Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Reformism: The Clean Air Act of 1970

"Clean air is a basic right. The responsibility to ensure that falls to Congress and the president." - Thomas Carper

"Commercial institutions, proud of their achievements, do not see that healthy living systems - clean air and water, healthy soil, stable climates - are integral to a functioning economy. As our living systems deteriorate, traditional forecasting and business economics become the equivalent of house rules on a sinking cruise ship." - Paul Hawken

"Clean air is essential to the survival of all life on Earth. If that does not make it a natural right, I do not know what does." - Kent Allen Halliburton

The Clean Air Act of 1970 is a United States federal law designed to control air pollution on a national level. It is one of the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws, and one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world. As with many other major U.S. federal environmental statutes, it is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments. Its implementing regulations are codified at 40 C.F.R. Subchapter C, Parts 50-97.

The law has its roots in the 1955 Air Pollution Control Act, which was the first U.S federal legislation that pertained to air pollution and that also provided funds for federal government research on air pollution. The next step was the Clean Air Act of 1963, which was the first federal legislation to actually pertain to "controlling" air pollution. The 1963 act accomplished this by establishing a federal program within the U.S. Public Health Service and authorizing research into techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution.

This act was first amended in 1965, by the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, which authorized the federal government to set required standards for controlling the emission of pollutants from certain automobiles, beginning with the 1968 models. A second amendment, the Air Quality Act of 1967, enabled the federal government to increase its activities to investigate enforcing interstate air pollution transport, and, for the first time, to perform far-reaching ambient monitoring studies and stationary source inspections. The 1967 act also authorized expanded studies of air pollutant emission inventories, ambient monitoring techniques, and control techniques.

It was the Clean Air Act of 1970; however, that was to set the bar for the future of air quality in the United Sates. Amendments to previous laws approved in 1970 greatly expanded the federal mandate, requiring comprehensive federal and state regulations for both stationary industrial pollution sources, as well as, mobile sources. It also significantly expanded federal enforcement. This also created the Environmental Protection Agency, which began formal operations on December 2, 1970 for the purpose of consolidating pertinent federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities into one agency that would ensure environmental protection.

Further amendments were made in 1990 to address the problems of acid rain, ozone depletion, and toxic air pollution, and to establish a national permit program for stationary sources, and increased enforcement authority. The amendments also established new auto gasoline reformulation requirements, set Reid Vapor Pressure standards to control evaporative emissions from gasoline, and mandated new gasoline formulations sold from May to September in many states. Reviewing his tenure as EPA Administrator under President George H. W. Bush, William K. Reilly characterized passage of the Clean Air Act of 1990 as his most notable accomplishment.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 was also the first major environmental law in the United States to include a provision for citizen suits, which meant that regular citizens could engage legal entities, namely corporations and the like, who they felt were violation of federal environmental laws, in federal court. A victory in such a case would, of course, result in the payment of damages for both property and health. There is one such case that is still in the courts involving the the American Smelting and Refining Company based in El Paso, Texas. They have been found guilty of willfully violating EPA environmental regulations, but they are trying to get out of paying damages to the families in the class action suit brought against them by claiming bankruptcy. In the mean time, numerous families in El Paso have lost loved ones due to health related issues resulting from the company's environmentally reckless and illegal actions. As always, in cases such as this, the company always has more money to spend than do the families who suffer from their reckless behavior. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

How Does This Relate to Reformism?

Let's continue with the American Smelting and Refining Company. After the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sued ASARCO for damages to natural resources in 1983, the EPA placed the ASARCO Globe Plant on its National Priorities List of Superfund sites, with ASARCO to pay for the site's cleanup.

In 1972, ASARCO's downtown Omaha plant in Nebraska was found to be releasing high amounts of lead into the air and ground surrounding the plant. In 1995, ASARCO submitted a demolition and site cleanup plan to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for their impact on the local residential area. Fined $3.6 million in 1996 for discharging lead and other pollutants into the Missouri River, ASARCO closed its Omaha plant in July of 1997. After extensive site cleanup, the land was turned over to the City of Omaha as a 23-acre (93,000 m2) park. All of East Omaha, comprising more than 8,000 acres (32 km²), was declared a Superfund site. As of 2003, 290 acres (1.2 km²) had been cleaned.

Pictured above is the ASARCO smelting plant that continued to spew hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere over the greater Omaha, Nebraska region well into the middle of the Twentieth Century.

In 1991, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe filed suit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, known also as Superfund, against Hecla Mining Company, ASARCO and other defendants for damages and cleanup costs downstream of what has been designated as the Bunker Hill Mine and Smelting Complex Superfund site. Contamination had affected Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Saint Joe River, as well as, related waters and lands, and cleanup had been under way since the early 1980s. In 1996, the United States joined the suit. In 2008, after emerging from bankruptcy, ASARCO LLC settled for $452 million for contributions to this site. This was part of a nearly $2 billion settlement with the US for a total of 26 sites.

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency released the results of soil and air tests in Hayden, Arizona taken adjacent to the ASARCO Hayden Smelter. The results showed abnormally high amounts of pollutants that violated prescribed health standards. Arsenic, lead, and copper were among the most egregious pollutants found in Hayden. As a consequence of the contamination, the EPA proposed to add Hayden, Arizona to the list of Federal "Superfund" sites. This action would provide funding to clean up the contamination. ASARCO fought the action, supported by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, who said: "I am asking that the EPA delay final decision on listing until March 31, 2008. This would provide ample time for the EPA, in close coordination with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, to enter an agreement with ASARCO to conduct remedial actions..."

After emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, ASARCO made a settlement with the government in the amount of $1.79 billion for contamination at various sites; the funds were allotted to the EPA for cleanup at 26 sites around the country. This does not include the case in El Paso, Texas. What this all basically means is that a company that has been found to have been damaging the environment for over a century can get get past all of the criminal sanctions of the EPA laws by simply paying their way out of trouble. No one is going to jail, no one has to pay bail, no one is losing their job, and no one has to worry about a pay check. Oh wait, unless that is, of course, they are the people who's lives were dependent upon the smelter for a living wage and who's health is now at risk with no money to pay for it to get better. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

How Else Might This Relate to Reformism?

