A 2021 New Year’s Thought

To think that 2021 could not be worse than 2020 is a failure of the imagination. It is not what I want to be pondering right now, but I must nevertheless consider it. Now, no matter what goes on, I must still work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. Nowhere does the chaos in the world give me permission to be unrepentant, or prideful, or depressed.

Even though it seems like 3 out of 4 of my coreligionists supported a political movement not only naked and unashamed of its embrace of racially-discriminatory policies and agendas, but also one that denies the validity of our elections, I must remain true to a faith that I evaluated solely upon the truth it offered, not the members within that faith.

What confounds me further in my thinking is that in more than one portion of my coreligionists’ scriptures, there are direct equivalencies drawn between those who do not support the validity of elections and those who do, ultimately, support only themselves in prideful constructs. In other words, that which they do support now is clearly called out in scripture as evil. Yet, they join with it and call evil good. And, perhaps, more than one will say a prayer for me specifically or in general that I might come to my senses and join with them in their fantasy to “stop the steal”.

And if I do not join with them in their push to overturn what has been a free and fair election, such as they go, then I presume they will be troubled that I am become a hell-bound soul.

To quote Curtis Mayfield, “If there’s a hell below, we’re all gonna go.”

I would have had the same experience of unease during the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s or the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. My coreligionists joined in with those movements and expressed sympathies for them. And while the top leadership of my church condemned the KKK, it did not condemn the Nazi party. There are even articles written by that leadership that attempt to illustrate where Nazism and my church have commonalities. There is even a case of one of those top leaders denying immigration assistance to converts with Jewish ancestry as they plead for his help in escaping Nazi-occupied Austria.

I feel deep pain as I contemplate such things, but nowhere does that release me from my own obligations to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Rather, it reinforces the idea that, while I can look to a fellow man here and there as someone worthy of emulating, ultimately I must not trust in the arm of flesh for anything of an Eternal nature.

I see hell as a state of being perfectly aware of one’s flaws as a person. Just as we only get glimpses of heaven as we walk this earth, we only get similar sparse revelations of the hell that awaits should we periodically take stock of our regrets and evils. Once we exit those moments, we are back in the mundane world.

Judgment is called “great and dreadful” for a reason. It is something best approached with contrition, humility, and sorrow for one’s sins. Yes, we have a hope for joy in Jesus Christ the Savior, but that is a hope meant to sustain us through the trials and hardships of repentance, which must reach deeper and wider than we imagine in order for them to fully cleanse us and make us whole. The man who walks boldly to the final judgment will be left miserable when, for the first time, his full accounting of sins is revealed unto him.

Now, that misery also awaits the person who is fully aware of his own personal catalog of evil, but the difference is that person is already enduring some hell and is now broken and contrite, ready to accept a change in himself in order to be done with the evils of mortality. I would presume that the bold man made suddenly miserable has a similar capability to become broken and contrite and to thereby desire the path of the penitent one. But I presume also that such a path is more difficult to follow, the soul being unfamiliar with that terrain on account of a lack of repentance in mortality.

Unquestionably, there are things we all do not yet consider as requiring repentance that will demand it in the judgement that awaits. Likewise, I do not consider that there are men who are brazen about some sins without being considerate of others. It’s a matter of percentages, ultimately. But each one of those unconsidered sins is potentially that which we cling to in our pride, and which keeps us from returning to the presence of God. I would say that the more we take stock of our evils and repent of the, the less likely we are to cling to that pride which justifies the sin in our own mind and makes us ready to wage war against God in our defense of sin.

I would draw a conclusion that those who are worried most about hell that they are constantly turning to prayer and fasting and acts of contrition are the ones most prepared to return to God’s presence. Those who wonder if there is any sin upon them as they pass through mortality are unprepared for that meeting at the judgment bar.

And though I do not support a faction that is the clear parallel of that which has been condemned in my holy scriptures, I do not presuppose that I am given a free pass into heaven that does not require of me that I face my other sins and infirmities of the spirit. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did great works in advancing the causes of peace and justice: he must still answer for his adulteries. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did much that which was wonderful and good as he campaigned for justice and equality, but he must answer for the cruelties he dealt out to his family members.

Now, I believe that they will have an easier time working through those troubles than someone who may have been generous to his servants and staff, but who also participated actively in constructing and carrying out Hitler’s genocides. Doing good prepares us for cleansing ourselves of sin. Doing evils hinders that cleansing process, possibly bringing it to a complete halt. We must be cautious.

