The Canadian Truck Convoy Explained

Photo by Social Soup Social Media on Pexels.com

In northern news, Ottawa’s protests and blockades have broken out over covid-19 restrictions. It has led to a state of emergency in the capital city, as right-wingers are increasingly showing up to support what amounts to an attempt to bring Canadian life to a halt over restrictions that, at their core, protect human life. Last Saturday and Sunday, protesters were reported to have fired fireworks, roadblocks, driving on sidewalks, and non-stop horns. Other reports by police show that the so-called Freedom convoy members threw eggs and nails along the streets. There are also reports of arson involving two unidentified men in the red zone of the convoy, though it is not confirmed if they were committing these acts are their own or were part of the convoy itself.

It should be noted that there is a certain element of far-right and Trumpist influence that is in the protest and has been there from the beginning. Former Trump advisor Paul Alexander was spotted at the protest, and numerous other right-wing activists and racist actors have been spotted there. Alexander has appeared alongside the People’s Party’s leader Maxime Bernier. But more than just Trump allies, far-right and secessionist parties have been at the core of organizing the protests.

One of the loudest supporters of the protests and one of the people parroting its arguments is Pat King, a well-established racist who has said that the only way to get rid of government protests is with bullets and has claimed that the government is going to depopulate the caucasian race because they want to get rid of the one with the strongest bloodline. It is also worth noting that the People’s Party, the conservative party for Canada, has also been deeply associated with far-right organizations and figures even before they promoted this event. The riding director for the People’s Party is Shane Marshall, who, according to the Canadian anti-hate campaign, has posed with and supported white nationalists. Another example is Chelsea Hillier, who has also used white supremacist symbols and propaganda on her Instagram, promoting avowed white nationalists Nick Fuentes and Tyler Russel. 

It is not the first time these protests have been organized or popped up due to the far-right. In 2019, there was a protest called the “United We Roll Protest.” The Yellow Vest Canada movement organized the protest and was heavily associated with Islamophobes and racists such as Faith Goldie, who has been associated with and has participated in a neo-nazi podcast hosted on the Daily Stormer. Far from being unrelated, the Freedom Convoy’s members have sometimes promoted the work of the Yellow vests of Canada. 

My goal in bringing this up isn’t just to point to the far-right in this movement, though that is certainly an important part of the story. Instead, I want to call out what is just…a disgusting attempt by Americans on the right to use this protest to emphasize our understanding of freedom onto the Canadian political system.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has supported the protest and announced an investigation against GoFundMe to remove the convoy from its site, calling it “ an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement.” The fact of the matter is that the American right is polluting the politics in Canada, and they already have enough problems on their end when it comes to far-right politics. It also doesn’t help that the American right is largely consumed by its conspiracism and disregard for basic facts. Paxton’s treatment of GoFundMe is a perfect example of this. What he won’t mention is that the Canadian police were investigating alleged criminal activity by supporters of the convoy, and thus, GoFundMe didn’t want to be associated with such a messed-up movement. It’s also worth noting that nearly 85 to 90 percent of the truckers in Canada are vaccinated, so if anyone is using this movement to say that it represents the working class, they are lying. 

Joe Rogan Supporters Needs To Accept Consequences

Joe Rogan on Steven Crowders “Louder With Crowder” in 2017 via Wiki Commons

In yet another example of the online world entering the ‘real’ world, podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan faces a massive backlash over multiple comments he made over the years. Not least among them are recordings of the podcast host using the N-word over twenty times and referring to black communities as “ planet of the apes.” 

The backlash was initially spurred by artists’ protests against Spotify’s failure to deal with Rogan’s history of covid misinformation. Artists such as Neil Young and Jon Mitchell have pulled their songs from the platform despite it being one of the most active podcast platforms on the internet. However, the backlash evolved after additional clips of Joe Rogan using the n-word multiple times were released and from there, the situation grew increasingly tenuous for Rogan. 