If you have been following Refuse to Cooperate for any lengthy period of you time, you will know that we support Renewable Energy, and there is a very good reason that we do this. Wind turbines on the continental USA could generate 37 PWh a year, according to a new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That output is three times the level of previous studies, says the American Wind Energy Association. The study is the first state-by-state update of the potential for wind energy since 1993, and examines the potential for electricity from wind if turbines were perched 80 m above the ground, higher than previous studies.

The top state for wind energy potential is Texas, which has 435,638 km2 of wind land area where the capacity factor for wind at 80 m hub height is thirty percent. After excluded lands, protected lands, parks, wilderness, urban area, airports, wetland, water features, are subtracted, the remaining 380,306 km2represents fifty-five percent of the state which could install 1,901,530 MW of wind turbines and generate 6,527,850 GWh a year of renewable power.

Further, solar power is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent in the United States than ever before. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts to an estimated 30 GW today. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than sixty percent and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about fifty percent.

Markets for solar energy are maturing rapidly around the country, and solar electricity is now economically-competitive with conventional energy sources in several states, including California, Hawaii, Texas, and Minnesota. Moreover, the solar industry is a proven incubator for job growth throughout the nation. Solar jobs have increased about one-hundred and twenty-three percent since November of 2010, with nearly 209,000 solar workers in the United States.

Despite this massive potential for growth in the field of renewable energy, the federal government continues to subsidize the coal industry, which powers coal power plants, which then pollute the air that we breath, in direct violation of EPA air quality standards. Federal coal subsidies are forms of financial assistance paid by federal taxpayers to the coal and power industries. Such subsidies include direct spending, tax breaks and exemptions, low-interest loans, loan guarantees, loan forgiveness, grants, lost government revenue such as discounted royalty fees to mine federal lands, and federally-subsidized external costs, such as health care expenses and environmental clean-up due to the negative effects of coal use. External costs of coal include the loss or degradation of valuable ecosystems and community health.

Pictured above is the W.A. Parrish Coal Burning Power Plant. It produces 2,697 MW of electricity in service of the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. The plant releases 1.6 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.

According to research done by GigaOm analyst Adam Lesser, buried deep in a 2011 report from the International Energy Agency, fossil fuels currently receive subsidies via at least 250 mechanisms. In June of 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said $557 billion was spent to subsidize fossil fuels globally in 2008, compared to $43 billion in support of renewable energy. In a July 2011 EIA report on federal fossil fuel subsidies, coal was estimated to have tax expenditures, provisions in the federal tax code that reduce the tax liability of firms, with an estimated value of $3.3 billion in FY 2007. Other numbers are coming out that show that subsidies to fossil fuel companies are starting to drop, but they still get way much more money than they are worth. In the mean time, the pollutants that they release into the atmosphere are putting all life on Earth at risk of extinction, while rich businessmen rake in enough money to buy off an entire country and more. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Reformism: The Fair Housing Act of 1968

“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization, black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.....What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” - Robert F. Kennedy

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 3601-3631) is also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Congress passed the act in an effort to impose a comprehensive solution to the problem of unlawful discrimination in housing based on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. The Fair Housing Act has become a central feature of modern Civil Rights enforcement, enabling persons in the protected classes to rent or own residential property in areas that were previously segregated. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is charged with enforcement of the act. It issues regulations and institutes investigations into discriminatory housing practices.

The law was signed by President Johnson during the national riots that were breaking out after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The passage of the Fair Housing Act came after the failure of two earlier federal initiatives. A 1962 Executive Order, signed by President John F. Kennedy, directed all departments of the Executive Branch to take appropriate actions to prevent discrimination in all federally administered housing programs. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained language in Title VI that prohibited housing discrimination in any program receiving federal financial assistance. Although Title VI provided that a recipient of funding who was found in violation could be prevented from continuing receipt of governmental assistance, this sanction was rarely used.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory conduct by a variety of legal entities. The act defines "person" to include one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, receivers, and fiduciaries. In addition, municipalities, local government units, cities, and federal agencies are subject to the law.

The act explicitly defines a list of prohibited practices involving housing, including sales, rentals, advertising, and financing. Its primary prohibition makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person's race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, or national origin. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 added extensive provisions that apply to discrimination against disabled persons and families with children 18 years of age and under.

It is illegal under the Fair Housing Act to discriminate in the sale or rental of a dwelling because of the disability of the buyer or renter, a person who will reside in the dwelling after it is sold or rented, or any person associated with the buyer or renter. It is not illegal, however, to refuse to rent or sell housing to an individual, with or without a disabling condition, whose tenancy would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others. Newly constructed multi-family dwellings must be designed so that the public and common-use portions are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Fair Housing Act also prohibits discriminatory advertising practices in the sale or rental of housing. Advertising may not disclose a "preference, limitation or discrimination" based on any of the protected categories of persons. The media company that runs an offensive advertisement or other statement may be held liable, as may the advertiser. Subtle advertising strategies, such as the selective use of minority-identified media for the marketing of segregated and over-priced housing to minorities, and the use of code words, such as "exclusive" neighborhood, in the text of the realty classified advertisements, violate the act. The law reaches unpublished statements including discriminatory expressions and conduct, such as a landlord's instructions to his rental agent, superintendent, or other employees that they should either not rent to blacks or that they should give a preference to whites or certain other ethnic groups.

The law makes it illegal for an owner or his agent to represent to any member of any statutorily protected class that a dwelling is unavailable for inspection, rental, or sale, when, in fact, it actually is available. The act has been found to have been violated by a realty firm that posted "sold" signs on the lawns of a white neighborhood in an attempt to discourage minorities from purchasing houses in the neighborhood.

The Fair Housing Act also sought to end a practice called "blockbusting," the practice by realtors of frightening homeowners by telling them that people who are members of a particular race, religion, or other protected class are moving into their neighborhood and that they should expect a decline in the value of their property. The purpose of this scheme is to get homeowners to sell out at a deflated price. In alleged blockbusting cases, the courts have focused on what was heard, rather than what was said. Even in the absence of wrongful intent by the real estate salesman, or explicit reference to a protected class, liability will attach if the reasonable homeowner believes that the salesman is trading on his assumed fear of minorities to stimulate that homeowner to list his house for sale.