This is why I say that, no matter what sad folly has misled the souls of 3 out of 4 of my coreligionists, I am nevertheless not excused from my personal responsibilities to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. It is not as if knowing the truth is supposed to guarantee a sinless existence: the very scriptures that condemn following after an antidemocratic personality also note that many members of the church did follow after such a person, to the woe and consternation of those who did not fall after such a person. Those same scriptures feature a Christ come to visit them, who then laments how often he would have gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks if they would but listen to his words and then obey them. People failing to do what is right in spite of the truth taught to them is a theme throughout my scriptures: why should I be surprised that this day is peopled with the same humans as of old?

Even if they harden their hearts, I must keep mine tender. Even if they espouse lies, I must not abandon my seeking of truth. Even if they persecute me within the walls of our common church, I must forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Even if 2020 turns out to have been the year in which a general consensus formed around a fascist movement in the USA that eventually leads to the deaths of millions, even tens of millions or more, I must be hopeful in 2021 about what I can do to improve my own soul as I remember that no one can repent for my wrongs but myself.

Just as 1860 was a truly horrible year in US history, it did not prevent the years that followed from being any worse. So it is today. Bad as things are, they can get worse. But I always have myself in the here and now and I will always be responsible for the maintenance of my soul, that I might approach the judgment bar of God with fear and trembling, hopeful that the atonement of Christ can stretch enough to pay for my sins, and also hopeful that my covenants were honored enough that I might be ready for my final repentance, preparatory to returning to God. I would hope that for one and for all, but it’s my own existence that I have to work most on.

And so, I am resolved for this year.

Christmas Day 2020

I am a Christian, and this is a day given us for remembering Christ, and my comments will be on that wise. No offense taken by me if you want to pass over them, I wish everyone well on this day.

As I ponder my faith in Jesus Christ and my hope of a resurrection, I consider that in spite of conditions on earth – and, be warned, things in general are going to get much worse before things in general start getting better – I always have a covenant with my Heavenly Father that can be of good use to me because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of our Heavenly Father. Without that atonement, I am lost. With it, I am claimed and can work out my salvation with fear and trembling, but work it out all the same.

Christmas day is not just a day to consider the birth of the Savior, it is a day also for contemplating his atonement, death, and resurrection, which resurrection is promised to all as a precursor to judgment. And it will be Jesus Christ who will be my advocate with the Father: if I am worthy, and repentant, and one who has done good in remembering the poor, the sick, the homeless, the afflicted, all my brothers and sisters… if I have been able to lay aside my sins and return to them no more, I will have done what I can to honor my covenants, and that gives me hope of returning to the presence of my Heavenly Father.

Life is hard and will get harder, especially the older I become. Winter approaches, I can feel it in my muscles and bones. But there is a Spring to follow that Winter. Even if I have been too sinful to see the earliest days of that Spring, I can nevertheless repent, strive to do good, and humble myself so that I have a hope of seeing those Spring days yet to come. That hope arises out of my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So today is a day given unto me to think on that matter, and these are my thoughts. I wish everyone well on this day.

What the SolarWinds Breach Teaches Us

First off, the Russian hacking of SolarWinds to get its cyber eyes and ears inside of sensitive US installations is not an act of war. It’s an extremely successful spy operation, not an attack meant to force the USA to do something against its will.

Next off, if not SolarWinds, then it would have been some other piece of software. The Russians were determined to compromise a tool that was commonly used, and that was the one they found a way in on. Had SolarWinds been too difficult to crack, then the Russians would have shifted efforts to an easier target. That’s how it goes in security.

So the lessons learned are stark and confronting:

  1. We can no longer take for granted that software publishers are presenting us with clean code. In my line of work, I’ve already seen other apps from software vendors with malware baked into them, but which are also whitelisted as permissible apps. SolarWinds is the biggest such vendor thus far, but there are others out there that contain evil in them. We have to put layers around our systems to ensure that they don’t start talking to endpoints that they have no business talking to, or that they don’t start chains of communication that eventually send sensitive data outside.
  2. The firewall is not enough. Neither is the IPS. Or the proxy server. The malware in SolarWinds included code to randomize the intervals used for sending data and the data was sent to IP addresses in-country, so all those geolocation filters did not have an impact in this case. We need to look at internal communications and flag on whenever a user account is being used to access a resource it really shouldn’t be accessing, like an account from HR trying to reach a payroll server.
  3. Software development needs to reduce its speed and drive forward more safely than it is currently. I know how malware gets into some packages: a developer needs to meet a deadline, so instead of writing the code from scratch, a code snippet posted somewhere finds its way into the software. Well, that code snippet should have been looked at more carefully, because that’s what the malware developers put out there so that time-crunched in-house developers would grab it and use it and make the job of spreading malware that much easier.