After the clips of Rogan showed that he had used the slur multiple times, additional clips came out showing that Rogan had also been partial to sexist jokes about women in the workplace. Specifically, the jokes in question showed Rogan’s response to a comment about a woman being required to perform oral sex in order to get a gig in the comedy industry. He laughed. 

Rogan has made multiple apologies–one for covid-19 misinformation and one for the use of slurs—but all of this controversy calls into question exactly what kind of rhetoric a platform deems acceptable. And more importantly, what they don’t. Rogan’s behavior is not simply a matter of offense or cruelty towards people he deems worthy of joking about—although it is a critical component of the controversy. It is a pattern of behavior towards the worst elements of online conduct. 

With a podcast that received nearly 11 million downloads at its beginning, it is no surprise that activists and artists alike are outraged by Rogan’s statements, much less his contribution to the rise of far-right activists. Many of them contribute to extremism and actively endorse violence if they aren’t too busy promoting the idea that black people are inherently more violent because of their genes on Rogan’s own show.

It should surprise absolutely nobody that black artists, commentators, and activists have begun calling out what they rightly see as a pattern of prejudice. Rogan can claim that he is not a racist, and he may very well not be, but the pattern of behavior and the continued willingness to engage in rhetoric that reaffirms racist views is well within the bounds of public criticism. 

As NPR’s Eric Deggan points out, Rogan has, through his words and actions, forced a painful question into the public sphere that otherwise wouldn’t have to come up. “… thanks to attributional ambiguity, Black people now must wonder if Rogan is secretly racist. Or if he’s racist but unable to admit it to himself. Or if he has learned from his public humiliation and is ready to behave differently. Same with women and sexism.” To allow this kind of commentary to go unchecked pushes the burden of dealing with the meaning of his words onto the people they hurt the most and that is unacceptable. It is not inappropriate or cruel for Rogan to face the consequences of the words that he chose to say. Nor is it censorship for artists like India Arie to utilize their freedom of association to avoid a platform that allows outright white nationalists to speak of her as if she was inherently dangerous solely because she’s black. 

We can go back and forth all day about how to respond to someone like Rogan, but in order to reach a responsible and appropriate conclusion, it is critical that the right and I do mean right, to criticize commentators like Rogan must be acknowledged in all of its legitimacy. Treating the right to speak as the same as a right to avoid criticism or condemnation is not liberation; it is an intentional attempt to restrict the dialogue so certain people can steer in the direction they want. 

The Republican Party Is Fallen and Trumpists Killed It

Image by heblo from Pixabay

The Republican Party is irredeemably broken. From the inside out, Trump and his ilk have torn the GOP asunder, taking what little virtues it retained and throwing them out the window. That, however, has taken on a new dimension with the January 6th Commission and their continued obstruction of its investigation. With a new statement by the RNC, it is painfully obvious how far the Republican Party has fallen into open reactionary politics.

I have argued that the commission’s work is a critical fight and that Republican attempts to block it will be detrimental to the public and the health of our democracy if they are allowed to continue. But I never could have imagined that the national party would willingly rally around a brazen attack on our capitol, naive as that may sound. And yet, the Republican National Committee did just that this Friday, releasing an official censure against Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, referring to the events of January 6th as a form of “legitimate political discourse.”

Far from stopping there, the RNC took it a step further and slammed Cheney and Kinzinger for their contribution to the January 6th investigation, arguing that it is nothing more than a form of persecution against everyday citizens. It would be perhaps offensive to the RNC to remind them that the attack on January 6th resulted in the injury of one-hundred and fifty officers and the deaths of nine people. But the idea that death and consequence could get in the way of a good narrative is anathema to the modern GOP, especially when it gets in the way of their martyrdom complex.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the GOP is attempting to downplay the attack on the capitol. After all, several of their members were in direct contact with Trump and his allies during the events of January 6th. Most recently, the commission learned that Rep. Jim Jordan spoke to Trump for ten minutes straight on the morning of January 6th. Jordan has been less than forthcoming about how many times he spoke with the former president and even suggested that he spoke to Trump multiple times before the event. Others such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene were at a meeting as far back as December with Trump, attempting to overturn the election. It is hard to ignore the clear pattern taking over the party.

