Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

by Pete Talbot

“I shouldn’t say this …” Conrad Burns said. It was the only accurate statement he made all day.

He then went on to insult Indians, Wall Street occupiers and the President.

He was talking to a small tea party crowd in Billings, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity and underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers.

I’ve been waiting for another Montana blogger to write about this (Montana Cowgirl, Pogie?) but haven’t seen a thing. Maybe Conrad’s speech was so obtuse it didn’t deserve notice. I, however, think it might because it mirrors the far-right’s rhetoric of ignorance, intolerance and racism.

Ignorance: “Burns was there to ‘expose the Obama administration’s $40 billion energy tax grab that will destroy jobs, decrease government revenues at a time of exploding national debt and make America less competitive.'”

In reality, the idea is to eliminate taxpayer-financed oil subsidies and tax breaks, and reinvest the $40 billion into social programs, green energy and job creation, according to C’mon Conrad, continued subsidies for oil companies with record-breaking profits are going to reduce the deficit, destroy jobs and make America less competitive? Well, it might give the oil companies slightly less money to employ corporate mouthpieces such as yourself.

Intolerance: On the Wall Street/Missoula/Helena/etc. occupiers, Burns said: “I feel sorry for these kids. They’re kind of spoiled. They’re down there having a hissy fit. They don’t know who they’re mad at.”

Oh, they know who they’re mad at, these spoiled kids, it’s the likes of you: politicians who push economic inequality, and advance the financial institutions responsible for a recession that’s crippling middle-class Montanans and devastating the poor.

Racism: “We got a guy in the White House (who) believes all of us should be dependent on the government,” Burns said. “I shouldn’t say this, but he wants this whole country to become like an Indian reservation.”

Conrad is on the record as a bigot: Arabs, African-Americans and now, Native Americans. Those damn Indians … and after all that the government has done for them. (R.I.P. Elouise Cobell. Please ignore Burns’ spiteful comments.)

So Conrad is still out there. He’s working for GAGE, a Leo Giacometto/Son-of-Rehberg Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, and spewing far-right rhetoric.

In these troubled times, do we really need the former Senator sowing seeds of hate, divisiveness and malice. I think not.

by jhwygirl

I haven’t seen this – nor have I been able to find anything – in any newspaper in the state (if I’ve missed it, please let me know) – but apparently former leader of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nation group Karl Gharst has sent the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) a letter saying that they were a “Jewish criminal organization working with other Jewish organized crime networks,” and that “These organizations are well known to commit crimes against lawful citizens through intimidation, destruction of property, violence and assassination.”

Gharst continues: “As a lawful citizen I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power and the power of the State of Montana to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”

Stand trial where? What is this guy talking about?

According to the story, reported in the Southern Poverty Law Center blog a little over a week ago, Travis McAdam, director of MHRN, has reported the matter to law enforcement.

Karl Gharst, as the SPLC blog post notes, was sent to jail in 2004 for threatening to kill a child protective services worker in Montana. More recently – prior to threatening MHRN most recently – Gharst screened movies which denied the existence of the Holocaust in Kalispell and tangled with other neo-Nazi groups in the area (likely drawn to the area because of people like Gharst calling NW Montana “home”.

I’m not sure why the Montana media hasn’t covered this. Here’s a Montana neo-Nazi who’s not afraid to speak to the press, who’s been convicted and jailed for threatening people in the past, who’s now emailing a threat to the Montana Human Rights Network threatening them with a grand jury of some unknown justice system. That’s not newsworthy?
A search of “supremacist” in the Billings Gazette brings up this list, many of those stories have a direct connect to Montana.

Let’s hope the press isn’t waiting until some “real crime” has been committed.

by problembear

this really grinds my gears ….. i realize these idiots have the right to assemble. i realize these asswipes have the right to free speech. i realize that they have the right to live here…….

but i also realize that i have similar rights that enable me to do as much as i can to make them feel less comfortable here.

