2019
November
13
Wednesday

Today’s five hand-picked stories look at impeachment through two different lenses, a potential sea change in British politics, what pork says about Chinese identity, the importance of remembering the Tulsa race riot, and the power of blue socks

But first, this week I got a letter from a reader who, to me, embodies so much of what the Monitor stands for. To cope with the toxic partisanship today, Ken Jacobsen, a former teacher in Wisconsin, strives to be radically self-aware. I’ve often thought of sharing with you all the poems he sends me, challenging himself to love more, to understand others more deeply, to forgive.

What he sent me this week was about a fellow he met who was wearing a red Trump “Make America Great Again” hat. Not long ago, this man told Ken, some guy wearing a Chicago Bears hat told him baldly, “I don’t like your hat!” Where Ken lives is Green Bay Packers country, so the gentleman in the MAGA hat responded, “Well, I don’t like your hat!”

But he didn’t leave it at that. He said, “So, let’s swap hats for a day. Then, I’ll like you, and you’ll like me.” Ken doesn’t know if they swapped hats, but a genuine conversation followed.

How we talk to each other matters. One study suggests that we face a moral empathy gap. It’s not that one side has no morals, it’s that we don’t see that people prioritize universal values differently. Bridging that gap involves understanding where others are coming from enough to speak their language. Or, in one case, perhaps just trading hats.

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Two perspectives on a key story

1. Impeachment hearings day one: Two perspectives

In hyperpartisan times filled with spin and misinformation, we’re constantly looking for new ways to be clear and fair on impeachment. Here’s a new approach, looking through two perspectives. In the same vein, click here to read three questions about the whistleblower.

Mark
Saul Loeb/Reuters
Chairman Adam Schiff (left), D-Calif., and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., listen Nov. 13 during the first public hearings held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill.

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As public hearings get underway in the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry one conclusion is inescapable: Republicans and Democrats are looking at the process through two very different frames of reference.

They cite different facts, and in some cases question whether the “facts” of the other side are facts at all. They focus on different aspects of U.S. engagement with Ukraine to illustrate different points. They come to very different conclusions about the nature and importance of President Donald Trump’s intentions in regard to a wide range of Ukrainian issues.

During the first break in Wednesday morning’s action, Rep. Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, summed up this split-screen situation.

“I think what happens is, when we start to look at the facts, everybody has their impression of what truth is,” said Representative Meadows to a jostling scrum of reporters. “The ultimate judge will be the American people.”

Here is an attempt to summarize the positions of the two sides as revealed in the first day’s testimony.

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Impeachment hearings day one: Two perspectives

As public hearings get underway in the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry one conclusion is inescapable: Republicans and Democrats are looking at the process through two very different frames of reference.

They cite different facts, and in some cases question whether the “facts” of the other side are facts at all. They focus on different aspects of U.S. engagement with Ukraine to illustrate different points. They come to very different conclusions about the nature and importance of President Donald Trump’s intentions in regards to a wide range of Ukrainian issues.

During the first break in Wednesday morning’s action, Rep. Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, summed up this split-screen situation.

“I think what happens is, when we start to look at the facts, everybody has their impression of what truth is,” said Representative Meadows to a jostling scrum of reporters. “The ultimate judge will be the American people.”

Here is an attempt to summarize the positions of the two sides as revealed in the first day’s testimony, with some cross-cutting references where they intersect, and differ:

How Democrats see it

Democratic leaders of the impeachment process believe, according to Rep. Adam Schiff of California, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, that the outline of the events they’re investigating is becoming quite clear.

“The facts in the present inquiry are not seriously contested,” Representative Schiff said in his opening statement.

Ranking committee Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, did not so much dispute this as go off in a different direction, saying the “spectacle” before them was presented in bad faith by Democrats who had failed to topple a president with the Russia investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

As leverage, the Trump effort withheld military aid and a promised White House visit for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy,

To Democrats, the facts say that President Trump, through his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, engaged in a lengthy pressure campaign to convince Ukraine to announce investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma, a large Ukrainian energy corporation.

This effort culminated with, but was certainly not limited to, the now-famous July 25th phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelenskiy, according to the Democrats.

Monday’s witnesses – the top U.S diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, and George Kent, the State Department’s top Ukraine official – described their arc of frustration, a growing realization over the summer that a Ukraine foreign policy back-channel centered on Mr. Giuliani was superseding their own traditional diplomatic efforts.

Ukrainian officials were confused and kept asking Mr. Taylor how to handle Mr. Giuliani’s inquiries. Ukraine is a struggling, developing democracy enmeshed in a bitter war in the Donbass region with Russia and Russian-backed separatists. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent both testified that it was in U.S. interests to bolster Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Andrew Harnik/AP
William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

Mr. Taylor said on Wednesday that in a text message to the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, “I wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be ‘crazy.’ I believed that then, and I believe it now.”

