During a rally in Missoula, Montana the President of the United States praised Montana Republican congressman, Greg Gianforte, who body slammed a reporter to the ground and then punched him because he was angered by a question the reporter asked. "My kind of guy," said Donald Trump.
We have no reason to doubt the President on this and also find no reason to doubt that Robert Bowers, whose murderous anti-Jewish and anti-refugee armed attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh resulting in multiple dead and wounded, as well as Cesar Sayoc, who apparently sent pipe bombs to political opponents of Donald Trump, are the President's people too. This is where our great concern lies and as veterans of the southern freedom movement, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC) in particular, we feel an urgent need to speak out and we have the experience that makes us especially qualified to do so.
Trump launched his political career with a racist "birther" campaign against Barack Obama, and throughout his presidency, his thousands of lies, his barely concealed support for Nazis and white supremacists, and his incitement of violence against those who disagree with his dark and undemocratic vision of the United States have defined how he exercises his power in office. He declared that Gonzalo Curiel, an Indiana-born Federal judge could not be impartial in a case against Trump University because the judge was of Mexican heritage. And now, claiming authority he does not have constitutionally, Trump is seeking to override the 14th Amendment by executive order and deny citizenship to children born in the United States to immigrants.
Terrorism, and the language and law creating the climate for it, is nothing new in this nation. We need not document here the long history of bombings, assassinations, and lynchings that color the Black experience in the United States. And always, throughout history, this terrorism was encouraged and protected by local, state, and national government.
For example, when James Meredith desegregated the University of Mississippi in 1962, Gov. Ross Barnett declared: "There is no case in history where the Caucasian race has survived social integration. We will not drink from the cup of genocide. ... We must either submit to the unlawful dictates of the federal government or stand up like men and tell them never!"
The result was massive mob violence in which two people were killed. Just as Barnett fostered mob terrorism so have Trump, the Republican Party, and the right-wing media's "lock her up" "enemy of the people" "rapists & murderers" rhetoric and other messages of hate and division, created the climate today that has resulted in pipe bombs and synagogue shootings.
And lest this statement be considered a partisan attack, note here that when we were engaged in civil rights struggle the Democratic Party, especially its influential "Dixiecrat" wing, played a major role in the creation of the climate of violence that has plagued this country and resulted in a long nonpartisan history of protected white supremacy.
All of the violence we experienced while working in the South was excused by those in power, dodged whenever and however they could by those in local and national authority. Medgar Evers's murderer was described as a "Californian" by Mississippi's most prominent daily newspaper. Freedom Riders, sit-in protesters and voter registration organizers were labeled provocateurs who brought violence on themselves.
We remember the accusations of "hoax" that arose when James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andy Goodman disappeared during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer. That those in power were allowed to get away with such deliberate lies only bred more violence. That we combatted those lies reduced their effect. It was, however, essential to name the cause of violence for what it was.
And that is essential today. First to recognize and name what is actually going on. Consider what Ku Klux Klansman David Duke said recently, "I'm overjoyed to see Donald Trump embrace most of the issues we've championed for years." Donald Trump is contemptuous of democracy and systematically attempting to erode it.
Remember his voter fraud commission based on the made up charges that there were 3 million illegal votes in the 2016 presidential election. Our job now is to continue to fight against the forces being unleashed to topple everything we have struggled so long and so hard to gain.
SNCC Legacy Project:
Courtland Cox, Chair
Robert "Bob" Moses, Vice Chair
Larry Rubin, Treasurer
Cynthia G. Palmer, Secretary
Betty Garmon Robinson|
Bernice Johnson Reagon
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