible for one of the most important works of scientific racism and along with Stoddard played a significant part in promoting anti-immigration and anti-miscegenation legislation in America.

The results of Stoddard and Grant’s efforts were the Immigration Act of 1924 or Johnson-Reed Act. This was a federal law that effectively excluded Asians from immigrating to America. In addition, it established quotas on the number of immigrants coming from specific countries and included money to make certain the ban on non-white immigrants was firmly in place. Because of the fear of race contamination, the law focused on “decreasing immigration of Southern Europeans, countries with Roman Catholic majorities, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, and Jews. The law affirmed the longstanding ban on the immigration of other non-white persons, with the exception of black African immigrants.”The immigrants from these countries except for Africa, were later to be called Caucasians, not white.

The point for providing this historical background on a small portion of America’s immigration actions involves a news report in The Associated Press (2/1/2018) regarding Rep. David Stringer, a Republican from Prescott, Arizona.  Stringer was reported to have made a number of statements that mirror the attitude on immigration discussed earlier. Following are a few of his comments: “Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around.” He also stated that “immigration is politically destabilizing” and “immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States.”

He issued a note of warning when he said that “If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country and we will not be the country you were born into.”

In summing up his fears  Stringer stated that “I maybe touched a third rail of politics but what I said is accurate. Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth.” He added: “Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.” His statement is definitely true, and what is also true is that America is changing demographically.

Many Americans love to say that we have come a long way in accepting our diversity and addressing our socially constructed biases, but after reading Stringer’s comments we must confess that some of us still have not taken that first step towards accepting democracy and  America as a country indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

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Paul R. Lehman, George Will’s Commentary on the high courts challenge for Michigan on race lacks good reasoning.

October 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, blacks, Civil War, college admission, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, Michigan, minority, Prejudice, segregation, Slavery, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the ironies in America today is the lack of acceptance of the fact that America, from its beginning, was a biased society. Europeans who called themselves white, created a society of two so-called races—one white, one black. The character of each so-called race was also created; the white race was to be superior to the black race in every way. The problem with this creation of races from the beginning was that it was not logical because race was never defined, just assumed. Shortly after Africans were introduced into American slavery, the problem of race reared it ugly head in the form of children produced by individuals representing each so-called race. Society met this problem by creating laws based on its conception of race to keep the separation in place. The laws, however, were based on the assumption of race by color, an assumption which nature and biology did not share. Society, nevertheless, continued to ignore nature and biology while creating and enforcing as best it could laws to address the continuing racial problems. Had America used another form of separation in its creation of and assumptions of races by color, the problems society is incurring today might not be so challenging.
One such problem was published in The Oklahoman by George Will in his “Commentary “(10/13/13)on the Supreme Court’s up-coming hearing on the use of race by the University of Michigan in its admission’s policy. Will stated that “the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment says ‘No state shall…deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’” He added that “the following provision of Michigan’s constitution violates the Equal Protection guarantee: No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin…” The provision continued with the conditions “in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The laws seem to cancel out each other, so Will believes the court will rule in favor of the 14th Amendment.
The problem with this case can be seen in the use and lack of definition of the word race and the history of America’s prejudice. From the end of the Civil War to 1954, America practiced segregation and discrimination, separate and unequal polices based on race. In 1964 when the Civil Rights Act provided relief from the practices of separate and unequal practices in public institutions, many states complained that the rights of some of it citizens were being denied because preferential treatment was being given to African Americans and other ethnic minorities. What society and Will does not say is that for over two-hundred years the equal protection in the 14th Amendment was not applied to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities, so the suspension of equal protection guarantees had to be put in place while an attempt to try and remedy the injustices of the past could be addressed.
Now the question of should race be included in consideration for admission to the University of Michigan, and if it is, will that serve as a form of discrimination against other students? Common sense should dictate a reasonable approach. How can an injustice be addressed by simply retaining the status quo, which is what the Michigan state provision suggests. The suggestion of fairness seems to reflect the idea that all citizens are equal have the same rights. History tells us that the concept of race has and still does play an important role in how some people; especially African Americans, women, and other minorities are treated. For someone to suggest that bias, prejudice, and discrimination does no longer exist in society is to ignore today’s reality.
The fact that Michigan created the law requiring that “”No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…” anyone, suggests that many people believed that some people, African Americans and others, were receiving these preferences. They also believed that the preferences worked to the disadvantage of the majority population, regardless of the fact that they were not discriminated against in the past. Regarding those who were discriminated against in the past, the law suggests that they automatically and magically became equal and no program for addressing the inequities of the past need be instituted.
Interestingly enough, Will stated that “Michigan’s attorney general correctly argues that the voters who passed the amendment in 80 of the state’s 83 counties were not ‘restructuring’ the political process, they were using the process to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideal of a colorblind society.” One wonders if Will truly believes that the people in the 80 counties were voting without consideration of so-called race and color. If those voters in the 80 counties were not conscious of race during their voting, there would be no reason to vote. After all, the law was written to stop what they considered unfair treatment of themselves and preferential treatment of African Americans.
Part of the problem facing the court has to do with the concept of race and how the university might apply it in admissions. Because biased and prejudiced citizens accused the government of using race as a partial method to help remedy segregation and discrimination of Africans Americans in the past, and the Supreme Court agreed in part with them, the emphasis was redirected by the universities towards using race as a form of academic “diversity.” Now the practice of the University of Michigan in using race as a form of bringing diversity into the academic community is being challenged by people who believe that is also a form of granting preferences. At some point society will have to ask the question concerning addressing the injustices of the past to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities. So far, most of the people receiving complaints of preferential treatment in college and University admissions are African Americans. We rarely read of complaints of women receiving preferential treatment.
As a society, we must accept the fact that race was created to serve as a form of separation and discrimination and that society employed the concept of race by color to employ forms of preferences for European Americans while creating walls and roadblocks for African Americans and other minorities. The mere fact that Will made the statement that the people of Michigan voted “to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideals of a colorblind society” represents a form of hypocrisy, deceit, and ignorance. How can we believe in the ideal of a colorblind society when the majority population identify themselves as “white”?

