TO COMMENT CLICK HERE
truth is freedom
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without
- Marcus Garvey
- Marcus Garvey
apr 25, 2018
what use to be
history you should know
america's greatest traitors of 20th century
This is what’s really going on when the United States starts pushing ‘religious freedom’ around the world
...Religion and American empire
In 1775, in the early days of the American Revolution, George Washington prepared the Continental Army to invade the Canadian colonies in order to convince the inhabitants to join the rebellion against the British. As Colonel Benedict Arnold prepared to lead the charge, Washington warned him to respect the religious liberty of Catholics in Quebec and avoid unnecessary conflict. He wrote:
“While we are Contending for our own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others.”
Although Congress passed the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1791, religious liberty applied only to “respectable” Protestant denominations, like Baptists and Methodists, who grew rapidly in the first decades of the 19th century. As historian David Sehat explains Protestant denominations created a “moral establishment” that acted like official churches did in Europe. As in Europe, this moral establishment persecuted minority faiths, like Catholics, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses.Washington’s advice was followed in Canada but not in the newly founded United States, where Catholics found themselves facing discrimination.
A way of projecting American power
America’s record of promoting religious liberty abroad was also spotty. Religious liberty largely meant the rights of missionaries to go out and convert “heathens” to Protestant Christianity.
For example, government agents and missionaries in the 19th century trampled on the religious rights of conquered Native American nations by taking away their children and placing them into faraway residential schools that forbade them from practicing their native faiths. The United States banned certain native religious ceremonies, like the Ghost Dance, because of fears that the ritual stirred up rebellion.
In 1898, the United States went to war with Spain and took possession of the Philippines and Puerto Rico, Spanish colonies that were both predominantly Catholic. As historian Tisa Wenger has pointed out, promoting religious freedom in the colonies was a way for the United States to expand its empire.
The idea that the United States would spread religious freedom through its policies made Americans feel like liberators even when they acted like conquerors.
According to historian Anna Su, the United States attempted to remake these coloniesin its image by separating church and state and divesting Catholic religious orders of their property. President William McKinley reasoned that the Filipinos could not be trusted to make that separation themselves.
Ironically, the American claim that promoting religious freedom in the world was its sacred mission was one of the reasons the country became an empire.
Two versions of religious freedom
Many Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and Native Americans demanded the right to worship freely and to organize their lives as they saw fit. Their appeals, however, fell on deaf ears until the early 20th century, when liberal Protestants and Jews began championing a vision of religious liberty aimed at protecting minority rights, not just the rights of the Christian majority.
These progressives wanted to disassociate religious liberty from empire and promote it through international law. Lutheran academic O. Frederick Nolde led a liberal Protestant effort to enshrine religious liberty in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
For Nolde, religious freedom was important among other human rights, including social and economic rights. He argued that people had the right to live free from discrimination and that religious freedom was one of the ways of protecting minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Nolde was hired by Federal Council of Churches, one of the most powerful religious lobbies in the United States.
Nolde and his associates were in the vanguard. It was only over time that the liberal Protestant and Jewish communities came to be more accepting of same-sex relationships and more supportive of church-state separation and other causes to protect minorities.
Meanwhile, evangelicals and conservative Catholics embraced a different version of religious freedom, one that had the promotion of Christianity at its heart.
Evangelist Billy Graham, for example, worried in the 1950s that the Soviet Union was promoting atheism across the world, so he highlighted the country’s oppression of religious people and called on the United States to do more to free them. At home Graham opposed many of the court decisions that removed Bible reading and prayer from public schools.
Ironically, many conservatives seemed to believe that religious liberty was largely for people abroad, not at home. They opposed court decisions that they saw as infringing on the rights of Christian communities to pass on their values to their children. Evangelicals were also skeptical about Catholics having a more prominent role in American society, especially following the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Religious freedom abroad?
More recently, the legislation that created the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom – Brownback’s new job – was in essence, the result of evangelical concern over the persecution of Christians in China and the Middle East in the 1990s.
It was under pressure from evangelical groups, such as the Christian Coalition, the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals, that Congress, in 1998, passed the International Religious Freedom Act to do more to protect Christians abroad.
The bill gained support among more liberal Protestant, Catholic and Jewish communities as well, along with secular human rights groups. But disagreements about religious liberty remained. While evangelicals were fretting over the fate of Christian communities, progressive groups wanted to see religious freedom as part of a broader human rights agenda.
