All posts by amwoods

So You Think There Is A Conspiracy…

Mob storming U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (image courtesy of The Guardian).

Today saw thousands of the president’s supporters violently storm the U.S. Capitol Building, vandalizing and looting the building. They did this after the president appeared at their rally and urged them to march on the Capitol to protest the election being “stolen” from him. Clearly, a lot of people believe these election fraud lies. If you believe there was a conspiracy to steal the election from the president, here are the things that you must believe.

  1.  That there is evidence to support the allegations of election fraud, something which EVERY court to consider the issue has found to be false.  EVERY judge who has ruled on one of the administration’s 60+ lawsuits, including many judges appointed by this president, has found there to be no actual evidence of election fraud.  In fact, the administration’s lawyers often did not even allege fraud in the cases they filed because they knew they could not prove it.  Besides the trial court judges, every appellate court and the Supreme Court, again containing many judges appointed by this president, also ruled against the president’s spurious election fraud claims.  So in your conspiracy belief, all judges, including Republican-appointed judges, must be in on it.
  2. That the people conducting the initial counts and recounts in each of the swing states were cheating to favor Biden.  This would include the elections in states being run by Republicans like Arizona and Georgia.  The Republican election director in Georgia has made a point-by-point denunciation of the election fraud claims in his state.  So in your conspiracy belief, Republican state officials must be in on it.
  3. That the FBI/Justice Department investigation of the election was whitewashed to favor Biden.  William Barr, this administration’s own Attorney General, publicly declared that his department’s investigation found no widespread voter fraud.  Barr has been one of this president’s most willing supporters, but even he could not ignore the lack of evidence of fraud.  So in your conspiracy belief, the administration’s own attorney general must be in on it.
  4. That the administration’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ignored evidence of election fraud.  This agency took extraordinary measures to make sure the 2020 election was secure.  Afterwards it declared that these efforts had resulted in the most secure election in this nation’s history.  Because this contradicted the administration’s election fraud claims, the head of this agency was fired.  So in your conspiracy belief, the administration’s own election security experts must be in on it.
  5. That top Republican officials in Congress who have accepted the results of this election are looking to rid the party of this president.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has publicly stated that Biden won the election.  Mitt Romney, Utah Senator and former Republican candidate for president, has accepted the results of this election.  Numerous other Republican members of Congress have stated that the people have spoken and congratulated Biden.  So in your conspiracy belief, many Republican members of Congress must be in on it.
  6. That every living, former Secretary of Defense, including Republicans like Dick Cheney, Mark Esper, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, and Robert Gates, all declaring that the election is over wanted to get rid of this president.  This group of people all ran the Defense Department, effectively running this country’s military.  So in your conspiracy belief, every living person who previously headed the Department of Defense, Republicans who ran the military are in on it.
  7. That Mike Pence’s refusal to deny electors from disputed states while certifying the vote today was intended to begin distancing himself from this president.  Even before today’s Congressional count of electors, Pence released a statement stating that he would follow the Constitution and accept the certified electoral vote of each state.  This came despite several recent demands from the president that the Pence do what is necessary to throw the electoral vote to him.  So in your conspiracy belief, Vice President Pence must be in on it.

What is more likely?  That all these Republican judges, state officials, Congress members, Attorney General, election security chief, former Defense Department chiefs, and Vice President were all part of a conspiracy to ensure that Biden won the election or that maybe, just maybe, Biden actually won the election?  That was a rhetorical question in case you were actually considering which was more likely.

So why do so many nonetheless believe in such a spurious conspiracy theory?  In a word, racism.  Don’t believe me?  This happened today in the U.S. Capitol.

Man carrying confederate flag in U.S. Capitol Building after domestic terrorists stormed and occupied the building on January 6, 2021 (image courtesy of Slate Magazine)

Think about all the racist hypocrisy that has occurred over the last four years.  Black Lives Matters protestors march and the president and his supporters attack them as violent agitators even though, by and large, violence at their rallies was caused by white instigators.  Meanwhile, white supremacists caused violence and mayhem in Charlottesville, Virginia and the president says there were very fine people on both sides.  During the presidential debates, the president was asked to denounce white supremacists like the Proud Boys.  Instead he told them to “stand back and stand by.”

