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Bill Fletcher Jr.

COMMENTARY: Soft-core lynching

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Given the history of the relationship between African Americans and law enforcement, the appearance of the authorities brings with it the ever-present threat of confrontation. And confrontation can mean imprisonment or death.

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By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

I have been thinking about Jermaine Massey quite a bit since I heard about his story at the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, Oregon. This was the case of a Black man—a registered guest in the hotel—holding a phone conversation with his mother in the hotel lobby. Two hotel security personnel approached him, asked him to leave the hotel and called the police on him. Despite video proof that he informed them that he was a legitimate guest, he was told to leave. These security personnel were ultimately fired.

The case is not over but the incident, once again, is a story of a white person calling the police on an African American for no reason that comes close to allegations of breaking the law. After hearing about this case, the term “softcore lynching” came to mind. Maybe someone else has used this term.

I call it a softcore lynching because these incidents are much more than a racist nuisance. These are flagrant examples of whites both determining what territory is acceptable for those of us of color to occupy (note: these incidents are not limited to attacks on African Americans), but they also place our lives in imminent danger. It is this latter point that I wish to here emphasize.

Given the history of the relationship between African Americans and law enforcement, the appearance of the authorities brings with it the ever-present threat of confrontation. And confrontation can mean imprisonment or death. When the police show up, whether due to African Americans playing golf slower than a white person might desire; having a party when white people would rather we don’t; returning home when we are not recognized by a white neighbor; or speaking with our mother from a hotel lobby, the reality is that we are always treated with suspicion. How that suspicion is realized can determine whether that interaction ends violently or peacefully.

When the white security guards at the DoubleTree called the police on Massey they were—to give them the benefit of the doubt—ignoring history and ignoring the potential consequences should, for instance, Massey have gotten into an argument with the police about a potential violation of his rights. Since there was no indication that Massey was armed and dangerous, a confrontation could have been very one-sided leading to injury or death for the Black man.

This phenomenon of whites calling law enforcement on blacks due to their own unease, i.e., racist unease, represents a resort to implied violence to both ensure that we remain in our place and to ensure that the comfort level of whites is retained.

This, therefore, is a political struggle that we must engage. If one pulls a fire alarm for the thrill, one pays a price. There must be a substantial price paid by these racists who choose to call the police when there is absolutely no evidence of a crime, intended or otherwise. My guess is that if these racists had to pay the cost of the deployment of the police plus an additional penalty, they would think twice before putting our lives in danger since, after all, these are the actions of cowards.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. He is the author of new murder/mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

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COMMENTARY: Science Vs. Myth — The COVID-19 Crisis

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The Administration brushed aside scientific evidence and concerns regarding the pandemic, downplaying its spread and the depth of the problems we were encountering. It was only in March that they were forced to shift gears. But in shifting gears the blame game started, afresh, with a focus on the Chinese, the WHO, and probably we shall soon hear that aliens from the Romulan Star Empire were somehow involved.

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The Administration brushed aside scientific evidence and concerns regarding the pandemic, downplaying its spread and the depth of the problems we were encountering. It was only in March that they were forced to shift gears.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

Trump’s decision to cut funding for the World Health Organization (WHO)—which we warned about last week—is yet another example of his efforts to obscure reality and distance himself from any responsibility for the mess that the USA finds itself in as a result of his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

There is a deeper problem, however, than Trump’s apparent narcissism and scapegoating. We are seeing the consequences of avoiding reality and replacing reality with what can, at best, be described as wishful thinking.

In the last couple of weeks, very damaging information has emerged regarding the handling of the COVID-19 crisis by the Administration. It now appears that as early as December 2019, the Administration was being warned about possible dangers from this outbreak. Indeed, from the early days of the Administration there were warnings from various departments of the danger arising from viral pandemics. These were ignored.

The Administration brushed aside scientific evidence and concerns regarding the pandemic, downplaying its spread and the depth of the problems we were encountering. It was only in March that they were forced to shift gears. But in shifting gears the blame game started, afresh, with a focus on the Chinese, the WHO, and probably we shall soon hear that aliens from the Romulan Star Empire were somehow involved.

Leaving aside the complicity of most Republican elected officials with the Administration’s nonsense, it is time for a reckoning when it comes to reality. Should decisions by government in the face of crisis be based on wishful thinking? Self-aggrandizement? The wishes of the wealthy? Or should they be based upon facts, data, scientific judgement, and concerns for the population?

The record is clear for anyone to see that the Trump administration blew off reliable information. One must ask why that is? Was it for fear that reality would have an impact on his election wishes? Or does he truly believe, in the words of the comedian George Wallace, that “…that’s the way I see it, and that’s the way that it ought to be…”

Throughout the course of this Administration we have seen, time and again, a dismissal of facts and science. The clearest case is probably in connection with the environment and the efforts underway to reverse nearly fifty years of legislation and practice to address pollution and global warning. But one can also see evidence of this in the Administration’s illogical withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, despite all reliable evidence of Iranian compliance with the agreement.

The core of Trump’s base appears to believe that if Trump says something, then it must be true. As for the rest of us, well, we will have to ensure that reality is incontrovertible, and to the benefit of the majority, in November.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and former president of TransAfrica Forum.

