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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Trading Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day: For some, an overdue change

Image: Dancers from the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory pray before an Indigenous People's Day Celebration in Hollywood on Oct. 8, 2017.



"When Grand Forks, North Dakota, replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in July, Courtney Davis Souvannasacd brought her son, Benjamin, with her to the city council chambers to watch the vote.

“It’s not something you typically bring a 12 year-old kid to," Souvannasacd, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, told NBC News. “It’s kind of dry.”
The council voted in favor of the resolution unanimously, and the Grand Forks Herald said the switch happened “almost anticlimactically.” But for Souvannasacd, who was one of the many Native people in the city advocating for the change, it was an emotional day.
Benjamin had been born on Columbus Day 12 years earlier. Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, she said, felt like the start of a long overdue recognition of the indigenous people who lived in the U.S. for thousands of years before Europeans like Columbus sailed across the Atlantic.
“My son was so elated,” Souvannasacd said. “I will never forget the feeling.”
Around the country, cities and states have slowly been moving to declare the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, meant to honor the people indigenous to the land that is now North America. And advocates for Indigenous Peoples' Day want to make clear that Christopher Columbus wasn’t just an “explorer” — he was the beginning of an era of decimation.
“Celebrating Columbus Day continues a dangerous narrative that erases Native American voices and minimizes the federal government’s attempt at genocide and forced assimilation,” Congresswoman Deb Haaland, D-N.M., one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress last fall, said in a statement to NBC News.
Haaland’s home state of New Mexico will be celebrating its inaugural statewide Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, as will VermontMaineLouisiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Columbus Day remains a federal holiday, but over 100 cities, towns and college campuses have made the switch.
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day is about acknowledging indigenous peoples’ complex history in this country and celebrating the culture, heritage, and strength of native communities everywhere,” Haaland said.
Rich Holschuh, one of many people in Vermont who fought to get the day formally recognized, agrees. For Holschuh, who is of mixed Native ancestry, and the other Vermont organizers, formally recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is one of many ways to grapple with the country’s past and present treatment of Native people
“Civic holidays are occasions for a society to come together, to recognize and observe our common values,” Holschuh said. “Columbus is not to be celebrated.”
Vermont only recognized the Abenaki people as the primary indigenous group of the state about a decade ago, Holschuh said, adding, “The conventional narrative here is that there have been no indigenous people.” The day, then, works to fight back against that dominant narrative, educating the public and working to tell a more accurate history of the state.
But the fight to get Indigenous Peoples Day on the calendar has not come without resistance.
Chief among the opposition to the switch have been certain Italian-American groups. Although Columbus sailed for the Spanish, his Italian heritage is a point of pride for some, and advocates for Columbus Day think Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes away a day to celebrate Italian culture.
In Maine, Native activists who have long wanted to make the switch seized on the election of a democratic governor in 2018 to push Indigenous Peoples’ Day forward.
“It was a top down leadership issue,” Maulian Dana, the tribal ambassador of the Penobscot Nation, told NBC News. Maine’s former governor, Paul LePage, a Republican with a contentious relationship with the state’s indigenous people, was not going to change the calendar, Dana and others believed. “It was tried before and the bill didn’t make it through the committee.”
Under Governor Janet Mills, Dana and other Native activists were able to propel legislation to the Governor’s desk, who signed the bill in April.
But just last week, Mayor Nicholas Isgro of Waterville, Maine, said his town would be celebrating Columbus Day instead. On Monday, despite her packed schedule of celebrations, Dana will be headed to Waterville for a rally against the mayor’s proclamation.
Dana said she’s seen a good deal of “ugliness” in Maine and “resistance to change.”
“I’ve been called some horrible things and had some racist threats hurled⁠ — a lot of the things we face are the rippling effects of colonization,” she said.
For Dana, the Waterville mayor’s resistance shows why recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day shouldn’t be thought of as a symbolic move.
“For tribal and indigenous people it’s harmful to have the state celebrating a day that celebrates our demise,” she said. “The bill sends a great message. Now it’s time to walk the walk and show indigenous people that we are all valued.”
“We are never asking for anything extra, just asserting our rights.”
Trading Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day: For some, an overdue change

Hugh Masekela - Colonial Man

Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples' Day? : NPR





"On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.



Baley Champagne is responsible for that change in her home state of Louisiana. The tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation petitioned the governor, John Bel Edwards, to change the day. He did, along with several other states this year.



