The trials of the ‘Scottsboro Boys’

Leadbelly song

Scottsboro BoysAs the story goes, “No crime in American history– let alone a crime that never occurred– produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on a Southern Railroad freight run on March 25, 1931.

“Over the course of the two decades that followed, the struggle for justice of the ‘Scottsboro Boys,’ as the black teens were called, made celebrities out of anonymities, launched and ended careers, wasted lives, produced heroes, opened southern juries to blacks, exacerbated sectional strife, and divided America’s political left.”

Britannica notes: “Despite testimony by doctors who had examined the women that no rape had occurred, the all-white jury convicted the nine, and all but the youngest, who was 12 years old, were sentenced to death.

“The announcement of the verdict and sentences brought a storm of charges from outside the South that a gross miscarriage of justice had occurred in Scottsboro. The cause of the ‘Scottsboro Boys’ was championed, and in some cases exploited, by Northern liberal and radical groups, notably the Communist Party of the U.S.A.

Here’s a video from Ancient History, though it’s not so ancient.

SCOTUS

History.com notes: The trials and repeated retrials of the Scottsboro Boys sparked an international uproar and produced two landmark U.S. Supreme Court verdicts, even as the defendants were forced to spend years battling the courts and enduring the harsh conditions of the Alabama prison system.

One of the cases was Powell v. Alabama (1932), in which SCOTUS ruled that the Scottsboro defendants had been denied the right to counsel. This violated their right to due process under the 14th Amendment. “The Supreme Court overturned the Alabama verdicts, setting an important legal precedent for enforcing the right of African Americans to adequate counsel, and remanded the cases to the lower courts.”

The second, again overturning the guilty verdicts, was in Norris v. Alabama (1935). The “systematic exclusion of blacks on Jackson Country jury rolls denied a fair trial to the defendants… This second landmark decision in the Scottsboro Boys case would help integrate future juries across the nation.”

You can “meet” the individuals involved through the American Experience piece Who Were the Scottsboro Boys?

In 2013(!), Alabama posthumously pardoned three of them after 80 years, “essentially absolving the last of the Scottsboro Boys of criminal misconduct and closing one of the most notorious chapters of the South’s racial history.”

Music

Here are the lyrics to the song Scottsboro Boys by Hudie Leadbetter, known as Leadbelly. Listen to the song.

There was a Broadway musical of this story in 2010. Music and lyrics were by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who had done Cabaret and other successful shows. It ran for 29 previews and 49 performances. Watch the 2011 Tony Awards performance.

Hate crimes: Atlanta spa murders

Stop AAPI Hate

Atlanta spaMy feelings about the Atlanta spa murders bounce between being really sad and extremely angry. Of course, I’m devastated by the loss of life. But the false notion that this is an incident unrelated to a broader societal pathology is infuriating.

As the Boston Globe indicated, This time needs to be different for Asian Americans. “Violence and racist acts against Asian Americans are not new — see the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps…” Anti-Asian policies and attitudes in the U.S. date back several decades.

“This is a fraught moment for Asian Americans everywhere. The community is on edge, bringing us back to the 1980s when anti-Asian sentiment ran high as Japanese carmakers crippled the US auto industry. In 1982, Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese-American, became collateral damage when he was beaten to death with a baseball bat in Michigan by a Chrysler autoworker and his out-of-work stepson. The two white men received zero prison time.

“Chin’s killing ushered in a new era of Asian American activism. The Atlanta murders must serve as another tipping point in this country to recognize that the racism against Asian Americans is deeper than most people realize and that we need to stamp it out.”

Recent bigotry

Of course, Americans are largely ahistorical people. So let’s look at more recent trends. Heather Cox Richardson, a political historian, has written a lengthy post on Facebook. I recommend the whole post.

After touting the great US relationship with China as recently as mid-February 2020, 45 “began to turn on China… He insisted that China had not told him about the deadly nature of the virus, and began to call it the ‘Chinese virus’” or the ‘Chy-na virus,'” his preferred Sinophobic slur.

“By April 17, a Republican strategy document urged candidates to deflect attention from the nation’s disastrous coronavirus news by attacking China… Democrats would not stand up to China, the document told Republican candidates to say, but ‘I will stand up to China, bring our manufacturing jobs back home, and push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.'”

While the previous regime said otherwise, the intelligence community concluded that China did not try to influence the election.