Their members were involved in the riot through their communications, and they almost certainly have information they could provide to the committee. Instead of holding those members accountable for their lack of political foresight, the RNC has officially sided with them against an effort to examine just how a mob threatened our Republic. Instead of doing their duty, Republicans in the RNC and Congress are beholden to the political interests of a man who, at his core, is a failure and unpopular one-term president.

Words can hardly describe the disgust and disdain the GOP deserves for their continued rejection of the democratic process. Ever since Trump came down from that elevator in 2015, the state of the Republican party has been one of disgusting and unending reaction. Gone is the party that preaches caution and restraint–even those pronouncements could be hypocritical–and gone is the party that claimed to uphold the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens. The GOP is dead and, in its place, stands a monstrosity built on nothing but the anger of mediocre men and women who can’t be trusted with a Twitter account, much less the reins of government. One can only hope that this party implodes upon itself and another party takes its place, but considering its current path in the midterms, I am not holding my breath.

America Still Doesn’t Understand Martin Luther King

Florida Memory, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Another Martin Luther King day has arrived. On this day, Americans celebrate a well-respected and properly valorized champion of civil rights. At least, that is what it would appear to be, but the truth is much more sinister. While most Americans take their day off and enjoy the chance to sleep in, little is said about the unending whitewashing and de-fanging of a radical icon whose legacy is only presented in an almost mocking infantilization of its power. Far from being honored, Dr. King’s legacy remains woefully represented both in American history and character. So long as Americans remain unaware of the blatant and insulting reductionism that has infected Dr. King’s story, his dream will remain unrealized.

This is not the first time that I have found myself lamenting the continued degradation of Dr. King or his politics. Many a conservative will argue that Dr. King’s position on race could be found solely within the context of his famous I Have A Dream Speech. This is perhaps best demonstrated in right-wing media organization PragerU’s video on Dr. King, although very little of it could be directly connected to his actual life.

PragerU’s intentional misunderstanding of Martin Luther King Jr.

For years now, much of Dr. King’s work has been relegated to the phrase, ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by
the color of their skin but by the content of their character. ” And while such ideas are beautiful in their optimism, they were not realized in Dr. King’s time, nor are they representative of his view of racism. Little is said of his condemnation of the political system, which rendered the vote useless or inaccessible to black Americans even to this day.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his I Have A Dream Speech, 1963.

If anything, America’s relationship with Dr. King is almost entirely based on condemning new forms of black activism. Or at the very least, what America believes is new black activism. Many an armchair commentator will look at today’s questions of systemic racism, privilege, and power and will invoke those words by Dr. King in the hopes that they will have restrained the demand for justice, all while pretending to serve justice itself.

This is especially true when protest tactics are discussed. This was brazenly displayed when states across this nation enacted laws to protect drivers who drove through protestors blocking the roads. The justification for this attack on civic disobedience lies in the idea these protesters are disruptive in their methods and that such disruption can never be tolerated. In doing so, Americans once again miss the point of Dr. King’s work and the methods he used to compel change.

In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King condemned this very approach.

I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963.

It is not the mere presence of picket signs or chants that change systems, as King well knew. Disruption of the status quo is fundamental to the principles that built King into the legend we now claim to honor. Far from being respectful or even restrained in his protest, King’s entire premise depended on the disruption and defiance against injustice. It is no surprise as to why he was so willing to be arrested, as it was his arrest that disrupted the power structure that demanded his obedience.

