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COMMENTARY: The Big Truth: The Big Problem is the Big Lie

Many if not most Republican officials know that Trump’s Big Lie is not true. But they are cynical and corrupt enough to use it to justify new voter suppression laws and other schemes to overturn the will of the voters. Far-right activists have harassed and threatened election officials across the country. And they are trying to get elected to state and local positions that will give them the power to oversee future elections.

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way.

By Ben Jealous, President of People For the American Way

It’s been a year since a mob of Trumpists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol. They wanted to stop Congress from affirming President Joe Biden’s victory. Some of them were out for blood. All of them were motivated by the former president’s Big Lie that he won the election but that his victory was stolen from him and his supporters.

That lie has been debunked by journalists and election officials — both Republicans and Democrats. It has been rejected by courts. But it has never been abandoned by Trump or his right-wing allies. And so, one year after it fueled an attack on Congress and the Constitution, the Big Lie is still a big threat to our democracy.

The Big Lie causes big harms in lots of ways by fueling anger and mistrust about our elections among Trump’s base.

Many if not most Republican officials know that Trump’s Big Lie is not true. But they are cynical and corrupt enough to use it to justify new voter suppression laws and other schemes to overturn the will of the voters.

Far-right activists have harassed and threatened election officials across the country. And they are trying to get elected to state and local positions that will give them the power to oversee future elections.

Donald Trump would love to go into the 2024 elections knowing that he has loyal Trumpists in place to reject or “find” as many votes as he needs to declare victory. That’s why Trump has endorsed the effort by Rep. Jody Hice to replace Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger refused to embrace the Big Lie, stood up to Trump’s bullying, and respected the will of the voters. Hice has promoted the Big Lie. That’s the kind of guy Trump wants deciding which votes to count — and not count — in 2024.

Trump has endorsed other secretary of state candidates, and his political henchman Steve Bannon in encouraging Trumpists to try to replace election officials at the local level.

Meanwhile, state legislators are making it easier for partisan Republicans in state legislatures to mess with vote counting by taking control from local officials — and even to simply override the will of the voters.

That is why we urgently need new federal voting rights legislation — and why we need senators and President Biden to work together to overcome “states’ rights” Republicans and their use of filibuster rules to block the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Both pieces of legislation take on both voter suppression and election subversion. The John Lewis Act would make it illegal for a public official to “willfully fail or refuse to certify” an election victory by the candidate who gets the most votes.

The Freedom to Vote Act only allows local election administrators to be removed by the state if they have a legitimate cause to do so.

As Sen. Raphael Warnock said on Jan. 4, “Our democracy is in peril and time is running out.”

“This is a moral moment,” Sen. Warnock said. Indeed, it is.

There’s also another moral duty facing our elected leaders. And that’s finding out the truth about the Capitol insurrection and those who incited it, planned it, facilitated it, and have since tried to downplay or cover-up that assault on our democracy.

Criminals need to be held accountable for their crimes — and not just those who smashed windows and attacked Capitol police.

Republicans love to talk tough about the rule of law, but now many of them are resisting the rule of law by trying to undermine and obstruct the House committee investigating the insurrection. And they’re trying to rewrite history, downplaying the violence and portraying its perpetrators as patriots.

The problem for them is that the violent reality of that day has been well documented. The same is true for other casualties of the Big Lie, including harassment and threats against election officials.

The Big Lie and all those who have spread it have created a dangerous reality in which millions of Americans falsely believe that President Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate and that Donald Trump should still be our president.

And that makes them more willing to determine the outcome of elections through violence or the raw exercise of power.

In the year ahead, we need to defend democracy by answering the Big Lie with the truth, and by acting to defend our democracy at the ballot box.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of Practice in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches leadership.

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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