To the progressives, religious freedom was part of a larger canvas of human rights issues. It was no surprise that President Barack Obama, for example, appointed Suzan Johnson Cook, a religious leader with a passion for human rights and subsequently David Nathan Saperstein, Brownback’s predecessor. Saperstein was a rabbi who had advocated on a range of social justice issues.
These appointments were in keeping with progressive beliefs. As political theorist Elizabeth Shakman Hurd explains, religious freedom could not be isolated from many social, economic and political forces that lead to conflict. Elevating religious concerns above other human rights issues could, in fact, lead to more harm than good.[...]
100 years ago this week, a German-American was lynched by self-proclaimed patriots
On the outskirts of Collinsville, Illinois, in the early hours of April 5, 1918, a small group of men lynched German immigrant Robert Paul Prager. Born in Dresden, Prager had come to America in 1905 looking for opportunity. Traveling through the Midwest, he worked as a skilled union baker, and during World War I he obtained work as a laborer in an area coal mine. Prager’s killers accused him of spying for the German army. They said that he had plotted to blow up the mine where he worked. Some thought he was a dangerous Socialist who had opposed American entry into World War I. Others would later add the charge that Prager was a “white-slaver” trafficking in young women. Although no solid evidence of Prager’s alleged espionage or terrorism or immoral activities surfaced in the weeks following his death, a jury took only forty-five minutes to acquit the accused lynchers. The men who killed Prager, they said, were patriots.
Over the last century, the Prager lynching has served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of war hysteria. The town of Collinsville, then a booming coal mining center, now a bedroom community near St. Louis, has never lived the incident down. It seemed then and now to illustrate the worst of small-town, ignorant, flag-waving, mindless patriotism. But appearances can deceive. The real story behind the Prager lynching can teach a surprisingly inspiring lesson about the capacities of ordinary working people.
Let’s begin with Joseph Riegel, another German-American coal miner and the ringleader of Prager’s lynch mob. Like all Illinois coal diggers, Riegel belonged to District 12 of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Unlike mining districts in West Virginia, Kentucky, and parts of Pennsylvania, Illinois was 100 percent union. Every coal mine in the Land of Lincoln was a union mine. The state’s 90,000 union miners had a reputation for left-wing radicalism. Many voted for Socialist Party candidates and elected miners to local offices. The party’s national secretary was Adolph Germer, a former coal miner from Mt. Olive. But the miners were also politically divided. More conservative miners were represented by Frank Farrington, who served as president of District 12 during the war. While Socialist miners said that America’s war to “make the world safe for democracy” was a scam to make money for American profiteers, Farrington went overboard to boost the American war effort and keep miners on the job.
Rank-and-file miners like Joseph Riegel were caught in the political crossfire. In July 1917, after the US entered the war, the high cost of living spurred a group of Collinsville miners, including Riegel, to go on strike. Mose Johnson, a local UMWA official allied with Farrington, tried to get the miners back to work. He spread the rumor that German spies were behind the strike. He argued with striking miners in the union hall. And when the dispute spilled into the street, Johnson threw Riegel to the ground and sent him to the hospital with a dislocated elbow. The message was clear—if you were loyal to your fellow workers you were disloyal to your country.
But wartime coal mining strikes continued. From April to October 1917, some 25,000 Illinois miners walked off the job. They put their lives at risk every day. Since coal companies were making wartime profits hand over foot, miners figured they were entitled to their fair share. The Wilson Administration was alarmed. The American war economy ran on coal. In collaboration with coal companies and union officials, they pulled out all the stops to get the coal miners back to work. US Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson, himself a former coal miner, told Illinois miners that America was like a union that had declared a “strike against the tyranny of the German government.” By going on strike against American coal operators, the striking miners were the real scabs. They were traitors to the American cause. Rebel workers like Joseph Riegel were under tremendous pressure to prove just how loyal they were.
In early 1918, as American troops began to fight and die in the bloody trenches of Europe, pressure built up at home to silence dissent. George Creel, who headed up President Wilson’s war propaganda agency, promised to “weld” American pro-war sentiment into “one white-hot mass instinct.” Clamor grew for a Sedition Act—passed after Prager’s lynching—that would make opposing the war illegal. In small towns throughout Illinois, local superpatriots accosted suspected “pro-Germans” on the street. They made them kiss the American flag. They made them sing patriotic songs. And in Robert Prager’s case, they went further, stringing him up on a hackberry tree on the edge of town. Joseph Riegel had proved his case—no one could call him a slacker now. He was a true American. The lynching served to keep dissenting voices quiet for the remainder of the war. And Illinois miners stayed on the job.