Still, with the politicization of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-Americans began to rise. There were about 3800 of them between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

Chinese are the largest ethnic group (42.2%) that report experiencing hate, followed by Koreans (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%), and Filipinos (7.9%). Women report hate incidents 2.3 times more than men.

Hate crimes

Moreover, per the Boston Globe: “Six of the eight victims were Asian women. As much as some may have wanted to believe it wasn’t another racially motivated hate crime, it’s impossible to disentangle racism from misogyny in the white shooter’s denial of a racial motive — threaded, as it was, with a racist trope. It wasn’t Asian Americans he wanted to eliminate, you see. It was Asian-American temptresses.”

(And WTH? Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) glorifies lynching in a rant during a hearing on anti-Asian attacks. Let’s trade in one bigoted imagery for another?)

So, yes, these were hate crimes, as Trevor Noah said of the murderer. (I’m leaving off the word “alleged” since he has reportedly confessed; mentally insert it, if you need to.). We shan’t be gaslighted. The killer didn’t have a really bad day.

Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, died. Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, died. Paul Andre Michels, 54, died.  Daoyou Feng, 44, died. Soon C. Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong A. Yue, all died. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 is still fighting for his life. They and their families and friends had a really bad day.

It’s time to stop the hate. I’m unclear about the efficacy of online hashtags, but I’ll do it anyway. #STOPASIANHATE

StopAsianHate

August rambling: a word with no meaning

keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom

rock-classification-table
https://wronghands1.com/2020/07/07/rock-classification-table/ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License

The NRA and the Long Con.

There’s No Such Thing as Family Secrets in the Age of 23andMe.

Telehealth Boom Misses Older Adults.

Don’t Blame Colleges for the Coming Fall Debacle. This is just what higher education looks like in a failed state.

Google Voice deserves your attention (again).

The Anonymous Professor Who Wasn’t.

Urban Dictionary TOP Definition: Literally – a word with no meaning in today’s USA.

Webwaste: The Web is Obese.

Vlogbrothers (Hank Green): Ideas are absolutely a kind of magic and It seems like content is now infinite and internalizing the reality that critique is vital…but so is knowing when you think it’s wrong.

A Tale of Two TV Producers and How They Switched Places (Gene Roddenberry and Jack Webb).

Ken Levine interview of Debbie Gibson: Part 1 and Part 2.

Songwriter Ashley Gorley Becomes First with 50 Number One Songs.

Double-O Thoughts.

Octothorpe – another term for the pound, number, or hashtag symbol (#).

Race

John Oliver: US history books and racism.

How Stephen Miller Molded the GOP to His Anti-immigration Agenda.

Pitfalls Black Lives Matter must avoid to maintain momentum and achieve meaningful change.

A Rare Recipe From a Talented Chef, Enslaved by a Founding Father.

A historical reckoning for the global slave trade including the database Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

I’ll have to read Isabel Wilkerson’s important new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. She makes unsettling comparisons between India’s stigmatizing treatment of its untouchables, Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews, and America’s treatment of African-Americans, the social systems that “keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom.”

Now I Know

The Color of Fraud and The Holbrook Holiday and The Horseless Headsman and The TV That Needed Help and Kindergarten Crabs?

regency-novel-or-pandemic-life
https://wronghands1.com/2020/05/26/regency-novel-or-pandemic-life/ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License
IMPOTUS

His Threat to Press Freedom Is Global.

Weekly Sift: The Election: Worry or Don’t Worry?

The Lincoln Project: Wake Up.

Yes, Kanye Is Trying To Help Trump Win By Spoiling Biden’s Chances with some help.

MUSIC

Lookin’ For a Leader 2020 – Neil Young.

Global Warming by Michael Abels.

The Ordering of Moses by Robert Nathaniel Dett.

Stevie Wonder music featuring Rebecca Jade and Leonard Patton on vocals, Tripp Sprague on sax and flute, Mack Leighton on bass, Duncan Moore on drums, and Peter Sprague on guitar. The Prayer featuring Rebecca Jade and Chris Walker.

AGO Organfest: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

Concerto for Left Hand in D Major by Ravel, performed by Leon Fleischer, who died at the age of 92.

16, Going On 17 – Laura Benanti and Christopher Fitzgerald

You’ll Be Back, priest’s viral ‘Hamilton’ video.

Brandy – Elliot Lurie. and friends, a cappella (and an Evanier story).

Electric Avenue – The Last Bandoleros and SHAGGY.

William Tell Overture finale, played by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

Coverville 1319: Covers of Public Enemy, RUN-DMC and LL Cool J.

