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The Atlantic Slave Trade Continued Illegally in America Until the Civil War

January 28, 2021 in History

By John Harris

The United States transatlantic slave trade wasn’t supposed to last all the way to the Civil War. And it wasn’t supposed to be a profit center for America’s abolitionist North.

But even after Congress banned U.S. participation in the Atlantic slave trade in 1807 and declared it piracy in 1820—a crime carrying the death penalty—a robust illegal trade continued. American shipowners, merchants, seamen and corrupt officials, based largely in New York City, collaborated with foreign allies to continue shipping captive Africans via the Middle Passage all the way into the 1860s. The practice not only inflicted terrible suffering on enslaved Africans; it also deepened the national divide over the institution of slavery, a rift that helped lead to the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history.

READ MORE: First Wrecked Slave Ship Discovery Yields Brutal Details

Perpetuating the Illegal Slave Trade Out of New York

A slave market in New York harbor.

The United States was not alone in outlawing the slave trade—all major slaving nations abolished it by 1836—but that didn’t end anti-Black racism or the profit motive. Global demand for sugar, coffee and cotton grew enormously in the 1800s, and planters in the Americas sought captive laborers to help them meet it. Traffickers themselves had big incentives to defy international abolition: Profits for slave traders rose to 90 percent, up tenfold from a century earlier.

The United States played a key role in this illegal traffic from the start. Slave traders brought some 8,000 captives to the American South in the decades after the 1807 ban, including hundreds just before the Civil War. Among the last captives brought to U.S. soil was Oluale Kossola (renamed Cudjo Lewis), a young Yoruba man who sailed aboard the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in the United States in 1860; before his death in 1935, he gave a powerful series of interviews to anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, chronicling the trauma of being captured, sold and shipped to a foreign place to live—and labor—in bondage.

READ MORE: One of the Last Slave Ship Survivors Describes His Ordeal in a 1930s Interview

But the greater contribution by far was the use of American vessels as slave ships. Slave traders loved fast vessels such as the Baltimore Clipper, which could outrun slave patrols, including the American and much larger British squadrons. The U.S. government also refused to allow other nations …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Top Republican Kevin McCarthy goes crawling back to Trump

January 28, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy traveled to Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, clearly desperate to get back in the good graces of the ex-president he once sharply criticized.

Despite initially saying Donald Trump bore some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy has backed down from that rhetoric, and the New York Times reported that the pair’s meeting on Thursday was meant to ease the tension between them. Trump had reportedly been furious about McCarthy’s harsh words.

“The meeting between President Donald J. Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, was a very good and cordial one,” the former president’s political action committee said in a statement on Thursday. “They discussed many topics number one of which was taking back the House in 2022. President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”

This claim about Trump’s popularity is highly dubious. He left office with his approval rating near its lowest point ever.

The statement continued: “President Trump has agreed to work with Leader McCarthy on helping the Republican Party become a majority in the House. They worked very well together in the last election and picked up at least 15 seats when most predicted it would be the opposite. They will do so again, and the work has already started.”

Despite the statement’s optimistic spin on Trump’s electoral record, it didn’t mention that Trump himself lost in 2020, oversaw a historic GOP loss of control of the House in the 2018 midterms, and failed to regain the House this cycle.

McCarthy issued a statement echoing similar themes about the former president working with the GOP to make gains in the 2022 midterms. He also bemoaned the fact that Democrats are “impeaching a President who is now a private citizen,” even while he declined to call Trump the “former president.”

Many noted that McCarthy’s efforts to make nice with Trump were a stark contrast with his rhetoric shortly after the Capitol riot.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said during the House impeachment proceedings. “These facts require immediate action by President Trump: accept …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The erosion of civilian control: How the Pentagon is infecting American politics

January 28, 2021 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

This month’s insurrection at the Capitol revealed the dismal failure of the Capitol Police and the Department of Defense to use their expertise and resources to thwart a clear and present danger to our democracy. As the government reform group Public Citizen tweeted, “If you’re spending $740,000,000,000 annually on ‘defense’ but fascists dressed for the renaissance fair can still storm the Capitol as they please, maybe it’s time to rethink national security?”