But as soon as World War I came to a close, a new class war erupted around the country. The Nation magazine called it “the unprecedented revolt of the rank and file.” Illinois miners—including Robert Prager’s former coworkers—participated in a protest strike in support of socialist Tom Mooney, falsely accused of setting a bomb in a patriotic parade. When they were punished for that strike under wartime regulations (still in effect based on a technicality), they rebelled against state UMWA officials and demanded a militant program that emboldened the union to call a national strike in November 1919. Betrayed by both Democrats and Republicans, many miners voted for candidates of the newly-organized Labor Party. They even called for the Wilson Administration to withdraw troops from Soviet Russia, where American troops fought the new Bolshevik revolutionary government. Illinois miners transformed George Creel’s “white-hot mass instinct” into a white-hot class instinct that promoted the collective struggle for a better world.
The men who lynched Robert Prager brought World War I home to Collinsville. Like millions of working people throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, who fought for their respective rulers in the trenches, they killed one of their own. The war dealt a powerful blow to the cause of working-class solidarity. It tore people apart. But the fanatical patriotic sentiment in Collinsville has to be understood in the context of the intense class conflict that rocked the Illinois coalfields during and after the war. In a real sense, Prager’s lynching was a perverse tribute to the impressively high level of labor solidarity that working people had achieved.
The Americans who helped Hitler
Why were so many “great” Americans tarred with a pro-Nazi brush? Henry Ford. Connecticut Banker and Senator, Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of the Bush presidents. Charles Lindbergh. Even the first, albeit short-lived, America First Committee (1940-1941) with its origins at Yale University allowed itself to become infiltrated by dangerous agents of the Third Reich in America.
Granted, at the outset, there was some considerable sympathy for Hitler in Europe and America. The real enemy, Communism, had swept away the Russian Empire, and was making headway in Europe. Spain had gone communist. Fascism was seen as an antidote to the hammer and sickle. But Hitler’s personal interest in infiltrating America, as early as 1925, was purely economic. Germany needed foreign exchange to stay afloat. It was drowning in hyperinflation. A loaf of bread cost a trillion Reichsmarks. Wheelbarrows and muscles were needed to transport the cash to the bakery. Yesterday’s marks became tomorrow’s kites or paper toys for children—that’s how quickly they were devalued. But few Americans recognized that America’s bankers were behind the bankrupt currency. The names Morgan, Bush, Chase, Union Banking Corporation, First National City are just some that spring to mind.
Germany needed foreign exchange more than anything else to get back on its feet. From 1933, Hitler cunningly lassoed other Americans to help him in his task. Where else could he turn for money coupled with an unwillingness to stop his European expansion plan? As a failed artist, art seemed as good a place to start as any. Alfred H. Barr, Founding Director of the Museum of Modern Art, knew he was buying art taken from German museums that Hitler deemed to be “Entartarte” or “degenerate.” Barr befriended one of Hitler’s art dealers, Karl Buchholz, and was a close personal friend of the Hamburg-born art aficionado Curt Valentin from the time Valentin’s feet hit terra firma in 1937 New York. So Hitler got his foreign exchange, initially from looted museum art, later from desperate, mostly Jewish families, and Barr filled his new museum under the guise of “saving modern art.”
Barr was far from alone. American banks, like Chase National, were involved in a scheme to bring dollars to Germany in something called the Rückwanderer Mark Scheme. And why not? They had to do something to stop the rot on their poor Mark investments of the 1920s. Literally meaning “returning home,” the Rückwanderer Mark was designed to allow Germans living in the U.S.A. who wanted to return to Germany—on a temporary or permanent basis—to buy Rückwanderer Marks at an advantageous exchange rate. The Reichsbank allowed any returnees to Germany to exchange half of their dollars at the favorable RM 4.10 rate, even though the real exchange rate was only RM 2.48.
How could a bankrupt country afford such largesse? The surplus was paid from blocked accounts and assets once owned by refugees fleeing Germany, mostly Jews. The refugees lost an additional 25 percent minimum through a mechanism called a “flight tax,” which was often as elastic as a rubber band. The elasticity stemmed from the official practice of restricting refugees to one small suitcase to take with them and valuing any nonmonetary assets for two or three cents (pfennigs) on the Reichsmark. “The German government,” the FBI noted, “thereby netted a profit in dollars of nearly 90 percent.”