"It's become a trend," Champagne said. "It's about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples' Day, we're bringing awareness that we're not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America."



Columbus, Ohio, Is Not Observing Columbus Day This Year

NATIONAL

Columbus, Ohio, Is Not Observing Columbus Day This Year

And so in Houma, La., people from across the state will gather to honor and celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day for the first time.



She wants it to be "a celebration and to bring acknowledgment to the Native population," Champagne said. "You know, because we have many friends of all different races in this area and Houma is named after the Houma people, the Houma Choctaw. So to bring this, I think it's long overdue. It's a big celebration. And we're just so excited to have this finally."



There's no comprehensive list of places that have switched, but at least 10 states now celebrate some version of Indigenous Peoples' Day on the second Monday in October, like Hawaii's Discoverers' Day or South Dakota's Native Americans' Day. Many college campuses have dumped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples' Day as have more than 100 cities, towns and counties across the country.



For Native Americans, Columbus Day has long been hurtful. It conjures the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here — a history whose ramifications and wounds still run deep today.



Sandusky, Ohio, Makes Election Day A Paid Holiday — By Swapping Out Columbus Day

NATIONAL

Sandusky, Ohio, Makes Election Day A Paid Holiday — By Swapping Out Columbus Day

"Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and is credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent," said Shannon Speed, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center. "Which included pillaging, raping and generally setting in motion a genocide of the people who were already here. That's not something we want to celebrate. That's not something anyone wants to celebrate."



The shift isn't happening without some pushback. For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day is their day to celebrate Italian heritage and the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States. It was adopted at a time when Italians were vilified and faced religious and ethnic discrimination. The first commemoration came in 1892, a year after a mass lynching of 11 Italian Americans by a mob in New Orleans. Italian Americans latched onto the day as a way to mainstream and humanize themselves in the face of rampant discrimination. It became a national holiday in 1934 to honor a man who, ironically, never set foot in the United States. Columbus anchored in the Bahamas.



For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day isn't just about the man but about what the day represents: a people searching for safety and acceptance in their new home.



For many Italian Americans, Columbus Day is about celebrating Italian heritage and the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States. Above, the Christopher Columbus statue at Manhattan's Columbus Circle in New York.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

In 2017, after someone vandalized the Christopher Columbus statue in New York City's Central Park, the then-president and chief operating officer of the National Italian American Foundation, John M. Viola, wrote in a New York Times editorial, "The 'tearing down of history' does not change that history. In the wake of the cultural conflict that has ripped us apart over these months, I wonder if we as a country can't find better ways to utilize our history to eradicate racism instead of inciting it. Can't the monuments and holidays born of our past be reimagined to represent new values for our future?"



He went on to write, "We believe Christopher Columbus represents the values of discovery and risk that are at the heart of the American dream, and that it is our job as the community most closely associated with his legacy to be at the forefront of a sensitive and engaging path forward, toward a solution that considers all sides."



Speed says she recognizes the importance of celebrating the history and contributions of Italian Americans, but there has to be another way to honor them.



"There are a lot of Italian Americans who very much support the shift to Indigenous Peoples' Day because they don't want to feel themselves associated with a man who is known to have committed terrible crimes against humanity," she said. "Italian Americans were greatly discriminated against in this country, and it's incredibly important to have a day to celebrate that heritage. It just shouldn't be around the figure of Columbus."



Celebrating Columbus, she said, not only whitewashes a violent history but also discounts the further trauma that honoring him inflicts on Indigenous people.





Rally participants listen to an address by Frank Bear Killer of the Oglala Lakota tribe outside the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., in 2016 to mark Lincoln's first Indigenous Peoples' Day. At least 10 states now celebrate some version of Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Nati Harnik/AP

"Indigenous children are going to school and being forced to hear about and celebrate the person who set in motion the genocide of their people," Speed said. "That's incredibly painful. It creates an ongoing harm. And so we can't have a national holiday that creates an ongoing harm for a significant portion of our citizens."



For Native Americans, that pain is the first thing they feel when they hear "Columbus Day," Speed said. But when a group of Berkeley, Calif., residents asked the city to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day in 1992, then-Mayor Loni Hancock said it was the first time she'd really understood the negative impact of this holiday on Indigenous people.



"We had to think about what is this holiday about and who discovered America and how really profoundly disrespectful it was to say that a European explorer who never actually set foot on the continent did that," Hancock said. "Discounting the Indigenous people who had lived here for centuries with very sophisticated cultures and pretty much in harmony with the earth."



