Hot Topics

U.S. Resistance Returning Nazi Looted Art Resurrects Old Wounds

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

In a crowded media world the topic of Nazi looted art has taken comfort on the back burner of the national debate circuit. But things are changing and the push to return art plundered by the Nazis is gaining momentum and more of the world’s attention.

A ruling in July by U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC sided with Jewish heirs of the Welfenschatz art collection looted by Nazis in 1935. The ruling follows Germany’s attempts to dismiss the case claiming, among other things, immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, (FSIA). Nonetheless, the district court rejected Germany’s arguments and denied their motion to dismiss the case.

And, hard to believe, Donald J. Trump played a small role in the push to bring justice to remaining Holocaust survivors. In the gloom of his support for American Nazis who marched in the Charlottesville rally, the president signed the Just Act into law in May of this year; about nine months after calling anti-Semitic, white separatists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” very fine people.The Just Act is another statute requiring the State Department to report on the progress of European efforts to return artworks stolen nearly 70 years ago.

Still, this question lingers: is the U.S. doing enough to return its own Nazi-looted art kept in high brow institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art? No, says Raymond J. Dowd, who serves on the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club and the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association. Sighting a 2014 report by the World’s Jewish Restitution Organization, (WJRO) Dowd says, “The United States is not in the group of countries that are doing the right thing.” He says despite established laws laying out the process and groundwork of returning art forcibly taken from Jews, even deeming the taking a form of genocide, only a small fraction of stolen art has been returned to its rightful owners.

Dowd, who lectures on legal and ethical matters related to Nazi art looting, represented the heirs of Fritz Grumbaum, a renowned art collector who died at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

“It’s still our public policy in the United States that this property should go back to the people from whom it was stolen. The Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, Congress reaffirmed that.” So why did the U.S. end up with so much Nazi looted art in our museums? Dowd says, “We have to take a hard look at American museums and our cultural traditions to understand why.” He says it started with J.P. Morgan who, for tax purposes, refused to move his large European art collection to put in U.S. museums. Being one of the wealthiest men in America, Congress obliged and enacted the Payne-Aldrich Tarrif Act of 1909. “And that Act added imports of original artworks from Europe that were more than 20 years old to the duty free list. So, that paved the way for the creation of some of our greatest museums.” Dowd says even Andrew Mellon legally challenged his tax bill by pointing to the vast art collection he donated to the National Gallery as reason to reduce his tax obligation.

“Mr. Mellon’s victory is enshrined in today’s tax code that says you get a fair market value deduction for a work of art regardless of what you paid for it. The significance over most of the 20th century is that if you’re wealthy you could avoid capital gains tax by donating to a museum and thus shelter all of your income from taxation.”

Dowd says it’s an ethical and social choice being made to help rich Americans shelter their incomes in museums. And although it led to America acquiring extraordinary art collections, it’s an unjust system. “When we think about tax fairness, people who give to museums are not giving to others in our community; they’re not paying for schools or housing or roads and most of the things that other people in the middle class are paying for.”

The tax loophole may be legal but it becomes problematic when stolen art, which doesn’t get properly scrutinized, is donated. “Particularly when we see that today in America there are more museums than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.” Despite early declarations of nations not taking part in stolen art transactions, Holocaust survivors and their heirs are still searching for their plundered art, many of which are hanging in American museums.

According to Art Law Gallery an estimated 300,000 Nazi looted artworks are still missing today.

 

NBC Today: Megyn Kelly And The Awakening Of America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

“Another one bites the dust,” as the saying goes and NBC Today host Megyn Kelly just bit a mouthful of it. Her comments dismissing the racist undertones of wearing blackface was just too much for her new NBC family to take, leading to her show “Megyn Kelly Today” being cancelled. This isn’t Kelly’s first time dancing with racist based controversy though. Kelly’s attitude, hostile political and social views she hotly defended during her time at Fox News has always been transparent to those it was aimed at; minorities. It’s always been hard for Kelly to see this demographic from her white privilege perch. She proudly chastised those she disagreed with politically and socially—regularly—on Fox News Channel alongside fellow haters; Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Carlson Tucker. America, including NBC, know who Megyn Kelly is; a staunch conservative with audacious white supremacist leaning views.