Although the primary focus of the law is to protect prospective renters and buyers of real estate, the Fair Housing Act also protects real estate agents who are members of the protected classes. Real estate brokerages may not set different fees for membership in multiple listing services, and may not deny or limit benefits accruing to members in real estate brokers' organizations. In addition, brokerages may not establish geographic boundaries, office location, or residence requirements for access to, or membership in, any real estate-related organization, based on an individual's membership in any of the statutorily protected categories.

Congress worked to identify all components of the housing industry that might discriminate against persons in the protected classes. This explains why the Fair Housing Act governs the housing financing industry. Banks and financial institutions may not discriminate when financing the purchase, construction, improvement, repair, or maintenance of a house. This section of the act also applies to the selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real estate.

Despite the apparent breadth of the law, Congress did exempt several classes of defendants from coverage. It does not apply to single family homeowners if they sell or rent their homes without the use of a real estate agent or other person who is in the business of selling and renting homes. In addition, the homeowner must not use advertising that indicates a discriminatory preference. This exemption applies to only one sale within a 24-month period. Multiple-family homeowners are exempt if no more than four families reside in a dwelling, including the owner. The act also grants exemptions to religious organizations, private clubs, and Senior Citizens, subject to some limitations.

The provisions of the Fair Housing Act may be enforced by HUD and through "pattern and practice" lawsuits brought by the Attorney General of the United States. A person who alleges discrimination may file a complaint with HUD. If the department believes that the claim has merit, the matter will be referred to an administrative law judge for a hearing. The judge is empowered to award actual damages, equitable relief, and attorneys' fees to the prevailing party. The judge also may assess civil penalties against the violators, which can range from $25,000 to $50,000. The judge may not award Punitive Damages nor require Affirmative Action of the violator, however.

In addition, a private citizen may also file a civil lawsuit in federal court against the alleged violator of the act. Finally, the Attorney General may file a civil lawsuit when there is evidence of a pattern or practice by the alleged violator that extends beyond one or two victims. When the Attorney General prevails in these types of lawsuits, the act allows the awarding of injunctive relief and monetary damages to the aggrieved party. In addition, the court may assess civil penalties against the violator up to $50,000 for a first violation and up to $100,000 for any subsequent violation.

How Does This Relate to Reformism?

A Variable-Rate Mortgage, Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, or Tracker Mortgage is a mortgage loan with the interest rate on the note periodically adjusted based on an index which reflects the cost to the lender of borrowing on the credit markets. The loan may be offered at the lender's standard variable base rate. There may be a direct and legally defined link to the underlying index, but where the lender offers no specific link to the underlying market or index the rate can be changed at the lender's discretion. The term "variable-rate mortgage" is most common outside the United States, whilst in the United States, "adjustable-rate mortgage" is most common, and implies a mortgage regulated by the Federal government, with caps on charges. In many countries, adjustable rate mortgages are the norm, and in such places, may simply be referred to as mortgages.

Among the most common indices are the rates on 1-year Constant-Maturity Treasury Securities, the Cost of Funds Index, and the London Interbank Offered Rate. A few lenders use their own cost of funds as an index, rather than using other indices. This is done to ensure a steady margin for the lender, whose own cost of funding will usually be related to the index. Consequently, payments made by the borrower may change over time with the changing interest rate. Alternatively, the terms of the loan may change. This is distinct from the graduated payment mortgage, which offers changing payment amounts but a fixed interest rate. Other forms of mortgage loans include the interest-only mortgage, the fixed-rate mortgage, the negative amortization mortgage, and the balloon payment mortgage.

Pictured here in 2010, Ara Sparkman, 40, looks over her belongings after getting evicted from her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Living on a single income, when the interest rate on her Adjustable-Rate Mortgage sky rocketed, she was no longer able to afford the payments on her home.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower. They can be used where unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans difficult to obtain. The borrower benefits if the interest rate falls but loses if the interest rate increases. The borrower benefits from reduced margins to the underlying cost of borrowing compared to fixed or capped rate mortgages. What all of this jargon basically means is that the government allows lenders to make predatory loans to people knowing that interest rates are going be to going up over time, knowing full well that it is very possible that the borrower may not be able to compensate for the increase, and also knowing full well that their practices are likely in direct violation of the financing regulations of the Fair Housing Act.

Another thing that is not commonly announced is that these predatory loans are most usually commonly approved for African Americans and other minorities, the very people that are supposed to be protected by the Fair Housing Act. In addition to this, there are a laundry list of federal assistance programs that are available to people who are in jeopardy of losing their homes because the rate on their loan rose to an unmanageable level, and their lenders are technically required, per the Fair Housing Act, to inform them about these options. However, many lenders take advantage of their borrowers ignorance of the law and never inform their borrower of these options, and this includes federal lending agencies. They do so, of course, because they want to turn the property over as quickly as possible so as to sustain their profit margin. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Jesus Christ: Socialist?

"Who is the covetous man? One for whom plenty is not enough. Who is the defrauder? One who takes away what belongs to everyone. And are not you covetous, are you not a defrauder, when you keep for private use what you were given for distribution? When some one strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not—should not he be given the same name? The bread in your hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not—to all these you are doing wrong." - St. Basil of Caesarea

To start: I am a Marxist-Leninist, not a Christian. With that being said, I can't help but love the figure of Jesus Christ in the Bible. In Christ, I see a fellow revolutionary, a radical community worker helping the oppressed at every point and pointing people to a new and better world. Now, I am not going to make the absurd claim that Jesus was a Marxist, as Marxism is socialism rooted in science and materialism; whereas, Christ's politics are rooted in religion and idealism. I will, however, argue that Christ's teachings are compatible with a religious based socialism utterly opposed to capitalism at every point, and thus, his followers must be also to be true Christians. Further, I will do it in Christian terms. All of the biblical quotes will be taken from the New American Standard edition of the Christian Bible for the shear literal nature of its translation.