Words You'll Hear: Indigenous Peoples Day



Indigenous peoples first proposed the day during a 1977 United Nations conference on discrimination against them. But it wasn't until 1989 that South Dakota became the first state to switch Columbus Day to Native Americans' Day, celebrating it for the first time in 1990. And then Berkeley became the first U.S. city to switch to Indigenous Peoples' Day. The Pew Research Center says Columbus Day is the most inconsistently observed national holiday in the United States.



"Certainly the hundreds and thousands of Italian immigrants who came over in steerage class on the boats at the turn of the 19th century endured a lot of hardships to get here," Hancock said. "But the discovery of America is something where you want to get your history right. And I think that to fully understand and take responsibility for who we are as a people in this land made it very important to be clear about who was here first and reflect on what happened in our history after that, in terms of the displacement and oftentimes genocide of those people. How that might have reflected a general discounting of the history and the humanity of nonwhite people of many kinds in this country and to take responsibility for our history."



Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples' Day? : NPR

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Columbus Day - How Is This Still A Thing: Last Week Tonight with John Ol...

Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

Donald Trump exits after speaking at a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday.



"The most xenophobic and isolationist American president in modern history has been selling America to foreign powers for his own personal benefit.



Trump withdrew American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving our Kurdish allies to be slaughtered and opening the way for a resurgent Islamic State. Trump’s rationale? He promised to bring our soldiers home.



There could be another reason. Trump never divested from his real estate business, and the Trump Towers Istanbul is the Trump Organization’s first and only office and residential building in Europe. Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Which may be why Trump has repeatedly sided with the Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been intent on eliminating the Kurds.



Back home, Trump has separated families at the border, locked migrant children in cages and tried to ban Muslims from entering the country. He says he wants to protect America’s borders.



Under Trump, thuggery has replaced diplomacy

But guarding America’s geographic borders isn’t nearly as important as guarding the integrity of American democracy, which Trump has repeatedly compromised for personal political gain. He did this on 25 July when he asked the president of Ukraine to do him a personal “favor” by digging up dirt on Joe Biden, his most likely 2020 opponent.



Trump justifies his trade war with China as protecting America from Chinese predation. But he asked China to start an investigation of Biden, and last week his adviser on China conceded he spoke with Chinese officials about the former vice-president.



During the 2016 election, Trump publicly called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. Within hours, Russian agents sought to do just that by trying to break into her computer servers.



Special counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia sought to help Trump get elected, and Trump’s campaign welcomed the help.



Now Trump is playing at being a double foreign agent – pushing the prime minister of Australia, among others, to gather information to discredit Mueller.



Rudy Giuliani is Trump’s international thug, arranging deals with foreign powers. On Wednesday, two of Giuliani’s business associates were arrested in connection with a criminal scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for office, including donations to a Super Pac formed to support Trump.



Under Trump, thuggery has replaced diplomacy. On Friday, in an opening statement for congressional impeachment investigators, Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, said people associated with Giuliani “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine”.



You don’t have to be an originalist to see the dangers when a president seeks personal favors from foreign governments

Meanwhile, even as Trump spews conspiracy theories about the Biden family, his own children are openly profiting from foreign deals. Eric and Don Jr have projects in the works in Ireland, India, Indonesia, Uruguay, Turkey and the Philippines.



Trump is pocketing money from foreign governments eager to curry favor by staying at his hotels. The practice has become so routine that during Trump’s 25 July phone call, the Ukrainian president assured him that the “last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower”.



According to a former Trump Organization official, foreign governments spent more than a million dollars at Trump businesses in 2018, mostly at the Trump International hotel in Washington. Trump will make even more money if he carries out his plan to host next year’s G7 meeting at his Doral golf resort, in Florida.



All of this is precisely what the founding fathers sought to prevent.



When they gathered in Philadelphia 232 years ago to write a constitution, a major goal was to protect the new nation from what Alexander Hamilton called the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”.



To ensure no president would “betray his trust to foreign powers”, as James Madison put it, they included an emoluments clause – barring a president from accepting foreign payments.



They also gave Congress the right to impeach a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. During the Virginia ratifying convention, Edmund Randolph confirmed that a president “may be impeached” if discovered “receiving [help] from foreign powers”.



