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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.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

“Utterly Illegal”: U.N. Special Rapporteur Slams Netanyahu’s “Voluntary Migration” Plan for Gazans | Democracy Now!

“Utterly Illegal”: U.N. Special Rapporteur Slams Netanyahu’s “Voluntary Migration” Plan for Gazans

"More United Nations workers have been killed in Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip than in any other conflict in the organization’s history. As the death toll for U.N. workers ticks above 136, Israel has announced it will no longer grant automatic visas to U.N. workers, after accusing the organization of being “complicit partners” with Hamas after months of U.N. officials repeatedly calling for a ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, calls Israel’s accusations “baseless” and part of a long pattern of smearing and obstructing the U.N.’s operations in Israel and Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

As we continue to look at Israel’s assault on Gaza, we’re joined by Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory. Earlier this week, she denounced reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed expelling all Palestinians from Gaza.

Israeli news outlets report Netanyahu told a group of Israeli lawmakers Monday, “Regarding voluntary immigration … this is the direction we are going in,” he said.

Palestinian leaders denounced Netanyahu for embracing what they describe as ethnic cleansing.

Earlier this week, Francesca Albanese tweeted, quote, “Voluntary migration? No matter how ISR gvt calls it, Forced Displacement is a CRIME, prosecutable under the Rome Statute. Its architects shall be investigated/prosecuted by @IntlCrimCourt.”

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Francesca Albanese. Thank you for joining us. Talk about what has been reported as Netanyahu’s plan.

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: Good morning, Amy.

Yeah, the plan becomes clearer and clearer. We have heard statements made by Israeli politicians, Israeli military commanders, referring to the need for the Palestinians from Gaza to move south, south first and then more and more south. But at the same time, we have seen soldiers entering the Gaza Strip, saying, quote-unquote, “We destructions to destroy this place and settle.” And the more the time passes, the more it becomes clear that there is a plan in certain corners of the government to repossess Gaza, to reconquest Gaza, and to convert it into an Israeli area. This is pure madness, and it’s utterly illegal.

Now, it’s not new, because forced displacement is the main trait that characterizes Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It has gone through 56 years, not to mention what has happened before.

But now this — I mean, it’s so cynical to call it “voluntary migration” and continue to evoke as the only possibility for the Palestinians in Gaza to survive to move somewhere else, to the Sinai or somewhere else in the Arab region, saying that the Palestinians are Arabs. This is like saying that Italians can go anywhere because they are European. This is so racist, the classic forced displacement. It’s a crime against humanity and cannot be [inaudible]. It should be stopped. It’s shocking to see the silence of the international community in the face of these unfathomable ideas.

AMY GOODMAN: In a post earlier this week, you compared the Israeli assault on Gaza to the genocidal massacres in Srebrenica and Rwanda. Can you explain?

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: Yeah, actually, I didn’t necessarily compare the two. I’m saying that the international community has been silent and unable to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, to prevent the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Srebrenica, and in the same way it’s looking idle at what’s happening in the Gaza Strip. But it’s worse, because, as the Ambassador Zomlot was saying right before — I think it’s true — this is televised. If people had not realized what the Nakba is, this is ongoing under our eyes, but the genocidal element is more clear.

Here is not about just the displacing people, pushing them out. It’s the killing, the number of killing in the Gaza Strip, which has been turned into an assassination factory, to use an expression by journalists in +972, Israeli journalists in +972. But also, look at what’s going on in the West Bank, where there is no Hamas military control, military presence, and still this year 500 Palestinians have been killed.

So, there is a mass killing of Palestinians ongoing, accompanied by genocidal incitement. And this must be stopped. This triggers an obligation to prevent genocide among member states. But again, no one — no one — seems very preoccupied in the international community, other than human rights actors and, yeah, those concerned with real peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Francesca Albanese, you are the U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel has announced it’s going to stop automatically granting visas to employees of the United Nations, after it accused the U.N. of being complicit partners with Hamas. Your response?