Associated Press, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Even on the issue of racism itself, Americans still miss the point. Many Americans will argue that racism is nothing more than the presence of prejudice towards one group or more. Again, this position seeks to justify itself in King’s famed dream. Proponents of this position will further argue that there is little responsibility within the white community to change the system as it is. To those who hold this belief, the idea of a collective responsibility to achieve human dignity for all is the same as white guilt, and once again, this position is rejected through King’s words. However, this intentional misunderstanding fails to realize King’s view of civic responsibility.

In his work, Where do we go from here (1967), King warned that white Americans bear responsibility for their failure to challenge the status quo and change the conditions they readily turn a blind eye to.

For the answer to how the Negro’s status came to be what it is does not lie essentially in the world of the Negro, but in the world of the white. In short, white America must assumethe guilt for the black man’s inferior status.

Martin Luther King Jr. “Where we do we go from here,” pg. 72.

Dr. King further explained that there was never a serious movement to enact the full measure of equality for African-Americans. To this day, that remains remarkably pertinent. While it would be a mistake to say that Dr. King endorsed the idea of inherent white guilt, the responsibility for improving society and undoing the damaging systems which have been reaffirmed by the continued complicity of Americans remains critical to Dr. King’s critique of America. Any understanding of Dr. King’s legacy requires an acceptance of his radicalism as well as recognition of the sad truth that America remains just as prejudiced today as it was when Dr. King lived.

There Will Be a Fight

Gallows were established on January 6th- image by Tyler Merbler.

Today is the anniversary that nobody should ever have to remember. Just one year ago today, America’s two-hundred-year-old tradition of peaceful elections came to an end under the deluded auspices of the so-called “Stop The Steal” movement. This movement, promoted and maintained by the Trump administration, would storm the Capitol and lead to the deaths of several people and injuring several others. That story must be told, and as we look back on the state of our nation and what happened on that historic day, Americans must be ready to fight to keep that story in the public eye lest we forget how close we were to losing our democracy.

After the attack on our Capitol, Republican pundits and radio hosts wasted no time spinning the story and had no problem looking for someone else to blame. Rush Limbaugh, the late guru of right-wing radio, tried to create a false equivalence between Black Lives Matter protests and the attempted overthrow of a historic election. It would not be the first time he downplayed the severity of that day.

So you can set fire to a downtown strip of any blue-state city—Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York—and it’s called a peaceful protest. But you dare not set foot where the political class lives and works and does its job.

Rush Limbaugh, January 7th, 2021.

Others soon followed in his footsteps, making all manner of claims to absolve themselves or their voters of responsibility for the attack, seemingly forgetting that they were on the chopping block along with their Democratic colleagues. Congressman Andrew Clyde went so far as to pretend that the attack wasn’t violent at all. Indeed, Clyde argued that “If you didn’t know the footage was from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit…” This, of course, ignores the violence that injured 140 police officers and saw others like Officer Mike Fanone traumatized by the brutality that rioters enacted upon them while they were defending the Capitol.

In his letter to Congress, Officer Fanone explained how the attack has scarred him, forcing him to live as though he was still there.

“I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement.”

Officer Mike Fanone to Congress, May 2021.

Fanone himself would later collapse into unconsciousness after suffering multiple injuries at the hands of insurrectionists.

This attempt to erase the insurrection is far from unexpected. If anything, it would be inane to expect anything else from the current Republican Party. Republicans, both in Congress and in media, all have reasons to be afraid of the committee investigating January 6th, as many of them helped to perpetuate the lie that the election was stolen. In the case of Sean Hannity, text messages now held by the select committee show that he was seemingly encouraging Trump to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election despite having no authority to do so. It is perhaps unsurprising that the committee wants to talk to Hannity, and would it be surprising if Hannity attempted to twist the narrative surrounding the investigation.