You don’t have to be an originalist to see the dangers to democracy when a president seeks or receives personal favors from foreign governments. There is no limit to how far a foreign power might go to help a president enlarge his political power and wealth, in exchange for selling out America.



Donald Trump is a xenophobe in public and international mobster in private. He has brazenly sought private gain from foreign governments at the expense of the American people.



This is shameful and criminal. At the very least, it is impeachable.



Robert Reich, a former US secretary."



Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

Giuliani and Trump: Bound by Corruption From the Beginning? | The Nation





"It is a musty notion from a bygone era, but once upon a time the idea that Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump could be a tag team in search of political dirt on common enemies was as foreign as the Ukrainian soil they now till.



In the New York of the 1980s, when both rose to prominence, they were at opposite poles of the civic landscape.



One was a swaggering crime-buster taking down Mafia bosses, Wall Street predators, and corrupt politicians. The other was a rules-bending real estate tycoon, a shiny emblem of the age of Greed Is Good, bent on success at any cost.



Yet both reveled in public brazenness. Giuliani walked stockbrokers off the trading floor in handcuffs. Trump ripped down precious landmarks to make way for his buildings. Both were also fluent in the language spoken among the elite of New York deal-makers, where favors are traded, punches are pulled, and the public interest always finishes a dismal last.



And, as laughingly obvious as it is today, those of us back then who cheered on the prosecutor, while raking the muck on the developer, eventually learned the hard way that these two were cut from the same cloth, destined for a partnership far more enduring than their many marriages.



The first glimmerings of that lesson surfaced one night in an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village as Jack Newfield, the legendary investigative digger, and I dined with a federal agent named Tony Lombardi.



Although technically employed by the Internal Revenue Service, Lombardi’s only apparent duties were to serve as the trusted special investigator for Giuliani, then the hard-charging United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.



While Giuliani had at his beck and call a squad of FBI agents and other investigators, he preferred Lombardi for sensitive assignments. It was Lombardi, a dapper man given to double-breasted suits and pocket hankies, who was asked to look after the unstable daughter of a judge facing corruption charges, who had been persuaded to provide testimony for the prosecution against her own mother. It was Lombardi who was detailed to work on an investigation into city contracts granted to a health consultant rumored to have been the lover of Mayor Ed Koch, against whom Giuliani was then pondering a campaign.



Along with a bevy of other local reporters, we knew that Tony Lombardi was, as our friend and Village Voice colleague Wayne Barrett dubbed him, “the eyes, ears and mouth of Rudy Giuliani.”



That night, amid the opening pleasantries, Lombardi shot the French cuffs from his suit jacket, leaned forward on the table, and announced: “I have another year or so to go with the department, and then I’m going to be head of security for Donald.”



No last name was needed to explain this promising exit plan from public service. This was 1988, and Donald Trump had forced himself into public consciousness like the car alarms that blared mercilessly without stop. He had already put his name on a soaring tower in midtown, repaired an ailing city skating rink in Central Park, launched casinos in Atlantic City, and publicly toyed with the idea of running for president.



Lombardi’s comment was decidedly off-kilter with what was on the menu that evening. Two years earlier, Giuliani had won convictions against a ring of scoundrels who had been happily looting city coffers under the nose of the Koch administration. Most prominent among his scalps was that of Stanley Friedman, the goateed Democratic Party chieftain from the Bronx who had been nailed while attempting a flimflam worth millions on the city’s transportation department.



An ex-deputy mayor, Friedman had been a partner in the law firm of Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Iago, a master of the legal dark arts and lawyer to some of the biggest mobsters Giuliani was simultaneously pursuing. While Friedman had worked from the top floor of Cohn’s East Side townhouse and law office, Cohn had been on the ground floor offering lessons in the use of bluster, bravado, and outright lies to his prize client and pupil, Donald Trump.



If Rudy Giuliani was the anti-corruption scourge of New York, Cohn’s budding protégé should have been a likely suspect, even a prized quarry.



At the table, Lombardi offered no details about how his richly rewarding job offer had arisen. In the course of business, he said, he had come to know Trump. The two had grown friendly. The discussion then moved on to more pressing matters.



It wasn’t until several years later, thanks to the steady drilling of Barrett and fellow Voice reporter William Bastone, that we learned the back story: At the time of our meeting, Lombardi had recently finished a quiet inquiry on behalf of his boss into allegations that organized crime figures had laundered hefty sums of cash as they bought apartments in Trump Tower, the flagship of the developer’s then growing empire.