 "And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.  But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.  Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."  - Luke 6:20-26

Now, the Beatitudes are generally considered the very core of Christ's ethical teachings. Right out of the gates, we have Christ both recognizing that economic classes exist and immediately showing with which class he stands in solidarity and which class receives his disdain. This disdain for the wealthy classes is reiterated in the Parable of the Rich Fool: 

"And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” - Luke 12:16-21

And again:

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” - Luke 16:13
Capitalism is, of course, rooted at every point on the accumulation of worldly profits, and yet, Christ makes the exact opposite central to his doctrine of salvation:

"A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”  When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.  And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” - Luke 18:18-25

Under capitalism we are told of the great value of self interest, individualism, and competition, and yet, central to the New Testament's message is again precisely the opposite. This is shown in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as well:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." - John 13:34


There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:28

"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." -James 3:16

" Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." - 1 Corinthians 10:24

Further, how did the early Christians live? Did they seek out wealth and compete in enlightened self interest?

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." - Acts 2:44-45

"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.  And with great power the Apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.  For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales  and lay them at the Apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the Apostles, which translated means Son of Encouragement, and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles’ feet." - Acts 4:32-37

That right there is what modern communists would refer to as primitive communism!

I'm sorry, but at this point, I'm just going to say if you preach Jesus Christ "Capitalist," you are a false prophet and an Antichrist.

Of course, all this anti-rich, pro-poor, and communal living 
rhetoric goes nicely with socialism, but I can hear the objections, "Socialism is about big government and a welfare state!" Well no, that is not necessarily what socialism is about; socialism, in the broadest sense, is about communal control of the means of production in society, which may or may not include big government and social programs.

"But socialism is about revolution and violence, Jesus was a pacifist!"  Jesus did have pacifist tendencies at times if the "turn the other cheek" sort of verses are any indication, but contrary to most liberal narratives, Jesus was not entirely a pacifist and was no postmodernist looking to respect everyone's beliefs:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34

"He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters." - Luke 11:23

Virtually the most important, and directly the main cause for his execution, was an act of violence, the Cleansing of the Temple (John 2:13-16). Christ literally made a whip out of chords, charged through the temple, flipped tables over, and whipped moneychangers, driving them out off the temple grounds. In modern terms, this is at least disorderly conduct and destruction of private property, if not inciting a riot. 

There is also the fact that if one is truly serious about helping the poor and establishing a society in accordance with Christian principles, they need to realize that a socialist revolution may be precisely what is needed to make sure that these things are taken care of. They will also need to get it into their minds that such a revolution would result in a much lower death count than the grind of Capitalism that is still taking thousands of lives every day. 

If you are truly serious about helping the poor, can you truly afford not to address the causes of their poverty? To tackle their oppressors? To drive the moneychangers out not merely from the temple but from the Kingdom of God that is in your midst? 

“But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence, the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.” - Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reformism: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"When Huey P. Long told his supporters in Louisiana that 'If you don't vote, you don't matter;' as it relates to his African American supporters, he must have forgotten about the KKK." - Kent Allen Halliburton

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured voting rights for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

The Act contains numerous provisions that regulate election administration. The Act's "general provisions" provide nationwide protections for voting rights. Section 2 is a general provision that prohibits every state and local government from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Other general provisions specifically outlaw literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise racial minorities.

The Act also contains "special provisions" that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities. Another special provision requires jurisdictions containing significant language minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and other election materials.

Section 5 and most other special provisions apply to jurisdictions encompassed by the "coverage formula" prescribed in Section 4(b). The coverage formula was originally designed to encompass jurisdictions that engaged in egregious voting discrimination in 1965, and Congress updated the formula in 1970 and again in 1975. In Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 2 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula as unconstitutional, reasoning that it was no longer responsive to current conditions, as the formula was then nearly forty years old. The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without a coverage formula, Section 5 is unenforceable. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

How Does This Relate to Reformism?

First, the Shelby case has already shone one way in which the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been struck by reformist policies; however, long before the Shelby decision, there were other methods used to keep African Americans and other minorities from exercising their rights that were now guaranteed to them by yet another law. The initial blow back came from local citizens and small governments who did not wish to see their African American and other populations enter the polls. Sheriffs shut down polling stations completely; and if they did not do that, they brutalized any African American or any other person they did not approve of that attempted to enter a polling station. 

In this image, the police in Birmingham, Alabama sicked dogs on an African American protesting the restriction of his legal right to vote in the United States.

Video recordings and photographs from across the South were caught on national news and shown to the whole world. In other cases, the police set attack dogs on people, and these images also made their way around the world, however, other much more gruesome methods were used by Southern whites in their efforts to keep African Africans from exercising their rights under the new law. Founded in their original form in 1865, the KKK has historically served as one of the premier domestic terrorism organizations in the United States, and their primary target has always been African Americans.

In this picture, released by the FBI and the State of Mississippi Attorney General's Office, the burned-out station wagon that slain civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were driving in is seen in June of 1964 in the Bogue Chitto swamp, some 13 miles northeast of Philadelphia, Miss.

During the period when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was being debated and then was passed, they were highly active in terrorizing activists and then people attempting vote under the new law. Without mercy, and without legal restrictions in many areas, they murdered innocent people and these stories too made international news. People's homes were burned to the ground, churches were bombed, men were lynched or burned alive, people were drug from the back of trucks, people were drowned, people were shot, and the list goes on. The worst part of this is that in many of these cases, the federal government never brought charges against the local governments that condoned, or at the very least, failed to properly prosecute these actions. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

How Else Might This Relate to Reformism?

In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander, recently changed from the original; however, that word can also refer to the process. The term gerrymandering has negative connotations. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking," i.e. diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts and "packing," concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts.

Above is pictured a Gerrymandered voting district in Illinois that encompasses parts of  downtown Chicago and its outer suburbs.

In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in U.S. federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituents representative of African-American or other racial minorities, known as "majority-minority districts". Gerrymandering can also be used to protect incumbents.

Above is pictured a pre-2010 map of Majority-Minority Districts in the US South, with potential future districts highlighted.