Billings did it decades ago. let’s get busy doing this statewide……….

not in our state.

i think wulfgar has an interesting take on this too

by jhwygirl

This sickens me.

I’d like to think our forefathers thought of freedom of speech as something done in some sort of intelligent way. Did they really think this is what they meant to allow? The ranting of a bunch of idiots?

I must admit, I have real problems grasping at trying to find any way to condone this activity (or this). Part of it is my inability to wrap my brain around hatred like this. On a basic level, life is too short to pollute myself like these people.

But in the same order, I want to somehow make them stop. I don’t need to hear anything more. I just want them to shut the hell up.

I just wish I knew how.

by Pete Talbot

Five middle school suicides in the past year. Twenty attempted suicides. In a town of less than a thousand. In a school of fewer than 160.

This is criminal negligence.

It happened in Poplar, Montana, and the story is in today’s paper. The gist of the piece was about a principal who singled out kids at a student assembly for getting Fs. If true, well, that’s pretty sad.

But that’s not really the story. Kids as young as ten are taking their own lives out of desperation. It’s an unbroken cycle of poverty and hopelessness; while the rest of us turn a blind eye.

Here’s the best link I could find at the Great Falls Tribune but the suicides are buried in the story. The online Lee Newspapers have no mention of the suicides. (It was reported in the print edition of the Missoulian.) That’s unconscionable. It should have been the lead story on every newscast and in every newspaper across the state … and it should have happened months ago.

Where else should the blame lie? Our state and national governments, for sure. Our disparate education system. Society as a whole. The list goes on.

Can you imagine the outcry if this had happened at Washington Middle School in Missoula? No expense would be spared. Every expert in the region, every anti-suicide program that’s ever been conceived, would be employed to prevent this from happening.

But it happened in Poplar on the Fort Peck Reservation where, apparently, kids aren’t quite as valuable.

We should all be ashamed and make sure this doesn’t happen again on this reservation or any other school, anywhere.


I’m not going to delve into the controversy surrounding Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s use of “the word that no white person should say for fear of having their career ended,” for lack of tact and not really caring about all the Mediawhores talking heads getting a chance to shout about something for five minutes before moving onto the next sensationalized story that’s not really a story.  Rather I would like to take the opportunity to share a clip of my favorite comedian, Louis CK’s thoughts on the subject… Enjoi.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the Mineral County Sheriff’s race which was turning strange – in my opinion – with a candidate promising to sue the county in which he was seeking a job. He also promised not to enforce federal laws.

This kind of talk is dangerous. Frankly, it’s a little crazy.

Mineral County is facing a financial crisis (as are many government entities here and around the U.S.) – and along with the sheriff’s race, the primary election also includes a 3-year temporary 25-mill levy to ensure adequate staffing for the sheriff’s department. One candidate is against the levy, yet – of course – this teabagger state’s right fiscal conservative Constitutionalist would sue the county (with what $, I don’t know) in order to get the staffing that the county sheriff’s department so desperately needs.

Mineral County, though is facing a larger crisis of ideology. They’ve been through this before, and John Q. Murray reminds Mineral County residents – and the rest of us – with an interview with outgoing Sheriff Hopwood of the dangers Constitutionalists like Rand Paul and (while he doesn’t mention him by name), primary sheriff’s candidate Ernie Ornelas.

And he’s right – they’re not crazy – they’re dangerous.

If anyone has been up Fish Creek recently, they know that there is one of these lunatic Constitutionalists established up there, staking claim to parts of the Lolo National Forest. These people are scary, make no mistake.

Murray gives readers a history lesson in not only Mineral County’s not-too-terribly-recent past, but the Civil War and the dangers of these political ideologues that wage a verbal and ideological war against the U.S. Constitution. The take that foundation of our very government and twist its words to try and deflate its importance in an attempt to make not only states (but in this case) local sheriff’s supreme.

And while it may sound like crazy talk, and something that should be ignored, the reality is that turning the other way is more dangerous as this talk fertilizes the community as a haven for others to plant themselves.