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: Baseless, baseless accusations. I’m appalled onto how these attacks against the U.N. continue to escalate, because, on the one hand, you have two big failures here. And one is induced, and the other is inevitable. The induced one is the political failure of the U.N., because it’s paralyzed because of the political — sorry, of the U.S. veto in the U.N. Security Council. They should — I mean, there was — they were close to a vote on the ceasefire, but there was the U.S. veto. And on the other hand, the other failure, which is inevitable, it’s the humanitarian machinery of the U.N. system, which is also under attack. The U.N. should be strengthened. The multilateral system is put — can drag us out and reestablish a minimum, a modicum of order here.

But, look, what Israel is doing is raising the attacks against the U.N. because the U.N. are being increasingly critical in the face of the crimes that Israel commits through and through. But the threatening U.N. staff of withdrawing visas, this is not new. I mean, we have to — for example, those in my position — this is not something about me particularly, but also the three special rapporteurs on the occupied Palestinian territory who have preceded me have not been able to enter the occupied Palestinian territory because of the Israeli decision not to cooperate with the mandate, which is a violation of U.N. member states’ obligation to comply with the U.N., including its investigative mechanisms. Israel behaves the same way with various commissions of inquiries, including the current commission of inquiry on Israel-Palestine.

And more seriously, Israel has basically kicked out, three years ago, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights — this has gone completely in silence — but withdrawing visa to all its international employees, who are operating now from Amman. Such a weird precedent.

Again, this is the thing. The U.N. has also accepted Israel’s hubris to become fatter and fatter. And this is the reality today, that you have Israeli ambassadors and political leaders smearing everyone, especially rapporteurs, committee, commission of inquiries, the U.N. secretary-general, everyone. Where shall we draw the line?

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about information new out this morning. UNRWAhas posted on X that this year has been the deadliest year in the West Bank on record, with a total of 504 Palestinians killed this year. I mean, this is for the whole year. It was already the deadliest year before October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel. Now more than 300, since October 7th, Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by either Israeli soldiers or settlers.

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: Yes, primarily soldiers. And this is one — probably the only issue with an otherwise great report by the U.N. Human Rights Office. It has pointed to the disproportionate, unnecessary use of force through military means, which have resulted, yes, in the killing of 500 people, 500 Palestinians this year, mostly by Israeli soldiers. The emphasis on settler violence, though, while it’s true, shouldn’t distract from the fact that the settlers are there as part of an enterprise, the Israeli enterprise to colonize and annex occupied Palestinian territory, that Israel, as a state, should be held responsible also for the actions of the settlers, which are never prosecuted, by the way.

But again, you know, we have to think that, yes, this has been the deadliest year since 2005, when the U.N. started collecting the data outside of conflict against Gaza. But in Gaza, 4,000 people, including 1,000 children, had been killed in 16 years, during five wars occurred during 16 years of blockade. This is just for those who believe that everything started on the 7th of October. No, it didn’t. The situation was appalling before.

And we have — as special rapporteur, I belong to a community which includes Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations and many scholars who have called for the end of the oppression of the Palestinian people, because — and the end of the annexation and colonization of the occupied territory, because this was the only way to guarantee the security, the safety, the well-being of both Palestinians and Israelis. And we have gone unheard, unfortunately.

AMY GOODMAN: Last question: The role of the United States? In resolution after resolution, they vetoed any call for a ceasefire. The last one, they didn’t veto it, but they abstained once they got the U.N. Security Council not to include ceasefire in the language. Where do you see the U.N. going and the role of the United States in all of this? How powerful, how important is the United States, Francesca?

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: The United States is very important, very powerful, very influential, is the only single state that can really change the dynamics between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, not only because the United States provides a lot of means and military aid to Israel, but also because it shelters Israel from its responsibilities, political and legal responsibilities.