Kelly, on her all knowing perch, claimed Santa Clause and even Jesus Christ from the Middle East are white, and going even further by making the distinction that, “some people want Santa Clause to be black but he’s just not, OK kids,” she says looking straight into the camera as if sending comfort to all the frightened white children in America concerned a black Santa could come down their chimney on Christmas. Kelly publicly shamed Jane Fonda after an uncomfortable appearance on her show about plastic surgery by reaching so far back to her “Hanoi Jane” days to clap back at her for taking issue with her aggressive questions. It was, simply put; mean, petty and highly unprofessional. Kelly got to enjoy her privilege wholeheartedly in this gross display of bad behavior. NBC didn’t bad an eye. Can you imagine if Tamron Hall did that? And remember feisty Soledad O’Brien? She lost her CNN show real quick the minute she got comfortable in her power. The difference in how one is treated or “handled” is clear and has been since America’s birth. Kelly also validated hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by giving him a comfy seat on her perch despite the outcry from his victims, particularly the grieving parents of the Sandy Hook massacre. Her unapologetic mean spirited conduct is used to gain the upper hand in ratings despite the damaging effects her rhetoric has on the collective culture. This is what white privilege looks and feels like.

“But was it racist?” Kelly asked feigning ignorance about Real House Wives of New York’s Luann de Lesseps wearing blackface with her Dianna Ross costume during the segment that got her show canceled. Yes, it was racist Megyn. Exactly as Roland Martin pointed out to you here in this clip. Nevertheless, the birth of blackface is merely a node on America’s black body dehumanizing highway. I’m always led back to one of the most prolific orator of our times, James Baldwin, when it comes to race relations in America. You see Megyn, Baldwin left America for France with only $40 in his pocket because as he puts it, “…nothing worse could happen to me there that hadn’t already happened to me here.” He was talking about social terror. The social terror he endured from his own country by people just like you who don’t care to see the racism and inequality dividing and defining our country … because it benefits you. Wearing blackface is stoking the same social terrors Baldwin talked about. And that’s exactly what you’ve done for years.

Kelly benefits from the social institutions that still keep blacks and other minorities subservient to whites. History, including NBC’s selection of “Fox News Kelly” over their own internal employee, Hall,  supports this assertion. And Kelly has defended this privilege all while blaming black victims of police brutality like Philando Castile and Michael Brown of their own murders. NBC knew this when they chose her over Hall. It’s difficult to have it both ways peacock; hiring a person who clearly embraces hostile social views dipped in intolerance, and then feigning shock when the person performs accordingly. It’s like buying a pet snake and expecting it not to bite you because you feed it.

Powerful institutions like NBC have a fine line to walk when it comes to these hotly debated and sensitive national issues. When it comes to Megyn Kelly, the network brought fire and water to the larger debate on race relations; they added fire when they hired Kelly and are using water to try and save face today. One can only hope that the network heeds the words from one of its own employees, NABJ President, Sarah Glover in her statement addressing the matter, “Megyn Kelly’s flip comments on blackface were inexcusable. It is imperative that media organizations work to maintain the trust of audiences. The media industry has the power to inform, and an awesome responsibility to dispel ignorance and not encourage it.” How the media embraces this awesome responsibility as we progress into an uncertain future with a degenerate leader at the helm will be determined by their stakeholders. Let’s hope they care enough about advancing the idealism of America and our collective humanity Today.

Melania Trump: When Your Frock Serves The White Power Agenda

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Make no mistake, though not your typical FLOTUS, Melania Trump is making blaring and uncomfortable statements with her wardrobe. Through her frocks she’s letting us all know who she is, what she values and supports; white supremacy and intolerance. And this tea is being served on the world’s stage.

Her “I Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket wasn’t even subliminal. It was a blaring truth about her husband’s humanity, something she wholeheartedly aligns with just like birtherism; the conspiracy theory surrounding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. And, standing in staunch support of him when he called for the Central Park Five’s execution; minority men later cleared of raping a white woman in 1989. Her latest outfit “oops, I did it again” moment was another attempt to send a powerful message. This time, the memo went out to the world from the belly of humanity; Africa. “Melanie,” as her husband refers to her when his Twitter fingers get tired, dressed like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Seriously. 