Democrats believe that the biggest news to come out of Wednesday’s hearing was Mr. Taylor’s statement that an aide of his had overhead a phone call from President Trump to Mr. Sondland in which the president checked on “the investigations.”

After the call, Mr. Sondland told the aide the president cared more about investigating the Bidens than other Ukraine issues, Mr. Taylor said.

Democrats believe this could tie President Trump more closely to the Ukrainian decisions than almost any previous revelation. The aide is reportedly scheduled to appear in closed session with the Intelligence Committee later in the week.

Republicans have criticized Democrats for relying on testimony that insofar as the president’s intent is concerned, relies on second- and third-hand accounts. The White House has blocked higher-level cabinet members from testifying.

On Wednesday White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to the latest news by repeating this charge.

“The latest ‘evidence is an anonymous staffer who told someone he overheard someone else taking to POTUS on the phone,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “All the ‘evidence’ in this case is second- and third-hand hearsay.”

How Republicans see it

To Republicans, the Democratic description of the alleged chain of events between the president and Ukraine, and its apparent outcome, are a strained effort to connect disparate dots.

“Democrats ... are trying to invent a narrative,” said Rep. Nunes in his opening statement.

GOP members had a number of points they asserted in questioning of witnesses. One was that the Ukraine affair is an attempt at revenge by frustrated members of the permanent bureaucracy. Another was, in essence, “no harm no foul” – that Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said following the July 25 call that he had not felt pressured by President Trump and that the phone call was positive.

Representative Meadows also insisted that the president is not interested in the Bidens and Ukraine as much as he is in the general bribery and corruption that has long occurred in a country famous for such activity.

“The president has a deep-rooted concern about corruption,” Representative Meadows said.

GOP House members also attempted to reframe the debate by focusing on allegations that Ukraine conspired to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016 and aid Hillary Clinton, and on the role Hunter Biden played in Burisma, and his father’s interactions to force a Ukrainian prosecutor out of office.

The spying allegations center on activities of Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian American who worked for the Democratic National Committee for a few months in the summer of 2016. Drawing on a Politico article from 2017, the GOP alleges that Ms. Chalupa received help from the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S. to investigate Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager now serving time in prison for financial crimes related to secret millions he received for consulting for Viktor Yanukovych, who served as Ukrainian president from 2010 until his ouster amidst populist uprisings in 2014.

According to Republicans, Ms. Chalupa passed this “dirt” to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Ms. Chalupa herself has downplayed her efforts and former Clinton officials say they received no such information. In any case, Democrats say that these allegations pale next to the widespread, sophisticated Russian intervention in the U.S. presidential vote.

As for the Bidens, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York elicited from Mr. Kent an acknowledgement that he was concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest in regards to Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian business activities during the period when his father was vice president.

Representative Stefanik asked Mr. Kent whether, when Burisma attempted to sponsor an essay-writing contest with a U.S. government aid agency, he asked the agency to stop it, due to worries about the company.

“You didn’t think it was appropriate for the U.S. government to sponsor something with a bad reputation, correct?” Representative Stefanik asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Kent replied.

Democrats say no evidence has surfaced of either of the Bidens behaving improperly in Ukraine.

President Trump on Wednesday also insisted in blunt terms that the impeachment inquiry is a “scam” – similar rhetoric to the words he used against Mr. Mueller and his Russia probe. Just prior to the hearing’s opening, the White House released a short video in which the president stood in the Rose Garden and inveighed against Democrats, appealing to his staunchest supporters.

“The Democrats want to take away your guns, they want to take away your health care, they want to take away your vote, they want to take away your freedom, they want to take away your judges, they want to take away everything,” President Trump said. “We can never let this happen.”

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2. Brexit gives a nudge to ‘separation of powers’ in Britain

Britain’s government hasn’t traditionally been subject to judicial review the way government is in the United States. That appears to be changing – and potentially changing British politics.

Mark
Alastair Grant/AP
City of London Common Cryer and Sergeant at Arms, Col. Geoffrey Godbold, at center, calls out a proclamation to announce the 2019 general election outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London on Nov. 7, 2019. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12.

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In the minds of its supporters, Brexit is all about taking back control of Britain’s sovereign powers from the European Union. But the question of who in London actually controls which sovereign powers is being churned by Brexit itself.

Traditionally, British courts have stayed well away from political matters. U.K. judges cannot strike down acts of Parliament, as the U.S. Supreme Court can do. But when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament last September, shortly before Britain was due to leave the EU, his move was challenged in the courts, and the British Supreme Court ruled against him.

That followed a 2016 judicial ruling that the government had to seek Parliament’s approval before starting to withdraw from the EU. Some legal scholars welcome the judiciary’s newly discovered appetite for oversight, others say the Supreme Court is overstepping its constitutional duties.

Either way, says Catharine Barnard, a law professor at Cambridge University, “what you are seeing is an evolution of the separation of powers in the U.K.”