American Companies trading Rückwanderers needed to pay wholesalers, among which were a host of companies, including American Express, the Hamburg-Amerika Line, and the Swiss import-export firm Interkommerz in America, run by Henri Guisan, son of the commander-in-chief of the Swiss army. Jean Guisan, a close family relation, got the idea to introduce the seductive American, Florence Lacaze Gould (wife of the youngest son of American robber baron Jay Gould and the subject of my biography), to act as their “clean skin” banker in Monaco and France. The man who vetted Mrs. Gould was August T. Gausebeck, a German national working in New York since 1933. Gausebeck had the backing of the wealthiest supporters of Hitler including Fritz Thyssen, Prescott Bush’s main banking client. Gausebeck’s New York company, Robert C. Mayer & Co., and his German-inspired investment company called the New York Overseas Corporation, were the primary vehicles complicit in the theft of millions from Jews fleeing Germany. They should have received an acknowledgement somewhere for helping Hitler and Göring to build the Luftwaffe.
But have a heart. Uncle Sam did get around to stopping them. In 1943. The Neutrality Act in the United States prohibited loans and gifts to belligerent nations. J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director, was told in October 1939: “Representatives approach investors and indicate to them that Germany will undoubtedly win the war… and that marks will undoubtedly increase many times in value.” Hoover was onto the scam like any mollusk clinging to a juicy rock. What attracted Hoover’s attention was Gausebeck, that German resident alien who was secretly funding the anti-Semitic campaign of Father Charles Coughlin on the radio. Coughlin? Just a minute….
Surely the Canadian-American Catholic priest who took to the airwaves since June 1930 could not have been in direct Nazi pay? Wrong. The National Archives are littered with documents proving that the priest was on the take. And why not? The America he broadcast to in 1930 was bust, just like Germany after 1918. Investors in the stock market were looking at profits down some 45.9 percent in the leading two hundred industrial companies. Steel production was down 60 percent; automobile production a staggering 60 percent. Farmers selling wheat in the autumn of 1930 were getting half of what they had been offered in 1929. Office workers, if they still had jobs, watched the breadlines form and wondered if the lines might not be for banks about to close. (By December, there were 328 banks closing each month.)
So when Father Charles E. Coughlin took to the airwaves on Station WJR Detroit with his richly mellow, reassuring voice, his ingratiating charm just begged his listeners to wrap their arms around and listen to his own brand of “Fireside Chat.” Cloaking his fascist message in words of the times, Father Coughlin had discovered his pulpit. His listeners were, like the Germans in 1918, angry. Really angry at bankers. They feared the Communists more than the Fascists, and like other demagogues, Coughlin built his Church of the Little Flower on the wretchedness of others. By early 1933, it was estimated that Coughlin had an audience of ten million people in the U.S.A, and only a handful of critics. But that December, CBS refused to renew his contract unless his sermons were submitted to censorship prior to his broadcasts. Why?
Incensed Americans—Jews, Protestants, Catholics and others—ran to Father Coughlin’s defense. No one else stood up for America’s poor. They became members of his People’s Lobby, partly-funding his programs on another station, increasing his hook-up from twenty-nine to thirty-five stations. Enter August T. Gausebeck, Göring’s banker in America. If Coughlin took off the gloves and plainly said what he meant, Gausebeck would fund any shortfalls the good father might experience—in five to ten dollar untraceable donations. So Coughlin, freed from tedious financial burdens, spoke out against the C.I.O. and organized labor; against the League of Nations, swaying millions to vote as he saw it. Coughlin threw his considerable weight behind Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in the good father’s opinion, brought about Roosevelt’s first presidential victory. Angered that Roosevelt did not recognize his contribution, he turned on the president-elect. Coughlin publicly called Roosevelt a “liar.” That was his first big mistake.
He also spoke out vociferously against the “money lenders”—meaning Jews—and adopted the platform of a man eager to install the first American Reichstag. Coughlin leaned further to the right, republishing the disreputable forgery The Protocols of Zion in his magazine Social Justice and attacked American unionism as having its headquarters in Moscow. (Much of the commentary in Social Justice regarding Jews was taken verbatim from the speeches of Joseph Goebbels, literally line by line.)