Majority-minority districts may be created to avoid or remedy violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965's prohibitions on drawing redistricting plans that diminish the ability of a racial or language minority to elect its candidates of choice. In some instances, majority-minority districts may result from affirmative racial gerrymandering. The value of drawing district lines to create majority-minority districts is a matter of dispute both within and outside of minority communities. Some view majority-minority districts as a way to dilute the voting power of minorities and analogous to racial segregation; others favor majority-minority districts as ways to effectively ensure the election of minorities to legislative bodies, including the House of Representatives. Majority-minority districts have been the subject of legal cases examining the constitutionality of such districts, including Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993), Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), and Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952 (1996). Since the Shelby County v. Holder case, such issues have become ever more prominent.

There are also now Voter ID Laws. Proponents of these laws argue that they reduce electoral fraud while placing only a small burden on voters. Opponents argue that electoral fraud is extremely rare in the United States and has been magnified as an issue to create barriers to voter registration, and that requiring voter ID in effect discriminates against minority groups and those who are less likely to possess photo IDs. Critics have argued that the barriers could result in the disenfranchisement of black, Hispanic, and other minority voters. Research has shown that the type of voter fraud that would be prevented by voter IDs is extremely rare; research is mixed as to whether voter ID laws reduce overall turnout or minority turnout; and research has shown that Republican legislators in swing states and districts with sizable black or Hispanic populations push the hardest for voter ID laws. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory - A Review

"Slavery is by far the most sickening stain on our County's history; and yet, to this very day, especially in Southern schools, slavery is considered to be but a minor academic issue in American history and is given only a slight mention is general daily studies." - Kent Allen Halliburton

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton, Eds. Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Slavery is a very difficult subject to talk about in public. It is one of those topics that almost always draws out the deepest of emotions in people. It is able to do this because its very nature is in direct violation of the tenants of such famous documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that are supposed to dictate the freedom and liberty for all those persons who seek it. How have public institutions addressed the issue of slavery in the past? What changes are being made in the present? What is the hope for the future? In Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory, edited by James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, eleven essays, two of which are authored by the editors themselves, do a very good job of answering these questions and more. They offer perspectives on the issue of slavery in public history that are both encouraging and thought provoking.

The first essay was written by Ira Berlin and is entitled “Coming to Terms with Slavery in Twenty-First-Century America.” In this essay, Berlin noted the only recent rise in the public’s interest in slavery, noting slavery’s presence on the radio, on the internet, at monuments, in museums, in books, on television, and in countless other public venues. He also traced the development of slavery from the entrance of slaves into the earliest colonies, what he calls the ‘Charter Generation,’ to the slaves that were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, what he calls the ‘Freedom Generation.’

The second essay was written by David W. Blight and is entitled “If You Don’t Tell It Like It Was, It Can Never Be as It Ought to Be.” In this essay, Blight discussed public memory and it’s relation to history. He opened with a reference to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, in which the main character, Buendia the Silversmith, lost the ability to remember. As he slowly forgot everything, though, he did whatever he could to give himself reminders about what everything was. Blight also quoted St. Augustine in Confessions. In this text, Augustine described memory as the ‘vast court,’ the ‘treasury in the mind,’ or ‘a great chamber.’ Blight offered such quotes to demonstrate the importance of memory throughout history.

The third essay was written by James Oliver Horton and is entitled “Slavery in American History: An Uncomfortable National Dialogue.” In this essay, Horton discussed the near non-existent nature of slavery education in the past, reasoned why this was so, and then offered some suggestions for how to overcome this and inform the people. He pointed out that to begin with, while most people do react powerfully to slavery, they do not truly understand it. This is because education in public schools and other institutions has been absent or very poor in the past. He also pointed out the poor state of race relations as a reason for the uncomfortable nature of the topic of slavery.

In the next four essays the authors showed, through practical experience, how the issues of dealing with the public presentation of slavery have been addressed. Consider John Michael Vloch’s “The Last Great Taboo Subject: Exhibiting Slavery at the Library of Congress.” The Library of Congress asked him to make an exhibition out of the book that he wrote, Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery, which was based on their collections. Then, when some among the library’s staff declared their offense, the exhibition was taken down. After a big press issue ensued, the D.C. Library picked up the exhibition. Was the exhibition truly offensive? No, in fact, the African American population of D.C. was grateful for its honesty.

Further, consider Gary B. Nash’s “For Whom Will the Liberty Bell Toll? From Controversy to Cooperation.” He showed how the citizens of Philadelphia handled the National Park Service’s initial refusal to adjust its presentation of the Liberty Bell, but how, in the end, both sides benefited from cooperation. The new Liberty Bell Center is making good progress, it will draw in more visitors than was originally expected, and the public will be better informed about an important part of their history. The house that now stores the Liberty Bell served as the first President's House from 1790 to 1800. The house was served by a staff of slaves. The first President, George Washington, used his own slaves. Afterwards, slaves were rented from local slave owners. Joanne Melish, in “Recovering from Slavery: Four Struggles to Tell the Truth,” offered similar looks into the ground work involved with this issue. The most interesting of the stories that she told was that of Eric Browning who, as a young college student, did a great deal of work to adjust the presentation of the slaves’ lives that were lived at the old plantation home of former US Senator John Rowan of Bardstown, Kentucky.

The final of these four essays is “Avoiding History: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Uncomfortable Public Conversation on Slavery,” by Lois E. Horton. In this essay, Horton addressed how the public perceived Thomas Jefferson as a slave holder. She also discussed how they viewed his relationship with the slave Sally Hemings and how they felt about the possibility of her children being fathered by Jefferson. In order to determine how people felt on these issues, she conducted private interviews at the museum that resides at Jefferson’s old home, Monticello. In these interviews, she found out some interesting things. She found that most people accepted Jefferson’s role as a slave holder, but then offered some sort of excuse for his actions. The most interesting thing that she discovered, however, was that how people felt about Jefferson and his connection to slavery was not based on their race, but rather, on their age. Older people were more willing to accept his owning slaves, as well as, his relationship with Hemings, as a normal way of life, despite the contradictions.

