An American credo: Justice for some, especially the four-legged

Derby on May 4. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

OPINION — From the current administration’s indifference to congressional requests for information on the Mueller report to its hardening policies restricting those seeking asylum from violent homelands, one would think Donald Trump and company cared little for justice. But the president did manage to speak out recently in support of one particular victim he felt was wronged.

In a signature tweet, he said: “The Kentuky Derby decision was not a good one.” (He has since corrected the spelling to “Kentucky.”) “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

Yes, Donald Trump reacted in outrage, in defense of a horse.

After gun massacre, Charlotte is now ‘one of those cities’

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Now we’re one of those schools.” That’s what a  University of North Carolina student, in more sadness than anger, told a local radio station after a gunman killed two and wounded four others on her campus on Tuesday. And now Charlotte, a city already experiencing a spike in homicides, is “one of those cities.”

In the city and state, there is shock, plus questions. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers about why it happened and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

That this latest incident did not make it to the top spot in many national news outlets speaks to how commonplace such incidents have become and how frustrated many citizens are. Is the answer more mental health resources, more “good guys with guns,” more regulations and background checks, or something else?

It’s called accountability, but only for some

OPINION — When I was a little girl growing up in West Baltimore, my parents (especially my mom) gave me some truth along with the love. “You will have to work twice as hard to get half as far,” they told their working-class African American child, schooled as they had been in life’s challenges. They also warned about what everyone on my side of town knew: There was little to no room for error because folks like us seldom got the benefit of the doubt.

This was not to discourage me — far from it. It was to prepare me. Better to know what the deal was upfront.

They did not live to observe the spectacle of the president of the United States and members of his family get away — for now, at least — with all sorts of dishonest doings, things an African American president and his family would have been marched across the White House lawn in cuffs and shackles for. Things anyone in my neighborhood would have been tossed under the jail for even thinking about doing.

For serious primary voters, the parade of Democratic candidates is no joke

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The number of Democratic hopefuls declaring, thinking about declaring or being pushed to declare their interest in the 2020 race is increasing so rapidly, it has already become a reliable punchline. But for voters looking to discover the person who offers sensible policies on the issues they care about while exuding the intangible “it” quality that could beat Donald Trump, it is serious business.

Forget about what magic the letter “B” might hold — think Bernie, Biden, Beto, Booker, Buttigieg and I know I’m forgetting someone, oh yes, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet — these voters are digging deeper on the candidates who will crowd a debate stage in Miami two nights in a row in June.

When a hate crimes hearing goes very wrong, something’s not right in America

OPINION — When people are being threatened, intimidated and murdered, you would think that partisan bickering would take a back seat. But this is the U.S. Congress we’re talking about. Instead, what was supposed to be an examination of white nationalism and the rise of hate crimes on Tuesday devolved into what Americans have wearily begun to expect from their elected representatives. The House Judiciary Committee members inhabited different parties and different planets.

When what’s at stake is this serious, that’s pretty frightening.

Does the ‘content of their character’ still matter in the 2020 race?

OPINION — “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It might be the only quote by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that many Americans can recite by heart.

There is good reason for that, as political partisans have twisted a 1963 speech to suit their 2019 conservative agendas, despite the fact that those who now embrace him as one of their own would be horrified by King’s belief in extensive change in the system.

That quote can mean whatever you want it to, dressed up as approval of an American hero whose luster has only grown as his often revolutionary work fades into memory. That short snippet expresses a sentiment judged far more benign than others from that same speech, as when the Nobel Peace Prize winner said: “We’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

When does partisan gerrymandering cross the line?

OPINION — “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Republican member of the North Carolina general assembly’s redistricting committee. “So, I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

He added: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

If that is not quite a smoking gun, it’s definitely toasty to the touch.

Will quotes like that — transparently revealing the politics behind a policy that favors one party — be enough for the Supreme Court to meddle in the political maneuvering of partisan gerrymandering? This week’s hearings take on a North Carolina case and its mirror in Maryland, where Democrats are accused of skewing a district.

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.