At a time of acute concern about the health of our democracy, any such rethinking must, among other things, focus on strengthening the authority of civilians and civilian institutions over the military in an American world where almost the only subject the two parties in Congress can agree on is putting up ever more money for the Pentagon. This means so many in our political system need to wean themselves from the counterproductive habit of reflexively seeking out military or retired military voices to validate them on issues ranging from public health to border security that should be quite outside the military’s purview.

It’s certainly one of the stranger phenomena of our era: after 20 years of endless war in which trillions of dollars were spent and hundreds of thousands died on all sides without the U.S. military achieving anything approaching victory, the Pentagon continues to be funded at staggering levels, while funding to deal with the greatest threats to our safety and “national security” — from the pandemic to climate change to white supremacy — proves woefully inadequate. In good times and bad, the U.S. military and the “industrial complex” that surrounds it, which President Dwight D. Eisenhower first warned us about in 1961, continue to maintain a central role in Washington, even though they’re remarkably irrelevant to the biggest challenges facing our democracy.

These days, it’s completely normal for military and defense officials to weigh in endlessly on what once would have been civilian matters. As the Biden years begin, it’s time to give some serious thought to how to demilitarize our democracy.

Unfortunately, in the America of 2021, the short-term benefit of relying on the widely accepted credibility of military figures to promote policies of every sort is obvious indeed. Who in the political class in the nation’s capital wouldn’t want a stamp of approval from dozens of generals, active or retired, endorsing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hedge fund billionaire mocked as a 'crybaby' after whining on air that Americans want their 'fair share'

January 28, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

Billionaire investor and hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman is getting mocked on social media after complaining on CNBC Thursday that Americans wanting to get their fair share is “bullshit.”

Cooperman runs Omega Advisors. He reportedly is the majority owner of the investment firm and is said to be worth approximately $3.2 billion.

“The reason the market is doing what it’s doing is people are sitting at home, getting their checks from the government,” he told CNBC, according to a widely-circulated clip on Twitter.

“This fair share is a bullshit concept,” he also says in the clip. “It’s just a way of attacking wealthy people, and, you know, I think it’s inappropriate – we all got to work together and pull together.”

Cooperman appeared to be discussing the move by the trading platform RobinHood to stop investors from trading on Gamestop, after grassroots investment activists organizing on Reddit propelled the company’s worth from $2 billion to $24 billion on Wednesday.

Americans are suffering historic unemployment, illness and death, given the coronavirus pandemic that’s spiraling out of control, while the stock markets are reaching new heights on a regular basis. The phrase, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer” is an apt description of the state of Americans’ financial health.

Social media users were not amused.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Fox News employee was fired after infuriating Trump — now he's speaking out

January 28, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Chris Stirewalt, who was fired from his position as Fox News’ political editor earlier this month, infuriated President Donald Trump and his allies when he called Arizona for Joe Biden on Election Night. For weeks after that, Trump and members of his campaign angrily railed against Fox News’ decision desk and demanded a retraction. But Stirewalt’s reporting was vindicated: Biden did win Arizona by a narrow but solid margin. And Stirewalt discusses his decision in an op-ed published by the Los Angeles Times this week.

“I wanted to steam downriver as fast as I could to be first with the news to beat the competition and serve my audience,” Stirewalt recalls. “That’s why I was proud of our being first to project that Joe Biden would win Arizona, and very happy to defend that call in the face of a public backlash egged on by former President Trump.”

It’s important to understand where Stirewalt fit in at Fox News, which has hard news programming and opinion programming. The far-right opinion hosts include Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, among many others, while Chris Wallace is a leading star of its hard news division.