Paul R. Lehman,Understanding the bigots loss of power and control in America

July 31, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, Race in America | 1 Comment
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                Reading, hearing, and seeing all the negative and hatful things associated with President Obama and his administration these past few months have called some things into question. Namely, the issues of bigotry and discrimination.  For some reason, many people believed that when Obama won the election that all animosity and hatred against African Americans and other ethnic Americans of color would disappear. That did not happen. As a matter of fact, the disharmony actually increased. Looking back in history for some kind of explanation for this kind of negative behavior the mystery grows. An attitude of resentment and hatred towards African Americans in particular seems to have no rational bases for existence other than the fact that God made them and put them here, among European Americans. What did African Americans ever do to European Americans to warrant such resentment and hatred? History shows that at different times some European Americans believed that African Americans were unjustly breathing the air that should be reserved for them. Why?

                The answer, in part, always goes back to power and control. The ruling class of European Americans knew that using the carrot and stick philosophy with the poor and working class European Americans would always work when pitted against African Americans and other non-European American ethnic groups. So, in an effort to keep the majority group satisfied, they gave them membership in the ‘white’ club. The idea of being satisfied meant making up for the lack of self-esteem and self-worth of the poor and working class European Americans when they compared themselves to the wealth ruling class of European Americans.  Being white meant having the privilege of feeling superior and better than non-European Americans, and being able to control to a major degree their education, employment, and environment. The fear, hatred, and resentment we observe today from the right and extreme groups comes from the fact that over the last five or six decades they have been losing their privileges and control. Electing Obama President seems to be the straw that broke their camel’s back. Let look at what has happened.

                After the Civil War, slavery as an institution was ended, but slavery in other forms came into being. While African Americans could no longer be held legally in physical bondage, they could be prevented from making progress in other ways. Education was viewed as an avenue of approach to improvement for all people, especially the poor and working class. Unfortunately for African Americans, education was unfair and unequal. This situation was just fine with the bigots because it gave them a reason to feel superior to African Americans. Then, in 1954, The Supreme Court decision Brown v. Broad of Education of Topeka, Kansas declared that segregated schools were inherently unequal and unconstitutional. This action for some European Americans was a slap in their face– losing control of their separate schools. Many battles were fought across the nations by cities and states to maintain the status quo. Some battles are still going on today. One of the most famous conflicts was the Little Rock Arkansas Central High School incident.

                The feeling of loss of control and self-esteem as a result of the Brown decision was renewed ten years later when then President Johnson, signed the 1964 Civic Rights Act. Among other things, this act prohibited discrimination by employers and unions, and established an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Any public place and/or program receiving federal assistance came under this act. This Act created one of the biggest rift in American politics because as President Johnson said at the time, the Southern Democrats would leave the party because they could not stand to have their power, privilege , and control being taken away and given to lesser people. The underlining fear was that first educational control was taken from them, now jobs or employment control was taken from them. What would be next?

After the 1954 Brown decision was rendered, a phenomenon occurred in most metropolitan areas known as white flight. European Americans had a choice in this desegregation business; they could move and start their own segregated communities, churches, schools, businesses and all. And so they did. However, another blow was dealt them in 1968. The federal government said that discrimination could not occur in the sale or rental of almost 80% of all housing. The Civil Rights Bill of 1968 took away another privilege from some European Americans, the privilege of controlling the environment. African Americans paid taxes like all working citizens, yet, they could not enjoy all the benefits that their monies helped provide. For example, prior to 1954, many public places forbid and/or limited African Americans access or accommodations to places like libraries, parks, zoos etc.

                Today, many European Americans remember once having control of education, employment, and environment in American society and grieve over the loss of their feeling superior as well as having power and control of other people. Those feelings turned into hate, anger, and resentment when they saw Obama, an African American elected. His election was yet another slap in their face and the beginning of the end for all the things they were led to believe was theirs for life. For them the protests are not really about politics, it is about the loss of self-esteem, pride, and power in being ‘white.’ Now even that is being taken away and European American used in its place.  Our understanding the fear, anger, and resentment of these European Americans help in interpreting the meaning behind phrases like “take back our country,” restore the American Dream,” “restore our freedoms,” and “protect our Constitution,” among others.

                With all these privileges being taken away, old signs like “No niggers need apply,” “no niggers allowed in this school”or“any niggers in town after sundown, hold only memories of bygone days. Some European Americans will have to look elsewhere for something or someone to use as a contrast to make them regain those old feelings. From all indications in the media these days, they are not ready to surrender the fight. For the ethnic bigots in America President Obama and his rainbow administration is a reflection of how much our democracy has changed, and judging from their attitudes, how little.

                The power in bigotry, discrimination, and bias come from the degree of difference that can be used as a contrast against the so-called normal; the degree of similarity signals a loss of power. So, the more rights and privileges that the African Americans acquire, the more some European Americans feel their loss. They forget that American society is not reserved uniquely for European American; that it is an ethnically diverse society of, for and by its entire people.

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