Committee Letter to Sean Hannity Demanding an Explanation

Hannity is not the only one who is getting heat over January 6th. Mike Lindel, the famed CEO of MyPillow and infamous conspiracy theorist, has reportedly had his phone records subpoenaed. The so-called terrorism expert and former Deputy Assistant to Donald Trump, Sebastian Gorka, has also had his phone records subpoenaed. Gorka was allegedly supposed to attend a protest at the Supreme Court, which was later called off after the attack began. In response, Gorka has sued, arguing that the investigation was an attack on the country and his journalistic integrity.

“The toxic forces rending this country apart will only be strengthened, and the goal of more tranquil times will be more elusive, if any party holding a majority of seats in the House of Representatives can hunt down and persecute citizens, including journalists, because of their political sympathies and speech in an effort to silence that speech,”

Sebastian Gorka, 2022.

Other Trump supporters have tried to avoid testifying and have found themselves indicted, was the case with former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, who attempted to defy the committee’s subpoena. He now faces charges of criminal contempt.

It is important to recognize that this obstruction is directly tied to the Republican Party’s need to support and maintain a clean image of Donald Trump. As I noted yesterday, this opposition constitutes nothing less than a wholesale abuse of the American people’s dignity and the right to know why our republic was threatened. The need to preserve and protect the truth about what happened on January 6th is diametrically opposed to the GOP’s self-interest.

It’s why Ben Shapiro ridicules President Biden for stating the obvious about the attack on January 6th.

It is why Republicans will try to do everything in their power to pretend like this wasn’t a historic moment that merits serious and careful investigation. Their interest is directly and completely oppositional to the well-being of our republic, and if they get their way, we will all suffer for it.

Why the January 6th Commission Matters

Capitol Attack by Tyler Merbler via Wiki Commons

After a year, the infamous January 6th assault on the Capitol remains a potent and painful reminder of how fragile our Democracy truly is. With the investigation into the Capitol attack still ongoing and increased opposition from Trump loyalists, many are left with questions about what purpose this commission serves. For some, it is a brazen attempt by Democrats to use a tragedy to attack their political enemies. Others, however, see it as a much-needed investigation into a dangerous moment in American history. And Trump himself rejects the commission outright. With a year of hindsight behind us, Americans must come to terms with what happened that day and how our government will uncover the truth about how our centuries-long tradition of peaceful elections came to an end.

THE POLITICAL DIVIDE

Right off the bat, it is important to note that there is a partisan divide influencing the narrative surrounding the commission’s investigation and the attack on the Capitol itself. While most Americans across the political spectrum disapprove of the violence that took place that day, the significance of the attack itself remains a contentious point. Among Democrats, 85 percent say that the attack constituted an insurrection, while only 21 percent of Republicans say the same. Similarly, Republicans are more likely to see the reason for the attack in a positive light, with 47 percent saying that the attack was motivated by patriotism and 56 percent saying that the rioters were defending freedom.

9-capitol-descriptors-by-party.png
Screenshot of polling taken from CBS News

To add to this division of viewpoints, Republicans are also more likely to deny that Trump supporters were responsible for the attack on the Capitol than most Americans. While 41 percent of Americans said that the rioters were typical supporters of the former president, only 9 percent of Republicans said the same. For those 50 percent of Republicans who did acknowledge that the assailants were Trump supporters, they also said that they were not typical of the larger movement.

12-trump-supporters-capitol.png
Screenshot of polling taken from CBS News

In the aggregate, 79 of Americans said that Trump supporters were the ones who attacked the Capitol while only 59 percent of Republicans said the same, per the YouGov polling. That is a 20 point difference. That divide does not go away with time, and it is because of that difference, the commission is of increasing importance. So long as there is a desire to avoid addressing the Trump movement’s role in the Capitol insurrection, our political system will continue to operate in two different worlds, something that will further lead to violence.

TRANSPARENCY

Whenever there is a horrible attack on our country, it is almost inevitable that people demand answers. Why wouldn’t we? The people have a right to know why our house was attacked and why many of the men and women who perpetuated lies that led to said attack are not in custody. Nor would it be unprecedented for Congress to investigate the details leading up to the attack, especially regarding the police’s response.