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COMMENTARY: Fear and Loss in a Time of Plague

NNPA NEWSWIRE — For far too long as a country, we have lived in denial regarding the ever-present threat of pandemics. Trump was not alone in that self-deception. Scientists have warned us that these dangers existed and, in the context of environmental catastrophe, the dangers associated with viral pandemics have increased. Yet too many of us have thought that we personally, or we-the USA, would be immune. We have assumed that others would suffer and die but that somehow there was a wall or forcefield that protected us. Denial is easy and innocent; and seems safe.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and a past president of TransAfrica Forum.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

The anniversary of the loss of my first born has, by coincidence, landed right in the middle of this time of fear and pandemic. We have witnessed, over the past weeks, a President of the United States who perpetrated denial and lies about the overall situation, allegedly in an effort to calm us; more likely to calm the markets.

Our collective fear rests largely in facing the unknown. We have no idea what to expect and how severe the situation will become. The results of this plague may ultimately be no worse than a very bad flu, but all indications are that, at a minimum, it will place severe stress on an already problematic medical system. And, yes, people will die.

For far too long as a country, we have lived in denial regarding the ever-present threat of pandemics. Trump was not alone in that self-deception. Scientists have warned us that these dangers existed and, in the context of environmental catastrophe, the dangers associated with viral pandemics have increased. Yet, too many of us have thought that we personally, or we-the USA, would be immune. We have assumed that others would suffer and die but that somehow there was a wall or forcefield that protected us. Denial is easy and innocent; and seems safe.

When my wife was first pregnant, thirty-five years ago, there was nothing that would have led us to believe that there would not be a happy ending. Yes, we knew that there were such things as premature births and other complications. But we were both healthy and took the pregnancy seriously. With each month, our excitement grew. And then the unexpected happened and our first born emerged alive but too young and too undeveloped in order to survive. Three days later she was gone.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming us for being naïve. I am saying that the shock of reality threw us in ways from which we have never fully recovered. There is a level of insecurity that emerges out of such a crisis that never completely vanishes because you have faced a disturbing reality: tragedy can hit in the most unexpected ways and the pain is excruciating.

This planet—and not just ‘America First’—is living through yet another crisis. We regularly face wars, poverty and pestilence. But for many of us in the so-called global North—the more developed countries—there is a tendency to believe that immense tragedy is exceptional. Yes, it can happen, but it usually happens to someone else. And even when it is bad, it is temporary and, well, ‘they’—whoever ‘they’is—will get over it.

We are facing a different reality with Covid-19 and economic collapse. Both are affecting everyone, in one way or another. We now know that all of us can be shaken, very directly, by global tragedies. And, no, this situation is not something that someone can just ‘get over.’ This is a situation that will take time to heal and will necessitate a full break from denial. It will also necessitate, as Senator Sanders and others have so eloquently articulated, solidarity rather than exclusivity.

The pain resulting from fear and loss does not completely vanish in time. Rather, we get used to it and adjust to it. But it leaves us with a sense of insecurity that also does not easily disappear because we have had to face a daunting fact: it can happen here and, yes, it can happen to us.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and a past president of TransAfrica Forum.

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COMMENTARY: Contempt for Palestinians

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Think about it this way. A company wants your home. They tell you that they will offer you a specific price but that this price is non-negotiable. If you do not accept the price, they will take your land anyway. You may be able to continue to live on a portion of your property, but you will not have access to your kitchen, garage or bedrooms. What would you say?

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and a former president of TransAfrica Forum.

By Bill Fletcher Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

I was amazed by the audacity of Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” regarding the Israeli and Palestinians. It was called a “deal,” yet the Palestinians were never involved. It was called a “deal,” yet the Palestinians got nothing that they have demanded.

Think about it this way. A company wants your home. They tell you that they will offer you a specific price but that this price is non-negotiable. If you do not accept the price, they will take your land anyway. You may be able to continue to live on a portion of your property, but you will not have access to your kitchen, garage or bedrooms. What would you say?

Contrary to the myths that have circulated for years, when Jewish colonists came to Palestine, it was not vacant property. There were hundreds of thousands of Arabs/Palestinians living in what was first a province of the Ottoman Empire and, after 1918, a mandate/territory of the British Empire. The land was systematically expropriated. In the 1946-49 war (which began as a guerrilla war against the British and the Palestinians, and later became the so-called Israeli war of independence), thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes for what they thought was a temporary relocation until the end of the war. They were never allowed to return despite the fact that international law had dictated that the “right of return” was a human right of all those displaced through war.

The Palestinians have continued to face expropriation. And then comes Trump. Largely to advance his domestic agenda, Trump has appealed to so-called Christian Zionists and to Jewish Zionists to rally around him as the alleged friend of Israel. Despite repeated examples of what looks a LOT like anti-semitism on the part of Trump and many of his supporters, his willingness to support the objectives of the most right-wing factions of the Israeli political elite have served as a flag to which he wishes his supporters and potential supporters to salute.

Trump’s “Deal” is made worse by the expectation that there is nothing that Palestinians and their global supporters can do about it. This is why the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement has become so important. It is a non-violent means of resisting the Israeli effort to destroy the Palestinian people. It is not, in the least bit, anti-semitic. Rather, it is a movement against a policy and historical record of the suppression of an entire people.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and a former president of TransAfrica Forum.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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