Sunday, June 24, 2018

Penalizing Racists in the Age of Trump



Since the Trump Administration has legitimized open expressions of racism in the public sphere, more and more people are developing grass roots strategies for documenting and penalizing racist speech and action through social media. If you are going to be yelling racial slurs, or calling the police on Black or Brown people for actions which pose no threat to anyone, expect to have your actions recorded on a cell phone and broadcast on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And if you are a public official or media personality calling for attacks on vulnerable people, don’t be surprised to have your home and workplace picketed or see companies that sponsor you made the target of consumer boycotts.
In the face of Trump’s cynical mobilization of racism for political gain, anti-racists are teaching those who drink the Trump Kool-Aid that their actions have consequences and that openly expressing racism may compromise your reputation and livelihood.
And this is only the beginning of a wave of revulsion and disgust in response to the politics of division and rage this President has used, and still uses, to fire up his supporters.
The message here is very clear
Voting for Trump is your right under our Constitution. Acting like Trump may very well get you fired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Moment of Deep Shame


We are now being known around the world as a nation that sanctions cruelty to the most vulnerable of children.
Perhaps the words on the Statue of Liberty should be revised to read
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses longing to breathe free, and we will break up your families and put your children in detention."
This is a moment of deep shame for every American who still possesses the capacity for empathy

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Thoughts on Stuyvesant Admissions



I just spoke at Stuyvesant High School about the rise of hip hop in the Bronx to two New York History classes. There were at most 4 Black and Latino students among the 60 students I spoke to. The students at my lecture, probably 70 percent Asian and South Asian were attentive and asked good questions, but there was little electricity in the air. Frankly, the atmosphere would have been better if there had been a critical mass of Black and Latino students who were immersed in the cultural traditions I spoke about or lived in the neighborhoods where the music arose. And every student in the class would have benefited. Diversity doesn’t just help those who are given new opportunities by broadening admissions criteria, it helps every person in the institution being changed expand their cultural horizons and become better leaders.
I think Stuyvesant would be a better school if it were more diverse. Yet at the same time,I feel tremendous respect and admiration for the students who currently attend. To me, they seemed like a wonderful cross section of one portion of working class, immigrant New York. They were neighborhood kids who worked hard to get there and didn’t have a smug bone in their body. More than a few were the children of Muslim immigrants, people currently in the cross hairs of racists and xenophobes. I don’t like the idea of painting them as “privileged” especially now in a time of ascendant xenophobia.
I would like to see Stuyvesant be more diverse. I would like to see the school, like all schools, have multiple measures of admission. 
That is the moral framework from which I approach this. My support of multiple admissions criteria is consistent with my efforts to make Fordham SAT optional
But I don’t like to see the interests of working class Asians and South Asians pitted against those of working class Blacks and Latinos.
This whole issue is getting ugly in a way that is leaving a very bad taste in my mouth

Monday, June 11, 2018

Who Will Save The Country from a Race to the Bottom?


I should be glowing after spending a magical family weekend at my daughters house in Stone Ridge with  my daughter and her husband, my granddaughters, aged 3-14, and my wife's parents, who are both 91, but I can’t help thinking about the migrant children separated from their parents at the border by this cruel and heartless Administration. I realize that to many people, this is only one of many issues where this Administration has rode roughshod over the nation’s best traditions, but to me, the separation of undocumented children from their parents mirrors the actions of history’s worst dictatorships. It also suggest to me that there is no limit to what level of cruelty Trump supporters will accept from their leader. And that sends a chill through me. There is no self-corrective mechanism at work here. It is up to those of us who have not drunk the Trump Kool Aid to save the country from a Race to the Bottom

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Two Key Areas Where President Trump Ignores Historical Trends


Two key areas where President Trump either distorts historical trends or cynically presents false information for political gain are the following
First, the notion that our “ inner cities are plagued by crime” and face a terrible crisis which liberals have ignored. If this was 1995, those remarks might have been relevant, but in 2018, they show a failure to recognize major historic trends. In the last twenty years, murder rates in most American cities have plummeted, both because of the decline of the crack epidemic and gentrification. The majority of poor people now live in the suburbs and gang issues and poverty related violent crimes have migrated with them. Hempstead and Newburg, for example, small cities near NYC, are far more dangerous, and far poorer than Harlem or Bedford Stuyvesant
Second, the notion that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, bring crime and violence with them does not conform with statistical information or lived reality. In New York City, mass immigration to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens has coincided with plummeting crime rates and the rebuilding of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Immigrant workers, store owners, health care providers, and valedictorians of are far more indicative of the immigrants contribution to NYC than drug gangs. MS 13 are outliers, dangerous but despised by the hardworking self sacrificing immigrant majority
I realize that many of the President’s supporters will dismiss what I just wrote as Fake News” but playing fast and loose with Demography and History is the essence of demagoguery and if you are comfortable with that, well, that’s your burden to carry when you look at yourself in the mirror

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Shame of Broward County: Calling Police on Teachers Union Officials who Visit Schools

It is utterly astonishing and appalling that principals in the Broward County Florida School District have been calling the police to escort Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco and BTU VP Terry Preuss out of their schools when they come to visit and meet with members after school hours! It is this kind of DISRESPECT that is fueling teacher uprisings all over the nation.

And think of the message that this is sending to students. If their teachers and their teachers  representatives are treated this way, what kind of treatment is in store for them if they show signs of independent thinking, or decide to protest some decision by school administration?

What makes all this even worse is that the principal's actions occurred only a few months after the Parkland shootings where students, teachers, and administrators all came together in the face of unspeakable tragedy and Browders  Teachers Union leaders, along with many others, worked 24/7 to comfort the survivors and find the strength to move forward

What just happened in Broward should be the occasion for an outpouring of solidarity by teachers and other persons of good will

 I hope some kind of petition or other form of national action can be created which allows teachers all over the country to weigh in to protest this attack on freedom of expression and the right to organize on behalf of people who are some of our most selfless and courageous public servants.