Right here in Mineral County, Sheriff Hugh Hopwood has encountered self-professed “Constitutionalists” and “free white males” who claim they are not subject to taxes and motor vehicle laws. Elsewhere they have filed bogus tax liens against elected officials, convened their own grand juries, and issued bogus warrants to arrest judges and sheriffs.

“We worked very hard, for years, starting under Sheriff O’Brien, to get the White Supremacists and the Constitutionalists under check. We were the laughingstock of the nation when the Church of the Creator held their meetings here, and when the Church of the True Israel held their meeting up Highway 135,” Sheriff Hopwood said. “I’m worried that Mineral County will be seen as a place favorable to those extreme points of view. Once you open that door, then it is hard as hell to get it closed again.”

The danger isn’t from the people currently in Mineral County. They know their local and state candidates and their characters. The danger is from people outside who will interpret these statements as establishing a safe haven for racism and anti-government agitation. A very real danger is that they will misconstrue these remarks as suggesting a nice big welcome mat for white supremacists.

Mineral County needs the door not only shut tight, but locked, deadbolted, barred, and wired with live current to keep out the white supremacists and their twisted brand of evil.

Murray, former sheriff O’Brien, current Sheriff Hugh Hopwood and sheriff’s candidate Mike Johnson (who has directly challenged the notion of a Constitutionalist sheriff who won’t enforce federal laws) are bravely doing the job of true patriots – standing up to hate and dangerous ideology much like those that spoke out against the South as the dangerously brought this country to civil war.

I laud these guys for doing this – and I hope that the residents of Mineral County understand the dangers they face and turn out in droves to shut Ornela down.

Further confirming that Ornelas is dangerous is the fact that he was endorsed by the one-man show, Missoula’s Gary Marbut/Montana Shooting Sport’s Association. Please note in this video that he calls himself president of the MSSA, and refers to it as political action group and touts the number of laws he has pushed through the Montana legislature.

Marbut has failed to register as a lobbyist for his work in Helena – where, during legislative sessions, he lives Monday-Friday. He’s also known for his intimidation tactics to those who won’t vote for his gun bills (and was pretty darn successful at it last session). Rep. Margie Campbell stood up and pleaded with the even split house and urged her fellow Democrats to not cave to the intimidation tactics of the gun lobby. Unfortunately, they did not listen to this wise woman (who is not anti-gun), and passed several horrible gun bills including HB228 and HB246.

Both were signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer.

by JC


This week is seeing an escalation of right-wing craziness egged on by republicans. I don’t hardly need to provide any links, but anyone who was watching the health care bill vote saw republican representatives on the balcony outside the chamber cheering on the tea baggers as they protested outside Congress. The same protestors who were throwing racial and homophobic slurs at Congresspersons as they marched up the steps.

We’ve got bloggers posting the wrong address for a Congressman, and tea baggers severing gas lines. Bullets. Bricks. An upcoming April 19th open carry rally in DC on the anniversary of Tim McVeigh’s bombing of the Murrah building, the burning of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian complex and the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Sarah Palin using gunsights on the districts of Congressional districts she’s targeting. Michael Steele referencing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s fall election as a “firing line.” Former Congressman Dick Army’s funding of the apparatus that is stirring up all this hate. Former House Speaker Newt Gingritch blaming Democrats for all the violence because of their policies and actions–even though they are duly elected and ran legislation through a regular process. The ex-Vice President’s daughter fomenting McCarthyism over public defenders as she gears up a possible run for the Presidency.

This list goes on and on. It is what is passing for politics in the GOP these days, as the organization teeters from spectacle to spectacle. Birthers. Deathers. Deniers. Haters. At some point, though, this ignorance and fomenting of anger will have consequences. People will get shot, offices burned and bombed, and chaos will reign.