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Brexit gives a nudge to ‘separation of powers’ in Britain

“Take back control.”

That was the boldface promise of Brexit – the return of Britain’s sovereign powers from the faceless bureaucrats of the European Union to the national capital, London.

Leaving the EU, campaigners said, would restore the primacy of United Kingdom law and domestic courts in a country proud of its legal traditions and democratic institutions.

But who exactly has control of which sovereign powers in Britain’s political system? The Brexit saga itself is changing the constitutional landscape, observers say, as judges are increasingly called upon to step into the political arena and adjudicate contentious issues.

“What you’re seeing is an evolution of the separation of powers in the U.K.” between the government, Parliament, and the courts, says Catherine Barnard, a law professor at Cambridge University.

That was underlined by a landmark Supreme Court ruling six weeks ago setting a precedent for how Britain is governed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made a bold power play, suspending Parliament for five weeks, ostensibly to reset the legislative calendar. Critics challenged that prorogation in the courts and when the case was heard by the Supreme Court, it ruled unanimously against the government.

Mr. Johnson had acted unlawfully, the court ruled, because Parliament had been stymied in its role of holding the government to account ahead of its Oct. 31 deadline to leave the EU. The next day, members of Parliament were back at work.

Who are you calling an enemy of the people?

For legal scholars accustomed to judges tiptoeing cautiously around political matters, it was an unprecedentedly bold move. Britain has no equivalent of the 1803 Marbury v. Madison U.S. Supreme Court case, which established judicial review of laws and actions. U.K. courts cannot strike down acts of Parliament, as the U.S. Supreme Court can do on grounds of constitutional violation.

Reuters
Controversies over Brexit have thrust Britain's Supreme Court, shown here during a September hearing in London, into a higher profile. The court recently ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had acted unlawfully in trying to suspend Parliament for five weeks, because the move would have stymied Parliament's role of holding the government to account ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline to leave the European Union.

But the new ruling, coming on top of a previous Brexit-related case in 2016, has thrust Britain’s top judges into a new and politically treacherous role as de facto guardians of the constitutional order, even as Brexit throws up fresh complications for lawmakers.

“The Supreme Court has in some ways emerged as a constitutional court,” says Jeff King, a professor of law at University College, London. “It recognizes that it has a central role to play in identifying and upholding the legal constitution in a way the courts were not open to doing until relatively recently.”

The British Supreme Court is only 10 years old, one of a series of constitutional reforms undertaken when Tony Blair was prime minister. Before its inauguration, the highest court of appeal in the U.K. was in the House of Lords, the unelected upper house. The Law Lords sat as legislators and judges, straddling two branches of government.

The Supreme Court sits on the opposite side of a public square from Parliament, symbolizing the separation of powers. Judges are apolitical and appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of her prime minister.

Before Brexit, few people paid attention to the court or its judges, but their anonymity has now been scoured away. “All the judges are acutely conscious of their role as nonelected officials,” says Professor Barnard.

In November 2016, a pro-Brexit tabloid newspaper published the photos of three Supreme Court judges on its front page over a headline, “Enemies of the People.” The judges had joined a majority opinion that then-Prime Minister Theresa May had to seek parliamentary approval before starting the formal withdrawal from the EU, giving members of Parliament a much greater say in the process.

Both that ruling and the prorogation case have played into a populist narrative in the pro-Brexit camp that elites were determined to thwart a democratic mandate.

From sidestepping to overstepping?

The legal debate, however, turns on how the Supreme Court understands the prerogative powers of the Crown, as exercised by the prime minister and his or her cabinet, with regard to Parliament.

Power struggles between British executives and legislatures aren’t new; a long and bloody dispute in the 17th century ended in 1688 with a new balance of powers under a constitutional monarch. Since then, Parliament has been sovereign, and the governments it elects are subject to legal constraints.

The Supreme Court based its ruling on the violation of two legal principles, firstly that Parliament must not be prevented from exercising its sovereignty, and secondly that lawmakers had the right to scrutinize the executive at a critical juncture in the Brexit process.

“The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification,” said the court’s president, Lady Hale.

Critics of the court say it overstepped its constitutional duties and argue that prorogation is a matter for members of Parliament, as representatives of the people, to decide, not unelected judges. By assessing the government’s reasons for prorogation, an inherently political act, the Supreme Court has extended judicial power.

“It’s a political evaluation that the court is not in a position to do,” complains Richard Ekins, a law professor at Oxford University. “What it does is to judicialize what should otherwise be, and has otherwise been, a political constitution.”

Dr. Ekins, who directs the Judicial Power Project at Policy Exchange, a conservative think tank in London, warns that the Supreme Court has opened the door to more such lawsuits on a broader range of issues.

Other controversial actions by the executive, whether in foreign or defense affairs, may in the future face judicial review, he worries. “There is a risk of more litigation in the spirit of the prorogation judgment.”

