The Wizard of Fear

bwbtrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump made his rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows amidst criticism that he has incited the recent violence at his campaign events. His public remarks on the campaign trail against Muslims, immigrants and others have fueled physical attacks and angry protests. In the spirit of throwing a rock and hiding his hands, his response on “Meet the Press” was, “I don’t accept responsibility…….They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just the messenger”.

The impassioned anti-Trump protestors that appear to be diverse and varied are increasing as the campaign travels. There are ample photos and video footage from protests that led up to the cancellation of the Chicago campaign event due to security concerns. The violence has grown from a simmering dislike to full on hate. From protestors being ordered out of Trump events to being punched in the face to yelling obscenities and even to journalists being roughed up and thrown out of his events. This weekend, in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, there were injuries and arrests and in Kentucky, Trump reportedly promised to defend his supporters if they fought with protestors and in Chicago, he relegated his detractors to “thugs”. It is rumored that Trump may pay the legal fees for the supporter who punched the protester at his recent rally. If so, then his responsibility will be decisive and clear—he will be putting his money where his mouth is.

And in another unbelievable act of messenger amnesia, Trump warned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that if his campaign people keep coming to his events, he would send his supporters to Sanders’ events. Whether it is threatening or bullying, Trump’s bravado has instigated flagrant and irresponsible discourse. Trump’s shameless reliance on fear and intolerance to fuel his campaign is likely the result of frustration and resentment from the crowds who support him. People who have seen their lives dramatically impacted by economic and social changes they were unprepared for. People looking for hope in small towns and big cities—desperate for a new and better future. Unfortunately, the billionaire candidate has chosen to pillage their hope with the tactics of fear. He has found acceptance as the messenger of hate but as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear”. The only question now is when will it be too much for the majority of GOP voters because it is already too late for the rest of us to believe he is more than the Wizard of Fear.


Young People Embrace Activism for the Common Good

Young Activists

Young Activists

Youth power ignited the Civil Rights Movement, the student nonviolent movement, the peace movement and some of today’s activists are teenagers who are continuing in the tradition of challenging the status quo. While we witness far too many cases of young people in trouble, it is refreshing and encouraging to see the exemplary examples of young people who are working for the common good.

Sarah Kavanagh
Sarah is a 17-year old Mississippi student who launched petitions online to get Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to remove a controversial ingredient from all their beverages, including Mountain Dew, Fanta and Powerade. The ingredient is brominated vegetable oil, which she noted had been patented as a flame retardant and wasn’t approved for use in Japan and the European Union.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Last year PepsiCo said it would stop using the oil in its Gatorade products. Kavanagh’s Gatorade petition had more than 200,000 online signatures, while her Powerade one had more than 59,000. Coca-Cola is also dropping the ingredient from its Powerade sports drink.

Project Impact Theatre Company
An all girls theatre troupe worked with Project Impact, a program for young girl survivors of sexual trafficking in an effort to educate audiences about human trafficking. They developed the original play A Day in the Life, which exposes the devastating effects of the commercial sex industry on the lives of girls. They wanted to use the arts to help young girls heal and to advocate for legislative changes in some communities and education in others.

Alex Lin
Alex Lin at 16-years old has helped to recycle 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics and he has used the refurbished computers for media centers in countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy.
Lin and his team found ways to refurbish and use the computers rather than just recycling them. More than 300 refurbished computers were donated to low-income students without home computer access. As a result of Lin’s lobbying it is now illegal to dump electronics in Rhode Island.

RaSia Khepra
RaSia and other Chicago teenagers created the anti-violence awareness campaign Project Orange Tree, a public awareness campaign that addresses the real cause of gun violence through conversations with teenagers and other community leaders. The need to address gun violence in Chicago was heightened because of the rise of murders during the summer of 2012. It was widely reported that more Chicago residents — 228 — had been killed than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan – 144 — over the same period.
The group selected the name, Project Orange Tree because hunters wear the color to warn other hunters not to shoot and the tree represents both life and shelter.


Chicago’s History Chronicled from DuSable to Obama

It is pledge season again for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). This is not a pledge appeal but rather a reminder of some of the exceptional and provocative programming that is often seen on PBS stations around the country. This weekend there was a rebroadcast of filmmaker Barbara Allen’s DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis, a documentary that chronicles the rich social and political history of Chi town from its founder Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable to the country’s first African American president Barack Obama. This programming is especially important considering recent attempts by Republicans to cut federal funding for public broadcasting.

There have been six African American United States senators in our history. Two were elected between 1870-1875, three were Republicans, one was a woman, three were from Chicago and one became president. Chicago has been the subject of recent political studies and research on its significant role in the development of national political leadership. I want to offer kudos to PBS for the insightfully riveting program that tackles the complex issue of race and politics in one American city from the diverse voices of those who helped to shape its history.

For history buffs and political scientists, the link to the 90-minute documentary is provided.