Stirewalt was a part of Fox’s hard news division, and in hard news, being the first to report breaking news is a high priority. But calling Arizona for Biden angered Trump and his allies so much that Newsmax TV, a far-right Fox News competitor, had a field day promoting itself as more pro-Trump than Fox News.

Stirewalt doesn’t talk about Newsmax in his Times article, but he does get into the ways in which the news business has evolved over the years.

“Having worked in cable news for more than a decade after a wonderfully misspent youth in newspapers, I can tell you the result: a nation of news consumers both overfed and malnourished,” Stirewalt explains. “Americans gorge themselves daily on empty informational calories, indulging their sugar fixes of self-affirming half-truths and even outright lies. Can anyone really be surprised that the problem has gotten worse in the last few years?”

Stirewalt goes on to say that when he called Arizona for Biden, he committed a cardinal sin in the minds of Trump supporters who didn’t want to hear the truth.

“The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Right-wing reporter suggests Biden thinks he's a 'benevolent dictator' — and gets promptly shut down

January 28, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

A reporter for a right-wing outlet pushed GOP talking points Thursday when he asked if President Joe Biden sees himself as a “benevolent dictator” for signing a number of executive orders and actions. There’s no question that President Biden has signed a significant number of executive orders in his eight days as president, but the vast majority, if not almost all, are simply reversing the damaging orders Trump had signed over a four-year period.

Saying President Biden has signed 26 executive orders, a reporter for the Washington Examiner went back in time to pull an out-of-context quote from then-candidate Joe Biden, saying there are some things that cannot be achieved via executive actions, “unless you’re a dictator.”

In October candidate Biden, talking about raising taxes on the wealthy at an ABC town hall, said: “I have this strange notion. We are a democracy. Some of my Republican friends and some of my Democratic friends even occasionally say, ‘Well, if you can’t get the votes by executive order, you’re going to do something.’ Things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus.”

Republicans are now insisting that Biden signing executive orders – again, almost all of which merely reverse the damaging executive orders Trump implemented – makes him a “dictator.”

Far right-wing Trumpist Charlie Kirk, for example, flat out lied on Tuesday, claiming: “Joe Biden admits he is governing like a ‘dictator.’”

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale agrees the right is making false arguments:

Here’s that Washington Examiner reporter:

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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8 Steps That Paved the Way to the Civil Rights Act of 1964

January 28, 2021 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was landmark legislation that required decades of actions—and setbacks—to achieve.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. When it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, it was a major victory for the civil rights movement in its battle against unjust Jim Crow laws that marginalized Black Americans. It took years of activism, courage, and the leadership of Civil Rights icons from Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Little Rock Nine to bring the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fruition. These are eight key steps that ultimately led to the Act’s adoption.

1. Brown v. Board of Education

The children involved in the landmark civil rights lawsuit Brown v. Board of Education, which challenged the legality of American public school segregation: Vicki Henderson, Donald Henderson, Linda Brown, James Emanuel, Nancy Todd, and Katherine Carper.

The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education declared that segregating children in public schools was unconstitutional, setting a critical precedent that “separate but equal” facilities were not equal in the eyes of the law. “It provided a constitutional framework from which the Civil Rights Act could grow,” says Charles McKinney, Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History, Rhodes College. In practice, however, segregation was far from over: “The South was stonewalling, and the federal government was ambivalent about enforcement,” says McKinney.

READ MORE: 10 Things You Should Know About Brown v. Board of Education

2. The Montgomery Bus Boycott


Rosa Parks sitting in the front of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, after the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal on the city bus system on December 21st, 1956.

“The story of the Civil Rights Act is not the story of how a bill became a law, but the story of the power of broad-based activism to change the mind of the public,” says Clay Risen, reporter with the New York Times and author of The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted over a year, from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956. It was sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks, a Black woman who refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. “To …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

January 28, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi‘s protest strategies of nonviolence and civil disobedience, in 1942 a group of Black and white students in Chicago founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), helping to launch one of America’s most important civil rights movements.