    Malware can also get in through bad code that allows external hooks, but there’s nothing to compare with a rushed – or lazy – developer actually putting the malware into the app that’s going to be signed, sealed, and whitelisted at customer sites.
  4. That extended development cycle to give breathing space for in-house developers needs to be further telescoped to do better penetration testing of the application so that we can be sure that not only do we not have malware baked in, we also don’t have vulnerable code baked in, either.

Those last two are what will start to eat into revenue and profits for development teams. But it’s something we must do in order to survive – constant focus on short-term gains is a guarantee to remaining insecure. We may need to take another look at how we do accounting so that we can have a financial system that allows us the room we need in order to be more secure from the onset. Because, right now, security is a cost and current accounting practices give incentives to eliminate costs. We can’t afford to make profits that way.

1860 and 2020

In 1860, something in the USA had broken. When a contentious, 4-way election produced Abraham Lincoln as the president, states began to make good on their threats to leave the nation. Even more ominously, the states that had once done everything possible to cater to the whims of those departing states were now resolved to wage war, if needed, to re-establish the Union, no longer on the terms demanded by those departing states. What led to that situation and are those conditions leading to a similar situation in 2020?

In her work, The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman explores that very topic. I strongly recommend it as a book for any historian or person interested in current events. And I equally strongly recommend close attention to the story of miscalculation on the part of the Southern Congressmen who trusted in threats of violence and secession to get their way while still preserving the benefits of the political union.

Is 2020 the same as 1860? No. We are not again at that most final of crossroads in history. But we are close. While the divisions are not truly regional in this current period of tension, we are nevertheless watching as resistance to threats of violence stiffens and attitudes towards a domineering minority change from attempted accommodation to exhausted, active animosity.

Before 1860, supporters of slavery would threaten beatings, duels, and street fights against their opponents. Their opponents would refuse to engage, which played well to both sides of the slavery conflict. Anti-slavery supporters applauded how their champions refused to stoop to the level of the slavery supporters. Slavery supporters mocked the lack of manhood and dignity among the anti-slavery faction, seen as too weak-willed to stand up and fight for what they believed in.

In 1838, Congressman Cilley of New Hampshire finally accepted a duel challenge from Congressman Graves of Kentucky. Graves killed Cilley in that duel. After that, things changed. Anti-slavery attitudes hardened against that act of violence: Cilley was seen as a martyr for the cause. Slavery supporters could not claim anymore that their opponents lacked valor, which had the result of forcing their own position to take an even harder line on the issue.

When Brooks of South Carolina nearly killed Sumner of Massachusetts in an attack in the Senate in 1856, it pretty much killed off any hope of reconciliation between the two sides of the slavery debate. The slavery proponents claimed that they had no recourse but to defend their honor with violence. The slavery opponents no longer called for the preservation of the Union at any cost as a slogan of appeasement, but of eventual military conflict. Those who wanted a peaceful resolution no longer saw a path of resolution together, but as a matter of “our side is better off without the other side.” Slave state politicians threatened secession: their counterparts were ready to let them go and be done with it.

Starting with the election of Ronald Reagan, the Republican position publicly hardened around the issues of a strong anti-abortion position and an equally unyielding, highly permissive interpretation of the Second Amendment. Other issues were associated with the Republican Party, but those were the most salient. Less well-pronounced was the full meaning of their “law and order” platform, which didn’t directly state a hostility towards minorities, but which did serve to further policies that had race-negative outcomes in terms of higher rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration of minorities vs whites for similar offenses. In time, the conflation of racist imagery with Republican Party political ads became more and more overt, leading up to the events during the Trump presidency in which party leadership failed to offer up meaningful criticism of racially-motivated violence, even as perpetrators of that violence evoked Republican leaders and talking points as justification for their violent acts.

