Pondering the Pundits 6.19.2020

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Jamelle Bouie: Why Juneteenth Matters

It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.”

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves. [..]

When secession turned to war, it was enslaved people who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom. “From the first guns at Sumter, the strongest advocates of emancipation were the slaves themselves,” the historian Ira Berlin wrote in 1992. “Lacking political standing or public voice, forbidden access to the weapons of war, slaves tossed aside the grand pronouncements of Lincoln and other Union leaders that the sectional conflict was only a war for national unity and moved directly to put their own freedom — and that of their posterity — atop the national agenda.”

All of this is apropos of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, to lead the Union occupation force and delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in the region. This holiday, which only became a nationwide celebration (among black Americans) in the 20th century, has grown in stature over the last decade as a result of key anniversaries (2011 to 2015 was the sesquicentennial of the Civil War), trends in public opinion (the growing racial liberalism of left-leaning whites), and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Paul Krugman: Tulsa and the Many Sins of Racism

The ugly story didn’t end with the abolition of slavery.

When Trump campaign officials scheduled a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 19, they sent what looked like a signal of approval to white supremacists. For June 19 is Juneteenth, a day celebrated by African-Americans to mark the end of slavery. And Tulsa was the site of the 1921 race massacre, one of the deadliest incidents in the long, violent offensive to deny blacks the fruits of their hard-won freedom.

It’s now being claimed that the Trump campaign didn’t understand the date’s significance, but I don’t believe that for a minute. President Trump did, grudgingly, push the rally back one day, but that was surely because he and his inner circle were surprised by the strength of the backlash — just as they’ve been surprised by public support for the Black Lives Matter protests.

But let’s talk about Tulsa and how it fits into the broader story of racism in America.

Joe Biden has declared that slavery is America’s “original sin.” He’s right, of course. It’s important, however, to understand that the sinning didn’t stop when slavery was abolished. [..]

As I said, then, while slavery was America’s original sin, its dire legacy was perpetuated by other sins, some of which continue to this day.

The good news is that America may be changing. Donald Trump’s attempt to use the old racist playbook has led to a plunge in the polls. His Tulsa stunt appears to be backfiring. We are still stained by our original sin, but we may, at long last, be on the road to redemption.

Eugene Robinson: John Bolton is a weasel in a party of weasels

John Bolton is a weasel for not telling the truth about President Trump when it might have mattered — at least, theoretically. In practice, however, Bolton’s coming clean wouldn’t have mattered at all, since Bolton’s fellow weasels — Republican senators — were never going to remove the Head Weasel from office. That was always going to be our job.

I’m using the word “weasel” in the dictionary sense of “a deceitful or treacherous person.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is excepted because he, alone, put duty above party loyalty in voting to convict Trump during his impeachment trial. The rest of the GOP Senate caucus chose to maintain the tragic fiction that Trump is fit to exercise the vast powers of the presidency, even as these cravens know that to be untrue. Imagine how different things might be today if all senators, and not just Democrats and Romney, had upheld the oath they took to judge Trump impartially in his impeachment trial. [..]

At this point, Bolton’s revelations are just more of what we already knew from earlier accounts by journalists and onetime Trump insiders. The president’s 11th-hour attempt to halt publication of Bolton’s book is constitutionally absurd — the courts almost never impose prior restraint on free speech — and puts the president in the position of making two mutually exclusive claims: that the book is both “a compilation of lies and made up stories,” as Trump tweeted Thursday, and also that it is filled with classified information, which generally consists of secrets that are true.

A pox on both Bolton’s and Trump’s houses. But never forget the Republican Party’s shameful refusal to acknowledge who Trump is and what he’s doing to this country. And look at what the GOP’s fecklessness has cost the nation just in the few months since impeachment.