Professor King welcomes the court’s “innovation” in striking down Mr. Johnson’s prorogation, but he agrees that it could spark more politically sensitive lawsuits.

“There was a time in the past,” he says, “when people might say, ‘well, that might sound like a good argument in law but the courts won’t go near it.’ Now they will go near it if it’s a good argument in law.”

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3. China’s great pork shortage: Why it could cost Beijing

If you think a pork shortage in China is no big deal, then you don’t really know China.

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From Cantonese barbecue in the south to boiled dumplings in the north, pork’s almost mythical place in China’s cuisine and culture explains why no other meat can replace it. During the economic turmoil of the Maoist years, pork was a once-a-year treat for millions of peasants. But since the market reforms of the 1980s, pork as a daily staple has become a comforting sign of well-being. Pork in modern China is “the symbol of the good life” and “a reward for hard work,” says anthropologist James Watson.

Now, however, China faces a huge shortage of pork. The country has lost about half of its hog herd to African swine fever over the past 15 months, and skyrocketing prices are putting pork out of reach for many. Discontent among Chinese consumers, especially the poor and middle class, is politically risky for the government, which has based its mandate on steadily raising living standards.

“If the regime can’t supply pork at reasonable prices, it’s a big knock to their legitimacy,” says William C. McCahill Jr. of the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle. “The whole notion of … food security is a huge issue for the regime.”

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China’s great pork shortage: Why it could cost Beijing

As China’s Communist Party leaders confront challenges ranging from Hong Kong protests to the trade war, a more alimental problem has Beijing nervous: a paucity of pigs.

China faces a huge shortage of pork – by far the country’s favorite meat – after losing about half of its hog herd to African swine fever over the past 15 months. China’s pork production has plummeted an estimated 45%, while the price of pork soared 101% in October compared with a year earlier, according to INTL FCStone, a U.S. financial services group, and Chinese government statistics.

Discontent among Chinese consumers, especially the poor and middle class, is politically risky for the party, which has based its mandate on steadily raising living standards – a more difficult act in recent years, as the country’s economy slows. Now, the party’s ability to “bring home the bacon” is, literally, in doubt.

“If the regime can’t supply pork at reasonable prices, it’s a big knock to their legitimacy,” says William C. McCahill Jr., senior resident fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle. “The whole notion of … food security is a huge issue for the regime,” says Mr. McCahill, an expert on Chinese politics and former U.S. diplomat in Asia.

But by highlighting China’s potential for food vulnerability and dependence on global markets, the pork predicament also creates new opportunities for boosting trade – as well as potential health and environmental benefits.

“Symbol of the good life”

It is hard to overstate the appetite for pork among China’s 1.4 billion people, who last year consumed almost half of the total global supply of the meat. Pork has accounted for more than 60% of Chinese meat consumption, with citizens eating an average of about 88 pounds each per year.

“Pork is the most important meat for most residents in China,” said Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in an August speech. “The guarantee of supply is related to people’s livelihood and matters to the overall situation,” Mr. Hu said, calling pork production a “political task.” He warned that severe shortages could impact major holidays into 2020, the party’s target year for China to become a “well-off society.”

Tingshu Wang/Reuters
In one of Walmart's hundreds of stores in China, a customer shops for pork in packages Sept. 23, 2019. To relieve shortages and high prices, the government has released frozen pork from its strategic reserve.

From Cantonese barbecue in the south to boiled dumplings in the north, pork’s almost mythical place in China’s cuisine and culture explains why no other meat can replace it. Indeed, in Chinese the word “meat” refers to pork. The Chinese character for “family” and “home” depicts a pig under the roof of a house. Pork dishes are central to festivals, weddings, and rituals honoring ancestors, where huge slabs of the meat are divided among descendants, says James Watson, an anthropologist and Harvard professor emeritus of Chinese society.

During the economic turmoil of the Maoist years, pork was a once-a-year treat for millions of poor Chinese peasants and was rationed in urban areas. But since the market reforms of the 1980s, the gradual emergence of pork as a daily staple has become a comforting sign of well-being. Pork in modern China is “the symbol of the good life” and “a reward for hard work,” says Professor Watson.

But now, skyrocketing prices are putting pork out of reach for many shoppers. Even the wealthy may go without, as restaurant waiters tell diners pork dishes are sold out.

Beijing has responded to the crisis with extraordinary measures – such as tapping into the country’s strategic reserve of frozen pork. “For the Chinese, pork does have national security implications,” says Mr. McCahill, “so they have been releasing stocks from the frozen pork supply.” The government put 30,000 metric tons of pork reserves on the market in September to try to curb rising prices, according to state media reports.

In addition, some localities have capped pork prices and – for the first time since the 1980s – issued ration coupons for the meat. But such steps have proved ineffective, while reminding those who lived through the Maoist rationing of “some very bad old days,” says Mr. McCahill.