Maybe this is really the future the GOP wishes on this country. A future where liberty equates anarchy. Freedom is synonymous with bigotry. Where compassionate conservatism is reserved for the worthy, wealthy. It is a slash and burn mentality that is taking hold, one where the GOP “Party of No” wishes this country to fail, so they can ride in–white knight in shining armor–to save the day.

I’ve heard references to how this is beginning to parallel the anti-war movement sentiments of the 60’s, in that it is painting a picture of a political party that will endure in people’s minds for generations. Heck, we’ve got commenters here who still hate on hippies. I can see it in 2040, my grandkids will be saying: look grandpa, another dirty teabagger with his hate signs!

I’ve only pointed to the tip of the iceberg here. What think all of you?

by Pete Talbot

It came back to me in a torrent of emotions: why I seldom visit the right-wing blogs.

It was the comments over at Missoulapolis this time, on this post, about resurrecting the Hiawatha train route — a pretty innocuous subject.

It wasn’t “Max Bucks” calling our site “4 & 20 Black Girls.” I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he really isn’t a racist. He’s just making a feeble attempt at humor by melding blackbirds with jhwygirl — this site’s longtime contributor. I hope that’s all it is.

Nor was it Mr. Bucks calling European rail passengers “stinking euro-socialists.”

No, it was the entire tone of the comments. From the reasons as to why this guy won’t take the train:

“I can drive 156 miles in Montana in two hours for about $75.00. I can ride in extreme comfort and privacy, leave when I like, stop when I like, and return when I like. There will be no government record of my travel.”

I mean, where do you start with a comment like that: the selfishness, wastefulness and extreme paranoia of it all.

There are the ever popular government is bad/free market is good metaphors.

There’s a swipe at Ward 2 Councilwoman Pam Walzer’s unfortunate DUI, for who knows what reason.

Then it devolved into a rage against food stamp users:

“Ever wonder how many folks that are on welfare, then either purchase their intoxicant “de jour” (sic) with cash from food stamps or cash from a welfare check?”

Now I’m not saying the left-wing blogosphere is made up of saints. I do believe, though, at least at this site, we try to moderate the really malicious comments — no matter what the political persuasion. I, for one, take offense at the misuse of the word Nazi when applied to conservatives, and will call out the commenter.

I just don’t see this happening at the right-wing sites, and the nasty rhetoric makes me sad. It gives me less-and-less faith in humanity, and our ability to solve the myriad problems facing our nation and world.

If you’ve the stomach, take a quick look at the site. Read it and weep.

by JC


Now that the silly season is over–as August has come to be called in political circles–with Obama giving yet another speech, and the 9/12 tea bagger march on D.C. is over, we can look back and begin to reflect on what is happening in America.

The examples are too numerous too list here today. But everywhere you look, the debate has taken on an underlying tone of racism: is it, or isn’t it? Did he/she, or didn’t he/she? I expect that much of the national attention will be riveted to those who cloak their political activism/racism in patriotism, and those who would point out that their ideology is clouded in xenophobia, paranoia, and racism.

I don’t expect this debate to be well received here or anywhere else. But it is a discussion that needs to happen, if we are to move on and put this ugly period in history behind us.

by JC

“We are human beings and we should be treated with dignity”


Here is an excerpt from “Bearing the fruits of their labor,” from the Institute for Southern Studies. Some not-so-light reading on worker justice for your Labor Day’s relaxation and BBQ:

Bearing the fruits of their labor

“We used to own our slaves — now we just rent them.”

Those were the words a Florida farmer used to describe his migrant farmworker labor force to reporter Edward R. Murrow in the classic 1960 Thanksgiving television documentary Harvest of Shame. The documentary would go on to shock U.S. viewers with its depiction of the bleak plight of the Florida farmworkers who put food on America’s tables.

Fast forward 50 years later and still much of their story remains the same. Just replace the African-American migrants of the 1960s with the Mexican, Central American and Haitian immigrants of today.

