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The Content of Steve Scalise’s Character

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Lee A. Daniels

By Lee A. Daniels
NNPA Columnist

 

There they go again! Just as the Republican Party is poised to take control of Congress, a key official’s actions and words remind us – just in time for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – that it remains implacably hostile to what King represented and what the holiday stands for.

Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr.’s revealing last week that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), now the third-ranking officer in the GOP’s House majority leadership structure, spoke at a White-supremacist convention in 2002 while a state representative, set off the by now well-practiced minuet of yet another prominent conservative trying to distance himself or herself from having associated with bigots.

First, Scalise through a spokesperson acknowledged that he had spoken to the group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, but said he had had no inkling of their anti- Black, -Hispanic and –Jewish views. No transcript or otherwise hard evidence of what Scalise said then has surfaced to contradict – or support – his assertion that he spoke only of general public-policy matters.

However, Scalise’s claim of ignorance about EURO produced widespread skepticism, even among some conservatives, given that he spoke to the group during its two-day convention at a hotel in his own district and that its racist views had been discussed in several recent local news articles.

EURO, which had been founded two years earlier by David Duke, the notorious racist and former Louisiana state legislator, had links to several other similar Southern-based racist groups, although, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks U.S. hate groups, it was and is largely “a paper tiger, serving primarily as a vehicle to publicize Duke’s writing and sell his books.”

Nonetheless, like its confederates among hate groups, it was a poster-board for stomach-churning racist invective. For example, one post from 2007 denounced the increasingly multiracial character of today’s Germany, declaring, “The beautiful Germany of the 1930s with blonde children happily running through the streets has been replaced by a multi-racial cesspool. Out of work Africans can be seen shuffling along the same streets which used to be clean and safe in the days of [Hitler’s Nazi Party].”

The pushback forced Scalise to quickly issue another statement declaring that his appearance at the event was “a mistake in judgment,” caused by the organizational disarray of his scheduling team and this time he emphatically denied approving of EURO’s views. “I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group,” Scalise told the New Orleans-based NOLA.com/Times-Picayune website. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”

By then, prominent Republicans in Congress had begun speaking up in his defense, and Rep. Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, Louisiana’s only Black Democratic Congressman, vouched for Scalise’s tolerance and integrity.

By the end of the week, those elements combined to take the steam out of the story. After all, one might also say, given the GOP’s voluminous recent record of bigoted comments and actions against Blacks and Hispanics, gays and lesbians, undocumented immigrants, and women, and its many racist references to President Obama, what’s “new” about a decade-and-more-old story of a Deep-South Republican’s trolling for votes among the nation’s most racist elements?

But what caught my attention most about this story was the largely ignored fact that in 1999 and again in 2004 Steve Scalise as a state representative was one of a very few Louisiana state legislators to vote against establishing a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

On those occasions, only three and six Louisiana state legislators, respectively, voted against those proposals. Why at the opening of the 21st century, after the King national holiday had been celebrated for 15 years, would any public official be against establishing an official state holiday? Doesn’t that call for an explanation? Are those votes the actions of someone who’s not a bigot? Are they the actions of someone who wouldn’t know they were at a White-supremacist conference despite being, literally, in the middle of it?

In all the hullabaloo about Scalise’s speaking before the EURO group, his anti-King votes have been overlooked. But don’t those votes also raise a question about the content of Steve Scalise’s character? Perhaps this month he’ll find a respectable forum and give a speech about that.

 
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His essay, “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Great Provocateur,” appears in Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent (2014), published by Zed Books.

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Crime

Why Trump Valet Walt Nauta Won’t Roll on Ex-President in Secret Documents Case

This week, Trump’s attorneys unveiled their legal strategy — delay at any cost — intended to make sure that the trial in what should be an open-and-shut Mar-a-Lago documents case doesn’t happen until after the 2024 election.

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Walt Nauta

By Emil Guillermo

Serial indictment collector Donald Trump, the disgraced, twice impeached 45th president has an unusual criminal defense: Run for president!

I doubt if any of us can rely on the presidential defense if we should have the misfortune of facing a felony, but this is what the justice system looks like for the privileged.