Again, yes, the last resolution, I mean, the U.S. managed to water it down to a point that it makes no sense. The only thing that is needed now — and it’s already late — is a ceasefire. So, the fact that the U.S. is still sort of not considering this as an option, because it doesn’t, and it continues to engage with Israel as it was business as usual, shows profound disrespect toward the Palestinian people. And again, this is a level of dehumanization that I’ve never seen in other — I mean, it’s not new from Israel, but it’s new at this level, with this magnitude, like endorsed also in the U.S. but also in Europe. I mean, yeah, there is huge responsibilities, and the U.S. is leading the front of those who could change the reality on the ground and chose not to do so.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you see this ending, in the last minute we have, Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory? As I was just discussing with the Palestinian ambassador in the United Kingdom, Netanyahu just canceled his war cabinet meeting under pressure from the even more far-right finance minister, Smotrich. Where is this headed?

FRANCESCA ALBANESE: I know it’s heading toward further madness, unless and until it’s stopped. And it’s going to be a very heavy, loaded, dark, grim future for both Palestinians and Israelis. So there should be a huge U-turn here and restore international law, basic respect, equality, human rights for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. And it starts with a ceasefire and with a protective presence that allows — that supervises the withdrawal of Israeli troops. This is the moment to end the occupation. And it cannot happen without, I think, a protective presence that guarantees for a while the safety and security of both.

AMY GOODMAN: Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, speaking to us from Italy.

Coming up, the state of Maine has become the second state, joining Colorado, to bar Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot over his role in the January 6th insurrection. Back in 20 seconds."

“Utterly Illegal”: U.N. Special Rapporteur Slams Netanyahu’s “Voluntary Migration” Plan for Gazans | Democracy Now!

Why Voting Rights Act faces new wave of dire threats in 2024 | US voting rights | The Guardian

"Why Voting Rights Act faces new wave of dire threats in 2024

A victory in 2023 in Alabama after a supreme court ruling may be short-lived as three cases pose a dire threat to voting rights

Supreme Court columns
The supreme court ruling in Allen v Milligan was a sigh of relief for voting rights lawyers. But that victory may be short-lived. Photograph: HABesen/Getty Images

As 2023 comes to a close, the Voting Rights Act is facing a series of dire threats that could significantly weaken the landmark civil rights law.

A suite of three different pending cases could gut the ability of private plaintiffs to challenge the Voting Rights Act, make it harder to challenge discriminatory election systems, and limit the Voting Rights Act’s protections in areas where a single racial minority doesn’t constitute a majority.

“It’s a shock to the system,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, the director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The new wave of attacks come after the supreme court unexpectedly issued a decision in June that upheld a critical provision of the law.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices beat back an effort by Alabama that would have made it much harder to use the Voting Rights Act to challenge voting districts that weaken the influence of Black voters. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a strong signal the court wasn’t interested in reconsidering its jurisprudence around Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the most powerful tool voting rights litigators have to challenge districts. It was a full-throated defense of the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law the court has aggressively weakened in recent years.

“The heart of these cases is not about the law as it exists. It is about Alabama’s attempt to remake our [section] 2 jurisprudence anew,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion in the case, Allen v Milligan, that was joined by his fellow conservative Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberal justices. “We find Alabama’s new approach to [section] 2 compelling neither in theory nor in practice. We accordingly decline to recast our [section] 2 case law as Alabama requests.”

The rulings was a sigh of relief for voting rights lawyers. Over the last decade, the court has ruled against voting rights at nearly every turn. It gutted the pre-clearance requirement at the heart of the Voting Rights Act, greenlit aggressively removing people from voter rolls, made it harder to challenge discriminatory voting laws, and made it nearly impossible to challenge a voting rule as long as an election is near.

Marchers chant during the Black Voters Matter’s 57th Selma to Montgomery march on 9 March 2022 in Selma, Alabama.
Marchers chant during the Black Voters Matter’s 57th Selma to Montgomery march, on 9 March 2022 in Selma, Alabama. Photograph: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

There’s nothing new about an onslaught of threats facing the Voting Rights Act, which has faced efforts to weaken it virtually since the moment it was enacted. But those attacks appear to be finding a more receptive audience in a supreme court and federal judiciary reshaped by Donald Trump that are willing to entertain fringe legal ideas.