As a nation beholden to improving humanity we must put aside the easy mockery of this ridiculous outdated frock disguised as style and dig deeper into the dangerous dog whistle it’s blowing. Keep in mind, the first lady’s solo visit comes on the heels of an international campaign to perpetuate the myth of “white genocide” in South Africa. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) the misleading outcry from South Africa’s alt-right is reaching its intended purpose; fanning the flames of racism. And Donald Trump is making matters even worse when he takes to social media, irresponsibly feeding the myth by instructing his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to look into “the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” SPLC’s Justin Ward writes, “Collaborations between the racist “alt-right” and their South African counterparts have ramped up.” Whether the aloof and out of touch first lady’s visit confirms this or not, her attire and attempt to impersonate a racist colonizer only feeds this narrative. And it’s a bold move from the Trump crime family.

“He broke every rule, every traditional concept with extraordinary success. In a civilization based upon reason and knowledge, he introduced absurdity and unreality, and cultivated insanity among the masses as a dedicated scientist would a bacteria growth,” wrote Chandler Brossard in The Insane World of Adolf Hitler.

History is repeated itself right in front of our eyes. But we’re too mesmerized and hypnotized, leading hyper-connected fast paced lives to work together to save the world from Trump and his ilk. Trump should scare the hell out of us like Freddy Kruger in a corn field but we’re too numb or afraid to fight back hard like former Attorney General Eric Holder recently suggested, “When they go low, we kick ‘em”.  If We The People don’t stand up and fight to take back our country, our indifference and disconnection to our sacred belief of being keepers of one another and mother earth, allows “Melanie” to use her frocks as alt-right dog whistles. Similar to the boldface and unapologetic lying, tax cheating from Trump and his staff, and the “OK” finger sign some in his circle are using, including Zina Bash during Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing, to openly express white power unity. The end game is to take us back to a time when America was great for whites only.

Now, they’ve taken this messaging to the global market place. It came beautifully wrapped too. Melania Trump dressed like a colonial era figure, posing like the rich entitled white woman she is, while being courted by Africans on safari. Images are powerful. They convey emotions and capture moments in time that highlight our humanity and the world we live in. The first lady’s Nazi like outfit did just that.

That’s where you can go with the colonizer getup.

These are frightening times … and it’s not even Halloween yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Kavanaugh: America’s Privileged Good Ol’ Boy Demands His Due; A Supreme Court Seat!

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

One did it as their civic duty, the other as their defense against a terrible sex crime. And GOP Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee want us to pretend we didn’t see the blaring truth during the hearing; that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a rotten person. One who led a life currently catching up to him at the peak of what should be the greatest honor of his professional life. If karma could be picked out of a crowd, it would look like the sniffling, bombastic image of a lying man we all saw following the testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of attempted rape when they were both teenagers 36 years ago.

Ford’s testimony was not just credible, it was impactful. And that impact is still rippling across America, encouraging many to speak their own truth about sexual assault. The angry senators not courageous enough to treat Ford equally and respectfully, in step with the social movements of our times, are doing more damage to our country and culture in their sunset years that may take another civil war to settle. It’ll be a fight they won’t be around for, and with their wealth, ensure their sons and daughters won’t have to fight either. The spectacle surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing is yet another reminder that the most out of touch Americans, remain the most powerful, making culture shaking political moves that largely impact a demographic on shaky grounds; the average American forced to live (and give) on a minimum wage not one of these power wielding old white men could, or have ever been forced to survive on.

We the people have gone from movement to movement to bring about change; positive change.  And this moment being led by women and supportive men is no different. Unfortunately, some who claim to be leaders for their people are instead the barriers of our inevitable social justice evolution taking root. In other words, a gang of old white rich men are forcing their will upon us like Kavanaugh allegedly did to Ford.

“I remember their laughter … I was underneath one of them while the two laughed,” Dr. Ford testified, adding, “Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life.” And yet, despite her powerful testimony, GOP Senators saw fit to throw a fit to shield their good ol’ boy, “Bart.” And Donald Trump, aka “Cult 45” boarding Air Force One yesterday with what looks like toilet paper on his shoes kept his special kind of crazy exactly as is; going from being sympathetic to Ford, and quickly turning to feed his cult members a basket of undignified mockery of an alleged sex assault victim at one of his strange rally’s. I can only hope the toilet paper on his shoes is God’s way of telling the world; don’t worry, I got this.

But are we really in good hands?  The Senate held a procedural vote on Judge Kavanaugh today. The angry, dismissive old man gang is moving ahead despite the lies Kavanaugh told under oath. They’re defending his temperament, his disrespect and blatant partisanship by rewarding him for his good ol’ boy loyalty with a Supreme Court seat. It’s clear they need his vote to protect their larger agenda and grip on power. Today they voted 51 to 49 to move the procedural vote to a final one. If confirmed, angry “Bart” could be cloaked and seated by next week.