This week, Trump’s attorneys unveiled their legal strategy — delay at any cost — intended to make sure that the trial in what should be an open-and-shut Mar-a-Lago documents case doesn’t happen until after the 2024 election.

In the autocratic mind of Trump, running for president is the grand excuse. How can a millionaire and his lawyers prepare for trial? And so in lieu of a defense, in the Trumpian fantasy, the indicted one just needs to win the election. Then he sets up a new Justice Department and the case is dropped.

This is how an autocrat thinks in order to assure he stays above the law. It’s Trump’s prime motivator: White House or the Big House?

When literally the emperor has no defense, all delays help, which is why Waltine “Walt” Nauta, the Guam native and Trump co-defendant should be on your radar.

In this tale of the U.S. vs. Trump and Nauta, Nauta has the opportunity to be a hero. He is the former Navy enlisted man who worked his way up the White House mess to become a valet to the commander in chief. From AAPI in the White House, Nauta retired from the Navy and makes a reported $135,000 as Trump’s personal valet and body man.

He knows things. He could flip on Trump.

But he doesn’t. With Nauta, if Trump says delay, Nauta drags his feet and says ‘how long, Boss?’

Witness last week when Nauta showed up to enter a plea a month after Trump. Why? Because relying on his attorney paid for by a Trump Political Action Committee (PAC), Nauta didn’t have a Florida attorney in order to appear in court. Left hung out to dry? Well, Nauta is the help.

So, it was no surprise when Nauta showed up this time with his Trump lawyer, and a former public defender who does divorces and has no national security experience.

It just all adds to the delay.

THE COLONIAL MINDSET

The case involving the mishandling of boxes of classified top-secret documents and plotting with his former boss to hide them at Mar-a-Lago is so serious that both men could be sent to prison for a long, long time.

I just have a feeling when all is said and done, Nauta will be serving more time for this than his boss ever will.

And that would be criminal.

Maybe I feel for Nauta because he looks like me, only without hair.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve lived in 10 different cities and know what it’s like to pack and move boxes. Without the heavy weight of top-secret documents.

But am I the only one asking, “Who is Nauta’s body man?” By that, I mean, who really cares about Walt Nauta?

That he’s Guamanian may be all you really need to know. If you know the history of Guam and the indigenous Chamorro people, this is what always happens. It explains my fear that Walt Nauta is going to get the worst of it.

Unless he wises up. But in many ways, maybe he can’t help it.

You’re from Guam? Losing is in your blood.

GUAM, THE FOREVER COLONY

It’s baked in the system when you’re from Guam, where a colonial mentality has lingered since the 16th century

Spanish rule began when Magellan stumbled onto Guam in 1521. It was just the beginning of bad luck for the explorer who was killed later in the Philippines.

In 1898, the U.S. got Guam after the Spanish American War, almost as an afterthought. But that’s how the island is connected to our nation.

Guam’s role is to exist as the forever American colony, its people official second-class citizens of a great democracy.

As such, Guamanians have a Congressional representative who gets to sit in the People’s House but doesn’t get to vote. On anything. He’s window dressing. In fact, no Guamanian has a vote for president.

Maybe that’s why Donald Trump loves Nauta so much. He’s in that personal safe zone. Undocumented/documented? Nauta’s got all the documents he can get, and he’s still less than whole.

It’s a status that makes him constantly forced to prove his worthiness.

The way out of the colonial mindset has been to trade it for a military mindset, and Guamanians have enlisted in the Navy in great numbers.

Nauta enlisted as a teenager. At age 40, Nauta’s the modern Guamanian success story.

And he’s done it all by constantly proving his worthiness and showing that selfless loyalty to his boss, the former commander in chief.

 

HOUSE NEGRO VS. FIELD NEGRO

I’m reading Oakland resident Ishmael Reed’s new play “The Conductor” where there’s a passage on the difference between the ‘House Negro’ and the ‘Field Negro.’ That’s where House Negros served the master’s family in the house, and the Field Negroes picked the cotton.