To prevent public alarm, Beijing has limited state-run media reporting on the pork shortfall and made optimistic forecasts about rebuilding the herds, says Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone. “China is trying to keep people calm and avoid panic,” he says. But he predicts the current shortage and high prices will persist at similar levels next year. “We see absolutely no indication they’re going to be able to rebuild production in 2020,” he says.

Trade implications

The pig plight is increasing Beijing’s dependence on foreign pork and other meats. Although China has been highly self-sufficient in pork, producing 95% of its consumption in 2018, it was still the third-largest pork importing nation, buying more than $2 billion worth of pork.

This can require mending diplomatic ties. On Nov. 5, China lifted its ban on imports of Canadian pork. It has also increased pork purchases from Europe, Brazil, and the United States.

The hog crunch is one factor that may nudge China toward a trade deal with the United States that would eventually involve lifting tariffs and increasing farm trade, analysts say. Chinese buyers willing to pay more for pork than U.S. consumers “will bid that pork away,” causing possible shortages as Americans shop for their holiday hams, Mr. Suderman says. U.S. pork prices have already started to rise – unusual for fall when supply is greater – as China’s imports grow, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Even then, China’s pork consumption is so vast that if it imports all the world’s tradable pork and uses up its own frozen reserves, a shortage would still exist, according to research by Jack Caporal, an associate fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Meanwhile, swine fever rages on, killing hogs faster than they can be replaced. “Globally we expect about a quarter of the world’s pig population to be lost,” says Dr. Mark Schipp, president of the World Organisation for Animal Health, in remarks emailed by his office. He called the epidemic “arguably the biggest threat to any commercial livestock species we’ve seen, certainly within a generation.”

A possible silver lining? China is moving to discourage pork consumption, citing health benefits from alternative proteins. “It’s better to eat less pork,” read the headline of a front-page article in September in the party-affiliated newspaper Life Times. If the Chinese eat less pork, the environment would benefit too – as smaller pig herds generate less greenhouse gas, and fewer acres of rainforests are cleared to grow soybeans for pig fodder. Fitting changes, perhaps, for the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac.

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The Explainer

4. ‘Watchmen,’ race, and the 1921 Tulsa massacre: Three questions

The 1921 Tulsa massacre raises questions about how past racial injustices can be addressed. Answers begin with reparations and awareness, ensuring the event doesn’t fade from memory.

Mark

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The 1921 massacre of black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was largely forgotten, even by those living in the state. But in recent decades, that’s been changing: The 1921 Race Riot Commission issued a report that led to reparations for survivors and descendants, several books have been written about the incident, and now the HBO series “Watchmen” depicts the massacre, in which as many as 300 black people died.

The 1921 incident started with accusations that a black teenage boy had attempted the sexual assault of a white teenage girl. Tensions escalated as armed groups of black and white people squared off outside the courthouse where the accused rapist was thought to be. The next day, a white mob mobilized around the border of Greenwood, a racially segregated neighborhood. Businesses were set on fire and stores were looted.

As part of commemorations of the event (now called a massacre rather than a race riot), a $25 million museum will be unveiled in 2021. Hannibal Johnson, a curator for the museum who has written about the massacre, sees a three-pronged strategy for moving forward: “acknowledgment – acknowledging these traumas that existed in our communities ... apology where necessary and appropriate ... and then atonement.”

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‘Watchmen,’ race, and the 1921 Tulsa massacre: Three questions

When HBO’s new series “Watchmen” depicted a 1921 massacre of black people in the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, many viewers assumed it was fiction. After all, this is a fantasy show in which a blue-skinned superhuman walks around the surface of Mars in the buff.

But the slaughter of as many as 300 black people actually happened. HBO’s show, which is about the threat of white supremacy, has many wondering why they were unaware of this incident.

What happened in Tulsa in 1921?

It started with accusations that a black teenage boy had attempted the sexual assault of a white teenage girl in an elevator. Although police doubted her story, a Tulsa newspaper ratcheted up racial tensions. (The first “Watchmen” episode includes a glimpse of its inflammatory headline.) On May 31 of that year, armed groups of black and white people squared off outside the courthouse where the accused rapist was thought to be. There was an exchange of gunfire. White people chased retreating African Americans through the racially segregated but prosperous neighborhood of Greenwood.

“There was, of course, jealousy of the relative success of the black people in the Greenwood District, because at the time, white supremacy was perhaps at its apex nationally,” says Hannibal Johnson, author of “Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.” “In [1919’s] Red Summer – red being a reference to the blood – there were more than 25 major instances of civil unrest that were racially motivated throughout the United States.”

On June 1, 1921, a white mob mobilized around the border of Greenwood. At 5 a.m. a whistle sounded and an attack began. Businesses were set on fire. Stores were looted.

“Stories are legion of black people seeing white women wearing their dresses 20 years afterwards,” says Tim Madigan, author of “The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.”