Roosevelt was in the pocket of the “money lenders,” Coughlin endlessly jeered. Cheered at the German-American Bund meeting at Madison Square Garden in 1939, Coughlin and his platoons of Christian Front followers were revealed as nothing more than criminal thugs, out to terrify the neighborhoods they lived in. As hundreds were arrested for their violence and pointed racial hatred, claiming Coughlin as their spiritual father, the radio priest ran hot and cold in reply, depending on his audience.
By the time Pearl Harbor came, Coughlin had three-quarters of the United States clamoring for his scalp and demanding to lock up his lunatic fringe. Like Hitler, his little empire lasted a scant twelve years. The Catholic Church had cut him loose, clearly recognizing Nazi ideals, Nazi methods and the un-Christian message Coughlin preached. Yet his fascist worldview remains a danger today. Preaching hatred is not freedom of expression. It is dangerous, deadly propaganda—intent on destroying our souls through fear. We would all do well to learn the lessons of history, and understand how forces that use our democracy against us work.
The first school shooting was more than 150 years ago — and changed the way courts see the Second Amendment
More than 150 years ago, in Louisville, Kentucky, William Butler was murdered by Matthews F. Ward. It was the first ever school shooting and it was merely 1853.
A Politico Magazine piece recalled Butler, a 28-year-old immigrant teacher from northern states, who moved to found the Louisville School, for the “best” families in town. Matthews Ward was the older brother of a student named William Ward, who was a son of a prominent cotton merchant.
It began when Ward was reportedly eating chestnuts in class. Butler confronted him but Ward denied he was eating in class. Butler called the student a liar and administered corporal punishment, beating him in front of the class.
When Ward’s brother learned of what transpired, he purchased two pistols and went to the school with their other brother, Bob. Matthews confronted the teacher and allegedly called him a “damned scoundrel” and a “coward.” There was a scuffle and during the altercation, Ward pulled his pistol and shot Butler. The boys fled the schoolhouse and students carried Butler to a doctor. Still, he died days later.
Ward was arrested and charged with murder. The trial was a “news sensation,” Politico reported, with headlines all over the country. At the time, the public was shocked and disgusted with violence in schools. They believed it should be a protected place for children to learn. The idea of a student killing his brother’s teacher was unthinkable in societal decorum.
At the time, the American public was growing increasingly frustrated with gun violence. Opposition was growing and the case became an example for activists seeking to regulate guns.
When the Second Amendment was ratified into the Constitution, gun ownership rates were, but the weapons weren’t handguns or automatic weapons or military-style guns. Most owned lighter muskets for hunting or guns used for shooting birds. Some even owned guns they used to fight off animals that attacked crops. Americans considered owning a military-grade weapon to be a burden. Yet, the government wanted white men to purchase the weapons for public defense. At the same time, guns weren’t the weapon of murder. Instead blunt instruments were more effective.
But when the trial began for Ward, times had changed, with small weapons that could be easily concealed, like the pistols Ward had, were becoming more prevalent.
The defense argued that Ward’s confrontation of the teacher had nothing to do with the crime. The only portion that was of concern to Kentucky courts was that he pulled a pistol. Ward’s attorneys argued he had a reasonable fear for his life and thus “deadly force” was justified. The jury acquitted Matthews Ward.
The decision sparked condemnation with abolitionists particularly angry. Gun control activists were horrified by the broad interpretation of the Second Amendment by the court and the jury. Legal critics argued that the interpretation “veered too far from mainstream American constitutional thought, which had always balanced the right of self-defense against other rights, such as the right to enjoy peace,” Politico explained. Under this legal interpretation, Ward’s actions weren’t about the Second Amendment but distorting the law and encouraged anarchy instead of liberty.
Forced sterilization programs in California once harmed thousands – particularly Latinas
In 1942, 18-year-old Iris Lopez, a Mexican-American woman, started working at the Calship Yards in Los Angeles. Working on the home front building Victory Ships not only added to the war effort, but allowed Iris to support her family.
Iris’ participation in the World War II effort made her part of a celebrated time in U.S. history, when economic opportunities opened up for women and youth of color.
However, before joining the shipyards, Iris was entangled in another lesser-known history. At the age of 16, Iris was committed to a California institution and sterilized.
Iris wasn’t alone. In the first half of the 20th century, approximately 60,000 people were sterilized under U.S. eugenics programs. Eugenic laws in 32 states empowered government officials in public health, social work and state institutions to render people they deemed “unfit” infertile.