Meanwhile, Republican Party opposition to Democratic policy initiatives and appointments hardened to the point of refusal to cooperate at all. This was perhaps most starkly illustrated in their refusal to entertain the nomination of a Supreme Court justice in 2016, claiming that such a nomination must be made to wait until after the election and then turning fully around in 2020 to rush through a Supreme Court nomination in the days just prior to the election that year.

Domestically, this inability of Republicans to offer up meaningful compromises with the Democratic Party itself led to questions within the Democratic Party on whether or not they should continue to attempt to compromise. Progressives within the Democratic Party drew more political support, particularly in the wake of the MeToo movement and a string of cases involving police brutality or other abuses in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Monterrosa, Rayshard Brooks, Andres Guardado, Dijon Kizzee, Daniel Prude, Deon Kay, Ricardo Munoz, Deja Stallings, Jonathan Price, Alvin Cole, Marcellis Stinnette, Walter Wallace Jr, and Kevin Peterson Jr, among others. As Republican leadership rallied around defending its own members involved in sexual harassment cases or who had made racist statements, questions of compromise evaporated further.

At the same time, hardening attitudes in Democratic Party were also accompanied by a rise in anti-fascist violence. While such antifa violence was only a fraction of fascist and racist violence, Republicans seized upon the very fact of antifa violence as a sign of the existential nature of the conflict they now found themselves in. Democratic Party leaders did condemn antifa violence, but Republican leadership rejected such condemnations or denied that they had happened outright. Ironically, voices within the Republican Party that called for a second civil war to “cleanse” the nation were not condemned within the party.

While 2016 still saw most of the Democratic Party leadership calling for unity and compromise, the events of the 2020 election in which Trump refused to acknowledge the election of Biden left the Democratic president-elect in the uncomfortable position of finding Republican leadership unwilling to participate in the normal bipartisan cooperation that follows a change of party in an election.

Such refusal from the Republican Party has left many Democratic commentators asking openly if the nation would simply be better off without the Republicans. While not advocating openly for civil war as radicals within the Republican Party advocate, they are also not refusing to consider such a scenario. While not yet a scenario like in 1860, or even 1856, current tensions do lie on a path that leads to a similar situation.

In this, the Republicans are exercising a similar miscalculation as did the pro-slavery faction. They have spoken loudly and bullied their way around the political landscape, but are outnumbered. Now that their opposition has itself hardened its position, they are at a point in their existence that demands reconciliation and backing down from their hardline position before they are destroyed in a violent conflict that they have no hope of winning.

The Republic of South Africa faced a similar watershed in its history, when the whites-only apartheid government came to a realization that it could not maintain its control. Faced with the options of peacefully coming to terms with the African National Congress or the possibility of war in which they would detonate the nuclear weapons within their cities and key economic areas as part of a Samson act to deny their opponents what they could not themselves keep, the National Party chose to take the peaceful path, resulting in massive constitutional and organizational reform. Humanity has an example of stepping away from the brink: is the Republican Party leadership able to make the same moves as its right-wing counterpart in South Africa, or will it choose to maintain its hard line and autogolpe methods to subvert democratic institutions in America and take the nation down a path of bloodshed?

Freeman’s book shows us the parallels between the antebellum period and our own day. Our nation needs a Republican Party leadership to come to terms with reality and to come back to the table of compromise before they go too far and find that they have placed the nation into a period that parallels the years from 1860-1865.

Ohio 2012, 2016, and Today

Fun Voting Fact: in 2012, Karl Rove had a meltdown during election coverage on Fox News when Ohio was called for Obama. Rove demanded that Fox revisit the results of the early voting. He knew that current Republican Lt. Governor, then Ohio Sec’y of State Husted had ordered a ballot switch for early voters, which were predominantly Democratic and Black. They were not going to vote on machines, but *absentee* ballots.

This was done because Black voters had started a “souls to the polls” movement after Kerry narrowly lost Ohio in 2004. Why did Kerry lose? Because most of the Black community was voting on the day of the election, and had to stand upwards of 7 hours in the rain, with the polling place doors shut in their faces at 7:30 PM, even though they were still in line to vote.

In 2012, the Black voters on “souls to the polls” day, the Sunday before Election Day, were greeted with a five-hour line in Dayton. In Cleveland, the wait was seven hours. The White voters in their neighborhoods, the next county over, had no lines. When the Black voters finally got their turn to vote, they were handed absentee ballots. The machines in those locations were under wraps.