“The Voting Rights Act, in 2023, in some ways is on more stable footing than it was last year. And in other ways feels like it’s poised to undergo a whole new set of threats,” said Danielle Lang, a voting rights attorney at the Campaign Legal Center.


The most significant threat is a case from Arkansas that could block the ability of private litigants – voters, civil rights groups, political parties – from bringing cases to enforce the Voting Rights Act. No “private right of action” exists under the law, the US court of appeals for the eighth circuit said in a novel ruling earlier this month.

It was a decision invited by the supreme court justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. In 2021, they issued a separate opinion musing that the court had never definitively said whether or not private parties could bring section 2 cases – a surefire invitation to litigants to try and get the question before the court.

If private parties can’t sue under the Voting Rights Act, it would make it virtually impossible the enforce the law. Non-governmental groups, which have more resources than the justice department and can move much more quickly, have brought the vast majority of cases in the six decades since the Voting Rights Act was enacted. If enforcement were only up to the government, priorities could change from administration to administration (the justice department filed very few voting rights cases under Donald Trump).

“It would completely eviscerate the last remaining power behind the Voting Rights Act in any way real way,” said Lakin, the ACLU attorney, who represents the plaintiffs in the Arkansas case.

The issue has created even more uncertainty for voting rights litigators in an environment in which they already have a reduced toolkit to combat voting discrimination after the Shelby county decision.

“It is certainly frustrating,” Lang said. “When you look at all the work that’s yet to be done in the voting rights space. And instead of getting that work done, lawyers get sidetracked having to fight old battles over them.”


The Arkansas case isn’t the only serious threat to the Voting Rights Act. In Georgia, an appellate court recently ruled the Voting Rights Act couldn’t be used to challenge the way the state had chosen to elect the five members of its public service commission (PSC), which oversees utilities. Under state law, each of the five members are elected by the entire state, a method that “unlawfully dilutes the votes of Black citizens under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act”, the US district judge Steven Grimberg ruled last year. A district system would better ensure that Black voters could elect the candidate of their choosing to the PSC.

But the US court of appeals for the 11th circuit overturned that decision in November. The Voting Rights Act couldn’t be used to change the way the PSC was elected, a three-judge panel said, because the Georgia legislature had chosen to elect its commissioners that way. “Georgia chose this electoral format to protect critical policy interests and there is no evidence, or allegation, that race was a motivating factor in this decision,” the judge Elizabeth Branch, who was nominated by Trump for the bench, wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

Audience members listen as Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL), convenes civil rights leaders at the 16th Street Baptist Church to strategize on a path forward for voting rights a decade after the supreme court’s Shelby County decision, on 28 June 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Audience members listen as Representative Terri Sewell convenes civil rights leaders at the 16th Street Baptist Church to strategize on a path forward for voting rights a decade after the supreme court’s Shelby county decision, on 28 June 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. Photograph: Stew Milne/Getty Images for Committee for House Administration

The decision could have far-reaching consequences. It could be read to prohibit Voting Rights Act challenges in Georgia to the state assembly school boards or county commissions – bodies of government where civil rights litigators have long turned to the law to combat voting discrimination.


Another threat to the Voting Rights Act is fast emerging from Texas. Earlier this year, a district judge struck down the city of Galveston’s four county commission districts. When Republicans redrew the districts in 2021, they got rid of the sole district in which Black and Latino voters were able to elect the candidate of their choice. Striking down the districts in the case, the US district judge Jeffrey Brown called the effort “stark and jarring”.

A three-judge panel for the US court of appeals for the fifth circuit upheld that ruling. It noted that neither Black people nor Hispanic people constituted a majority on their own in the district at issue, but that precedent allowed them to be considered together for purposes of a Voting Rights Act claim.

But then the panel did something unusual. It went on to say it believed that precedent was wrong. And in a highly unusual step, it urged the full court to review the case and overrule it. The full fifth circuit has since agreed to hear the case, and paused redrawing the Galveston district in December, a signal it is skeptical that the Voting Rights Act protects so-called “coalition districts”.