The charge had come from a mob-tied financial consultant facing federal tax fraud indictment looking to help himself by offering to tell a far more interesting story. The consultant said he had helped the underworld figures—most notoriously, Robert Hopkins, a numbers kingpin working for the Luchese crime family—buy the apartments at Trump’s complex with fraudulent mortgages. The developer himself, the consultant alleged, had been present as suitcases of cash had changed hands at Hopkins’s closing.



The purchase landed Hopkins two apartments worth $2 million on the upper floors of Trump Tower. That’s where the Manhattan DA found him when he was arrested in 1986, charged with orchestrating a mob hit. Hopkins’s defense lawyer? Another partner of Roy Cohn.



This was potentially rich Giuliani territory: The Mafia, bank fraud, and a possibly complicit high-profile figure. But the investigation ended before it even began. Instead of building a case by working his way through knowledgeable witnesses and records, Lombardi went straight to Trump himself with the allegation. He was quickly won over. As the agent later told Barrett in a 1993 Voice story about the episode, he was so impressed with Trump’s openness and honesty that he decided there was nothing to investigate. “The guy met me without an attorney,” Lombardi said. “He answered all my questions. There was never any hesitation.”



All of this, Lombardi insisted, was done with the approval of higher-ups at the US Attorney’s office. “[E]veryone that should have known about this thing knew,” he said.



There was another possible reason for the sudden lack of prosecutorial interest. That spring, Trump began touting Giuliani as a would-be mayor, claiming he could raise $2 million in a half hour if the US Attorney decided to run.



Of course, that was just Trump spin. He did briefly back Giuliani and raised a few thousand for his failed 1989 race, but by 1993 Trump was hedging his bets, hoping for approvals by David Dinkins, the sitting mayor, for his pending projects.



Things didn’t work out for Tony Lombardi in the end. An internal investigation by the IRS faulted him for engaging in prohibited fundraising for Giuliani and abusing his authority with sources. He wound up jilted by Trump, who gave the security job to someone else, and by Giuliani, who never offered him even a nominal post in City Hall. Lombardi died in 2015.



Giuliani now works feverishly on behalf of the man he once investigated. Eyes bulging, waving his phone with McCarthy-like flair as he insists it holds all the damning information he has discovered, he thunders away on the talk shows. Once-loyal fans say they hardly recognize that man. But he’s not the one who has changed. He is the same zealous, win-at-any-cost inquisitor he always was, a genuine “Made in New York” schemer. Just like his client."



Giuliani and Trump: Bound by Corruption From the Beginning? | The Nation

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Rudy Giuliani is Under Criminal Investigation. Chickens Are Coming Home...

'Dominoes Beginning To Fall': Trump Turns On Giuliani After Impeachment ...

'Dominoes Beginning To Fall': Trump Turns On Giuliani After Impeachment ...

Opinion | How Italians Became ‘White’ - The New York Times





"Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country.



As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change.



Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe.



Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.”



Italian-Americans were often used as cheap labor on

the docks of New Orleans at the turn of the last century.

Library of Congress



The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South.



The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record.



Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war.



Historians have recently showed that America’s dishonorable response to this barbaric event was partly conditioned by racist stereotypes about Italians promulgated in Northern newspapers like The Times. A striking analysis by Charles Seguin, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, and Sabrina Nardin, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, shows that the protests lodged by the Italian government inspired something that had failed to coalesce around the brave African-American newspaper editor and anti-lynching campaigner Ida B. Wells — a broad anti-lynching effort.



A Black ‘Brute’ Lynched



The lynchings of Italians came at a time when newspapers in the South had established the gory convention of advertising the far more numerous public murders of African-Americans in advance — to attract large crowds — and justifying the killings by labeling the victims “brutes,” “fiends,” “ravishers,” “born criminals” or “troublesome Negroes.” Even high-minded news organizations that claimed to abhor the practice legitimized lynching by trafficking in racist stereotypes about its victims.



As Mr. Seguin recently showed, many Northern newspapers were “just as complicit” in justifying mob violence as their Southern counterparts. For its part, The Times made repeated use of the headline “A Brutal Negro Lynched,” presuming the victims’ guilt and branding them as congenital criminals. Lynchings of black men in the South were often based on fabricated accusations of sexual assault. As the Equal Justice Initiative explained in its 2015 report on lynching in America, a rape charge could occur in the absence of an actual victim and might arise from minor violations of the social code — like complimenting a white woman on her appearance or even bumping into her on the street.



