Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign; Also: The weekend's TWO mass shooting hate crimes; TWO Dems suffer strokes before Tuesday's primary elections...
On today's BradCast, after another brutal weekend of brutal news, we're delighted to be joined by two guests with some ideas on where to find hope and how to restore the nation's moral center --- if we can still find one. (If we ever had one.) [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up today, we're delighted to be joined by Bishop WILLIAM J. BARBER, II of Repairers of the Breach and KENIA ALCOCER of the California Poor People's Campaign. Both were kind enough to join us just an hour or so before tonight's rally and march at L.A. City Hall, being lead by both groups. It is part of their "National Call for Moral Revival" in advance of next month's "Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls," on June 18th.
Sadly, we begin with Barber's response to horrific hate crime near Buffalo, New York on Saturday, where an 18-year old white supremacist, geared up with semi-automatic weaponry and body armor shot and killed 10 and wounded three others at a neighborhood supermarket. Eleven of those shot were black, as the shooter drove some 200 miles to target members of the predominately black neighborhood in upstate NY. That shooting wasn't the only hate crime mass shooting over the weekend, unfortunately.
"The question is, who radicalized them? Where do they get radicalized from?," asks Barber. (We discuss that a bit later in the show as well, see below.) "The way public policy is framed, people saying 'If you give people health care it will destroy the country. If you give people a living wage it will undermine and take things from you.' That language, 't will take things and destroy people's lives,' gives people, too often, the license to do awful, hideous, evil and deadly things."
"We must challenge it," he says. "Which is one of the reasons we are calling people for the coming together of all of us on June 18th, for love, for justice for truth, forward progress in this country to address 5 interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare and the war economy, and to challenge the false moral narrative of religious nationalism and white supremacy. We must do these things united, together, and no longer separately and in individual silos."
We also discussed, with both Barber and Alcocer, the reason and hopes for tonight's rally at City Hall and the major event scheduled for next month in D.C.; the plight of poor and low-income Americans even before COVID made everything worse; why the corporate media (and both major political parties) tend to ignore the poor of all colors; whether or not protests and marches still matter; and why voting still matters despite --- or, perhaps, especially --- given all of the above.
"Everything is so interconnected that we need to fight everything today and now," Alcocer explains. "And talk about the vote in a way that's inspiring, where people turn back and say 'I vote and nothing happens.' We're voting, but we're also making the work on the ground to make sure that those votes are not the ONLY things that we're doing. We're also organizing on the ground. We're creating our own survival projects. We're coming together and fighting back for our rights."
Barber, who founded the critical Moral Mondays movement of protests and marches in North Carolina beginning in 2013 says that, yes, protests still matter. "But it's not just the march itself. It's not one day, it's a declaration. You're not going to do just one march --- you have to be consistent." He cites four years of Moral Monday in NC as helping to highlight and push back against extremism by the state's elected officials. "We are saying there must be a moral reset, there must be consistency, there must be a willingness to engage in non-violent marches but also non-violent actions, and maybe even necessary civil disobedience when that time comes."
He discusses the under estimated voting power of poor people who now make up 32% of the national electorate as "the greatest sleeping giant in this country." Barber tells me "it's not about doing one thing, it's about consistency. June 18th is a declaration, not a day. It's a movement, not a moment."
"Nothing we have ever won in this country from a progressive standpoint ever happened just because of one march or one instant. You have to stay there, and stay there, and stay there, and keep on and keep on, and break through that way. It can't be a sprint, it has to be a marathon," he adds.
Also today, some news on tomorrow's midterm primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, particularly the battle for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat in PA, where Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. On that, there were several pieces of major news this weekend. One is that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading Democratic candidate for the Senate nomination, suffered a stroke on Friday. He said over the weekend, however, that he is "feeling much better," that doctors told him he "didn't suffer any cognitive damage", and that he is on his way to "a full recovery". The 52-year old Fetterman vowed: "Our campaign isn't slowing down one bit, and we are still on track to win this primary on Tuesday, and flip this Senate seat in November."
Incredibly, Fetterman wasn't the only prominent Dem to suffer what was hopefully a minor stroke this weekend. Maryland's U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Sunday that he has been told by doctors that there will be no long-term effects or damage from a "minor stroke" he also suffered over the weekend.
On the GOP side of the PA contest for the U.S. Senate seat, regarded as one of the Democrats' best chances to flip a Republican seat, far-right QAnon-supporting, election-denying, insurrection-attending Kathy Barnette is said to be surging and now in a statistical dead-heat with the Trump-endorsed TV doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz. So a Republican who his even Trumpier than the Trump-endorsed candidate could become the GOP nominee on Tuesday.
Finally, we spend some time on the weekend's two mass-shooting hate crimes. News broke late today here in Southern California that the suspect at the Sunday shooting at a Laguna Woods church was a 68-year old Chinese immigrant from Las Vegas who was believed to be targeting the Taiwanese immigrants meeting for Sunday services and lunch at the Geneva Presbyterian. That church has been hosting services for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church for the past decade. One man was killed and others --- including an 86-year old woman and four men aged 66, 92, 82 and 75 --- were also wounded. But law enforcement officers says that "extraordinary heroism" by members of the congregation, who hog-tied the man with an extension chord after the pastor struck him with a chair while he was reloading one of two guns --- prevented much more carnage, with some 40 parishioners in the building at the time.
In the New York massacre, the killer was reportedly a white nationalist who had recently published a 180-page, hate-filled manifesto, frequenting citing the racist, far-right, so-called "Great Replacement" theory that, in the U.S., claims Democrats are trying to replace white American citizens with immigrants, Jews and people of color. It's the theory espoused by the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville back in 2017 who chanted "Jews will not replace us!" (Trump called them "very fine people") and by folks in Rightwing media like Tucker Carlson at Fox "News". A study by the New York Times discovered some 400 instances where Carlson has forwarded the theory.
"I know that the left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson said on his show last year, by way of just one example. "But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually, let’s just say it. That’s true."
Unfortunately, it's not just Carlson. It's also elected Republican officials like Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY, the third-ranking member of GOP House Leadership, who last year ran an ad campaign on Facebook espousing the same hateful conspiracy theory, charging "radical Democrats" were planning to "grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants [to] overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington." Her hometown paper in Albany described the ads as "despicable"...
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