These farmworkers are responsible for putting food on most of our tables, yet they remain among our country’s most vulnerable groups. These tomato pickers endure low pay and dangerous job conditions. They work seven days a week, between 10 to 12 hours with no overtime pay, no health insurance, no sick days, no benefits and no job security. They often have wages withheld, face beatings and violence, and live in deplorable living conditions where they are packed like sardines into trailers. In the most extreme cases they are enslaved.

With some U.S. labor laws still mired in the legacy of racism, laws offer few protections for farmworkers who are not guaranteed the legal right to overtime pay or collective bargaining, and who can be fired at will. Three-fifths of all farm workers in the U.S. earn less than $10,000 a year.

Despite the harsh conditions of their labor, over the past few years a small group of migrant workers from southwest Florida have been making waves across the country in their battle for worker justice. They have waged one of the most successful labor campaigns in a generation.

Led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a South Florida-based grassroots workers’ rights organization, these farmworkers have gone on to win major, landmark victories against some of the largest corporations in the United States… [read the rest of the story]

by JC

Republican’s new strategy: convince people that the world really isn’t how it is, and let disinformation rule the media to distract the nation from its real problems.

The recent poll out of Research 2000 shows us how the concentration of “Birthers” in the south represents the republican’s last remaining stronghold. Fully 50% of the total population oof the south believe that Obama either wasn’t born in America, or they don’t know. The rest the country averages about 90% in favor of the common knowledge that Obama was born in Hawaii, with only about 5% unsure.

When you toss out all of the non-white people polled in the south, the Washington Independent’s Dan Weigel concludes that 75% of the white population in the south believe, or isn’t sure, that Obama is a natural born American. Wow.

Actually, I’m pretty impressed that the republican party has found a constituency and a theme around which to mount their comeback to political power. Retreat to the south, fill a bunch of people full of disinformation about a whole host of topics–like Obama’s citizenship, global warming, health care, the economy, etc.

No wonder that many independent-minded moderate republicans have joined hands with moderate democrats, leaving the republican rump full of crazy whackos who can’t think for themselves.

Unfortunately, people who are trying to craft policy in this country are confronted with having to deal with a media that loves the controversy this situation creates, reporting on disinformation like it was real news.

And our politicians are found compromising with people who believe the president isn’t an American, that Medicare isn’t a government program, that the planet isn’t warming, that allowing 9 banks to pay the 5,000 execs $1,000,000+ bonuses for a total of $33 billion is a good thing and will help the economy, and that the federal Cash for Clunkers program is really designed to let the government take over control of your PC.

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie land.

And for a little humor on the whole scene, head on over below the fold and watch Bill Maher’s take on the birthers last night!
Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

I read this Mallard Fillmore cartoon in the local paper last Saturday.

First, it was not based on fact. A quick look at the news that day had many stories on the Dow Jones industrial average. I couldn’t find one story or column on America being a racist nation. But more troubling is the strip’s denial of racism. Mallard Fillmore is the Rush Limbaugh of comics: inaccurate as hell, shallow and mean-spirited.

But it got me thinking. Having elected Barack Obama as president, are we no longer a racist nation?

Unfortunately, my experiences over the past few days would suggest otherwise.

First, there were comments I heard during Thanksgiving in Billings, hosted by in-laws, that were deeply derisive of blacks, Indians and our president-elect. I’m sure these folks don’t consider themselves racist but their language was thoughtless and hurtful. Then there was this conversation overheard in Caldwell, Mont. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit in the piece I’ve linked to. It’s under An unpleasant aside.)

But the most telling was this thread over at Missoulapolis that concerns the holiday stampede and employee death at Wal-Mart. I visit the conservative sites from time-to-time to glean other perspectives. Often, the debate is articulate and civil, but not always, and in this particular case it was downright nasty.

What I found exceptionally disappointing was the fact that so few people challenged an obviously racist remark.

I won’t be visiting that site for quite awhile. It’s too painful.

Racism dead in America? We’ve got a ways to go yet, folks.

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