The next three essays are an interesting lot, in that they show that the debate over slavery is still not over, and that despite the progress that has been made in facing the issue of slavery, there are still people that refuse to face slavery in a mature and realistic manner. Marie Tyler-McGraw, in her essay “Southern Comfort Levels: Race, Heritage Tourism, and the Civil War in Richmond,” showed how a diverse city dealt with attempts at revival and the retention of its history. The central issue was a controversy over the placement of a statue of Abraham Lincoln on the city’s riverwalk. Southern heritage organizations, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, argued that this would be similar to placing a statue of Osama bin Laden in New York City.

Organizations like this played similar roles in the next two essays. In Dwight T. Pitcaithley’s, “A Cosmic Threat: The National Park Service Addresses the Causes of the American Civil War,” persons from such organizations argued that including a discussion of slavery at battle sites would take away from what actually happened at the battle itself or was hateful ‘South Bashing.’ In his essay, “In Search of a Usable Past: Neo-Confederates and Black Confederates,” Bruce Levine discussed such organizations using poor evidence or twisted facts to support the existence of black Confederate combat soldiers. He, obviously, was not convinced.

What are all of the authors in this book showing? They are showing that in the past, and that past is not all that long ago, as late as the early 1990s, slavery was addressed very little or not at all at public historical sites; but since then, this has begun to change. Examples of these changes are the work that John Michael Vloch did with the D.C. Public Library, the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia and its inclusion of the ‘President’s House’ exhibit, and the museum at Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson and his many slaves. They also show, however that there is much work yet to be done to overcome the recalcitrant attitudes that are the legacy of four hundred years of slavery and one hundred and fifty years of extended poor race relations. Looking at the issue, Slavery, ‘directly in the eyes,’ through proper education and public discourse, at every level, is the only way that Americans will be able to reconcile their differences and move on as one united people.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reformism: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was vigorously and vociferously opposed by the Southern states. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law nonetheless." - Henry Rollins

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the nation's premier civil rights legislation. The Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote. It did not end discrimination; however, but it did open the door to further progress.

Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments outlawed slavery, provided for equal protection under the law, guaranteed citizenship, and protected the right to vote for African Americans, individual states continued to allow unfair treatment of minorities and passed Jim Crow laws allowing segregation of public facilities. These were upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 US 537 (1896), which found state laws requiring racially segregated facilities that were "separate but equal" to be constitutional. This finding helped continue legalized discrimination well into the 20th century.

May 21st, 1954: 17-year-old Nathaniel Steward in class at the Saint-Dominique school in Washington, where the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision was first applied.

Following World War II, pressures to recognize, challenge, and change inequalities for minorities grew. One of the most notable challenges to the status quo was the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), which questioned the notion of "separate but equal" in public education. The Court found that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and a violation of the 14th Amendment. This decision polarized Americans, fostered debate, and served as a catalyst to encourage more federal action to protect civil rights. See the photo above.

Many Attempts at Change

Each year, from 1945 until 1957, Congress considered and failed to pass a civil rights bill. Congress finally passed limited Civil Rights Acts in 1957 and 1960, but they offered only moderate gains. As a result of the 1957 Act, the United States Commission on Civil Rights was formed to investigate, report on, and make recommendations to the President concerning civil rights issues. This institution is in operation even now. At the grass roots level, sit-ins, boycotts, Freedom Rides, the founding of organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC, local demands for inclusion in the political process, all were both in response to and were meant to quicken the federal civil rights legislative process in the 1950s and early 1960s.

In this gruesome photo, state troopers are beating unarmed civilians with billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Alabama in 1963.

1963 was a crucial year for the Civil Rights Movement. Social pressures continued to build with events such as the Birmingham Campaign, televised clashes between peaceful protesters and authorities, the murders of civil rights workers Medgar Evers and William L. Moore, the March on Washington, and the deaths of four young girls in the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church. There was no turning back. Civil rights were firmly on the national agenda and the federal government was forced to respond.

The Civil Rights Act is Born; A President is Assassinated

In response to the report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, President John F. Kennedy proposed, in a nationally televised address, a Civil Rights Act of 1963. A week after his speech, Kennedy submitted a bill to Congress addressing civil rights, H.R. 7152. He urged African American leaders to use caution when demonstrating since new violence might alarm potential supporters. Kennedy met with businessmen, religious leaders, labor officials, and other groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality, CORE, and the NAACP, while also maneuvering behind the scenes to build bipartisan support and negotiate compromises over controversial topics.

“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities; whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”

Following President Kennedy's assassination in November of 1963, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and newly inaugurated President Lyndon B. Johnson continued to press for passage of the bill. As Dr. King noted, in a January 1964 newspaper column, legislation "will feel the intense focus of Negro interest...It became the order of the day at the great March on Washington last summer. The Negro and his white compatriots for self-respect and human dignity will not be denied."

The House of Representatives debated H.R. 7152 for nine days, rejecting nearly 100 amendments designed to weaken the bill. It passed the House on February 10, 1964 after 70 days of public hearings, appearances by 275 witnesses, and 5,792 pages of published testimony.

Final Challenges Before Passage

The real battle was waiting in the Senate, however, where concerns focused on the bill's expansion of federal powers and its potential to anger constituents who might retaliate in the voting booth. Opponents launched the longest filibuster in American history, which lasted 57 days and brought the Senate to a virtual standstill. Committed to the filibuster effort were the powerful Senators Richard Russell, Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, William Fulbright, and Sam Ervin, among others.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964.

Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen nurtured the bill through compromise discussions and ended the filibuster. Dirksen's compromise bill passed the Senate after 83 days of debate that filled 3,000 pages in the Congressional Record. The House moved quickly to approve the Senate bill.

Within hours of its passage, on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, with Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Roy Wilkins, John Lewis, and other civil rights leaders in attendance, signed the bill into law, declaring once and for all that discrimination for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was then and forever illegal in the United States of America.

How Does this Relate to Reformism?

The Little Rock Nine

In response to the Brown decision and pressure from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Little Rock, Arkansas School Board adopted a plan for the gradual integration of its schools. The first institutions to integrate would be the high schools, beginning in September of 1957. Two pro-segregation groups formed to oppose the plan, the Capital Citizens Council and the Mother’s League of Central High School.

