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COMMENTARY: With Extremism on the Rise in Republican Party, Kansas Voters Turn Out to Preserve Abortion Rights

After the Supreme Court’s hard-right majority overturned Roe v. Wade, anti-choice legislators have rushed to pass more extreme anti-abortion bills targeting health care workers and even friends and family who help someone needing abortion care. Those bills represent the wishes of powerful religious-right groups that have a lot of influence in the Republican Party, but they don’t represent the public, which overwhelmingly supports access to abortion.

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

By Ben Jealous

Red flags are flying for democracy and democratic values. We need to pay attention to the threats—and also to signs that we can work together to preserve our freedoms.

This summer’s primary elections are making it clear that our rights and freedoms are threatened by the rising power of extremists within the Republican Party.

Consider the Aug. 2 primaries in Arizona. President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state sent many Arizona supporters of former President Donald Trump down a deep hole of lies and conspiracy theories about the election. They engineered a ridiculous “audit” that stirred up election-deniers from across the country but failed to undermine Biden’s victory.

Responsible Republicans defended the election and its outcome, but on Aug. 2, they were outvoted by Trump’s troops. Mark Finchem, who claims against all evidence that the election was stolen from Trump, won the nomination to be secretary of state.

He has called for the 2020 election to be decertified. He wants to get rid of early voting and restrict voting by mail—and give legislators the power to override voters. Finchem, who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, is a member of the Oath Keepers, the far-right group whose members were involved in planning and leading the assault. On the condition of anonymity a state Republican consultant told The Atlantic, “I would absolutely expect Finchem to both bend the meaning of laws and throw up roadblocks to the normal election procedures.”

Arizona Republicans have also nominated Blake Masters for the U.S. Senate. Masters’ campaign was backed and funded by far-right billionaire Peter Thiel, who has openly said he no longer believes in democracy. Masters has blamed gun violence on “Black people.” His campaign has generated excitement among the White nationalist crowd that was energized by Trump.

The governor’s primary is close, but as I wrote this column the day after the election, it appeared that Trump endorsee Kari Lake will win the Republican nomination. Lake, an election conspiracy advocate, calls President Biden “illegitimate” and has said that if she wins, she will instruct the attorney general to seize all voting equipment in the state.

Arizona is also home to politicians who openly embrace White nationalists, including Rep. Paul Gosar and state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who both won their primaries.

Other extremists have picked up Republican nominations this summer, including election conspiracy theorist Doug Mastriano, who has campaigned with QAnon activists in his bid for governor of Pennsylvania; Trumpist election denier Dan Cox for governor of Maryland; Confederate sympathizer Michael Peroutka for attorney general of Maryland, who has said laws passed by the state legislature are illegitimate because in his eyes, legislators broke God’s law by embracing marriage equality; and Big Lie promoter Kristina Karamo for secretary of state in Michigan.

The list goes on—too many to name in a single column.

This is bad news. In a political system dominated by two political parties, it is dangerous to have one party taken over by the kind of truth-rejecting, voter-suppressing, authoritarianism-embracing people who are still driven by the same lies and rage that fueled the Jan. 6 attack on our country.

But Trumpists aren’t winning all their races. We have seen examples of courageous Republicans standing up to the Trump mob.

And voters in Kansas gave us another big bright spot-on Aug. 2, when they rejected an anti-choice referendum by more than 20 points.

After the Supreme Court’s hard-right majority overturned Roe v. Wade, anti-choice legislators have rushed to pass more extreme anti-abortion bills targeting health care workers and even friends and family who help someone needing abortion care. Those bills represent the wishes of powerful religious-right groups that have a lot of influence in the Republican Party, but they don’t represent the public, which overwhelmingly supports access to abortion.

Given a choice about whether to strip abortion-rights protections out of the state constitution and give legislators a green light to pass a ban, Kansas voters overwhelmingly voted no.

That victory for privacy, freedom, and bodily autonomy was driven by huge voter turnout and the organizers who worked to achieve it. It is a promising sign that many Americans can be motivated to vote this year by the Supreme Court’s harmful embrace of a restrictive and regressive social agenda.

Let’s make it so.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. A New York Times best-selling author, his next book “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free” will be published by Harper Collins in December 2022.

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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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