 

Dear White House “Resister”: A Response To The Anonymous NYT Op-Ed Writer

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Here’s a perspective. Like Drake, I’m upset. The timing of this letter is suspect.

Never in the history of modern day America has a White House administration exhibited such disarray and dysfunction endangering the country and the world. The Trump administration isn’t just dysfunctional; it is downright dangerous.

And this anonymous “resister” wants it all; to not only eat the cake, but to throw it in the faces of the American people by way of being part of forcing one-sided legislation down our throats and help do the bidding for the most prosperous among us who don’t need more wealth in a country losing its middle class to poverty.

Pointing out the president’s “amorality” as the root of America’s problem is equivalent to telling us that water is wet. Was “grab them by the pussy” not enough to “resist” or help thwart his political advances? What about his long documented business practices of cheating hard-working people? Why speak out now when the world is watching us crumble within, fighting amongst ourselves, and showing us to be the fools destined to perish by not coming together like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned during the civil rights movement.

“I would know. I am one of them,” the anonymous “resister” boosts about the sabotaging of an American president as if he or she is a Marvel character in a super hero movie. Unfortunately, this is real life and the attempts to take away healthcare from the common man has real life consequences; giving “historic” tax cuts to the rich by taking more from the poor is the opposite of what a super hero would do; being silent when the president attacks minorities and shows support for racists is complicity in its true form; not writing sooner, you know, like when the president banned Muslims from entering the country, ripping Mexican and Latin American children from their desperate parents’ arms at our southern borders, calling Mexicans rapists, disrespecting the needs of those affected by Hurricane Maria, suggesting that black immigrants are less desirable in America because they come from “shit hole countries,” … I can go on but I think you get why I’m upset.

Your “dear America” letter is disrespect.

If your first duty is to this country, as you put it, why would you want Donald Trump to succeed in his efforts to “Make America Great Again” when all this campaign slogan embodies is a call to revive the atrocious history of a country still working to overcome it; a past that had black people in bondage and living as second class citizens in a country they built through slave labor. The extreme ideological platform you and your fellow “secret resisters” chose to build upon is exactly why America is in the pickle jar. From selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice despite the warnings of Coretta Scott King, putting Scott Pruitt in charge of protecting the environment when he’s only shown that it’s for sale to the highest polluter, looking to Betsy Devos to lead our nations education system despite her lack of experience or ability to even identity with people who attend public schools or live below the billion dollar income line; blatantly disrespecting long standing federal bidding practices by grossly handing out FEMA contracts to well connected friends with no business managing natural disasters, and handing out pardons like Mardi Gras beads…Thank God Joe Arpaio didn’t have to show us his man boobs.

The list of corrupt behavior is long. How many times has Jared Kushner changed his answers on his security clearance form? Against federal rules, Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry line is being pimped out on television by top advisors like Kelly Anne Conway, and Fox News has turned into a propaganda machine for hate and intolerance, something the president and his enablers feed and supports. The entire family is benefitting financially from the blatant nepotism taking place and costing Americans millions in tax dollars. Let’s not forget, you “top advisors” blessed Kushner, a wealthy out of touch and inexperienced realtor, to be the savior of the Middle East while birthing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I’m upset; despite your letter full of regret.

You say the president shows no affinity for conservative ideas as if he hasn’t switched political parties before or shown the world his true colors. Just because you’ve enabled and made excuses for Trump along the way to this pile we’re now sitting on doesn’t mean majority Americans, decent and good hearted people, don’t see him exactly for who and what he is; a pathological liar and an all around terrible human being. Your house of cards is crumbling and like a rat you’re trying to jump a sinking ship. You may have changed your cloth but you’re still the being behind this new resister frock.

The same people that saw fit for then press secretary Sean Spicer demand the American people accept that their eyes were lying to them when he said Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. Video and photographic evidence wasn’t enough to stop this perpetual lie; another attempt to cloud truth and blur the boundaries of right and wrong to appease Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. And let’s not forget, Chief of Staff John Kelly has yet to apologize for lying about statements Rep. Frederica Wilson made about the president’s disastrous phone call with the wife of a fallen soldier and for insulting her using racially insensitive language.

Nonetheless, you want the American people to believe you all are the Space Force Avengers.