California led the nation in this effort at social engineering. Between the early 1920s and the 1950s, Iris and approximately 20,000 other people – one-third of the national total – were sterilized in California state institutions for the mentally ill and disabled.
To better understand the nation’s most aggressive eugenic sterilization program, our research team tracked sterilization requests of over 20,000 people. We wanted to know about the role patients’ race played in sterilization decisions. What made young women like Iris a target? How and why was she cast as “unfit”?
Racial biases affected Iris’ life and the lives of thousands of others. Their experiences serve as an important historical backdrop to ongoing issues in the U.S. today.
‘Race science’ and sterilization
Eugenics was seen as a “science” in the early 20th century, and its ideas remained popular into the midcentury. Advocating for the “science of better breeding,” eugenicists endorsed sterilizing people considered unfit to reproduce.
Under California’s eugenic law, first passed in 1909, anyone committed to a state institution could be sterilized. Many of those committed were sent by a court order. Others were committed by family members who wouldn’t or couldn’t care for them. Once a patient was admitted, medical superintendents held the legal power to recommend and authorize the operation.
Eugenics policies were shaped by entrenched hierarchies of race, class, gender and ability. Working-class youth, especially youth of color, were targeted for commitment and sterilization during the peak years.
Eugenic thinking was also used to support racist policies like anti-miscegenation lawsand the Immigration Act of 1924. Anti-Mexican sentiment in particular was spurred by theories that Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans were at a “lower racial level.” Contemporary politicians and state officials often described Mexicans as inherently less intelligent, immoral, “hyperfertile” and criminally inclined.
These stereotypes appeared in reports written by state authorities. Mexicans and their descendants were described as “immigrants of an undesirable type.” If their existence in the U.S. was undesirable, then so was their reproduction.
Targeting Latinos and Latinas
In a study published March 22, we looked at the California program’s disproportionately high impact on the Latino population, primarily women and men from Mexico.
Previous research examined racial bias in California’s sterilization program. But the extent of anti-Latino bias hadn’t been formally quantified. Latinas like Iris were certainly targeted for sterilization, but to what extent?
We used sterilization forms found by historian Alexandra Minna Stern to build a data set on over 20,000 people recommended for sterilization in California between 1919 and 1953. The racial categories used to classify Californians of Mexican origin were in flux during this time period, so we used Spanish surname criteria as a proxy. In 1950, 88 percent of Californians with a Spanish surname were of Mexican descent.
We compared patients recommended for sterilization to the patient population of each institution, which we reconstructed with data from census forms. We then measured sterilization rates between Latino and non-Latino patients, adjusting for age. (Both Latino patients and people recommended for sterilization tended to be younger.)
Latino men were 23 percent more likely to be sterilized than non-Latino men. The difference was even greater among women, with Latinas sterilized at 59 percent higher rates than non-Latinas.
In the first half of the twentieth century, approximately 20,000 people – many of them Latino – were forcibly sterilized in California.
In their records, doctors repeatedly cast young Latino men as biologically prone to crime, while young Latinas like Iris were described as “sex delinquents.” Their sterilizations were described as necessary to protect the state from increased crime, poverty and racial degeneracy.
The legacy of these infringements on reproductive rights is still visible today.
Recent incidents in Tennessee, California and Oklahoma echo this past. In each case, people in contact with the criminal justice system – often people of color – were sterilized under coercive pressure from the state.
Contemporary justifications for this practice rely on core tenets of eugenics. Proponents argued that preventing the reproduction of some will help solve larger social issues like poverty. The doctor who sterilized incarcerated women in California without proper consent stated that doing so would save the state money in future welfare costs for “unwanted children.”
The eugenics era also echoes in the broader cultural and political landscape of the U.S. today. Latina women’s reproduction is repeatedly portrayed as a threat to the nation. Latina immigrants in particular are seen as hyperfertile. Their children are sometimes derogatorily referred to as “anchor babies” and described as a burden on the nation.
This history – and other histories of sterilization abuse of black, Native, Mexican immigrant and Puerto Rican women – inform the modern reproductive justicemovement.
This movement, as defined by the advocacy group SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective is committed to “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
As the fight for contemporary reproductive justice continues, it’s important to acknowledge the wrongs of the past. The nonprofit California Latinas for Reproductive Justice has co-sponsored a forthcoming bill that offers financial redress to living survivors of California’s eugenic sterilization program. “As reproductive justice advocates, we recognize the insidious impact state-sponsored policies have on the dignity and rights of poor women of color who are often stripped of their ability to form the families they want,” CLRJ Executive Director Laura Jiménez said in a statement.