Malcom X, in a speech at Michigan State in 1963, said for the House Negro, the master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. The Field Negro? When the master got sick, they prayed he’d die.

And perhaps that helps explain Trump’s valet Nauta.

We also know he’s almost as sick as the master.

In the unsealed affidavit this week, Nauta is shown in security camera footage carrying three boxes inside Mar-a-Lago on May 24. Then two days later, when interviewed by the FBI, he is alleged to have denied knowing anything about the boxes.

Four days after the interview, Nauta is seen on the surveillance footage moving 50 boxes out of a storage room.

Then on June 2, footage shows Nauta moved 25-30 boxes back to the storage room. On Trump’s command?

The arithmetic is damning.

But Nauta stays selflessly loyal. He’s doubly cursed: colonial mentality and House Negro all rolled into one.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a news-reality talk show on www.amok.com

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Barbara Lee

Supreme Court Denies Affirmative Action for Everyone but the Wealthy and White

For generations, affirmative action has been a powerful means of lowering barriers to education for historically marginalized and underrepresented students of color. At its core, it simply aims to remedy the government-sanctioned, decades-long inequality by making race one factor in the college admissions process.

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Barbara Lee
Barbara Lee

By Hon. Barbara Lee

By ruling that race and ethnicity cannot be considered in college admissions, the U.S. Supreme Court sets us back more than four decades.

For generations, affirmative action has been a powerful means of lowering barriers to education for historically marginalized and underrepresented students of color. At its core, it simply aims to remedy the government-sanctioned, decades-long inequality by making race one factor in the college admissions process.

Dismantling these policies will not only have devastating implications for students of color, but for the classrooms at these institutions, which will become devoid of diversity in the lived experience and perspective needed to solve America’s toughest challenges. Higher education serves as an incubator for the brilliant ideas of tomorrow. Those ideas will now become less diverse.

I’m a graduate of Mills College, a women’s college in Oakland. There was a time when, as a Black woman, my options for higher education were limited. But because affirmative action successfully addressed the centuries-long discrimination in higher education, I was able to earn my degree while caring for my two children as a single mother on public assistance.

I met my mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; received my master’s degree in social work; became a successful small business owner; serve in Congress; and ran to be only the third Black woman in our nation’s history to serve in the U.S. Senate.

The list of barriers to higher education is already long, and I fear that with this ruling we are turning back the clock, and a generation of talented young people of color may not be given the same opportunities that I had.

For those reasons and more, I’ve fought hard to uphold affirmative action. California’s Proposition 209, which effectively banned affirmative action across our state’s public education systems, was a harmful policy that deprived countless students of color the opportunity to study at some of the greatest academic institutions in the world.

In 2020, I fought for the reversal of Prop 209, but it sadly failed. I argued against the banning of affirmative action before the UC Board of Regents years ago, and since that policy went into effect, the share of Black, Latino and Native American students has fallen significantly.

California has a difficult relationship with race. Despite being one of the most progressive states in the country, we struggle with racial inequality of epic proportions.

Ironically, [June 29] the California Reparations Task Force completed the report they were commissioned to produce. I was the only member of Congress to testify in front of the task force, and yesterday’s ruling affirms the need for their work toward an effort to repair the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and systemic racism, and for my continued effort at the federal level to establish a Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.

While the country mourns the end of affirmative action in higher education, let’s be clear: The Supreme Court did not strike down affirmative action for everyone. It was just taken away for everyone that’s not wealthy and white.

For many wealthy white students, it still exists in the form of legacy admissions. Justice Brett Kavanaugh knows this intimately, as a legacy admission to Yale. Judge Clarence Thomas was an affirmative action admission as well. Yet, they are denying future generations their same opportunities, and making the application of a first-generation college student from an immigrant family less notable than the child of a fifth-generation Yale graduate from a wealthy family.

In the spirit of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissent on the ruling, preventing the consideration of race does not end racism, and deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. We do not live in a colorblind society.

Systemic racism is not an abstract idea. For the far right, it is intentional, deliberate and strategic. Their efforts to ban books, erase history and simply deny students of color entry into the building is a coordinated effort to uphold white supremacy.

