Paul R. Lehman, Social media help to show the ugly side of American society

February 20, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, blacks, Civil War, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, education, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, liberty, Prejudice, President Obama, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, socioeconomics, Welfare, whites | 1 Comment
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The advance of the social media has brought with it the opportunity for America and the world to see an ugly side of our society, the side that acts just the opposite to what American democracy promotes—the rights, freedom, and liberty for all people. A litany of example could be produced to underscore the undisputable evidence of America’s ugliness, but any one of them would make the same point—bigotry, ignorance, and stupidity influences the actions of many Americans relative to the issue of ethnicity (race).
An article in the Clarion-Ledger by Kay Steiger, “Think Progress,” (2/16/2015) noted that “A Mississippi state lawmaker said he opposed putting more money into elementary school because he came from a town where ‘all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.” The article continued:”In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger regarding education funding, state Rep. Gene Alday ® stated his opposition to a push to increase funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be pointless.”
From his statements, we might assume that Alday has a particular bias against African Americans (blacks) children specifically and African American people in generally. Why would a representative of the people of the state of Mississippi be against educating African American children who need extra help for a variety of reasons, include health issues? The answer could possible reside in how Alday view African Americans in a social context. Mississippi has a reputation based on its history of violence, hatred, discrimination, bigotry and segregation relative to African Americans. Since the Civil War, the South, Mississippi underscored, has tried to restrict the progress of African Americans to gain first-class citizenship. To many in the South, African Americans had no value outside of the work and services they performed for European Americans. If they did not work for or performed services for the European Americans, they had no value.
During Reconstruction government schools and programs were created to help the freedmen make a transition from bondage to freedom. Many European Americans resented any and all activities that would help the African Americans achieve upward mobility in society. The belief was that any gain by the African Americans was a loss for the European Americans. We know through the social media that this belief is still held by many European Americans. So, the bigotry exhibited by Alday is probably considered normal based on his Southern cultural perspective as a resident of Mississippi.
The fact that Alday opposed additional funding for education at the elementary level indicates a lack of knowledge and understanding of history and American democracy. He has yet to see the big picture of how important education is to the foundation of American society. Both his statements indicate a total lack of knowledge and understanding of how education enriches society as well as the individual. Alday’s reference to African Americans receiving governmental assistance does not include information about job availability, job location, salary, and transportation in the communities where assistance is offered. He, evidently, does not realize that education is the engine that drives progress and development in society. So, Alday’s ignorance of American democratic history stands out in his comments.
By singling out African American children for educational funding, and pointing to African American s as recipients of food stamps and welfare checks, Alday shows his bigotry. However, he shows stupidity by thinking that stopping food stamps and welfare checks will affect only African Americans. What he fails to realize is that African Americans represent only a small proportion of food stamp and welfare recipients, the greater number are European Americans.
The article included another of Aldays comments that underscore his bigotry as well as his lack of understanding of society: “Alday continued, saying that when he was mayor of Walls, MS, that the times he’d gone to the emergency room had taken a long time. ‘I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots,’ he told the newspaper.” This statement seems to suggest that Alday must have expected the healthcare employees to stop treating the African American patients immediately and work on him. His reference to the African Americans’ injuries being from gunshots suggests that he thought the wounds were reflective of a lower-classed people who routinely shoot one another.
One would be mistaken if he or she thought that Alday represented an exception to other Mississippi legislators. We learn from the article that “The Mississippi legislature recently advanced a bill that would provide exceptions to the reading policy for students with learning disabilities. The bill is opposed by Gov. Phil Bryant ®, who supports the third grade policy.” The third grade policy is a bill that will not allow students to move up to fourth grade without being able to read proficiently. Gov. Bryant noted that “It’s disappointing that 62 members of the House of Representatives would vote to socially promote children who cannot read,” Bryant continued “With votes like this, it is little wonder that Mississippi’s public education system has been an abysmal failure.”
Fortunately, Bryant understands the problems and the bigotry associated to them relative to the legislature. Unfortunately, he would have an enormous challenge trying to convince Alday and his colleagues to change their views. Many Americans think that ethnic prejudice disappeared once an African American was elected President of the United States. Actually, the election of President Obama and the use of the social media helped to uncover the ugliness of the hate and bigotry, ignorance and stupidity that still exist in society. Now, however, that ugliness is in full view of America and the world.
We should not despair, however, from viewing the ugly side of America, but recognize that serious problems exist and we have the challenge to bring some understanding and rational thinking to address them. We can begin by educating people to the fact that the Constitution does not exclude anyone from enjoying the freedoms, rights, liberties, and yes, education, based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, and gender.