The Times was not owned by the family that controls it today when it dismissed Ida B. Wells as a “slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress” for rightly describing rape allegations as “a thread bare lie” that Southerners used against black men who had consensual sexual relationships with white women. Nevertheless, as a Times editorialist of nearly 30 years standing — and a student of the institution’s history — I am outraged and appalled by the nakedly racist treatment my 19th-century predecessors displayed in writing about African-Americans and Italian immigrants.



When Wells took her anti-lynching campaign to England in the 1890s, Times editors rebuked her for representing “black brutes” abroad in an editorial that joked about what they described as “the practice of roasting Negro ravishers alive and boring out their eyes with red-hot pokers.” The editorial slandered African-Americans generally, referring to rape as “a crime to which Negroes are particularly prone.” The Times editors may have lodged objections to lynching — but they did so in a rhetoric firmly rooted in white supremacy.



‘Assassins by Nature’

Italian immigrants were welcomed into Louisiana after the Civil War, when the planter class was in desperate need of cheap labor to replace newly emancipated black people, who were leaving backbreaking jobs in the fields for more gainful employment.



These Italians seemed at first to be the answer to both the labor shortage and the increasingly pressing quest for settlers who would support white domination in the emerging Jim Crow state. Louisiana’s romance with Italian labor began to sour when the new immigrants balked at low wages and dismal working conditions.



The newcomers also chose to live together in Italian neighborhoods, where they spoke their native tongue, preserved Italian customs and developed successful businesses that catered to African-Americans, with whom they fraternized and intermarried. In time, this proximity to blackness would lead white Southerners to view Sicilians, in particular, as not fully white and to see them as eligible for persecution — including lynching — that had customarily been imposed on African-Americans.



Many Italian-Americans lived in a section of New

Orleans that became known as Little Palermo.

Library of Congress

Nevertheless, as the historian Jessica Barbata Jackson showed recently in the journal Louisiana History, Italian newcomers were still well thought of in New Orleans in the 1870s when negative stereotypes were being established in the Northern press.





The Times, for instance, described them as bandits and members of the criminal classes who were “wretchedly poor and unskilled,” “starving and wholly destitute.” The stereotype about inborn criminality is plainly evident in an 1874 story about Italian immigrants seeking vaccinations that refers to one immigrant as a “burly fellow, whose appearance was like that of the traditional brigand of the Abruzzi.”



A Times story in 1880 described immigrants, including Italians, as “links in a descending chain of evolution.” These characterizations reached a defamatory crescendo in an 1882 editorial that appeared under the headline “Our Future Citizens.” The editors wrote:



“There has never been since New York was founded so low and ignorant a class among the immigrants who poured in here as the Southern Italians who have been crowding our docks during the past year.”



The editors reserved their worst invective for Italian immigrant children, whom they described as “utterly unfit — ragged, filthy, and verminous as they were — to be placed in the public primary schools among the decent children of American mechanics.”



The racist myth that African-Americans and Sicilians were both innately criminal drove an 1887 Times story about a lynching victim in Mississippi whose name was given as “Dago Joe” — “dago” being a slur directed at Italian and Spanish-speaking immigrants. The victim was described as a “half breed” who “was the son of a Sicilian father and a mulatto mother, and had the worst characteristics of both races in his makeup. He was cunning, treacherous and cruel, and was regarded in the community where he lived as an assassin by nature.”



Sicilians as ‘Rattlesnakes’

The carnage in New Orleans was set in motion in the fall of 1890, when the city’s popular police chief, David Hennessy, was assassinated on his way home one evening. Hennessy had no shortage of enemies. The historian John V. Baiamonte Jr. writes that he had once been tried for murder in connection with the killing of a professional rival. He is also said to have been involved in a feud between two Italian businessmen. On the strength of a clearly suspect witness who claimed to hear Mr. Hennessy say that “dagoes” had shot him, the city charged 19 Italians with complicity in the chief’s murder.



That the evidence was distressingly weak was evident from the verdicts that were swiftly handed down: Of the first nine to be tried, six were acquitted; three others were granted mistrials. The leaders of the mob that then went after them advertised their plans in advance, knowing full well that the city’s elites — who coveted the businesses the Italians had built or hated the Italians for fraternizing with African-Americans — would never seek justice for the dead. After the lynching, a grand jury investigation pronounced the killings praiseworthy, turning that inquiry into what the historian Barbara Botein describes as “possibly one of the greatest whitewashes in American history.”



