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March 3, 2014 0

The Arizona Effect

Josh Deinert

AP Photo/Matt York

Last week Ari­zona Gov­er­nor Jan Brewer vetoed the State’s now infa­mous “reli­gious free­dom” bill. 

The clear intent of the SB 1062 was to effec­tively allow per­sons and busi­nesses to dis­crim­i­nate against the State’s LGBT com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing a pow­er­ful legal defense based on asser­tion of a “sin­cerely held reli­gious belief.” 

Due to its expan­sive nature, how­ever, the leg­is­la­tion would have broadly sanc­tioned religious-based dis­crim­i­na­tion whether the vic­tim was Jew­ish, Mus­lim, Protes­tant, Catholic, Mor­mon, Hindu or of no faith.   And the Anti-Defamation took a lead­er­ship role in defeat­ing this dis­crim­i­na­tory legislation.

Gov­er­nor Brewer ulti­mately vetoed SB 1062 under fierce pres­sure from the State’s civil rights and busi­ness communities.

But what hap­pens in Ari­zona does not stay in Ari­zona.  Prior to Gov­er­nor Brewer’s veto, at least twelve other states, includ­ing Geor­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio and Okla­homa, were actively con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion.  Due to the back­lash against SB 1062, how­ever, Geor­gia, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio, and Okla­homa tabled their bills.  So the new talk­ing point in oppos­ing such leg­is­la­tion should be “fol­low the lead of the Ari­zona leg­is­la­ture at your peril.”

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August 16, 2013 0

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Lends Support To New Black Panther Party

Jack­son, Mis­sis­sippi, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is the lat­est pub­lic fig­ure to lend sup­port to the New Black Pan­ther Party’s (NBPP) upcom­ing Mil­lion Youth March in Harlem.

On the New Black Pan­ther Party’s (NBPP) online radio pro­gram on July 31 pro­mot­ing the march, Lumumba men­tioned that he learned from Dr. Khalid in the past, pre­sum­ably refer­ring to Khalid Abdul Muham­mad, the vehe­mently racist and anti-Semitic for­mer leader of the NBPP.

An image of Lumumba claim­ing he “proudly sup­ports the Mil­lion Youth March” is being pro­moted by the NBPP on their web­site and social media as well.chokwe-lumumba-new-black-panther-party-mayor-jackson

Lumumba has been involved in NBPP events over the years, includ­ing as a speaker at NBPP con­fer­ences in Atlanta in 2009 and 2010, as a speaker at an event titled “A Call for Rev­o­lu­tion” in New Orleans in March 2006, and as co-convener of the NBPP’s Mil­lion Youth March in New York in 2003.

The NBPP, the largest orga­nized anti-Semitic and racist black mil­i­tant group in Amer­ica, is also pro­mot­ing sup­posed endorse­ments from other pub­lic fig­ures, celebri­ties such as Nick Can­non and Erykah Badu, as well as some busi­ness leaders.

By tak­ing on racially-charged issues under the guise of cham­pi­oning civil rights, the NBPP has, at times in the past, received national atten­tion for its efforts, gar­nered some sup­port from promi­nent mem­bers of the African-American com­mu­nity and attracted fol­low­ers. The group’s demon­stra­tions, con­fer­ences, and other events often blend inflam­ma­tory big­otry with calls for vio­lence, tar­nish­ing its efforts to pro­mote black pride and consciousness.

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April 17, 2013 1

Language In Ricin Letters Not So Mysterious

Fed­eral author­i­ties have inter­cepted let­ters sent to Pres­i­dent Obama and Mis­sis­sippi Sen­a­tor Roger Wicker that have tested pos­i­tive for ricin in pre­lim­i­nary or follow-up tests.  Ricin is a poi­son derived from cas­tor beans that oper­ates as a deadly toxin when ingested or swallowed.

Sen­a­tor Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Extrem­ists in the United States, espe­cially on the far right, have long been fas­ci­nated with ricin.

Accord­ing to an FBI bul­letin obtained by Fox News, the ricin-laced let­ters were sent from Mem­phis on April 8 and both con­tained the phrase “to see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent part­ner to its con­tin­u­ance.”  Both let­ters were signed “I am KC and I approve this message.”

The iden­tity of “KC” may not yet be known, but the lan­guage that he used does have a source.  The sen­tence about see­ing a wrong is actu­ally a quo­ta­tion that traces back to an obscure chi­ro­prac­tor, John Ray­mond Baker, from Longview, Texas.  Baker claims to have orig­i­nated the quo­ta­tion for a Web site he cre­ated to express griev­ances about a major insur­ance company.

Over the years, vis­i­tors to this site picked up the quo­ta­tion and began using it else­where.   Activists and extrem­ists across the polit­i­cal spectrum—from right-wing extrem­ist groups to the left-wing Ani­mal Lib­er­a­tion Front—have repeated Baker’s nos­trum, both with and with­out attri­bu­tion.   They typ­i­cally use it as lan­guage to jus­tify or ratio­nal­ize their actions.

Baker him­self noticed this phe­nom­e­non as early as 2006, observ­ing that “now, peo­ple are using it about all kinds of injustices.”

No evi­dence has emerged to sug­gest that Baker him­self might in any way be con­nected to the ricin let­ters.  Clearly, though, some­one has exploited his lan­guage in order to jus­tify their poten­tially deadly actions.

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