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Paul R. Lehman, Justice Scalia comments on Voting Right Act show bias

March 5, 2013 at 12:27 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Prejudice, state Government, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 2 Comments
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When Supreme Court justice Athoni Scalia made a comment concerning voting rights last week, he readily got the attention of many people, including a number of his colleagues. He got their attention when he used a certain phrase that created cause for concern in how he looks at the right to vote. Part of his comments were:”I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

The phrase that caused concern is “perpetuation of racial entitlement” because it opened the door to a number of interpretations. Depending on how one interprets the word “entitlement” the fact that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of every citizen to vote would not make voting an entitlement. On the other hand, if one interprets the word “entitlement” as a “right,” then the question of his use of the word “racial” comes into play; that is, he would be suggesting that a racial right exists. If, however, someone interprets the words “racial entitlement,” as a reference to a group of people receiving special privilege, then the third word “perpetuation,” becomes more significant in that the entire phrase can be interpreted as a continuation of giving special privilege to a certain group of people based on their ethnicity.
The problems involving voter registration before and during the last election brought to public scrutiny how some states were attempting to prevent some citizens from voting. Scalia’s use of the phrase “racial entitlement” does not have a place in the discussion on voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear on who can vote and where they can vote: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The wording of the Amendment note specifically that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nowhere in this Amendment is there a reference to race or entitlement. So, why would he use such a phrase?
On a number of occasions, Justice Scalia has made statements that could be interpreted as having an ethnic bias. With that in mind, we learned that Rep. Jim Clyburn reacted “on the latest Supreme Court’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act and he had some harsh words for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia saying that his criticism of the landmark civil rights legislation is rooted in the fact that he is ‘white and proud.’”(Fox Nation) In essence, Clyburn sees Scalia as having a bias towards non European Americans.
One wonders why Justice Scalia would possess any inkling of bias against minority Americans seeing that his father was an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife’s parents were immigrants from Italy as well. The fact that most Italians prior to 1952 were viewed along with other ethnic minorities as non-white, led to the immigration of people from Italy, Poland, Russia and Greece being drastically cut. One must assume that Scalia as a youth was not subjected to the ethnic discrimination that would have created for him some memorable experiences that might serve as a base for dealing with prejudice.
If Jim Clyburn’s statement has any creditability regarding Scalia being “white and proud,” then we have an idea of why he might view ethnic Americans in a different light from the way he views so-called whites. The self-conception of European Americans after World War II as being the only true Americans must have been the philosophy adopted by Scalia, since he see himself as white. The idea for “white” being the true Americans and superior to all other Americans must have been a comforting through to Scalia. Unfortunately, those concepts were false along with the concept of multiple, biological races. Nonetheless, bigots still hold on to their beliefs and display them at opportune times.
Rachel Maddow on the Jon Stewart show (3-1-13) talked about the fact that the Rosa Parks statue was being unveiled during the time the Supreme Court was meeting on the Voting Right Act. She noted that Scalia used that time to make his suggestive statement. She said:
“He’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows its offensive and he knows he’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, which he got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread who is using the n-word. ‘Oh, it made you mad? How about if I say this? Does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?’ He’s that guy! He’s that kind of guy! When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive while talking about the cornerstone of the federal Civil Rights Act, he’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah!'”
In his language and behavior, Scalia seems to be saying that he is not only white but also a Supreme Court Justice, so he can say anything he want to say without fear of reprisal. To not be aware of our country’s history on race is not good for a Judge. For a justice to display a biased character from the bench is worse.
According to Maddow, Scalia loves to make people angry by making these uncalled for remarks, but they get him the attention he wants. Let us hope he does not influence any of the other judges. That would be a disaster for the country.