Despite the opposition, nine students registered to be the first African Americans to attend Central High School, which opened in 1927 and was originally called Little Rock Senior High School. Minnijean Brown (1941-), Elizabeth Eckford (1941-), Ernest Green (1941-), Thelma Mothershed (1940-), Melba Patillo (1941-), Gloria Ray (1942-), Terrence Roberts (1941-), Jefferson Thomas (1942-2010) and Carlotta Walls (1942-) had been recruited by Daisy Gaston Bates (1914-1999), president of the Arkansas NAACP and co-publisher, with her husband L.C. Bates, of the Arkansas State Press, an influential African-American newspaper. Daisy Bates, and others from the Arkansas NAACP, carefully vetted the group of students to ensure that they all possessed the strength and determination to face the resistance they would encounter. In the weeks prior to the start of the new school year, the students participated in intensive counseling sessions prepping them on what to expect once classes began and how to respond to anticipated hostile situations. The group came to be known as the Little Rock Nine.

On September 2, 1957, Governor Orval Faubus announced that he would call in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the African-American students’ entry into Central High, claiming this action was for the students’ own protection. In a televised address, Faubus insisted that violence and bloodshed might break out if black students were allowed to enter the school. The following day, the Mother’s League held a sunrise service at the school as a protest against integration. That same day, federal judge Richard Davies issued a ruling that desegregation would continue as planned the next day.

Students Turned Away by Arkansas State Troops

The Little Rock Nine arrived for the first day of school at Central High on September 4, 1957. Eight arrived together, driven by Bates. Eckford’s family, however, did not have a telephone, and Bates could not reach her to let her know of the carpool plans. Therefore, Eckford arrived alone. The Arkansas National Guard ultimately prevented any of the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High. One of the most enduring images from that day is a photograph of Eckford, notebook in hand, stoically approaching the school as a crowd of hostile and screaming white students and adults surround her. Eckford later recalled that one of the women spat on her. The image was printed and broadcast widely, bringing the Little Rock controversy to national and international attention.

It is in this picture, captured and printed in newspapers nation wide, during the Central High School desegregation crisis in 1957, that Elizabeth Eckford, as she approaches the school, remembers being spat on by one of women that surrounded her in the crowd.

In the following weeks, Judge Davies began legal proceedings against Governor Faubus, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower attempted to persuade Faubus to remove the National Guard and let the Little Rock Nine enter the school. Davies ordered the Guard removed on September 20, and the Little Rock Police Department took over to maintain order. The police escorted the nine African-American students into the school on September 23, through an angry mob of some 1,000 white protesters gathered outside. Amidst ensuing rioting, the police removed the nine students. On September 24, President Eisenhower sent in 1,200 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and placed them in charge of the 10,000 National Guardsmen on duty. Escorted by the troops, the Little Rock Nine attended their first full day of classes on September 25.

Legal challenges to integration continued throughout the year, and Faubus publicly expressed his wish on numerous occasions that the Little Rock Nine be removed from Central High. Although several of the black students had positive experiences on their first day of school, according to a September 25, 1957 report in The New York Times, they experienced routine harassment and even violence throughout the rest of the year. Patillo, for instance, was kicked, beaten and had acid thrown in her face, and at one point, white students burned an African-American effigy in a vacant lot across from the school. Ray was pushed down a flight of stairs, and the Little Rock Nine were barred from participating in extracurricular activities. Brown was expelled from Central High in February of 1958 for retaliating against the attacks; and it was not only the students who faced harassment, Ray’s mother was fired from her job with the State of Arkansas when she refused to remove her daughter from the school. The 101st Airborne and the National Guard remained at Central High for the duration of the year. On May 25, 1958, Green, the only senior among the Little Rock Nine, became the first African-American graduate of Central High. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

How Else Does this Relate to Reformism?

The University of Alabama is Forced to Desegregate

The "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" took place at Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. George Wallace, the then Democratic Governor of Alabama, in a symbolic attempt to keep his inaugural promise of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" and stop the desegregation of schools, stood at the door of the auditorium to try to block the entry of two black students, Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood.

Vivian Malone Jones arrives to formerly register for classes at the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium.

Jones and Hood pre-registered in the morning at the Birmingham courthouse. They selected their courses and filled out all of their forms there. They arrived at Foster Auditorium to have their course loads reviewed by advisers and to pay their fees. They remained in their vehicle as Wallace, attempting to uphold his promise as well as for political show, blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium with the media watching. Then, flanked by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach told Wallace to step aside. However, Wallace interrupted Katzenbach and gave a speech on states' rights.

George Wallace, the then Democratic Governor of Alabama, here stands in front of the door to the auditorium at the University of Alabama in a symbolic attempt to keep his inaugural promise of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" and to stop the desegregation of schools. He was attempting to block the entry of two black students, Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, who had already pre-registered for courses at another location earlier that day.
Katzenbach called President Kennedy, who had previously issued a presidential proclamation demanding that Wallace step aside, and told him of Wallace's actions in ignoring the proclamation as it had no legal force. In response, Kennedy issued Executive Order 11111, which had already been prepared, authorizing the federalization of the Alabama National Guard. Four hours later, Guard General Henry Graham commanded Wallace to step aside, saying, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace then spoke further, but eventually moved, and Jones and Hood completed their registration.

In the days following the enactment, the National Guard were ordered to remain on the campus owing to a large Ku Klux Klan contingent in the surrounding area. Wallace and Kennedy exchanged volatile telegrams over it. Wallace objected to Kennedy ordering the Guard to remain on the campus and said that Kennedy bore responsibility if something happened. Kennedy responded stating that Executive Order 11111 made it clear that responsibility for keeping the peace remained with the State Troopers under Wallace's control and said he would revoke the order if assurances were made. Wallace refused stating that he would not be intimidated and cited that Executive Order 11111 was passed without his knowledge. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

Is There Any Further Way that this Can Relate to Reformism?