The disbelief of senior officials at the president’s words and actions is laughable considering Trump hasn’t changed since becoming president. He’s simply more powerful. And this is exactly what Trump’s base loves about him. “He’s not your typical politician” and “He speaks his mind” they excused no matter what Trump did or said. Even evangelicals found loopholes in their bibles to justify every sin Trump committed and turned a blind eye to every one of his hypocritical moves or ungodly behavior.

The adults in the room colluded with Russia to win an election and made Trump their messiah despite all the warnings and push back from the American people. And now, seeing a steady drop in his approval numbers, they want him returned to sender before the blue wave hits.  Ironically, the adults who stood silent while the president attacked the media as the “enemy of the American people” now turn to it for salvation.

 

 

Saying Goodbye To The Queen Of Soul The Wakanda Way

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

If you happen to be in Detroit today for The Queen of Soul’s Homegoing ceremony you’re getting the real life version of Wakanda culture or African American tribalism. The celebration of black cultural pride and unity is on full display for Aretha Franklin. And how deserving, considering what she gave to all of us. To describe the week long ceremony as moving would be a disservice. Watching the memorial service was powerful. Especially in the era of Black Lives Matter, Color of Change and all the other social justice movements dedicated to improving the lives of black people and other minorities in America.

The Queen of Soul is going home. She’s leaving behind a country still in turmoil with itself and being led astray by the most incompetent administration this country has ever seen. Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, wants to “Make America Great Again” when it’s impossible to find a time when our country and all her people felt that greatness he’s fooling the willing with. I prefer Stevie Wonder’s message at the funeral service when he said, “Let’s make America love again.”

The outpouring of grief and celebration for the passing and life of Aretha Franklin is a moving tribute to a life well lived. A life lived under the brutality of the most powerful government black people helped create. We must never forget that America owes its power to black slaves forced to construct her under cracks of whips and some of the worse treatment ever inflicted on a people. And yet, Aretha Franklin overcame the America Trump wants to revive by turning her inherited unjust circumstances into magic. Magic that will carry on from generation to generation like the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that her death overshadows one of the most powerful, and to some, heroic men in America that for years influenced, wrote and help enact laws that have negatively impacted people of color; keeping blacks and other minorities from gaining the equal footing that has long eluded them despite their contributions to this country even before her birth in 1776. Senator John McCain, according to congressional record, voted in line with Trump’s position 83 percent of the time. He even voted to confirm Kristjen Nielsen to be Secretary of Homeland Security. And yes, the same Homeland Security that carried out Trump’s disastrous family separation policy at our southern border. However, considering McCain’s softening it’s fitting for the bona fide war hero to go home with a queen.

The journey has been a long and hard one and yet Aretha Franklin got to be. Through her music and civil rights work, she made America great for all her people. Unlike this administration, she brought us together, helping a nation of diverse people overcome their struggles. It’s also a testament to our resolve and strength as a people—black people—that makes Franklin’s funeral service comparable to a real life version of the Wakanda tribes. Detroit belongs to Aretha today and Wakandans would agree.

Black people have a unique way of celebrating the departed and Franklin’s homecoming is nothing short of all that beautiful blackness and culture. New Orleanians are known for their festive and unique funeral rituals that celebrate the lives of the departed. This rite of passage or ceremony is not foreign in other black communities in America or in other parts of the world, making our unity as a people even more significant. We’ve been broken but we’re still standing strong, and for the most part, united. That’s why we dance and sing at funerals. It’s our strength as a people that inspired us to sing in fields during forced labor and torture during slavery, or sing directions to escape the bondage of slavery for freedom. Aretha Franklin took our people’s singing to another level. In addition to her incredible talent as one of the greatest singers the world has ever known and her audacity to demand respect when she grew up in a world that told her she didn’t deserve it … it is her spirit of unity, love for her family and community that we’re left to build upon. And that’s more than enough.  Wakanda forever.

 

Donald Trump Goes To Utica

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, (yes, you read that correctly, it’s still true) received a typical welcome from the American people in Utica, NY. Over 2,000 protesters showed up to voice their opposition to arguably the most hated man in the world. Roughly 200 of those gathered came to support the president. Even the Trump chicken made an appearance in front of 207 Genesee Street!