Paul R. Lehman, Census Bureau fails to recognize its core problems with new plans

August 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, public education, U. S. Census, whites | 1 Comment
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Hope Yen, a writer for the Associated Press, published an article, “Census plans to change how it measures race,” in The Oklahoman today (8/9/12). The article stated the purpose: “To keep pace with rapidly changing notions of race, the Census Bureau wants to make broad changes to its surveys that would end use of the term  “Negro,” count Hispanics as a mutually exclusive group and offer new ways to identify Middle Easterners.” Basically, what it will do is add more confusion and complexity to the problems it already has.

The article reported on the confusion the Census survey created for the people taking it in 2010. Having written on this subject in this blog and my latest book, America’s Race Matters: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color, the need to change aspects of the Census form comes as no surprise. The Bureau will try to identify and fix the problems that revolve around the identity of various ethnic groups because an accurate accounting of some groups was not possible based on the selection offered on the Census form. We are told that “The research [Census Bureau’s] is based on an experiment conducted during the 2010 census in which nearly 500,000 households were given forms worded differently. The findings show that many people who filled out the traditional form did not fit within the five categories of race…” The five categories of race listed on the forms were white, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. Hispanics evidently caused a problem “because Hispanics is currently defined as an ethnicity and not a race, some 18 million Latinos—or roughly 37 percent—used the ‘some other race’ category on their census forms to establish a Hispanic racial identity.”

So, just how does the Census Bureau plan to address this problem in the future? We are told that “Under one proposed change, a new question would simply ask a person’s race or origin, allowing them to check a single box next to choices including black, white, or Hispanic.” Unfortunately, that would actually create more problems for the Census Bureau because people of mixed ethnicity would not identify with any of the boxes offered. However, the Census Bureau, not to be deterred, offered some other changes:”The other changes would drop use of “Negro,” leaving a choice of “black” or African-American, as well as add write-in categories that would allow Middle Easterners and Arabs to specifically identify themselves.” Well, if people are allowed to identify themselves would those identities in effect create other races or would they be considered simply ethnic groups?

The primary problem facing the Census Bureau has to do with a lack of specificity, namely a lack of definitions. People filling out the survey forms are left on their own to figure out what the Census Bureau means with reference to race and ethnicity. Part of the problem comes from the fact that many people do not see themselves the way the Census Bureau sees them. For example if a person has an Asian mother and a Hispanic father, what box would he or she check? Asian is listed as a race, but Hispanic is listed as an ethnicity. Would this person be considered a half-race person or half-ethnic person? The Census Bureau does not offer a solution to such a problem, but suggest that the person filling out the survey make a choice according to the boxes available which includes “some other race.”

The fact that new immigrants are arriving in this country daily, we need to have a system in place to identify them accurately. The present system leaves much to be desired. What needs to happen without question is for the Census Bureau to drop the use of the term race and go with the term ethnicity, allowing individuals a wide range of selections based on specific cultures and geography. The terms black and white should also be discontinued because they serve no useful purpose. For example, if one goes by color than certain Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and a host of other people might be considered black; however, because of their cultural and geographical identity, refuse to be identified as black. The same problem exists for people who identify themselves as white. The Census Bureau does not define race, but uses the colors black and white as though they are races. Apparently, that line of action does not work; hence, the problems and confusion.

One thing about the census that cannot be ignored is the fact that the data collected is used in a variety of ways that impact people and society specifically. Politically, information about the cultural make-up of certain areas is important in order to address the problems and concerns in those areas. If the census information is faulty or inaccurate, then the likelihood of some areas receiving attention would be affected. Since the cultural and ethnic make-up of America is changing on a daily basis, it is incumbent on the Census Bureau to make some meaningful changes, but not changes that simply exacerbate the problems. The Census Bureau needs to recognize what the obvious nature of the problem is, and address that first. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau cannot seem to recognize that the problem has to do with their use of and dependency on terms that are no longer applicable to the objective.

Chances are we will be reading another article in the future about the continued confusion being experienced by the Census Bureau because they have received an overabundance of survey forms with the selection marked “some other race,” and they will not know what to do with the information because they have no idea of what that means. For many years now when forms come to me with a space requesting an identity under “race,” the word “human” is supplied.