Voting rights activists during a civil disobedience action at the White House, on 3 November 2021.
Voting rights activists during a civil disobedience action at the White House, on 3 November 2021. Photograph: Allison Bailey/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Whether or not the Voting Rights Act applies in areas where no minority group makes up a majority, but a coalition of minorities votes cohesively as one, is a question that has not been definitively answered by the supreme court. A ruling saying that those areas are not protected under the Voting Rights Act would make it harder to challenge districts in diverse multi-racial areas.

The issue is already playing out in litigation outside of Texas. In Georgia, a federal district judge ordered Republicans to redraw their congressional map to include an additional majority-Black congressional district in west Atlanta. Republicans did that, but they dismantled another district in which a coalition of minority voters formed a majority and had been electing the candidate of their choice. It’s a strategy that is betting courts will embrace the idea that coalition districts aren’t protected.

If the supreme court applies its precedent on the Voting Rights Act consistently, it should uphold coalition districts, experts say.

“Prohibiting these coalition claims amount to a kind of racial essentialism that the conservatives on the court have been railing against for a long time,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s actually … weird to assert that Blacks and Latinos experience is just different. And different enough that the Voting Rights Act doesn’t care.”

The emergence of all three attacks has created even more uncertainty in voting rights litigation. But while there’s plenty of reasons to be disturbed by the recent rulings, voting rights experts aren’t warning of a five-alarm fire just yet.

They say there are reasons to be somewhat optimistic. First, there is a different section of federal law independent of the Voting Rights Act that gives private parties the ability to bring federal lawsuits to protect civil rights.

Second, outside of the eighth circuit, no other court has said that a private right of action doesn’t exist. The ultra-conservative fifth circuit even affirmed that one existed earlier this year, and the panel rejected a request to reconsider in December.

Beyond Gorsuch and Thomas, it’s also not clear that a majority on the supreme court will embrace the idea that no private right of action exists.

While the eighth circuit ruled no private right of action exists, no other court has issued similar rulings. “It is important for us to kind of wait. This could be a big challenge. If so, we’re gonna meet it head on. It could be a blip,” Lang said.

“The crazier claims and the crazier holdings and the crazier findings don’t speak for all of the judicial system. And they certainly haven’t found purchase with the supreme court,” Levitt said.

And while the spate of recent cases represents a new level of threats against the Voting Rights Act, lawyers note that the law has long faced efforts to dismantle it and it has survived largely intact.

“The challenges to the Voting Rights Act and efforts to dismantle it are going to exist as long as the voting rights act exist. Based on what the supreme court said this year, I expect the Voting Rights Act to exist for a while,” Lang said. “The fact that people are still coming at it with everything they’ve got I think is because it’s maintaining its power.”

Why Voting Rights Act faces new wave of dire threats in 2024 | US voting rights | The Guardian

Led by Trump, GOP candidates take polarizing stances on race and history - The Washington Post

Led by Trump, GOP candidates take polarizing stances on race and history

"The party’s three leading candidates are speaking about history and race in polarizing and provocative ways that sometimes diverge from or distort the facts, some political strategists, experts and civil rights leaders said

Former president Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event on Dec. 17 in Reno. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Former president Donald Trump uses dehumanizing rhetoric to describe undocumented immigrants before largely White audiences. The runaway GOP polling leader says they are “poisoning the blood of our country” — comments some experts have compared to Adolf Hitler’s writings on blood purity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended part of his state’s African American history curriculum standards that claimed some enslaved people developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”

And Nikki Haley omitted any mention of slavery when she was asked to explain the cause of the Civil War at a town hall event this past week. It wasn’t until the next day that Haley acknowledged the war was “about slavery.”

The Republican Party’s three leading presidential candidates are speaking about history and race in polarizing and provocative ways that sometimes diverge from or distort the facts, some political strategists, experts and civil rights leaders said. Their comments have stoked outrage among many Americans and risk alienating wide swaths of voters, including the independent and moderate voters whom Haley has been courting, according to strategists in both parties.