The blood of the New Orleans victims was scarcely dry when The Times published a cheerleading news story — “Chief Hennessy Avenged: Eleven of his Italian Assassins Lynched by a Mob” — that reveled in the bloody details. It reported that the mob had consisted “mostly of the best element” of New Orleans society. The following day, a scabrous Times editorial justified the lynching — and dehumanized the dead, with by-now-familiar racist stereotypes.



“These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians,” the editors wrote, “the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cutthroat practices … are to us a pest without mitigations. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they. Our own murderers are men of feeling and nobility compared to them.” The editors concluded of the lynching that it would be difficult to find “one individual who would confess that privately he deplores it very much.”



Lynchers in 1891 storming the New Orleans city jail, where they killed 11 Italian-Americans accused in the fatal shooting of Chief Hennessy.

Italian Tribune

President Harrison would have ignored the New Orleans carnage had the victims been black. But the Italian government made that impossible. It broke off diplomatic relations and demanded an indemnity that the Harrison administration paid. Harrison even called on Congress in his 1891 State of the Union to protect foreign nationals — though not black Americans — from mob violence.



Harrison’s Columbus Day proclamation in 1892 opened the door for Italian-Americans to write themselves into the American origin story, in a fashion that piled myth upon myth. As the historian Danielle Battisti shows in “Whom We Shall Welcome,” they rewrote history by casting Columbus as “the first immigrant” — even though he never set foot in North America and never immigrated anywhere (except possibly to Spain), and even though the United States did not exist as a nation during his 15th-century voyage. The mythologizing, carried out over many decades, granted Italian-Americans “a formative role in the nation-building narrative.” It also tied Italian-Americans closely to the paternalistic assertion, still heard today, that Columbus “discovered” a continent that was already inhabited by Native Americans.



The “Monument to the Immigrant,” commissioned by the Italian American Marching Club of New Orleans, stands along the Mississippi River in Woldenberg Park.

William Widmer for The New York Times

But in the late 19th century, the full-blown Columbus myth was yet to come. The New Orleans lynching solidified a defamatory view of Italians generally, and Sicilians in particular, as irredeemable criminals who represented a danger to the nation. The influential anti-immigrant racist Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, soon to join the United States Senate, quickly appropriated the event. He argued that a lack of confidence in juries, not mob violence, had been the real problem in New Orleans. “Lawlessness and lynching are evil things,” he wrote, “but a popular belief that juries cannot be trusted is even worse.”



Facts aside, Lodge argued, beliefs about immigrants were in themselves sufficient to warrant higher barriers to immigration. Congress ratified that notion during the 1920s, curtailing Italian immigration on racial grounds, even though Italians were legally white, with all of the rights whiteness entailed.



The Italian-Americans who labored in the campaign that overturned racist immigration restrictions in 1965 used the romantic fictions built up around Columbus to political advantage. This shows yet again how racial categories that people mistakenly view as matters of biology grow out of highly politicized myth making."



Opinion | How Italians Became ‘White’ - The New York Times

Friday, October 11, 2019

Trump Had Ukraine Envoy Removed on ‘False Claims,’ She Tells House Inquiry - The New York Times

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, center, arriving to testify in a closed hearing Friday on Capitol Hill.



"WASHINGTON — Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine in May, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”



In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of how his administration conducts foreign policy. She warned that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service. And she said that diplomats no longer have confidence that their government “will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.”



According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” that she was removed as ambassador “based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”



Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service and three-time ambassador, spoke to investigators on Capitol Hill even though the State Department had directed her not to late Thursday and in defiance of the White House’s declaration that administration officials would not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. Democrats leading the inquiry said that order amounted to obstruction of their inquiry and quietly issued a subpoena Thursday morning with the understanding that Ms. Yovanovitch would then cooperate.



Not long after, she arrived at the Capitol with a lawyer and entered the secure basement rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, where she was expected to take questions from congressional staff and lawmakers for much of the day.



Her searing account, delivered at the risk of losing her job, could lend new momentum to the impeachment inquiry that imperils Mr. Trump. The inquiry centers on the president’s attempts to use his power and the foreign policy apparatus to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, an endeavor in which Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, was a central player. The shadowy effort by Mr. Giuliani grew to drive the United States policy toward Ukraine, at times appearing to sideline the State Department in the process.