After Pearl Harbor, Congress had to postpone their investigation to help support the war effort against the Japanese and Germans, but that didn’t mean the legislature dropped the issue. Indeed, Senators picked up the investigation in 1945, establishing a joint commission under then-Chairman Alben Barkley and released its report a year later, which found that commanders in Washington, along with the former secretary of state Cordell Hull and army chief of staff General George Marshall were responsible for the poor defense of American naval bases. The people had an explanation. It would not be the last report of its kind.

After the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, the U.S. was again plunged into war, and the people demanded answers from an administration that failed to defend our country. Again, a commission was formed to explain how our nation’s leadership had failed so miserably to prevent such a tragic attack. By 2004, the commission gave its final report and disbanded. Their work demonstrates systemic failures by the FBI and CIA, including the CIA’s failure to acknowledge that they were monitoring two of the hijackers as they entered the country.

While it is possible this commission could have expanded into a larger fight over CIA accountability, which it probably should have, the report did what it was intended to do, explain a horrible tragedy to the people and provide the means to prevent further failures from occurring.

We are once again tasked with explaining to the people how our nation was caught off guard and why we, as a nation, have to endure the horrible consequences that come with it. It is far from an easy task. Nor will it be pleasant. But no investigation worth conducting is pleasant. Our nation has enjoyed a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next since John Adams and that tradition was shattered in what could only be described as an act of terror by our own people. Now is the time for our government to explain how this happened and how we can prevent it. It is time to establish who is responsible and hold them accountable, even if we have to drag witnesses to the stand.

HISTORY IS BEING MADE

It is the obligation of this commission and the nation to demand answers and to uncover the truth about that historic day on January 6th. A narrative is being written about that day and it is this commission’s duty to set the record straight for future generations to draw upon. And should the commission fail to fulfill that critical duty, it will have let a grave injustice go unanswered.

Why the January 6th Commission Must Fight Against Republican Obstructionism

Tyler Merbler via Wikimedia Commons

The January 6th insurrection is perhaps one of the most historic events in recent memory, with events such as 9/11 among the few days that could match its importance. And though many Americans would like to know exactly how our Capitol nearly fell to armed insurrectionists, the GOP seems hellbent on resisting any serious investigation into that horrible day. Such opposition must be defeated.

From the very beginning, Republicans have done everything they could to prevent the people from getting answers about the Capitol attack. Despite attempts by Democratic leadership to allow equal seating of Republicans and Democrats on the commission, Senate Republicans refused to vote in favor of a bipartisan committee, seemingly attempting to protect Trump from any consequences. Only six Republicans voted for the commission, even less than the Republicans who voted for impeachment.

Adding to this obstinance, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attempted to derail the commission when he suggested Representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks for committee seats. Both Jordan and Banks have rejected the need for a commission and had previously voted against certifying the 2020 election. Jordan himself had contact with then-President Donald Trump on January 6th, which has piqued the commission’s interest. It was no surprise that Speaker Pelosi rejected Banks and Jordan, as their history spoke for itself. But it was what McCarthy was hoping for, as he sought any excuse to reject the commission as illegitimate.

Even with the internal opposition to investigating this historic attack on our republic, the commission also has had to fight against uncooperative and outright defiant witnesses. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon has been indicted for his refusal to comply with the commission’s subpoena, with former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows likely to follow him down that path. Meadows has decided to sue the commission in another attempt to block the investigation.

Even members of Congress have proven unwilling to assist their colleagues in their investigation, with Rep. Scott Perry refusing to answer the commission’s questions regarding his communications with Trump and his legal team. Instead, Perry dismissed the commission as illegitimate and decried the “Radical Left.” Rep. Jordan has also faced questions about his involvement with Donald Trump and his legal team. Jordan also texted Mark Meadows, detailing a plan to overturn the election’s results. Jordan will almost certainly fight to avoid testifying before the commission, though how the commission will respond remains unclear.