At least six airplanes swooped over the town, says Randy Krehbiel, author of “Tulsa, 1921: Reporting a Massacre.” However, he notes, there is considerable dispute as to whether the planes dropped bombs, as depicted in “Watchmen.” Another discrepancy: Ku Klux Klansmen wearing white robes, as shown in the HBO series, “almost certainly didn’t happen” until slightly later in Tulsa’s history, he says, but racism was already pervasive.

By the time Oklahoma’s National Guard restored order, death toll estimates ranged from several dozen to 300.

Why was the massacre largely forgotten, even by Oklahomans?

In 1999, when Mr. Madigan was a journalist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, an editor showed him a wire story about the 1921 Race Riot Commission. Initiated by former Oklahoma state Rep. Don Ross, the commission issued a report detailing the massacre.

Mr. Madigan recalls reading about the slaughter as his editor waited. “I looked at her and I said, ‘This can’t be right. I mean, how could we not have known about this?’ And she said, ‘I had the same reaction.’”

The incident wasn’t taught in Oklahoma schools, says Mr. Madigan, who published his book on the massacre in 2001. He thinks that white shame and guilt, coupled with fear of prosecution for murder, meant few talked about what had happened. Then, too, African Americans were afraid to speak out because they feared retribution, Mr. Johnson says. It became a taboo subject.

How does the massacre influence race relations today?

The Race Riot Commission report led to reparations in the form of payments to survivors and scholarships to African American descendants. In 2021 – the 100th anniversary of the event – the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will unveil a $25 million museum. More than just a memorial, it will include a gallery designed to provoke dialogue around critical issues of race.

“For me, there’s a relatively straightforward, three-pronged strategy that we need to engage with to move forward,” says Mr. Johnson, a curator for the museum. “That is acknowledgment – acknowledging these traumas that existed in our communities all throughout the country. Apology where necessary and appropriate for the harms caused to the people victimized by these tragedies. And then atonement.”

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Difference-maker

Drivers of change

5. Saving the blue-footed booby, one pair of socks at a time

Species decline can seem daunting – but not to the Gladstone boys. The brothers turned their love of birds into creative fundraising. Through patience and pluck, they’ve funded research an ocean away.

Mark
RILEY ROBINSON/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
Matthew (left) and Will Gladstone store extra Blue Feet Foundation merchandise in their basement in Arlington, Massachusetts. The brothers sell socks to raise money for blue-footed booby research.

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The blue-footed booby population in the Galápagos Islands has shrunk to a third of its size since the 1960s. The plight of the bird with cerulean flippers struck Will Gladstone in fifth grade. Now a high school freshman, he grew up bird-watching with his dad around their hometown in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Will decided to help protect the species. His plan: Sell blue socks, the same color as the bird’s feet, to fund conservation efforts. 

The Blue Feet Foundation launched online in 2016. With the help of his younger brother Matthew, Will has raised around $90,000 for two research and conservation organizations in the Galápagos.

The effort demanded patience. “We reached out to a lot of people and they wouldn’t take us seriously ... because we were just kids,” says Will. But being “just kids” came with its own strengths. The duo harnessed their social media savvy to help grow their customer base.

By 2017, they had raised enough money to fund a blue-footed booby population survey, during which the lead researcher sported Blue Feet Foundation socks, of course. 

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Saving the blue-footed booby, one pair of socks at a time

Will Gladstone remembers first learning about the blue-footed booby in his fifth grade science class. It helps that they are distinctive birds: They have cerulean flippers and a wingspan stretching about 5 feet. They’re known for their wobbly mating dance and are an icon of the Galápagos Islands, located more than 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.

“They’re really kind of a unique bird, and whenever someone goes to the Galápagos, that’s the thing that will stick in everybody’s head,” says Will, a high school freshman from Arlington, Massachusetts. 

The blue-footed booby population in the Galápagos has shrunk to a third of its size since the 1960s. This fact stayed with Will, who grew up bird-watching with his dad around their hometown. Will had never been to the Galápagos, nor seen a blue-footed booby in person, but decided he wanted to help protect the species. A few days later, he came up with a plan: He could sell blue socks, the same color as the bird’s feet, to raise money for conservation efforts. 

Since Will launched his online site The Blue Feet Foundation in March 2016, he has sold about 10,000 pairs of socks to customers in 46 countries, raising about $90,000 after costs. All profits go to the Galapagos Conservancy and the Charles Darwin Foundation, two research and conservation organizations based in the Galápagos Islands. Will’s younger brother Matthew also joined the sock-selling effort once orders flooded in. 

“It’s really important to appreciate our impact on the environment and to understand both how we can have a positive and how we can have a negative impact,” says David Banister, Will’s fifth-grade science teacher whose class at The Fessenden School inspired the project. “Too often it’s doom and gloom and everything that’s going wrong, environmentally, in the world. ... I’m just so proud of [Will and Matthew] for the follow-through and the persistence and the perseverance.” 