Taking a leading role in sit-ins, picket lines, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides and the 1963 March on Washington, the group worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders throughout the 1950s and mid-1960s until, in 1966, under new guidance, it turned its focus from civil disobedience to becoming a Black separatist and Black Power organization.

CORE’s Founding Principles

Founded by activists associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), an interfaith pacifist organization, the group was influenced greatly by the teachings of Gandhi and, in the early 1940s, worked to integrate Chicago restaurants and businesses using sit-ins and other nonviolent actions, according to the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

CORE’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, an integrated, multi-state bus ride through the upper South, “was met with minimal violence, although several of the riders were arrested, and two were sentenced to work on a chain gang in North Carolina,” the institute writes.

A pillar of CORE’s principles was a strict devotion to interracial membership, historian Brian Purnell writes in his book Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings. “CORE hoped to create an interracial, nonviolent army that would end racial segregation in America with campaigns that employed what Gandhi called satyagraha, which translates as ‘soul force’ or ‘truth force.’ CORE founders believed that local chapters’ public displays of interracial solidarity and disciplined use of nonviolence would transform America into a truly colorblind democratic society.”

In its first few years, according to Purnell, local CORE chapters were formed in 19 cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland,Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, although many didn’t last long.

“Their victories were often limited in scope,” he writes. “CORE chapters might successfully desegregate a downtown roller-skating rink or open up housing for a handful of Black people, but the process CORE chapters had to follow was prolonged and laborious.”

By the end of 1954, many CORE chapters were disbanded, but, according to the Chicago Public Library, the organization found new dedication following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision made …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Ice Cream Soared in Popularity During Prohibition

January 28, 2021 in History

By Farrell Evans

No beer? No problem. Better refrigeration, together with innovations in making and selling frozen treats, helped steer people toward this ‘refreshing and palatable food.’

When Congress passed the Volstead Act in 1920, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, the law nearly decimated the alcohol industry. But it helped give the nascent ice cream business a sweet boost.

Between 1919 and 1929, federal tax revenues from distilled spirits plummeted from $365 million to less than $13 million, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. The few breweries that survived to the end of Prohibition in 1933 did so by pivoting—producing everything from ceramics and farm equipment to American cheese, candy and malt syrup. Iconic breweries such as Anheuser-Busch and Yuengling turned, in part, to ice cream production.

“As men sought alternatives to having a drink at the local saloon, many ate ice cream more often,” wrote Anne Cooper Funderburg, the author of Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream, driving an estimated 40 percent growth in consumption between 1920 and 1929. A song from a Pacific Ice Cream Manufacturers Convention song in 1920 declared, “Gone are the days when Father was a souse,” and that now, instead of beer, he brings home a brick of ice cream.

The Anti-Saloon League, the most powerful lobby for Prohibition, eagerly supported the dairy industry, trying to take credit for the growth of the ice cream market. “It is believed that this large increase in ice cream consumption was due in a large degree to the fact that men with a craving for stimulants turned readily to this refreshing and palatable food,” reported the organization’s yearbook in 1921. “The more ice cream that is used, the better it is for the consumers and the producers of milk.”

Other factors driving the ice cream boom included the expansion of soda fountains, improved methods of refrigeration and innovations in ice cream production. The latter two, in particular, helped bring frozen desserts to a national market, with competitive development of new single-serve products like the chocolate-covered ice cream bar, the Popsicle and the ice cream-filled Dixie Cup.

READ MORE: 10 Things You Should Know About Prohibition

Soda Fountains

A barman serving a soda to costumers, c. 1920.

As sugary drinks became America’s favorite alcohol replacement in the 1920s, companies like Coca-Cola grew into behemoths and soda fountains replaced saloons …read more

Source: HISTORY