 

It’s no secret Trump is the least popular president in recent memory and yet it’s because of him so many New Yorkers joined forces to protest his visit. Thanks Trump! The President was in town to stump for Claudia Tenney, another unpopular republican incumbent, at a pricey fundraiser at the Hotel Utica. Tenney, (NY-22) is facing Anthony Brindisi, (D) in November. For details on this and other House and Senate races click here.

For local details on Trumps visit click here.

 

 

 

Losing Earth: NYT Magazine Panel Discussion On Climate Change

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

From 1979 to 1989 scientists, activists and the government came close to solving global warming. Unfortunately, they didn’t act on the established science that showed climate change is not a hoax. New York Times Magazine Special Climate Issue lays out the narrative in two parts in their new issue.

Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change. A strategy in two acts.

Science, industry, government, the international community — everyone was on board and ready to act. How we got there, and why we ultimately failed, is the subject of a major new project from The New York Times Magazine published in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

On August 5, the entire magazine will be dedicated to a single story by Nathaniel Rich, a writer at large for the magazine, that tells the story of this critical decade in the planet’s history, and the individuals who tried to warn us. Rich’s narrative is accompanied by a series of stunning photos from around the world by George Steinmetz that show the profound effects of mankind’s inability to effectively address this slow-moving catastrophe. This story will change the way you think about climate change.

Jake Silverstein, editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, will be in conversation with Nathaniel Rich and two of the primary subjects of his story, the former NASA geophysicist James Hansen and the environmental activist Rafe Pomerance.

Below is a short discussion on climate change during the NYT Magazine launch event at New York Times Center.

 

 

Thanks Trump! The Global Shaming Of America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

America is being shamed by the world. And it’s all thanks to President Donald J. Trump and his clan. It’s clear, we have an unusual leader at the helm. Unfortunately, the helm is leader of the free world and that’s terrifying af. It’s rare when the world speaks with one voice. And right now it’s chanting loud and clear across Europe, “We hate you Donald Trump, Go Away!” Even the State Department is cautioning Americans abroad to keep a low profile. And, believe it or not, the word Trump actually means Big Fat Problem Baby in Na’vi! That’s why they made a huge baby Trump float to “welcome” him. It’s true.

But, in all seriousness, the take away from this stance is positive and negative. It’s uplifting to know that most people, world-wide, don’t want to blur the lines that separate right and wrong for greed’s sake. This collective stance against Trump and all he represents—arguably, the worst of mankind—makes the negative response to his visit even more poignant, especially on the heels of countless terror attacks in the region and a wave of anti-immigration moves from the top down. I mean for God’s sake, Brexit happened!

On the other hand, it’s deeply disappointing to see the man who represents us as Americans not only behave badly in all social situations but is pushing to advance policies that divide and weaken us here and abroad. Rather than move us forward as a world that stands as one and beholden to goals rooted in humanity and prosperity, Trump is trashing his opportunity to make the world a better place for all of us. And that includes taking care of planet earth, allowing future generations to experience the miracle of life, nature and the universe.

With a decreased status as the world’s super power, thanks to China’s hot dragon breath behind our neck, America is perceptibly floating on “the Nile” River tap dancing away like Fred Astaire because the show must go on despite what’s at stake; nuclear war. President Trump’s performance at the G7 Summit in Europe didn’t go any better than his current visit across the pond. Remember the iconic photo of the G7 leaders looking down at the petulant child-man with all the power? I’m still embarrassed.

But seriously, is he that clueless and unprofessional?! Leaving the queen waiting? … Walking in front of her and just embarrassing himself and by default, the rest of us decent and good Americans? The. Queen. Of. England. Had. To. Stop. And. Go. Around. Him. While. He. Was. Puffing. His. Chest. And. Chin. Out. I cringed watching him walk with his chest inflated, chin up in the air and that ever present stupid, and spoiled, jerky brat look on his face. Keep in mind, Trump goes out of his way to treat women poorly. His lack of respect of the queen is right in line with what he embodies; misogyny. From refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel, throwing skittles at her, insulting and rating women’s looks and boasting that he can get away with sexual assault. When it comes to modern social norms, Trump is revealing that manners and respect for others didn’t matter in his household when he was growing up. Only he did; shame on his parents.