With this multi-pronged attempt to conceal the dangers that January 6th created, it is more important than ever that the commission sets a precedent that Congress will not tolerate any obstruction of their investigation into attacks on our Democracy, especially by Congressmembers. No amount of political privilege or partisan talking points should be able to block an investigation into such a historic attack on our nation. The commission should take the noncompliance by Republicans as yet another reason why this investigation is necessary. So long as GOP operatives are allowed to avoid answering for their actions, the likelier it becomes that they will bury the severity of the attack on our elections.

No amount of political posturing can justify this continued abuse of our political system, and if Republicans are not held accountable, they will continue to poison our political system until it collapses under the weight of their corruption.

Project Update: The Lost Cause and Reconstruction Video

Progressive American Logo, All Rights Reserved.

Several months ago, I announced my plans to make a video debunking the Lost Cause and responding to those who fail to consider it in their analysis of the debate over statues. That project, while delayed, also ran into snags. Namely, that my original plan for the video must change.

Instead of merely responding to a conservative take on the Lost Cause and the statues created by that movement, I must also respond to a misrepresentation of the past in the post-Civil War, more commonly known as Reconstruction.

I say this thanks to a recent article in The American Conservative by Helen Andrews, a member of the right-wing Claremont Institute, in which she impugns the entire enterprise that was rebuilding the South.

More specifically, she disregards contemporary historians and figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois for his work on Reconstruction, seemingly failing to realize that the state of historiography in the 19th Century was significantly weaker than it is now. She also engages in blatant red-baiting, which as I have explained before, is the bane of a healthy democratic society.

In her attempts to disregard the importance of Reconstruction, Andrews contributes to many of the old racist tropes that permeated among white segregationists in the South. Whatever her intentions, her approach can’t stand.

To that end, I plan to not only talk about the statue debate but also the importance of remembering the specter of white supremacist propaganda and how it worked to justify the subjugation of an entire group of Americans. History must not be forgotten for partisan points.

What Not To Do About the Unvaccinated

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Covid-19 is perhaps one of the most frustrating things in recent American history. It has shut down our lives in ways that we could never have imagined, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and millions worldwide. And with that destructive yield, debates about Covid-19 inevitably evoke intense emotions across society, both here and abroad. But with the recent attempt by the Illinois legislature to increase medical costs for unvaccinated people, it is important to consider the consequences and limitations of the state’s response to unvaccinated people.

HOLD YOUR HORSES

Before I begin, I would like to preface myself. Under no circumstances does my current position on healthcare costs remove the obligation of eligible people to get vaccinated. I have always been, and always will be, in favor of vaccination programs and mandates to achieve herd immunity.

Since I stepped into this topic, I consistently maintained that anti-vaxxers are the bane of our collective experience in this pandemic and were a problem for society even before Covid-19. I have always felt that mandatory vaccination is necessary to public health, and I maintain that position to this day. Nobody has the right to threaten herd immunity and the well-being of immunocompromised people. Nobody.

Similarly, I have consistently maintained my intense disdain for anti-vaccine sentiments, and I make no apologies for my unmitigated disdain for the entire movement that identifies itself as so-called “free thinkers.” I have written multiple articles reiterating that anti-vaxxers are, by and large, self-destructive and ignorant and that they regularly exemplify the worst elements of our past.

But with all of that under consideration, I also can’t support laws that will deny healthcare, which is a human right, to people because it is more profitable for a hospital to do so.

WHY I OPPOSE SPIKING HEALTH COSTS

The current bill under consideration was proposed by Illinois state Rep. Jonathan Carroll and comes after the state has seen all 102 of its counties hit with a rise in Covid cases. With the cases rising, the state has done all that it can to increase vaccination rates, increasing their population’s vaccination percentage, meaning the percentage of people with more than one shot, to a tantalizing 66.6 percent. Not quite the 70 percent that some medical professionals are hoping for, but significantly better than where it once was.

