Posted on April 13, 2018 in Countdown

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Pompeo In the Hot Seat

Mike Pompeo finally made it to his Senate confirmation hearing, and what a hearing it was! Of course, you’ve already watched our video, so you know a good chunk of Pompeo’s troubling history with anti-Muslim bigotry, which may explain why he opened with a charm-offensive, discussing his love of meatballs and Golden Retrievers. And sure enough, there were plenty of soft-balls tossed Pompeo’s ways, but that didn’t stop several senators from throwing fast-balls at him too. The star of the day was Senator Cory Booker, who correctly grilled Pompeo over his connections with leading anti-Muslim bigots and his regressive views towards the LGBTQ community. “Senator, my record on this is unambiguous,” replied Pompeo, attempting to refer a supposed history of fairness towards all people. But his record is indeed unambiguous, and well documented in our video, which is precisely why we joined our partners on Capitol Hill on Monday to oppose Pompeo’s nomination, and why we continue to say #StopPompeo. And while Booker was the main star, he wasn’t the only one. You can watch the full hearing right here.


The Struggle for Freedom Continues

Palestinians in Gaza continue to hold unarmed demonstrations to demand their freedom, and Israel continues to use deadly violence against them. And the latest Israeli excuse for violence against Palestinians is more deranged than anything they’ve said before: “There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip." These were the words of the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The question, of course, is just how far is the Trump administration willing to go in excusing Israel’s worst behavior? The answer this week is, pretty damn far! Journalist Said Arikat asked State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to react to the claim that there are no civilians in Gaza: “Do you have any comment on that?” Nauert responded: “I do not. I do not.” That’s right, folks, pandering under this administration has reached a level where our own government cannot definitively say whether any of the children in Gaza are innocent. Take a moment to reflect on the horror of that thought.


Gerrymandering’s Evil & Opposite Twin

Since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act eliminated the most blatant forms of voter discrimination, subversive tactics meant to water down the influence of minority voters in local elections have become the hot new trend among the anti-access crowd, and the latest ploy is the use of at-large voting districts in local elections. This concept takes the opposite approach of gerrymandering: rather than packing everyone into a single, pre-determined district, it makes the entire electorate a large single district. Voters get to vote on multiple representatives, and the candidates who garner a plurality of votes win. This gives voting blocs undue influence over who represents them city-wide because their coordinated efforts now affect the entire city. A 2017 lawsuit in North Carolina gives us a depressing example of this: white voters in Jones County voted as a bloc, preventing black candidates from winning a plurality, resulting in an entirely white board of commissioners in a county whose population is one-third black. Even if math isn’t your strong-suit, it’s easy to recognize that doesn’t add up. This is an ongoing issue, from Alabama to California, but it isn’t a new one: the 1965 VRA made at-large districts illegal at the federal & state levels---but it requires renewed vigilance to identify and eliminate at-large districts if we truly aspire to democratic elections.


Too Big Not to Regulate?

So Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat before Congress, and some were not quite prepared to ask the right questions, which led to some funny moments. But on the serious breach of privacy in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, things were anything but funny! The tense exchange led to an apology and a promise to conduct a “full audit” to get to the bottom of all this. But there is a different audit we and many of our friends have been asking Facebook for: We need an audit of the hate on Facebook, and the impact it has on our society. Zuckerberg claimed in the hearing that Facebook doesn’t tolerate hate speech, but that’s clearly belied by the heavy presence of prominent bigots and hateful memes and videos of all kinds. When Senator Cory Booker asked Zuckerberg about the audit request led by Muslims Advocates, Color of Change, and other civil rights organizations, Zuckerberg responded that this would be a good idea. Small problem, Mark: we’ve sent that letter back in October! Let’s stop putting this off, and let’s go ahead and #AuditFacebook (if you tweet about this, use the hashtag). Oh, and if this seems too complex to explain to your friends, we got you covered! Just share our video on Facebook and Twitter!


The Infected Elephant

“A state lawmaker in Oklahoma refused to meet with Muslim constituents unless they replied to a questionnaire asking if they beat their wives. A Nebraska state senator suggested that any Muslim wanting to enter the United States be forced to eat pork first.” These are the opening lines from a Buzzfeed investigation into the extent of anti-Muslim discourse in the GOP. The main takeaway is that ”Republican officials in 49 states have openly attacked Muslims with words and proposed legislation since 2015, and few have faced repercussions.” Of course, bigotry is categorically not a partisan issue, and we should all unite across both parties and the entire political spectrum to push back against it. Acknowledge the exceptional scale of a problem in a particular party should never be used to score political points, but precisely to caution against the dangerous and continuing slide in a frightening direction. To that end, we call on the GOP leadership to double its efforts to stamp out anti-Muslim bigotry in its party, and to reaffirm its commitment to serve all Americans.