If Trump won’t fight white supremacist terrorists, these people will

OPINION — “We Support our Muslim Brothers and Sisters.” “Love Will Win, Hate Will Lose.” “Terrorism Has No Religion.” The Charlotte, North Carolina, Muslim community invited all to join in a United for Christchurch, New Zealand, vigil in an uptown park on Sunday afternoon, and encouraged those who came to mourn and stand in solidarity to bring posters with supportive messages.

They did.

People of all races, ages and faiths — several hundred of them — listened to remarks of healing and hope and pleas for understanding from local imams. “Good people of this country, this world, stand with us,” said Sheikh Muhammad Khan of the Islamic Center of Charlotte. All bowed their heads in prayer.

That is America, where domestic terrorist attacks, propelled by white supremacy, are on the rise, where leaders nonetheless ignore the national and global reach of this toxic movement. Unbelievably, shooting up places of worship is now a separate and growing category, from a Sikh temple in Wisconsin to a Christian church in Charleston, South Carolina, to a synagogue in Pittsburgh to mosques in New Zealand — and that doesn’t include all that would qualify.

How big and little lies, plus cash, prop up the ‘American dream’

OPINION — In the 1944 film “Gaslight,” a greedy Charles Boyer, trying to convince his rich, naive wife Ingrid Bergman that she is insane, dims and brightens the gaslights in their home, while insisting it is a figment of her imagination. Today, the term “gaslighting” has come to mean that same psychological manipulation.

America is being “gaslighted.”

How else could it maintain an unshaken belief in the “American dream,” that if you work long enough and hard enough, you can achieve anything? In order to believe in the triumph of a meritocracy, a country with an even playing field, you must ignore the lobbyists, PR specialists and boatloads of money that smooth out any rocky road for a select few. And your mind must obliterate every bit of this country’s history.

A half-century after Selma, the ‘black friend’ defense is going strong

OPINION — On a “Meet the Press” appearance a few weeks ago, Ohio Democrat and maybe presidential hopeful Sen. Sherrod Brown was commenting on that slam-bang start to Black History Month, Virginia officials in blackface, when he said, “This country hasn’t dealt well with issues of race. We have a president who’s a racist.” That led host Chuck Todd to ask Brown if he believed Donald Trump was a racist “in his heart,” to which Brown answered, “Well, I don’t know what ‘in his heart’ means.”

Exactly.

What’s in someone’s heart matters not at all when there is a long list of well-documented racist acts that have affected the lives of actual human beings. Brown mentioned a few off the top of his head; few sentient beings would have had trouble doing the same.

GOP greets North Carolina election scandal with crickets, excuses and misdirection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — America might know the name of the next president before voters in North Carolina’s 9th District have a representative in the House.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But one sure thing is that Mark Harris, the Republican who thought he won last fall, attended an orientation for new members of Congress and was picking out an office — won’t be the new congressman. He cited health reasons in taking himself out of the race that has no end in sight.

Why politicians, and everyone, need to think about legacy

OPINION — At least the bill was approved on a voice vote. That was the bill that would make lynching a federal crime, passed in the Senate late last week — in 2019.

Let that sink in. The legislation still must be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to happen with no problem, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump. But it would be unwise to take anything for granted since similar legislation has stalled for more than 100 years, held up by elected public servants who felt that taking a stand would be too politically risky.

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Trump was trying to channel Reagan. He sounded more like Nixon

OPINION  — “The state of our union is strong.” It is the line that is prominently featured in the speech of every president when he (and so far, it’s been a he) stands before Congress for a political ritual that remains impressive. Political theater? Sure, and why not. A country without a monarch craves a little pomp now and again, no matter the partisan sniping that precedes and follows it.

But what does that statement actually mean once the booming chants of “USA, USA” — which are sounding more aggressive than affirming lately — fade?

Stacey Abrams has already delivered her message

OPINION — Move over Beto O’Rourke, the candidate who brought Texas Democrats closer than they had been for years in his eventually unsuccessful Senate race against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last year.

Will he or won’t he run for president? That’s the question that’s been following him during his postelection adventures. But another Democrat who caught the attention of national leaders and celebrities in her midterm contest is getting ready for her moment on the national political stage.

Though Stacey Abrams lost her race to become Georgia’s governor in November, she will be the face and voice of the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 5, a speech that most anticipate will be less unifying oration than politicking to shore up the GOP base.

A Kamala Harris candidacy is a test, and not just for the candidate

OPINION — Of course, a reporter asked Kamala Harris how she would describe her identity. The California senator, a new entry into a crowded and growing Democratic field to challenge Donald Trump next year, answered simply, “I describe myself as a proud American.”

It’s a question no other candidate has been asked, and one that Harris will no doubt be asked again before the long slog to November 2020 is completed.

It’s not just her competitors Harris will be confronting in the months until then (or until her campaign comes to an end). It’s also questions like that one, understandable in the coverage of her historic quest. But it’s the extra scrutiny that can be exhausting for anyone just trying to live as herself or himself while being seen as an “other” by so many.

Very much up for grabs: this year’s profile in courage

OPINION — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Identifying the politician offering that idealistic advice is not so hard — President John F. Kennedy at his Jan. 20, 1961, inauguration. But that’s not all the 35th president had to say about the promise and challenges of America.

Climate change? “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Income inequality? “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, based in Boston, planned to regularly tweet out Kennedy’s quotes, though if you now try to seek a daily dose of inspiration, you will see a note on its page: “We’re sorry, but we will not be posting updates to our social media channels during the government shutdown. Also, all National Archives facilities are closed and activities are canceled until further notice.”