Education has always been the great equalizer, which is why, for centuries, people of color were systematically shut out of educational opportunities. [Last] Thursday’s decision is simply one more part of this effort and, ultimately, lays the groundwork to undermine Brown v. Board of Education, which began the dismantling of Jim Crow.

The remnants of Jim Crow laws and the chains of slavery were meant to be broken, not meant to take new forms. Affirmative action is a crucial tool to not only incentivize racial diversity on our college campuses, but level the playing field for all those in pursuit of the American dream.

This opinion was originally published in the Sacramento Bee on July 1.

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Activism

Rise in Abductions of Black Girls in Oakland Alarms Sex-Trafficking Survivors

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”

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Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos
Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos

By Tanya Dennis

Within the last 30 days there have been seven attempted kidnappings or successful abductions of Black girls in Oakland.

Survivors of human trafficking who are now advocates are not surprised.

Nor were they surprised that the police didn’t respond, and parents of victims turned to African American community-based organizations like Adamika Village and Love Never Fails for help.

Advocates say Black and Brown girls disappear daily, usually without a blip on the screen for society and government officials.

Perhaps that will change with a proposed law by state Senator Steven Bradford’s Senate Bill 673 Ebony Alert, that, if passed, will alert people when Black people under the age of 26 go missing.

According to the bill, Black children are disproportionately classified as “runaways” in comparison to their white counterparts which means fewer resources are dedicated to finding them.

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”

Brantley, a survivor of human trafficking has been doing the work to support child sex trafficking victims for over 20 years, first as the director for the Scotlan Youth and Family Center’s Parenting and Youth Enrichment Department at Oakland’s DeFremery Park, and as one of the co-founders and executive director of Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY, Inc.)

“It really hit home in 2010,” said Brantley, “before California’s Welfare Institution Code 300 was amended to include children victimized by sex trafficking.”

Before that law was amended, she had to vehemently advocate for Black and Brown girls under the age of 18 to be treated as victims rather than criminalized.

Brantley served hundreds of Black and Brown girls citing these girls were victims so they would be treated as such and offered restorative services. “To get the police to take their disappearances seriously and file a report almost never happened,” she said.

Then Brantley received a call from the Board of Supervisors regarding a “special case.”  A councilman was at the meeting, as well as a member of former Alameda County Board Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s Office who had called Brantley to attend.

“The child’s parents and the child were there also.  They requested that I give my full attention to this case.  The girl was white and there was no question of her victimization,” Brantley said.

Brantley felt conflicted that of all the hundreds of Black and Brown girls she’d served, none had ever received this type of treatment.

Her eyes were opened that day on how “they” move, therefore with the recent escalation of kidnapping attempts of Black girls, Brantley fears that because it’s happening to Black girls the response will not be taken seriously.

Councilmember Treva Reid

Councilwoman Treva Reid

“I thank Councilwoman Treva Reid and Senator Steven Bradford (D) for pushing for the passing of the Ebony Alert Bill across the state so that the disappearance of Black girls will be elevated the same as white girls. We’ve never had a time when Black girls weren’t missing.  Before, it didn’t matter if we reported it or if the parents reported the police failed to care.”

Senator Steven Bradford

Senator Steven Bradford

Sarai S-Mazariegos, co-founder of M.I.S.S.S.E.Y, and founder and executive director of Survivors Healing, Advising and Dedicated to Empowerment (S.H.A.D.E.) agrees with Brantley.

“What we are experiencing is the effects of COVID-19, poverty and a regressive law that has sentence the most vulnerable to the sex trade,” S-Mazariegos said. “We are seeing the lack of equity in the community, the cause and consequence of gender inequality and a violation of our basic human rights. What we are seeing is sexual exploitation at its finest.”

Both advocates are encouraged by Bradford’s Ebony Alert.

The racism and inequity cited has resulted in the development of an underground support system by Brantley, S-Mazariegos and other community-based organizations who have united to demand change.

Thus far they are receiving support from Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, and Oakland City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas and Reid of the second and seventh districts respectively.

For more information, go to http://www.blackandmissinginc.com

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