Victory in Europe Day, 75 years on

solo pipers and town criers

Victory in Europe DayWhen I thought to write about Victory in Europe Day, I did a Google search and found the Wikipedia and History.com sites.

Soon, I came to the Imperial War Museums, founded in 1917. It prides itself on being a “global authority on conflict and its impact on people’s lives. We collect objects and stories that give an insight into people’s experiences of war, preserve them for future generations, and bring them to today’s audiences in the most powerful way possible.”

The five museums are physically closed because of COVID-19. Yet there is much online about “the causes, course, and consequences of war, from the First World War through to present-day conflict.” About VE Day, it notes that while it was celebrated around the world, it was not the end of the war, which would take place four months later.

I searched within the site for the word “holocaust,” “IWM London [was] to significantly expand and update our Second World War and Holocaust Galleries, and create a learning suite across all three floors of the exhibition.” How that might be affected by a pandemic, I do not know. “Opening in 2021, this £30.5 million project will make us the first museum in the world to physically and intellectually present the Holocaust narrative within the context of the Second World War…

“Research led by University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education” was conducted with over 9,500 secondary school students aged 11 to 18. [It] revealed that their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust was often based on inaccuracies and misconceptions.” I can only imagine that lacking is greater among Americans in that age range and older.

All This and World War II

Another page I came across is World War II Database, started by a guy named C. Peter Chen back in 2004. He wanted to share his “notes on WW2 history with others with similar interest and to showcase the technical capabilities” of his software company. The site is massive. Check out the timeline for 1945, for example.

Chen’s caveat: “AlthoughI am proud of this continuously growing site, I do not recommend this site to be used for academic research.” It is nevertheless impressive.

There was to have been a Victory in Europe Day 75 celebration in the United Kingdom this weekend, which has been canceled. “However, we are still encouraging solo pipers and town criers to continue to mark the occasion from a safe and suitable location.” There is also a call to a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Friday, and a toast at 3 p.m. “from the safety of their own home by standing up and raise a glass of refreshment of their choice .”

Wrong side of history and science

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me COVID-19” (actual sign)

side
33 Signs From “Reopen” Protests Across The U.S. That Are 100% Real
I am simultaneously utterly fascinated and incredibly irritated by the protesters of the physical distancing protocols. They see themselves as the heroes in the story. Some high-ranking governmental official has been a provocateur, tweeting “liberate Virginia,” “liberate Minnesota”, “liberate Michigan” et al., and they are listening.

Meanwhile, the guy doing the daily press conferences at the federal level has been saying that he would let the science decide when to open up the country. I really wish those two guys could get on the same page.

Maybe he is, as Truthout noted, gone off the rails — “gaslighting the American people, instigating armed rebellion via tweets, interfering with deliveries of PPE to frontline health care workers, and ultimately making it abundantly clear that they won’t be taking an ounce of responsibility for this disaster.”

The protesters, I gather, believe that they are on the right side of history, demanding “freedom”. They may think they’re disciples of Martin Luther King Jr. But as someone pointed out – somewhere in this blog, I believe – they are not the heroes of the piece. They are the violent uprising as James Meredith tried to enter Ole Miss in 1962. They’re the jeering crowd when the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High in 1957.

Poor physical distancing

And their violence is their very gathering. As health officials warn against anti-social distancing protests, we should note the risk. It’s one thing to risk one’s own well-being. But they are threatening everyone they come in contact with, and everyone THEY in turn meet. It is a slap in the face to every health care worker.

Some of them carry American flags, while others display symbols of hate – Nazi insignia, Confederate flags, anti-Semitic bamnners. A few are armed with guns, to prove…something, I think. The Weekly Sift guy wrote: “They aren’t patriots at all in any real sense. If you ask them to do anything for the common good — stay home, do without a haircut, wear a mask in public, pay taxes — it’s too much.

“Their vision of America is that the government builds us roads, delivers our mail, protects us from criminals, educates our children, and sends helicopters to pluck us off the roof when the flood comes, but in return, we wave flags and otherwise don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. JFK’s idea that we should ask what we can do for our country — that’s tyranny. All that ‘pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship’ crap — we don’t do that anymore.”

Sidebar

I was going to write about how, 50 years ago, members of the National Guard killed students at Kent State in Ohio. What I wrote five years ago is sufficient. I should note that today’s National Guard has been vital in assisting states in the time of COVID.