But their rhetoric is also appealing to many Americans who lean conservative, interviews with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire show, including some who reject the accusations that the statements are racially insensitive or worse. Many in the GOP are resentful of liberal leaders who they see as constantly pointing out or forcing the country to apologize for past atrocities, and some are angry about demographic and cultural shifts in America driven in part by immigration.

“It’s part of this time warp that the Republican Party is in,” said Stuart Stevens, a former presidential campaign strategist for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. He pointed to how Republican leaders targeted Colin Kaepernick, the biracial former NFL quarterback who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice, and tangled with NASCAR after it banned the Confederate flag at events.

“I think Republicans are still litigating a lot of these issues internally that the rest of the world long ago moved on from,” added Stevens. He added that they are catering to voters who “see the world changing and find it unsettling.”

But some conservative voters in the first two nominating states this past week expressed different views. Even as Haley’s comments stoked controversy around the country, many who attended her events in Iowa and New Hampshire said they took no issue with her initial answer that left out slavery.

Doug Vogel, 56, who attended a Friday event in Concord, N.H., said he thought concerns about Haley’s answer were overblown, and he thought she accurately addressed the legal concerns that were at play over states’ rights.

“She spoke the truth,” he said.

At a Haley town hall in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Friday night, retiree Dorothy Fischer was more enthusiastic about Haley than ever after hearing her speak in person — and indignant at the firestorm over Haley’s explanation of the Civil War.

Fischer, a Republican who is eager for the party to move on from Trump, said the war wasn’t driven by slavery. “It was an economic battle” that pitted “Southern plantation economics versus the Northern industrial economics,” she said.

Her sister, Barbara Hatinger, who is also retired and Republican, agreed with the GOP candidates’ broader complaints about U.S. discourse on race: “The Democrats always want to play the victim card,” she said.

Trump drives debate on race

The 2024 Republican field at one point included a record six minorities, including Haley, who broke barriers as the country’s first female Asian American governor. Many in the GOP celebrated this diversity. But some Democrats have argued that the way the candidates have talked about racial issues has been problematic.

“When you think about Donald Trump, a man who is now parroting Hitler, talking about poisoning the blood of this country, when you think about Ron DeSantis who talked about slavery actually benefiting the slaves, this is just typical,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison.

Trump has rejected the comparisons to Hitler, and DeSantis has said the Florida curriculum — which also covers the horrors of slavery — is not meant to cast the institution in a positive light. But some experts have not been satisfied by their responses.

“The stock in trade of the GOP is evasion — Haley’s silence on slavery. And falsification — the Florida curriculum’s pretense that slavery had positive aspects,” said Amy Dru Stanley, a University of Chicago history professor. She added: “This false history plays into conspiracy theory. It damages efforts of racial reckoning and reconciliation.”

The pattern of Republican leaders inflaming the debate over racial issues has played out in countless ways after America’s conversation about race was thrust to the forefront by the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black president. Trump — who built his political following in part by falsely suggesting that Obama was hiding his birth certificate — has largely shaped the party’s tactics.

Trump was elected in 2016 after harnessing the politics of White grievance and promising that the “silent majority” was back and was “going to take our country back.” In 2020, Trump showed that he was closely attuned to the backlash among some White voters to the cultural reckoning that took place following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a White Minneapolis police officer, who was later convicted of murder.

Amid that year’s debate about how to teach systemic racism in America in schools, Trump filled his 2020 campaign speeches with attacks on the movement to remove or replace monuments honoring Confederate generals. He accused an “unhinged left-wing mob” of trying to “vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments” and “demolish our heritage.” In 2021, Republican lawmakers in state legislatures across the country led campaigns against the teaching of critical race theory, an academic framework that holds that racism is systemic in America.

“Nixon said this stuff in private — we know from his tapes — and [George] Wallace said this stuff, and [Pat] Buchanan said this stuff. But I don’t think any presumptive presidential nominee has been so overt for a long time, at least some decades,” said Jennifer Hochschild, the H.L. Jayne professor of government, and professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University.