This bill was introduced on Feb. 15 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, along with Assemblymember Monique Limón and Sen. Jim Beall.
If this bill passes, California would follow in the footsteps of North Carolina and Virginia, which began sterilization redress programs in 2013 and 2015.
In the words of Jimenez, “This bill is a step in the right direction in remedying the violence inflicted on these survivors.” In our view, financial compensation will never make up for the violation of survivors’ fundamental human rights. But it’s an opportunity to reaffirm the dignity and self-determination of all people.
U.S. Guilty of More Election Meddling Than Russia, Has Done To Other Countries For Over A Century
With news of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election seizing the spotlight each day, America is now faced with the prospect of being victimized by the same practices it has promoted throughout the world. While Russia is receiving attention for its interference in the internal politics of the United States, Britain and other European nations, Uncle Sam has a long history of disrupting foreign governments, engaging in regime change, deposing elected leaders and even assassinating them.
Comparing the United States and Russia and their respective histories of overt and covert election influence in other countries, the former wins decisively. Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dov H. Levin has created a data set in which he found between 1946 and 2000, the U.S. interfered in foreign elections 81 times, while the Soviet Union and later Russia meddled on 36 occasions. “I’m not in any way justifying what the Russians did in 2016,” Levin told The New York Times. “It was completely wrong of Vladimir Putin to intervene in this way. That said, the methods they used in this election were the digital version of methods used both by the United States and Russia for decades: breaking into party headquarters, recruiting secretaries, placing informants in a party, giving information or disinformation to newspapers.”
Africa and the Caribbean provide ample evidence of a history of U.S. meddling in the elections of other nations. For example, Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was overthrown and assassinated in 1961 by the Belgians, who were reportedly aided and abetted by the CIA. The U.S. also had its own plan, which was not implemented, to assassinate Lumumba by lacing his toothpaste with poison, and otherwise remove him from power through other methods.
In 1966, the CIA was involved in the overthrow of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah by way of a military coup. According to CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell in the book “In Search of Enemies,” the Accra office of the CIA had a “generous budget” and was encouraged by headquarters to maintain close contact with the coup plotters. According to a declassified U.S. government document, “The coup in Ghana is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.” CIA participation in the coup was reportedly undertaken without approval from an interagency group that monitors clandestine CIA operations.
The U.S. Marines were on hand in 1912 to assist the Cuban government in destroying El Partido de Independiente de Color (PIC) or the Independent Party of Color, which was formed by descendants of slaves and became the first 20th century Black political party in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. PIC — which believed in racial pride and equal rights for Black people — engaged in protest after the Cuban government banned the race-based party from participating in elections. In putting down the PIC, the United States invoked the Platt Amendment, which allowed American intervention in Cuban affairs. The military action from U.S. and Cuban forces resulted in the massacre of 6,000 Black people.
The U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic twice — from 1916 until 1924, controlling the government and who became president, and again in 1965, opposing elected president Juan Bosch, supporting a military coup and installing Joaquin Balaguer. President Reagan took advantage of the assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of Grenada and orchestrated its long planned invasion of the Caribbean nation, justifying the invasion on the grounds the regime was anti-American and supported by Cuba.
America is known for a high degree of intervention and coup sponsorship in Haiti, with military occupations and support for brutal dictators, and the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide under both Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush. In 2009, during the Obama administration, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup and forced to fly to a U.S. military base at gunpoint and in his pajamas in an act of American-endorsed regime change. Although there was no evidence the Obama administration was involved in the coup, it did not stop it from taking place. The United States called for new elections rather than declaring a coup had taken place, and contributed to the subsequent deterioration and violence in Honduras. Elsewhere in Latin America, the U.S. was involved in the 1954 overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the democratically elected president of Guatemala, to protect the profits of the United Fruit Company.
In 1953, the CIA, with help from Great Britain, engineered a coup in Iran, overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and installing a puppet regime under the Shah. This, after Mossadegh nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, later known as BP. In 1965, the U.S. Embassy supported the rise to power of Indonesia’s brutal dictator General Suharto, and enabled his massacre of over half a million Indonesians.. Ten years later, the U.S. helped Suharto with political and military support in his invasion of East Timor, which had declared independence from Portugal. The Indonesian occupation killed more than 200,000 Timorese, one third of the population.