With this context in mind, it would seem odd to oppose the proposal by Rep. Carroll, but consider what policies have not been enacted the cost to the people’s well-being, and it will become clear why this approach is untenable and unjustifiable.

Under Rep. Carroll’s proposal, “a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms.” While on its face, it appears that this would only affect those who refuse to get vaccinated, what it does not consider is the possibility that people who are eligible to get vaccinated and don’t have access. If the law fails to consider unequal levels of transportation, it could end up punishing people who are willing to get vaccinated but don’t always have the means to get to their appointment.

Even before Covid-19, transportation remained a significant problem for people in urban and suburban areas to getting vaccinated. A 2012 study found that nearly a quarter of respondents had difficulty getting transportation. And further analysis has shown that 61 studies have determined that transportation is a barrier to treatment for other illness, including chronic ones. Needless to say, this challenge intersects with the influence of racism and infrastructure policy.

Since the approval of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, infrastructure policy has cut through black communities and established a form of de-facto segregation. Entire black neighborhoods were demolished to build highways and roads that led to the suburbanization, which primarily benefited white Americans leaving the cities. It was so destructive to black communities that it was derisively called “the negro removal act.” And though the language is certainly outdated, it is an apt description of the policy’s impact.

The end result of this racial re-entrenchment was the modern American transportation system. Dependent on private cars and poorly funded public transportation, it continued to serve white Americans fine, but left black Americans reeling as their communities were destroyed with little compensation. The withdrawal of wealth out of the cities also meant that black residents had less funding to alter infrastructure in their communities, and thus, found themselves cut off yet again.

Of course, the inevitable response to this is “why can’t they just buy a car?” But that also ignores the racism that underlies American society, as black Americans are, on average, charged more than their white counterparts when buying a car. Whether it is in their markups or autoloans, black Americans face higher charges. And with incomes nearly twice as low as their white counterparts, this burden makes disparities in access even more pronounced.

With this in mind, raising costs for healthcare by making an unnvaccinated pay out of pocket for treatment would likely do more to hurt black Americans, who already die at a higher rate, by forcing an expense on them that may not even be justified by supposed refusal to get vaccinated. Remember, the law clearly states “a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms.” It does not address persons who unable to get access while also being eligible, so if you missed an appointment or were unable to make one, and were hospitalized for Covid-19, then you would be subject to a massive expense that you probably couldn’t afford.

And considering that black Americans’ lack of access is almost certainly due to federal and state policies, it is completely inappropriate to enact this poorly thought-out policy. There were plenty of alternatives, but the current proposal chooses the most harmful path possible with vaccine enforcement.

WHAT WE CAN DO

While it is tempting to suggest that all mandates will fall into this trap, that is not the case. The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for employers, while currently challenged in court, could avoid the problems related to healthcare. If the states want to, it could enact a mandate that not only requires employers to get their employees to get vaccinated, but also provides for a state-supported transportation outreach program for those unable to get to vaccination sites on their own.

Moreover, the state should endeavor to avoid general fines against unvaccinated and distinguish between the willfully unvaccinated and those unable to receive it. Under current precedent, the states do have the power to mandate vaccination if they see fit to do so, and if states like Illinois enact such policies while also considering and planning for inequities in access, then they can avoid the problems mentioned above and save lives.

NEW VIDEO: How CNN’s Hesitance to Fire Chris Cuomo Hurt Its Credibility

Earlier this week, it was announced that Chris Cuomo was no longer going to be working with CNN after revelations came out that he was helping his brother by keeping tabs on other journalists. The breach of public trust is self-evident, as CNN is now also investigating Cuomo through a private law firm, but as I argue in my video, there is more to this than a mere breach of contract. Instead, Chris Cuomo represents a threat to CNN’s credibility.

CHECK IT OUT!

Video and Thumbnail by Conor Kelly