Think about Kyle Rittenhouse.  During the Kenosha, Wisconsin protests over another cop killing of a black man, the 17-year-old Rittenhouse traveled from Illinois to Wisconsin, with a semi-automatic rifle that he was too young to legally own, to “protect” Kenosha businesses from marchers protesting in the wake of Jacob Blake’s death.  He ended up killing two people and injuring a third.  The president’s supporters have praised Rittenhouse’s actions and raised millions of dollars for his legal defense.  Let me take a page from the movie, “A Time To Kill.”  Imagine if you will that African-American supporters of Biden showed up today armed and ready to protect the U.S. Capitol from the violent mobs and killed several people marching upon the Capitol?  Would you feel the same about these hypothetical black shooters as you do about Rittenhouse?  Would you raise money for the legal defense of these hypothetical black shooters because they were defending property from violent protestors?

Think about how the president responded during Black Lives Matters protests in Portland, Oregon.  Don’t remember?  Here’s the tweet:

President’s tweet about Portland protestors.

That tweet was in response to vandalism of Portland’s federal building during the protests.  Today, the president, after earlier urging people to march on the Capitol, tepidly told the mob who stormed the building to go home because peace was needed.  He also called the violent mob “very special” people.  The president made no threats to prosecute these people who vandalized and damaged the Capitol.  The only difference between the people who may have damaged a federal building in Portland and the people who may have damaged a federal building in Washington, D.C. is the color of the skin of many of them.

The president has a long history of racism.  This dates back to the U.S. Dept. of Justice suing Trump in the 1970’s for housing discrimination that was settled by Trump having to take specific actions to show they would accept black applicants for rentals.  This racism continued through Trump seeking the execution of the Central Park Five, African-American and Hispanic youths accused of a rape, and continuing to insist upon their guilt even after they were completely exonerated.  During his campaign and presidency, the president has called Mexicans “rapists and murderers,” African countries “shithole countries,” and people seeking to immigrate into the U.S. to escape oppression in their countries “animals.”  White supremacists openly support the president and he refuses to denounce them.

If you support this president, do you do so in spite of this racism or because of this racism?  I don’t speak for all liberals, but if a liberal politician made such such openly racist statements, that would be a deal-breaker for me.  I don’t care how much I supported such a politician’s policies.  If they were racist, I could not support them.  All people, regardless of political affiliation, should feel the same.  So if you think you support this president and his conspiracy theories despite of his clear racism, perhaps it is not in spite of, but because of his racism.

How To Be And Not To Be Part Of The Solution

By now you’ve probably heard that two country music superstar bands have altered their band names in order to excise a part of their names that honored the Confederacy. In each case, the bands had been using the offensive name for a long time and only now, in this time of social justice awakening, have they come to realize that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. How the two bands have handled this change gives insight into their real intentions though.

First we have the Dixie Chicks. They have been releasing music under that name for 30 years. Dixie, however, is a word that refers to the states that seceded from the union to form the Confederacy. One may wonder why a band made up of three women with clear liberal leanings–remember the controversy over their anti-Iraq war stance in 2003–would include a word that connotes a pro-slavery stance in their band name.  There was probably some pandering in that initial decision.  Country music’s base is in the deep South.  So honoring that base by calling themselves the Dixie Chicks may have seemed like a solid financial decision at the beginning and, more than likely, it probably never occurred to them that some might find the name offensive.

Nonetheless, it took the Dixie Chicks far too long to “get woke.”  It took the numerous protests after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman which spread to protests against Confederate monuments before they got a clue that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a good look to have Dixie in their name.  However, once the Dixie Chicks “woke” up, they completely dropped the offending word from their name, changing the band name to simply, The Chicks.  Then they went a step further and released a new song called March March (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwBjF_VVFvE) that unquestioningly showed their support for the Black Lives Matters and other social justice movements.  So not only have they finally changed their name to remove a pro-Confederacy word, but they have reconfirmed their support for social justice causes at the risk of incurring the wrath of some of their fan base.  That is how you become part of the solution.

Then we have the case of Lady Antebellum.  They have released eight albums, two EPs, two box sets, and a Christmas album under that name since 2008.  Antebellum is a word that means the pre-Civil War South, i.e., the South in the time of slavery.  Again, one wonders why a band would choose a name that seems to glorify the pro-slavery South, but we will also chalk this up to ignorance and pandering to the Southern country music base.