And considering his hostile policies targeting immigration, you’d think his family never migrated here from one of the countries protesting his European visit; Scotland. His mother migrated to the U.S. from Scotland, paving the way for the life he now lives. Nevertheless, the hypocrisy that keeps him afloat is astounding. His current and third wife, First Lady Melania Trump is accused of lying on her own visa application… It’s hard to think back to her appearance on Larry King Live to support the birther movement to discredit Obama’s birth certificate. She clearly hiked Mount Audacity in Pandora…

The blatant racism, bad behavior, hypocrisy, bold-faced lying and shameful unprofessionalism from this family and the entire administration is astounding and dangerous because it sets the tone of normalcy and precedent for our nation, the world and future leaders.

From Britain to Scotland, people have taken to the streets to voice their disdain for Trump. And yet he doesn’t care that the world hates him and all he represents; American greed and culture. The world can literally see Trump … chosen “democratically”… grabbing America and the rest of the world “by the pussy” and we can’t move his little hand away.

Our democracy is hanging in balance and Trump, propped up by his supporters and enablers couldn’t care less. Why? Because they want to win; even though the prize is debasing American values.

The press plays a crucial role inflating the Trump blimp. Being their bread and butter makes coverage of him and his family increasingly disheartening. And, at times even laughable if there wasn’t so much at stake, making the laughter morph into instant pain and concern. World renowned expert on culture, Edgar H. Schein says culture is very hard if not impossible to change. But in the age of Trump one can argue that American culture is rapidly changing right in front of our eyes. Thanks Trump!

Partisanship is part of the fabric that formed our country. As a nation, we will never see eye-to-eye on how to govern ourselves or lead the world. But that’s what makes us innovative and progressive people. That’s why we have three branches of government, the Constitution and Bill of Rights to ensure our cooperation and coexistence with one another; a diverse people working to overcome a painful past and striving for racial, civil and economic equality. Unfortunately, the hive that accompanies Trump are like biblical locusts dead set on destroying everything in front of them. Who knew Roe v. Wade would be in jeopardy after all this time?! Don’t be surprised when bible thumping conservative lawmakers call for segregation across the land as they work to weaken the working class.

The election of President Obama revealed a dormant racist underbelly anxious to rear its ugly head; an attempt to reverse racial progress. And everything was Obama’s fault. Even rain couldn’t escape being blamed on the man. The trend, “Thanks Obama!” became fodder. Lawmakers at the highest levels of government were more interested in seeing him fail than move the country forward together. It’s those race-obscured blinders that has us waste deep in Russian election meddling today. A serious national security threat. Trump deflecting his involvement with Russia in swaying the election by pointing fingers at Obama is not only par for the course, it’s telling of the continued partisanship that has crippled our democracy.

Trump shames us at home and he shames us abroad. And his party remains silently complicit while feverishly turning the wheel of progress backward to fit a country and world that only values those with golden toilets. The wealthy, the ignorant and the racists among us are the only ones benefiting from Trump. And, the indictment of 12 Russians accused of tampering with the 2016 presidential election won’t phase him or his supporters. This, despite publicly being asked by Trump to hack our security system. Sadly, their “Make America Great Again” slogan touting patriotism as their rationale for standing behind the antithesis of what a great American actually looks like, lives on. Josiah Gilbert Holland once said, “The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.” Perhaps it’s Trump’s glutinous soul diet that needs an overhaul for him to become the human being this world needs. But, I won’t hold my breath while I cringe.  Thanks Trump!

 

China & America: The New Geopolitical Equation

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

A recent talk in New Hartford sponsored by Upper Mohawk Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association, (UMVUNA) highlighted some of the factors facing U.S.–Sino relations as the two sides work to settle contentious trade agreements. Visiting Assistant Professor of Government & Politics, Jun T. Kwon, Ph.D. says to fully grasp the foreign policy directions of both countries we have to understand the Five T’s; Thucydides Trap, Trade, Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen.

Starting with the first T, Kwon says the two sides share a relationship that is mainly rooted in the “Thucydides Trap,” referring to ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ reasoning of the Peloponnesian War. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Kwon says, “The 21st Century belongs to China.” He says it’s this fear that’s causing disruptions in U.S.-China relationships. “China’s power is growing and it’s causing fear in America,” he said. He explains that despite the pessimistic prospects of the two countries, some are optimistic of China rising especially as it pertains to world politics. “They welcome China challenging the U.S. in world politics.”