As one can clearly see, by 1963, segregation laws leftover from the the now deteriorating Jim Crow period; though they were beginning to be dismantled, were still not fully gone. In locations all over the country, segregation was still alive, well, and part of the American way of life. So, after controversial incidents like the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and the University of Alabama, African Americans began to get more and more active for their own cause, forming organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and the Nation of Islam. They also began to get more aggressive with their organizing efforts, reaching out to thousands of people across the country that they had not previously worked their hardest to reach out to, especially those peoples in the rural South. It was Jim Crow laws and the KKK that had prevented such work from bearing fruit or even being planted at all before the early 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement was beginning to reach its peak.

This is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech on the mall of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, during the 1963 March on Washington.

The SCLC was lead by Martin Luther King, Jr., probably the most famous of the African leaders of the era. Probably the most well remembered leader of SNCC will forever be Stokely Carmichael, not only for his work with SNCC, but also for his transition into the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and finally, the All-African People's Revolutionary Party. For the Nation of Islam, there could have been no greater leader than Malcolm X. Though, he was never the top leader of the organization, he did become their most powerful speaker, and when he left their organization, he quickly outshone them on his own.

Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965 while delivering a speech to his organization, Afro-American Unity, at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights.

So, going into 1964, the year that the Civil Rights Act was finally passed, the African American Civil Rights Movement, as many historians will now argue, was beginning to reach a peak. It is at this point that cooperative efforts made by Dr. King and other African American leaders began to pay off. King's work with President Kennedy prior to his assassination carried over to President Johnson, and and just two days before the nation's birthday in 1964 the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. However, did this law really deliver on its promises, or was it just another ill gotten promise made only to be broken at the first chance possible? The law officially, supposedly, declared, once and for all, that discrimination, for any reason, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was illegal in the United States of America, but has this really changed? Did one man signing a piece of paper end centuries of inbred hatred and racism? Not likely. In fact, the last ten years is evidence that the United States is far from being the kind of nation that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supposed to create. African American males are still the most highly imprisoned Americans. They are all still they most likely to shot by the police, and they are sill the mostly likely to be arrested without cause. 

Stokely Carmichael was well known for making impassioned speeches on behalf of SNCC, the Black Panther Panther Party, and later, the All-African People's Revolutionary Party, the African Nationalist Party that he joined after leaving the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. His speeches were filled with impassioned pleas for African Americans to take control of their own lives and free themselves of the ravages of five hundred years of the white oppression under which they and their ancestors were still shackled.

The real reason that this is still a problem is that African Americans, once they realized that white people were only willing to take change so far, never organized a strong enough movement to resist this restraint placed on them by the white powers. There are several reasons why this is, a couple of which will be the topic of subsequent articles on reformism. One particular method is political isolation. The dominant political parities, north or south, create Gerrymandered voter districts so as to isolate the voting power of their African American populations. If that is not possible, they attempt to buy off their African American voters with all black voter districts, or districts where the population is so black that a black representative cannot fail to be elected. Voter ID laws are now another method that are being used to attack poor people's ability to participate in politics. These laws are almost always targeted at poor African Americans. They also created housing and welfare projects that were intentionally designed to target poor African American communities in America's poor inner cities. These programs were meant to keep African American populations localized and away from white population who were moving out to suburbs in what came to be know as the "White Flight Movement." The white powers intentionally recreated segregation.

Pictured above are Opium plants grown in Afghanistan. They are being guarded by American Soldiers. Opium plants produce the psychoactive substance, Ibogaine, which makes Heroine so addictive. The United States has been in Afghanistan since 2001, not for oil or to fight the War on Terrorism, but rather, to ensure the safe distribution of the world's largest supply of Heroin on the planet. Further, before this supply was secured, the Opium fields in Southeast Asia were supplying the US Pharmaceutical Industry. This was also the original purpose of the Vietnam War. Stopping the spread of Communism was never the real issue.

There is, of course, also the influx of illegal narcotics into America's inner cities. By now, formal and legal historical documents have proven to be true what was once shouted off by the federal government as ludicrous lies and demented conspiracy theories. The CIA and other agencies of the federal government have colluded and now collude with foreign governments and criminal syndicates to secure, ship, and distribute some of the most addictive drugs on the planet onto American streets and into the hands of American citizens. Further, it does so purposely to keep the American people doing anything stupid like becoming socially aware and standing up for their rights. From the fifties to the mid-seventies, the drug of choice was Heroin, and it had a powerful hold on on people.

“Some scholars have cited the crack ‘epidemic’ of the 1980s as an example of a moral panic, noting that the explosion in use and trafficking of the drug actually occurred after the media coverage of the drug as an 'epidemic.” This essentially means that the government, through the media, pushed the drug on the people, and got them hooked on purpose.

However, in the mid-seventies a more local and more addictive drug hit the scene, Cocaine; and in the early eighties, a new cheaper form of the drug hit the streets, Crack. The Crack epidemic was by far the worst drug epidemic in US History, and it was intentionally set off by the government to generate a cover for the United States' illicit operations with these foreign governments and criminal syndicates. It was to be known as the; "War on Drugs," and worse, it intentionally targeted the African American community, so as to ensure that they would never seriously challenge their position in the American social structure ever again. One of the ways that this was made so was by using these drugs to criminalize African Americans, which made it impossible for them register to vote, and thus, interact in the political power structure. See, the government gives to the people in one hand and takes away from them in the other.

It has been said by many leaders in the Black Power Movement that the only way African Americans will ever achieve liberty is by securing it though forceful action taken of their own accord. It is the opinion of many of these leaders that the time for compromise has long since passed.

So, finally, one last time, what does this say about the Civil Rights Act of 1964? It essentially means that it is not worth the paper that it is written on, and it means that the only way that African Americans are going to get the real justice that they deserve in this country is if they use more aggressive measures to get it. Now, this does not necessarily mean that they need to use violence to get the equal treatment that they deserve, but it does mean that they need to start to use more unconventional organizing methods that will catch their oppressors off guard. Further, when the hammer is dropped by the white man, they need to be able to withstand the blow, which means they need to be able to unite under one flag, and they need to be able to work without the help of other races. This really needs to be a modern Black Power movement of sorts. Finally, more legislation is not the answer to their problem, especially if it signed by the hand of the very same oppressor that continues to keep them down.