Unlike The Chicks though, Lady Antebellum did not completely remove the offending word.  Instead, they shortened it to the abbreviation “A,” now calling themselves Lady A.  Doing so does not fix the problem because everyone knows what the A stands for.  Basically, Lady Antebellum is trying to look woke without taking the risk of losing some fans in doing so.  They want to avoid bad publicity arising out of their pro-slavery name while showing their actual pro-slavery fans, *nudge, nudge, wink wink*, that nothing has really changed.  Those fans know that the A still means Antebellum.

Further, apparently Lady Antebellum copyrighted the name Lady A ten years ago, just a few years after their debut album.  Why would they copyright a name that they didn’t use and, in fact, would not use for another decade?  It’s almost as if they knew how offensive their band name was and wanted to have a back-up name ready to use if things got so bad they had to change their name.  Obviously I don’t know why Lady Antebellum cynically copyrighted a name that they didn’t use, but it does not look good that they did.

What’s worse is that, in changing their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A and in copyrighting the name Lady A so long ago, the band didn’t check to see if the name was already taken.  Up in the state of Washington, Anita White had been performing under the name Lady A for better than 30 years, first as part of a Motown group called Lady A & the Baby Blues Funk Band for 18 years, then as a solo artist under the name Lady A.  She has released four solo albums under that name since 2010 with a live album scheduled for release this year.  Anita White has built a brand around being Lady A for a long time.

After Lady Antebellum announced their name change to Lady A, music streaming services immediately began reflecting the new name.  For the original Lady A, however, this meant her fans could no longer find her music on the streaming services as the new Lady A topped out the music searches.  This led White to call out Lady Antebellum for usurping her name.  While Lady Antebellum was apologetic, they nonetheless insisted on keeping the name in settlement discussions with White, although they were willing to allow White to continue to use the name as well.  This was understandably a problem for White.  Why would she want to share a name that she had spent the better part of her adult life using and building her brand around?

When the settlement discussions inevitably broke down–there was no real way for two different artists to share a name–what Lady Antebellum did next was particularly loathsome.  They filed suit against White asking a court for a declaration that they be allowed to use the Lady A name.  Although they are not asking the court to prevent White from using the Lady A name, if they win, White’s career as Lady A will be effectively over.  There is no way she can compete with Nashville superstars, whose music will dominate the Lady A name on music streaming services.

In sum, Lady Antebellum has belatedly realized that their name is offensive to African-Americans.  So they have changed their name to a name that doesn’t completely erase its offensiveness and has stolen their new name from a long-time black blues singer.  Then, instead of apologizing about the name conflict and choosing something else, they take the original Lady A to court to legalize their name theft.  To put it more succinctly, they had a name that memorialized the theft of African-American labor and now seek to steal the labor of an African-American woman.  This is how not to be part of the solution.

This Is Not My Fight

This is not my fight. I have seen persons of color murdered by police in communities across America, but that has not happened in my community.

This is not my fight. I have seen discrimination against persons of color in businesses across America, but that has not happened at my business.

This is not my fight. I have seen white people call the police on persons of color for non-criminal activity, but I have never weaponized the authorities against persons of color.

This is not my fight. I have seen white people openly espouse that the white race is superior to other races, but they are not my friends and neighbors.

This is not my fight. I have seen police officers fail to take action again openly armed and hostile white protesters while attacking peaceful protesters of color, but that is not my police department.

This is not my fight. I have seen persons of color convicted of crimes they did not commit and sentenced to long sentence and even death because of inadequate legal counsel, but I have never failed to properly defend a person of color.

This is not my fight. I have seen judges sentence persons of color to longer sentences than white criminals who commit the same crimes, but that does not happen in my court.

This is not my fight. I have seen landlords fail to rent to persons of color, but I have tenants who are persons of color.

This is not my fight. I have seen rules written so as to exclude persons of color, but my rules don’t do that.

This is not my fight. I have seen hospitals provide better health care to rich white people than to poorer persons of color, but that does not happen at my hospital.

This is not my fight. I have seen schools that have a majority person of color population receive far less funding than white schools in the same community, but that does not happen at my school.

This is not my fight. I have seen employers promote less qualified white employees over more qualified employees of color, but that does not happen at my company.

This is not my fight. I have seen athletes of color lose their livelihood because they participated in peaceful protests, but that has not happened on my team.

This is not my fight. I have seen white politicians gerrymander legislative districts to devalue the vote of persons of color, but that has not happened in my district.

This is not my fight. I have seen our president openly support Nazis and white supremicists, but I did not vote for him.

This is not my fight. And that is why I must fight.