Trump is now reigniting themes he used to launch his 2016 campaign when he argued that undocumented immigrants were “rapists” who were bringing drugs and crime across the border into the United States.

Despite condemnation from historians and scholars who say Trump’s latest rhetoric is a clear echo of the “contamination of the blood” concept in Hitler’s antisemitic manifesto “Mein Kampf,” Trump has doubled down on his assertions that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of this country as he promises to enlist the military in the “largest domestic deportation effort in American history.” Trump has denied that his statements are racist and continues to insist that he has never read “Mein Kampf.”

“What I’m saying when I talk about people coming into our country is they are destroying our country,” he told conservative broadcaster Hugh Hewitt when pressed on the topic in a recent interview.

Trump on Saturday took to social media to accuse Democrats, without evidence, of allowing “totally unvetted migrants” into the United States “SO THEY CAN VOTE,” and “signing them up at a rapid pace.” The baseless claim echoed past comments from some Republicans falsely suggesting Democrats are seeking to illegally register noncitizens to vote.

GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has excited some voters in the base but remains a long shot, declared during a debate that “great replacement theory” — which holds that Jews, minorities and immigrants are attempting to replace White, native-born Americans through immigration and higher fertility rates — “is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.”

The candidates’ rhetoric could come at a political price 10 years after the Republican Party flirted with adopting a more inclusive message to bring more racial minorities into the party after the 2012 election. Some recent polling suggests Trump has made inroads with Black voters in key swing states because of dissatisfaction with President Biden’s policies — and Trump did make some gains with Hispanic voters in 2020, according to a Pew Research Center report. But the GOP’s focus on polarizing racial themes could alienate those same voters as the November election draws closer, strategists from both parties said.

Haley under scrutiny over slavery omission

Haley attracted widespread attention with her comments at a Wednesday night town hall in Berlin, N.H. She made no mention of slavery in her response to a questioner who wanted her to say what caused the Civil War. “What do you want me to say about slavery?” she asked when the attendee pressed the issue. The next day, after widespread criticism, Haley acknowledged that the war was indeed “about slavery” and said she didn’t mention it earlier because she thought it was a “given.”

Michael Steele, who is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and is Black, said Haley missed a key opportunity at a moment when he believes Republican leaders should more forcefully address the racial tensions in this country and work with their political opponents to try to diminish them.

“She didn’t want to piss off White folks in Iowa,” Steele said bluntly, adding that her answer “did a great disservice as a presidential candidate.”

Several voters at Haley’s first town hall in Iowa this week, in Dubuque, brushed off the furor over her Civil War answer — sometimes taking greater offense to the question. Others said they hadn’t heard of the controversy.

“It’s unfortunate that she didn’t say slavery,” said Joe Stapf, a Republican retiree from Dubuque.

“It was a fundamental mistake … but everybody makes mistakes,” echoed his wife, Eileen. Asked about broader backlash to some discussions of race, the Stapfs said racism is a problem and shouldn’t be ignored.

Dubuque has been plagued by some high-profile racist acts over the years, including cross burnings and a Ku Klux Klan rally in the 1990s, as well as more recent episodesinvolving racist language and imagery.

The Stapfs said they found Haley to be frank and direct in general and dismissed the Civil War query as, in Joe’s words, “a gotcha question.”

An independent voter who dislikes both DeSantis and Trump — but would back Haley over Biden in the general election — said she’s largely ignored the criticism of Haley’s Civil War comments, cynical about how they might be misconstrued.

“I’m sure somebody had to take a piece of whatever she said and blow it up,” said the woman, Barbara, who spoke on the condition that her full name not be used. Shown the full context of Haley’s answer, she indicated it didn’t bother her.

In New Hampshire, as Haley spoke at a brewery near ski resorts filled with vacationers from nearby Massachusetts, some in the audience said they disagreed with her original answer to the Civil War question.

“I think she slipped up,” said Shala Siddiqui, who added that slavery is an important concern for American society even today and shouldn’t be brushed aside or unmentioned.