When it comes to the second T; Trade, Kwon says, “There’s definitely a trade war going on. Free trade benefits everyone. The issue is who will gain more? The U.S. wants to curb China gaining but the U.S. and China are economically intertwined. And, so many other countries are losing to U.S. in trade policy. Chinese growing power is striking fear.” Despite the circumstances, Kwon says, “There’s a compromise expected in the next couple of weeks on the U.S.-China trade dispute.” He adds that ultimately, without an agreement, its American consumers that stand to lose because they’ll see prices skyrocket when China retaliates over trade disputes. Kwon says the negotiations are ongoing because trade relations should be reciprocal.

The third T; Taiwan, may be one of the most contentious issues between China and the U.S. Although Taiwan is a self-governed island under U.S. protection, China claims it as part of the PRC, (People’s Republic of China). Kwon states, “President Trump signed Taiwan Travel Act last month which would facilitate and expand high level visits and exchanges between senior officials in Washington and Taipei. It has fueled the already strained relations between the U.S. and China. One China policy is a principle from China’s point of view that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.” He goes onto say that China sees it as U.S. intervention into Chinese domestic affairs. “Nothing is angering China more than perception of foreign intervention into domestic affairs.”

The issue of Tibet covers the fourth T. Tibetan independence is undoubtedly an issue causing social instability in China. Kwon says the U.S. stands accused by the Chinese government of instigating Tibetan independence and with an expected White House visit from the Dalai Lama soon, China is concerned about what President Trump will do to harm already strained relations. Kwon says, even though China is eagerly awaiting the death of the Dalai Lama who has tirelessly worked—even in exile–toward Tibetan independence, the concern is a real one for the country because other minorities want to break away from China too. “Tibet refers to one of the most sensitive sources of social instability in China, which is so-called ethnic minority issue. In particular, two notable minorities which have expressed their independence sentiments are Tibetans and Uyghurs who are Turkish speaking Muslims residing in Xinjiang Province in Northwest of China.”

The final T is centered on an important moment in China’s political liberation; 1989 Tiananmen Square. “There has been no meaningful protest since,” Kwon says. This, despite the human rights violations China stands accused of by the U.S. and other world organizations. When the Chinese government removed constitutional term limits to allow President Xi Jinping to be president for life, the Chinese people didn’t seem to care about removing the 10-year term limits and Professor Kwon says, “This is a problem with the lack of activism since Tiananmen Square.” Adding, “China is not democratic at all. But how democracy should be defined is relative. Whether human rights are universal is relative. And, what is democracy? How do you define it? Comparing U.S. and China; U.S. is focused on the By The People part while China focuses more on the For The People part,” he says, adding, “The U.S. wants to use human rights and democracy to make China look bad.” Nonetheless, Kwon says democracy in China will take time and imposing values on others is not democracy.

In a labor intensive industry the U.S. can’t compete with China because China has labor power. “And this threatens U.S. markets.” Asked if the fear is justified, Kwon says, “China wants to come back as the super power. To be number one on the world’s stage. There will be conflict because the U.S. does not want China to take over. If that happens, it’s going to be a major conflict similar to a 1920s war.” Professor Kwon explained that China is not interested in injecting their influence around the world other than in East Asia. However, China does want to expand its economic power around the world, especially in Africa. “The U.S. has military alliances with 58 countries. China has only one; North Korea.”

There is some good news coming from the attention China is receiving as it negotiates new trade agreements with the United States. China, a member of the Paris Agreement, is actively working to reduce pollution. One way is by controlling the purchase of cars by putting limits on purchases, and working to expand where people live and work by building mega cities all over the country to entice people to relocate there and ease congestion in its larger more densely population cities like Shanghai and Beijing. And as it pertains to its relationship with North Korea, Kwon says, “China is nervous about North Korea drifting away from them and forming a relationship with Trump. China wants North Korea to pull back because it’s concerned they are moving too fast to meet with the U.S.”

The recent and third inter-Korean Summit’s focus was the geopolitical landscape and according to Kwon North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons. He says, “Security guarantee from the U.S. is the only way North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons and that’s never going to happen.” He adds, “The U.S. goal is to handcuff North Korea. And, North Korea is scared. They feel threatened.” As it pertains to unification, Kwon says it would mean the collapse of North Korea unless it’s a very slow process of unifying the two Korea’s. He says part of the problem has to do with pathological nationalism. “North Koreans have been brain washed by pathological nationalism. They are brainwashed to worship their leader and blame the U.S. for their economic hardships.” Regardless of the views held from either side of the geopolitical landscape on the future of U.S.-Sino relations, it’s safe to surmise; China’s time as the world’s number one super power will come.