Will’s and Matthew’s efforts are already having a ripple effect. Their fundraising sponsored a blue-footed booby population survey in 2017 by a team of 10 researchers – an important, but expensive step in ecological data collection. The survey examined nearly 700 miles of coastline.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
An icon of the Galápagos Islands, blue-footed boobies are known for their wobbly mating dance and cerulean flippers.

The researchers report that while they are still analyzing results, they did see many more juvenile birds than in their previous study in 2012, says David Anderson, a biology professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and the project’s lead researcher. Professor Anderson says his research as well as that of others is dependent on external grants, so The Blue Feet Foundation filled a funding gap. 

“The problem is everybody is chasing a very limited amount of conservation money,” says Professor Anderson, who sported Blue Feet Foundation socks while working on the survey. 

Underestimated

The website was up for three months before the Gladstone boys sold their first pair of socks. “We just wanted to shut it down at first because it wasn’t really going anywhere,” Will says. “We reached out to a lot of people and they wouldn’t take us seriously ... because we were just kids.” 

Will’s initial email to the Galapagos Conservancy in March 2016 ended with this: “If it’s okay for me to list you as a partner on my website I will donate to you some of the profits when I start selling the socks. I’m going to sell a lot!!”

Lori Ulrich, director of membership and marketing at the Galapagos Conservancy, allowed Will to list the organization as a partner and use its logo, but had doubts:  “I openly admit that, when he first contacted me, I was sure I would never hear from him again,” she wrote in a reference letter for Will that she shared with the Monitor. 

But being “just kids” comes with its own strengths. For Will and Matthew, it manifested in social media savvy. 

They made an Instagram account for the foundation and started direct-messaging celebrities, hoping to turn them into sock-footed influencers who would put the word out to potential paying customers. At first, they messaged A-listers like Taylor Swift, but realized they were more successful targeting people who had posted photos of blue-footed boobies, or eco-centric social media stars, like Kody Antle, a caretaker at Myrtle Beach Safari wildlife preserve who has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. 

Will and Matthew’s dad, Peter Gladstone, is a mentor at Harvard Innovation Labs, the university’s student startup incubator.

“I work with students all day who are trying to start businesses. I’m used to startups having trouble,” he says. “I just kept encouraging them to try different things to see what would happen. When they started hitting on social media as a way to get support is when they started to get some traction,” says Mr. Gladstone, who adds that his sons have largely spearheaded the foundation on their own.

Will says one of their biggest supporters is his longtime favorite hockey player, Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller. Will messaged Mr. Miller on Instagram to explain the foundation and offer free socks. Mr. Miller responded with enthusiasm, and invited Will and Matthew to the Bruins locker room to meet the team and give out socks in October 2017. They brought their science teacher, Mr. Banister, along with them. 

“It’s inspiring for me to see people going out and doing things like this that they’re passionate about,” Mr. Miller says. 

The Gladstones attribute the foundation’s success to the power of the internet. “They literally created this lemonade stand on steroids,” Mr. Gladstone says.

“An awesome feeling”

Three years after forming the foundation, Will got to visit the Galápagos on a weeklong school trip in June. The students toured the Charles Darwin Foundation and met with the chief land bird researcher who also worked on the 2017 population survey. And Will finally got to see a blue-footed booby in person. “I was frantically looking around and when I saw one it was really cool,” Will said. “It was an awesome feeling.”

Back in Massachusetts, stuffing socks in envelopes each night started to get in the way of homework. The Gladstones now outsource their packing and shipping to a firm in Connecticut, except for extra-special orders. Aside from managing the foundation’s website and social media, Will runs for his school’s cross-country team and enjoys English and history. Matthew plays soccer, and his favorite class is science. Neither likes the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

“I’m gonna save that for my older self to decide,” Matthew says. 

The brothers have won several awards for their work building The Blue Feet Foundation, including the President’s Environmental Youth Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 and the 2019 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. But they each say the biggest lesson they’ve learned is perseverance. 

“If there’s a block in your path you can go around it,” Matthew says. “Or you can keep waiting and eventually it will go away. We eventually started getting a lot more orders than we did our first year.” 

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The Monitor's View

Plucking the hate out of Hong Kong protests

Two ways to read the story

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  • Deep Read ( 2 Min. )

Of all the protest movements around the world this year, the one in Hong Kong is now the longest and, increasingly, the most violent. It may also be the most hate filled. Many of the police and demonstrators have turned a clash of values into a calamity of rage toward each other. This is odd considering the protests began in June to protect rule of law in the Chinese territory from the kind of arbitrary and often personal justice of the mainland’s ruling Communist Party.

The protesters themselves must end their antipathy toward police to stop the dehumanization on both sides. They should listen to Edward Leung, the pro-democracy leader who has most inspired these latest demonstrations. In July, Mr. Leung sent a message from prison that the protesters should not resort to personal loathing of the police and others. “I earnestly call on you not to be dominated by hatred – one should always stay vigilant and keep thinking when in peril,” he wrote.