Over her career, Haley has spoken in high-profile ways about race, particularly when she made the decision to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in South Carolina after the racist massacre at a Black church in Charleston in 2015.

Her admirers describe it as a moment of political courage, and she was widely praised for focusing at that time on racial healing in her state. After the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, a Black man who was shot in the back by a police officer after a traffic stop in 2015, Haley signed a bill requiring law enforcement to wear body cameras.

Haley raised the Confederate flag episode unprompted in Iowa on Friday, describing her role as understanding the perspectives of both sides and seeking consensus.

“I knew 50 percent of South Carolinians saw the Confederate flag as heritage and tradition. The other 50 percent saw it as slavery and hate. My job wasn’t to judge either side. My job is to get them to see the best of themselves and go forward,” Haley said. “Leaders aren’t supposed to decide who’s right or wrong or good or bad. … What a leader does is know where people are, and communicate their way forward so that you can get to a better place.”

But her efforts to heal racial divides have not been a major focal point of her 2024 campaign. She launched her candidacy with a speech declaring that “America is not a racist country,” a blanket statement that critics who see systemic injustices have criticized.

Her answer to the Civil War question on Wednesday night in Berlin, N.H., drew attention to one of the central criticisms of her candidacy, which is her caution and her tendency to stay on script. “She’s a fear-driven candidate,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy said. “She’s so afraid of offending anybody in the base that she goes to the word-salad thing.”

The controversy also put new attention on Haley’s 2010 answer to a similar question. During a private conversation with two leaders of Confederate heritage groups, which later became public after it was posted online, she described the Civil War as a fightbetween “tradition” and “change.”

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is competing with Haley for moderate and independent voters in New Hampshire, seized on her 2010 comment, warning voters not to back someone who avoids speaking hard truths because they are “afraid of offending people who support Donald Trump.

“The Civil War was not a choice between change and tradition. It was a choice between right and wrong and that’s it. And we’ve got to stand on the side of right,” he said at his own town hall in Epping, N.H., on Thursday.

DeSantis’s clashes with Black leaders

DeSantis, who is polling a distant second behind Trump in Iowa, has pushed back on some efforts to make amends for the ugliest chapters in the country’s racial history, which Republicans call misguided. He signed a Florida law in April of 2022 that barred teaching that an individual, by virtue of their race, “bears responsibility for … actions committed in the past by other members of the same race.” At the time, he said Florida would not “use your tax dollars to teach our kids to hate this country or to hate each other.”

The Florida governor this year defended new African American history standards in his state that said students should learn “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” while discussing how they did work ranging from farming to blacksmithing.

Many Black leaders and historians called the suggestion of a benefit to slavery offensive. DeSantis on Thursday said his critics — including Vice President Harris — had “bastardized” that section “to try to create a narrative.”

DeSantis has also faced criticism for mispronouncing Harris’s first name, a tactic many other Republicans have also adopted. Pressed by a reporter on why he consistently mispronounces Harris’s first name, DeSantis said on Thursday he didn’t think his pronunciation was very different.

Faulting Haley for bungling her answer about the Civil War, DeSantis said she had “some problems with some basic American history” and wasn’t “ready for prime time.”

Even before DeSantis began running for president, Black leaders protested what they viewed as his racially divisive tactics. The redistricting plan that he championed, which eliminated two districts that were drawn to ensure representation of Black voters, drew opposition even from members of DeSantis’s own party in the state legislature.

Black leaders balked not only at DeSantis’s efforts to restrict certain teachings about race, but also his push to halt funding for “diversity, equity and inclusion” training at state colleges.

When he attended the vigil in Jacksonville for victims killed in August by a White gunman who said he hated Black people, according to authorities, one man shouted at the governor: “You’re not welcome here!”

DeSantis, in his remarks, said it was “totally unacceptable” that the gunman had targeted people based on their race. He was praised by allies and some Democrats for appearing at an event attended by many who were likely to be critical of his policies.

Knowles reported from Iowa. Kornfield reported from New Hampshire."

Led by Trump, GOP candidates take polarizing stances on race and history - The Washington Post