Paul R. Lehman, Moral Relativism, a misguided perception of American History and society

June 26, 2012 at 12:41 am | Posted in Bigotry in America, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Prejudice, public education | Leave a comment
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Frank Lipsinic (The Oklahoman, Your Views 6/22/12) offered some comments on the earlier comments of Jack Werner (The Oklahoma Point of View, June 9)   entitled “Moral Relativism.” Werner’s comments centered on the hypocrisy he saw in the Republican Party and as a Republican felt he should point out those negative elements in hopes the party would see them and try to correct them. Lipsinic said:”I object to the notion that somehow only the Republican Party needs cleansing.  After reading Werner’s comments, I came away feeling he requires politicians and voters to separate their beliefs and morals from public policy.” That is actually what Werner thought politicians should do in order for all citizens to be treated fairly.

Lipsinic continued: “We’ve slid down that slippery slope of moral relativism for decades, eliminating God and moral judgment from things we do in public.” To be on solid ground concerning what Lipsinic thinks moral relativism is and the reality of it, let us look at the comments from a creditable source:

Within the U.S. justice system, constant values or rules (represented by constitutional, statutory, or case law) are intended to be structurally tempered to accommodate moral relativity. For example, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, is credited with being the first Supreme Court justice to state that the U.S. Constitution was an organic document—a living constitution subject to changing interpretation. Many times since, Supreme justices, in their opinions, have referred to the notion of “evolving” law when modifying, refining, or in rare circumstances, overruling earlier precedent. Likewise, statutory laws are enacted or repealed by Congress or state legislators in an effort to best reflect the principles and mores of their constituency (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Moral+Relativism)

In essence, moral relativism has been a vital part of our society for many years. What Lipsinic probably objects to is the decisions made that do not coincide with his personal beliefs. For example, God has not been eliminated from the public—just the references to a particular sectarian god, as in Christian God. If the god of one sect is permitted in public than in fairness the god (s) of other sects should be permitted as well. Lipsinic wants only his God used. The same can be said about his morals and those in the public—those that he does not accept, he feels should not be permitted.

Lipsinic continued: “The Democratic Party’s mantra of ‘choice’ on abortion and women’s rights has done great damage to women.” One must question the logic of that statement if he means that women benefit from having their “choice” taken away from them as well as other legal and constitutional rights. Most women would want to enjoy and appreciate the “choice” and “rights” afforded them the same as those afforded men.

Next, Lipsinic noted that “The Founders were only concerned about the state sanctioning a national religion. This great nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Shall we throw out the founding principles?”What is missing from this statement is a total understanding and grasp of American history.

The Founding Fathers had no desire to create a national religion, nor did they want to force one on the state (s). If Lipsinic checks the Constitution he might be surprised to discover that this country was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but on greed and bigotry. All the Founding Fathers were European Americans of wealth and property who actually looked out for their interests. No other American man could vote or hold elected office if were not European American with wealth and property. Slavery was written into the Constitution—Judeo-Christian principles? We certainly did throw out many of the principles that restricted the rights and privileges of those Americans who were affected negatively in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

Evidently Lipsinic overlooked the part of history that tells how the American Indians were systematically eliminated from their native lands by people who practiced the Judeo-Christian religion. He must have skipped the section of history that dealt with slavery and the civil war. Actually, what moral principles does he have in mind? He stated that “Can we not live out our moral principle in public life? I refuse to leave my moral principles at the door!” If by moral principles he means denying other American citizens their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they see them, and not as he would prefer, then his views and understanding of American democracy are totally misguided and confused.

Finally, Lipsinic believes that a lack of morals, his morals, has been the cause of America’s downfall. He noted that “That’s exactly what’s gotten this nation to the edge of the cliff where we now stand.” Sad to say, but too many American citizens share the perception of American society and its status. Unfortunately, their minds are shackled to a make-believe American society that has never existed except in degrees or small sections. For example, if Lipsinic was born, raised, and continue to live in an all European American town, his perception of America is conditioned by his experiences in that environment. He more than likely grew up believing that America belongs to European Americans and because of their generosity, allowed other foreign people to come here to share in their bounty. But these other people need to know their place—behind the real Americans. These people need to know also that the morals of the real Americans are the only ones that are acceptable and suitable for society.

For his information, America is not about to fall off a cliff, so he can stop worrying; neither is the world coming to an end in the near future. We live in a society with a democratic form of government. What that means is for every one problem that is solved, two more are created; so, if one wants to participate then he /she must be informed in order to make appropriate decisions. And as for moral relativism, we know that it is “The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation.” We also know that “It can be used positively to effect change in law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking “(legal-dictionary). So whose exercising moral relativism?

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