With the 2016 presidential election, America now has experienced having another country meddle in its internal affairs — something which the U.S. has perpetrated against other nations for more than a century.
Coard: America's 12 Slaveholding Presidents
In my Freedom’s Journal columns on February 24 and March 3 here in The Philadelphia Tribune, I exposed the lies about President George Washington’s supposed wooden teeth and Thomas Jefferson’s supposed innocently romantic love affair with Sally Hemings.
Washington’s teeth were actually yanked from the mouths of our enslaved ancestors and Jefferson actually raped Sally repeatedly while she was just a child.
In response to both columns, white racists went certifiably crazy (I mean crazier) and denied and yelled and screamed and hollered and insulted. They also trolled on social media. Unfortunately for them, they’re gonna need a straight-jacket after reading this.
This week’s topic is about the twelve United States presidents who enslaved Black men, women, boys, and girls. And before you crazy racists start talking nonsense about those so-called “great” patriots simply being “men of their times,” you need to know that the anti-slavery movement amongst good white folks began in the 1730s and spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies as a result of the abolitionist activities during the First Great Awakening, which was early America’s Christian revival movement. Furthermore, the anti-slavery gospel of the Second Great Awakening was all over the nation from around 1790 through the 1850s.
America is and always has been a Christian country, right? Therefore, if the Christian revivalists weren’t men (and women) of that slaveholding time, why weren’t those twelve presidents who led this Christian country?
Beyond the religious abolitionist movement, the secular abolitionist movement was in full effect in the 1830s, thanks to the likes of the great newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison. Presidents knew how to read, right?
By the way, John Adams, the second president (from 1797-1801) and his son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president (from 1825-1829), never enslaved anybody. And they certainly were men of their times. Maybe they knew slavery was, is, and forever will be evil and inhumane.
Here are the evil and inhumane 12 slaveholding presidents listed from bad to worse to worst:
12. Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, enslaved 1 but not during his presidency. By the way, that 1 escaped.
11. Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president, enslaved 5 but not during his presidency. In office from 1869-1877, he was the last slaveholding president.
10. Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president, enslaved 8 but not during his presidency. However, when he was Military Governor of Tennessee, he persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to remove that state from those subject to “Honest Abe’s” Emancipation Proclamation.
9. William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, enslaved 11 but not during his presidency. However, as Governor of the Indiana Territory, he petitioned Congress to make slavery legal there. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful.
8. James K. Polk, the eleventh president, enslaved 25 and held many of them during his presidency. He also stole much of Mexico from the Mexicans during the 1846-1848 war in which those Brown people were robbed of California and almost all of today’s Southwest.
7. John Tyler, the tenth president, enslaved 70 and held many of them during his presidency. He was a states’ rights bigot and a jingoist flag-waver who robbed Mexico of Texas in 1845.
6. James Monroe, the fifth president, enslaved 75 and held many of them during his presidency. He hated Blacks so much that he wanted them sent back to Africa. That’s why he supported the racist American Colonization Society, robbed West Africans of a large piece of coastal land in 1821, and created a colony that later became Liberia. The Liberian state of Monrovia is named after that racist thug.
5. James Madison, the fourth president, enslaved approximately 100-125 and did so during his presidency. He’s the very same guy who proposed the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Clause.
4. Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president, enslaved approximately 150 and held many of them during his presidency. During his run for president in 1849, he campaigned on and bragged about his wholesale slaughter of Brown people when he was a Major General in the Mexican-American War. And white folks in America elected him.
3. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, enslaved 150-200 and held many of them during his presidency. By the way, Jackson, nicknamed “Indian Killer”- whom fake President Donald Trump describes as his all-time favorite- wasn’t just a brutal slaveholder. He was also a genocidal monster who was responsible for the slaughter of approximately 30,000-50,000 Red men, women, and children. Moreover, he signed the horrific Indian Removal Act of 1830 that robbed the indigenous people of 25 million acres of fertile land and doomed them and their descendants to reservation ghettos.
2. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, enslaved 267 and held many of them during his presidency. For more info about this child rapist, read my March 3 column
1. George Washington, the first president, enslaved 316 and held many of them during his presidency. For more info about the man whose teeth were “yanked from the heads of his slaves,” read my February 24 column.
Using Ink and Urine, He Secretly Recorded the Nazis' Horrors