Ms. Yovanovitch said in her deposition that the undermining of loyal diplomats at the State Department would embolden “bad actors” who would “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system” and serve the interests of adversaries of the United States, including Russia.



“Today we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within,” she said. She called upon the department’s leaders, as well as Congress, to defend it, saying “I fear that not doing so will harm our nation's interest, perhaps irreparably.”



And she spoke of her “deep disappointment and dismay” about the events that led to her removal, describing a sense of betrayal of the “sacred trust” she and other diplomats once had with their government.



Ms. Yovanovitch dismissed as “fictitious” the allegations that she had been disloyal to Mr. Trump, which were circulated by allies of Mr. Giuliani.



“I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” she said, adding that people associated with him “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”



Ms. Yovanovitch’s opening statement revealed no new details about Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. It also offered no details about Lev Parnas or Igor Fruman, two businessmen who helped Mr. Giuliani mount a campaign for her removal. Both were arrested late Wednesday on charges of campaign finance violations.



The indictment charged that they were working for one or more unnamed Ukrainian officials who wanted her out of Kiev.



But she provided new details about her abrupt ouster just as Ukraine had elected a new president, when continuity in American policy was critical, she argued.



Less than two months after the State Department asked her to extend her tour as ambassador until 2020, she said, she was abruptly told in late April to return to Washington “on the next plane.”



She said that John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, told her later that she had “done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.” Other foreign diplomats say they know of no parallel to her case.



Mr. Sullivan told her that Mr. Trump had “lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador,” she said. “He added that there had been, a concerted campaign against me and the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018.”



That account contradicts what the State Department told reporters at the time, that Ms. Yovanovitch was merely completing her assignment “as planned.”



Even as she was being questioned behind closed doors on Friday, Mr. Trump nominated Mr. Sullivan to be the next ambassador to Russia. The timing appeared to be coincidental.



Ms. Yovanovitch said that she had never inhibited any legitimate efforts by Ukraine to combat corruption; instead, she tried to bolster them to help Ukraine combat Russia’s influence.



She was not involved in discussions about the suspension of $391 million in American security aid to Ukraine this summer; those took place only after she left Ukraine in May, she said.



She said she feared that the administration’s failure to back its diplomats would harm American interests, including Ukraine’s attempts to reform its government and defend against a hostile Russia.



“That harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants,” she said, according to the prepared remarks.



“It also will come when those diplomats who soldier on and do their best to represent our nation face partners abroad who question whether the ambassador truly speaks for the president and can be counted upon as a reliable partner. The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good,” she said.



Ms. Yovanovitch said she had met Mr. Giuliani only a few times, and at least in her prepared remarks, offered no details about his efforts to freelance foreign policy in Ukraine and to press Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Mr. Giuliani’s role is now at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into whether the president withheld military aid and a White House meeting in effort to gin up an foreign investigation that would damage the elder Mr. Biden, one of his foremost political rivals.



That Ms. Yovanovitch appeared at all was remarkable and raised the possibility that other government officials would follow suit in defiance of the administration’s orders. Caught between the conflicting and equally forceful demands of two branches of government, she chose Congress, raising the possibility that other government officials with little loyalty to Mr. Trump could follow suit



Three House committees conducting the investigation hope to tick through a roster of additional witness depositions next week, when lawmakers return to Washington from a two-week recess. Among them are Fiona Hill, who until this summer served as senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, and is scheduled to appear Monday; George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state and Ukraine expert, whose appearance is set for next Tuesday; and Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union whose scheduled appearance on Tuesday was blocked by the State Department hours before he was to arrive on Capitol Hill.



Mr. Sondland has now agreed to comply with a House subpoena and testify on Thursday, despite the State Department’s instruction that he not appear, although he would not hand over documents unless the department did, his lawyer said on Friday.



"The White House or State Department could try to block those depositions, but like Ms. Yovanovitch and Mr. Sondland, each witness may make his or her own choice. Democrats leading the inquiry warned the Trump administration that attempts to stonewall their work could itself be impeachable conduct.



“Any efforts by Trump administration officials to prevent witness cooperation with the committees will be deemed obstruction of a coequal branch of government and an adverse inference may be drawn against the president on the underlying allegations of corruption and cover-up,” wrote the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees."



Trump Had Ukraine Envoy Removed on ‘False Claims,’ She Tells House Inquiry - The New York Times