News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
News: Hate found home in military
One significant source of recruits to the racial hatred movement is an ironic one. The U.S. military has chronic problems with service members who are members of groups such as the Aryan Nations, Skinheads and Ku Klux Klan. Some are veteran members of hate groups before they join the service. Others are recruited by fellow service members. The irony, of course, is that persons who are members of both the military and a hate group are living a contradiction. They claim to be dedicated to providing manpower for the protection of the American citizenry. But, they hate and would like to eliminate much of that same American citizenry.
TJ Leyden, a long-term enlisted man and former Skinhead, is now an advocate against racism. He maintains a website to communicate his message and speaks with college students about the undercurrent of hatred that pervades American society. A student at the University of North Carolina recently interviewed him.
Leyden told students about the grooming process hate groups use to recruit. You will notice it resembles the process used by sexual predators. He would observe youths and identify "the lonely white kid." Suddenly, someone would take an interest in the isolated child. His new friends would have a use for him -- as a fellow proponent of hate. According to Leyden, the opposite approach was also useful. Popular white youths would be recruited. After their engagement was confirmed, they would be asked to bring friends into the movement. He says he spent the greater part of his years in the military as a recruiter, but not for the service.
The past-times of Skinheads include learning about national socialism, their ideology, getting tattoos that reflect membership in the movement and seeking out nonwhite Americans to insult or commit crimes against. The teenagers and servicemen recruited are diverted from more normal interests to focus their attention on their activities as racists.
Leyden says fatherhood led him to question his support of racism.
Like many bigots, Leyden had led a double life. He pretended to be respectable in settings where his racism needed to be hidden, but was a true believer in white supremacy behind the facade. Leyden spent 15 of his 21 years as a very active racist as a member of the U.S. Marines. He gradually moved away from his allegiance to the racist movement. But, not without a price. His former friends have threatened to kill him. And, having trained with them in the military, he knows they know how.
~ Visit TJ Leyden's website, StrHATETalk.
~ Read Campus Speak's biography.
~ One of the most infamous crimes by members of the U.S. military, who were also members of a hate group, occurred nine years ago at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The scandal led to one of the Army's periodic efforts to cleanse itself of hate group members. Read more about it here.posted by J. | 11:16 PM
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Law: Challengers violate Voting Rights Act
I don't know the outcome of the presidential contest as I write this. But, I do know a matter has been raised that should not fade away whatever the result. That matter is permitting partisan challengers to confront voters and claim they should not be able to vote because of age, identity or residency. The practice violates the intent of the Voting Rights Act, which is that barriers not be erected to prevent people previously excluded from the electorate, racial minorities, from voting. The Republicans' practice of having thousands of challengers descend on polling places in African-American communities came under national scrutiny during this election.
The Columbus Star reports.
In their rulings, the lower courts identified using partisan poll challengers as a method of intimidation. The roots of that approach to preventing minority voting date back to Reconstruction. As conservative white Southerners convinced the federal government to look away, they mounted a campaign of violence to prevent the freedmen from voting, a practice still new to the former slaves. Within a few years, virtually all African-Americans were removed from electoral rolls. That was the status quo until after the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 -- not yet forty years ago. The GOP's Southern Strategy is partly a reaction to the VRA. The Republicans wooed white Southerners opposed to desegregation and particularly incensed that blacks would be allowed to vote. That resentment is still revealed today in the use of poll challengers. If the GOP were really concerned about voter fraud, their challenges would not be almost exclusively in minority neighborhoods. Nor are their allegations of massive voter fraud by minority voters legitimate. The most fraudulent elections in America were the result of machine politics, from which blacks and Hispanics were often excluded.
We have a very conservative Supreme Court. One of its jurists, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, (pictured) began his political career as a Republican challenger of black and Hispanic voters in Arizona. Some people who were there say he sometimes had to be physically removed from polling places to keep him from bullying voters. Still, I believe it is time for SCOTUS to consider state laws that allow partisan challengers to confront voters. If the Voting Rights Act is to have any meaning, it must be enforced. It cannot be enforced adequately as long as this practice is allowed.posted by J. | 10:50 PM
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Politics: Keyes girds himself against 'evil'
I am not following the Alan Keyes versus Barack Obama battle royale because there is any doubt about the outcome. Unless the Democrat buggers the bursar in Times Square at noon on Monday, he will win the race for the senatorial seat in Illinois hands down. It holds my interest because of the unendearing oddity of Keyes. As the campaign of the interloper from Maryland heads to its inexorable conclusion, the candidate continues to describe his opponent as the embodiment of evil.
The Chicago Tribune has the story.
Alan Keyes has no business being in Illinois. Not only is not really a resident, he has focused little attention on issues of importance to the state. Instead, his campaign is a lackluster effort to raise the profile of the anti-abortion movement nationally. Keyes suffered a blow in regard to his second big issue, also national, last month. He strongly opposes homosexuality and has described gays as hedonists. Meanwhile, his daughter, Maya, may be a lesbian. As the Chicago Reader reports, that possibility became known after snoops online traced a blog written by a gay woman with a Right Wing politician for a father to her. Ms. Keyes has been silent during the last month. But, people aware of the situation are bound to see the irony.
Keyes use of the word 'evil' to describe Obama attempts to convert a disagreement about issues of public policy into a conclusion about the morality of the person holding them. Perhaps the ploy will work with far Right voters, who are often Christian fundamentalists. But, I suspect it will further alienate voters who do not share his extremely conservative views.
Does the Maya Keyes affair matter? A Chicagoan says yes.posted by J. | 10:00 AM