Husted was a moving force behind the deliberately long lines in Black neighborhoods in 2004, and was responsible for cutting early voting hours in Ohio. A court order prevented him from shutting down voting on the Sunday before Election Day. Husted also made sure that there was only one polling place per county, so that rural voters could be in and out in a jiffy and urban voters faced nightmare lines.

But those absentee ballots – those were NOT the same as machine ballots. Once cast on a machine, the vote is automatically tallied and recorded. Absentee ballots can be rejected for all kinds of ticky-tack reasons. So even if the person has correct ID and a valid address for the voting location, that absentee ballot can still be rejected because of a lack of initials here or the signature going outside the box there. If about 20% of the absentee ballots issued to Black voters were disqualified, the Republicans would have won Ohio in 2012. What prevented it? A revelation in the media of the absentee ballots situation, most likely.

Because in 2016, the absentee ballots returned for the Black voters and there was too much of a media circus going on around Trump to notice the reporters crying foul over those ballots.

Did that happen in 2020? I don’t yet have the data to tell me, but Husted is still in Ohio. I know that in my own state of Texas, early voting was halted the weekend prior to election day and the Republican government here cut county ballot drop-off locations to a single site… thanks, Republicans, but thanks especially to John Husted, one of the Republicans bringing Jim Crow 2.0 to the USA.

Confronting the Racism That Comes to Me

We don’t get rid of racism unless we confront it. And we don’t confront it successfully unless we confront it within ourselves. It’s an ongoing, life-long process, unburdening ourselves of the constant flow of racist ideas that cross our consciences. But it’s also worth doing.

Step one is being able to notice racism for what it is – for that, I turn to Ibram X. Kendi’s definintions:

Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing.

“A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. By policy, I mean written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people.

“A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior to or superior to another racial group in any way. Racist ideas argue that the inferiorities and superiorities of racial groups explain racial inequities in society.”

— Ibram X. Kendi, pp. 17-23 of his book, How to Be an Antiracist.

For example, in many Republican Party political ads, I saw images of Whites being threatened or standing defiantly as Blacks, Hispanics, and Women were shown to be shouting and protesting. That’s racial inequity – the different groups were not on approximately equal footing. If one does not see a problem with that, then one has normalized that inequity – racism.

It’s as simple as that, and racism on that level alone is easy to work on, once one is aware that it needs to be worked on. Racism on that level is also the most pervasive in the USA, so it is a good thing to be aware of and a good thing to work on.

What about racist policy? Well, a law that requires one of a particular set of photo IDs in order to vote looks like it is fair and even. But when that law disallows Native American Tribal IDs – and Native Americans in that state have a lower rate of acquiring other, accepted IDs – that law sustains racial inequality. Even if the motivation for the law was simply to keep the Republican Party in power (the laws against Native American IDs are unique to Republican-ruled states), and not to target Native Americans in particular, the result of that policy leads to much more than the Native Americans not voting – because they don’t vote, they get ignored for other governmental considerations, ranging from law enforcement to access to government programs.

And what about racist ideas? We see that in the Trump Administration’s impact on immigration and refugee policy. Muslims and Latinx persons face substantially more hurdles and rates of rejection than immigrants from Western Europe, for example. Why? Look to Trump’s policy advisor on immigration, Stephen Miller. We have writings of his that spell out explicitly racist ideas regarding his view that White Europeans are much more desirable immigrants and refugees than other persons who are non-White and/or non-European. Those ideas drive racist policies, which leads to racial inequity… racism, this time of a deeper and harsher nature than racism done in passing.

So why do I fixate on the Republican Party for this discussion? It is because I can find multiple examples in that party’s advertisements, policies, and supporters. The Democratic Party has been active and effective at purging the racism out of their ranks – it’s why the Alabama Democratic Party went through such a major transformation in the last 15 years. The Republican Party, however, has not been uniform, let alone effective, in disavowing racism… especially when it actively embraces it as part of its national platform and in its plans to control voting access in order to retain its grip on power.

Why I Fear for the USA

To be honest, I was hoping for a massive repudiation of the racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice in the election results of 2020. Instead, we are dealing with a nation that has more people committed to those ways than in 2016, and a close electoral college result. In other words, there are now no negative repercussions for politicians that openly espouse racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice – the Republican Party will run you as a candidate and get you elected.

Because whoever wins will barely win, that means that the racially-skewed voting rights laws promulgated by Republicans will remain entrenched where they control the state houses. That means that the antisemitic lies told by Republican candidates and their media backers will intensify, because those messages resonate with an increasingly intolerant and insecure White population. That means the messages of intolerance directed against Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus will spread to other faiths that are not part of a Republican-approved grouping. That means that when their political leaders display gross foolishness in ignoring science and murderous cruelty in ignoring justice, the Republicans will fall into line and support that foolishness and cruelty.

This is not about any other group – this is specifically about the political party that is dragging the USA over a cliff of racism, antisemitism, religious intolerance, and ideological blindness to both science and justice, the Republican Party.

Healers cannot let themselves become enraged when yet another person walks up to them with a bleeding wound. The healers must heal. But if the same things, time and again, are injuring others, then the healers seek to find a way to control, curtail, or eliminate those things so as to reduce the constant injuries. In the USA, much of the woes in terms of poverty, schools, the justice system, and economic opportunities can be connected to a common thread – a lack of equitable and just voting rights for all citizens. If we want to solve those issues to the benefit of all Americans, then we must first make sure that all Americans vote, and that all votes are counted, and that all people are heard. Time and again, a Republican will lie about needing to clean up voter roles or tighten up voting rules in order to combat fraud – those lies mask a brutal effort to strip fellow Americans of their franchise.

And, in this recent election, there were no negative political consequences for those actions.

Those actions will continue, and that will be the ruin of this nation.

On Why I Am Pro-Choice

This is why, ultimately, I have to be pro-choice. When we look at the anti-abortion hardline position of zero abortions, anywhere, we lose out on those performed to save the life of the mother. We also potentially criminalize miscarriages, which has happened already in jurisdictions with strict anti-abortion laws on the books.

So, no, I’m opposed to strict anti-abortion measures. I’m also more inclined to align with the pro-choice group on issues of better access to prenatal care, better postnatal health care for both mother and children, and better financial assistance programs overall – and those measures remove demand for abortions through improving the lives of both the parents and the children. Pro-choice groups also tend to be pro-teacher and pro-universal child care, which a nation without abortions would need lots more of.

My church’s position is clear: it is opposed to abortion, except in the cases where the life of the mother is endangered, rape, incest, or when postnatal survival is in serious doubt. But not even those exceptions are permitted in a hardline anti-abortion position, so I must align with the pro-choice people. Not allowing those exceptions is tyranny: not advocating for better health care, education, and child care is unchristian cruelty.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/gary-peters-democrat-michigan-senator-abortion-family-b994475.html

D&C 134 – My Thoughts

In my faith, there is a scripture that outlines what we see as the correct relationship balance with human free will, government authority, and church authority. I have linked that scripture, below and following my remarks.

In reading it today, I was impressed upon by the words “equity and justice” in verse 3. Being also constrained to “judge righteous judgment” elsewhere in the scriptures, and being admonished to not blithely say “all is well in Zion”, I take those words as a solemn enjoinder to take seriously and with great weight the cries of those who claim oppression and persecution, remembering in their cries those of my own ancestors.

Even those uttering cries of oppression and persecution condemn those who turn to rioting and violence: therefore, let not my consideration of those cries be tainted with associating them with lawlessness. Millions continue to speak lawfully and peacefully, and their cries are justified.

A necessary first step in equity and justice is in hearing honestly reports of the plight of the oppressed. The necessary second step is to be so moved as to no longer accept things as they are, but to strive for the changes in laws necessary so as to establish equity and justice.

That is what came to my mind this day.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/134?lang=eng

On the Republican-backed PILF and Its Violation of the KKK Act…

I had a discussion in which someone brought up a concern of about 6000-8000 deceased voters having voted in the last 2 elections. These numbers came from a report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation. The PILF is a Republican-backed group that goes around suing states and counties to force them to purge voter databases that result in hundreds of thousands to millions of minority voters losing their votes. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a mule… worse, the PILF has been sued itself multiple times – and lost – for failing to produce substantive evidence for its own suits, as well as for violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and – brace yourselves – the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

That’s right. The Republicans back a group that violates the KKK Act. Go look it up, it’s interesting. You learn something every day, and I bet you didn’t bank on learning about the KKK Act.

The more people try to convince me that the Republicans aren’t shot through with substantial numbers of racists, the more I come across information like this that I wasn’t previously aware of that actually shows that I had previously underestimated the rampant racism in that political organization.

And the more I find gems like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the group that goes around violating it, all in the name of law and order and keeping our voter records white and shiny.