The demonstrators are standing up for what they love – such as universal suffrage and judicial independence. What’s hate got to do with it?

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Plucking the hate out of Hong Kong protests

Of all the protest movements around the world this year, the one in Hong Kong is now the longest and, increasingly, the most violent. It may also be the most hate filled. Many of the police and demonstrators have turned a clash of values over Hong Kong’s governance into a calamity of profanities and rage toward each other.

This is odd considering the protests began in June to protect rule of law in the Chinese territory from the kind of arbitrary and often personal justice of the mainland’s ruling Communist Party. Hong Kong police, once considered Asia’s finest, have become brutal and indiscriminate toward the largely peaceful protesters. They shot at least one unarmed demonstrator, for example, while also driving a motorbike into a crowd.

Their tougher tactics have emboldened a radical wing of protesters to harass police and their families, and to toss petrol bombs during street confrontations. Name-calling has escalated. The territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, called the protesters “enemies of the people.”

It would seem the most practical steps to end this spiral of hate and violence would be for Mrs. Lam to swiftly and credibly investigate police abuses and to grant amnesty to nonviolent protesters. With China’s rulers largely in charge of Hong Kong now, that is unlikely to happen. Fearful of its own people, the Communist Party cannot appear weak. Therefore, the protesters themselves must end their antipathy toward police to stop the dehumanization on both sides.

They should listen to Edward Leung, the pro-democracy leader who has most inspired these latest demonstrations. His slogan, “Retake Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times,” has become the most widely chanted phrase during the protests. He is in prison serving a six-year sentence for his role in a 2016 street brawl with police. Not only did he apologize for the incident, he admitted he “could not suppress his anger.” He is admired for his willingness to be jailed as well as his honesty.

In July, Mr. Leung sent a message from prison that the protesters should not resort to personal loathing of the police and others. “I earnestly call on you not to be dominated by hatred – one should always stay vigilant and keep thinking when in peril,” he wrote.

Like famous freedom fighters who have spent time in jail, such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Leung may know that hatred in the heart cannot win a battle over ideas in public thought. China is a formidable foe but even its leaders have shown some restraint in the face of the numbers of protesters in Hong Kong and their influence on global opinion. The demonstrators are standing up for what they love – such as universal suffrage and judicial independence. What’s hate got to do with it?

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Freed from a devastating financial penalty

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  • Read or Listen ( 4 Min. )

Sometimes things come up in life that are unjust or unfair – or seem downright threatening to some aspect of our life, such as our finances. For one woman in such a case, moving beyond willfulness and frustration, and leaning on God for help, was essential.

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Freed from a devastating financial penalty

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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A bank loan payment missed because of an auto-pay glitch caused the already excessive interest rate on the loan to leap to one higher than any credit card! That was devastating news about 15 years ago when I had a restaurant and an antiques business in New York City. I was afraid it could ruin my finances and threaten my businesses, as it was a sizable long-term loan that I had no way to pay off except through monthly payments.

This was during a period when bankers were hurting as much as consumers, so I found no sympathy when I repeatedly called to plead that this was surely a mistake. My banker agreed it was unfair, bordering on usury, but said he had no authority to undo the underwriter’s decision. Feeling helpless himself, he stopped taking my calls. I simply got madder and madder, and began leaving angry messages, which didn’t feel right either.

I felt completely defeated and knew there was only one place to turn. As a lifelong student of the Bible, I had found great value in its guidance for challenges of every kind. So I felt confident I could trust in it once again. I found this passage: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, New King James Version). And a passage from a book that always companions my Bible study, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, also provided a way forward: “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (p. 454).

It was clear I needed to let go of the hatred and desperation, and through my study of the Bible and Science and Health I knew I could let go of them. I understood that such negative traits were no part of my spiritual nature, or anyone else’s, as God’s expression. I was able to see that the individuals involved were free from blame, and that also released me from thinking they could somehow separate me from the source of all good, the all-loving, ever-present, and all-powerful God.

Since my supply and well-being came from this infinite source, divine Truth and Love (two other names for God), no person or circumstance could trap me in a threatening situation. By understanding and expressing Love, I could expect to find a way to be lifted out of the angry and fearful thoughts. Divine Love would show me the way forward, and I could trust that same Love was governing everyone, not just me.

As I contemplated these powerful ideas, I recalled a credit card I had that had offered a good balance transfer rate. When I looked into it, I found the card had expired long ago. But I still felt compelled to call. My previous experience in dealing with credit-card companies was not positive. However, the woman who answered the phone that day could not have been nicer if she’d been my own mother!

When I asked if I could possibly do a balance transfer to lower my rate, she immediately said in a joyous voice, “Why, of course!” After taking a look, she found me a rate four times lower than the one I’d lost through that auto-pay glitch. I nearly dropped the phone. I wasn’t talking to someone impersonally reading from a rule book, but speaking instead with someone who was willing and ready, and had the authority to help me. In order to complete the transfer, she needed a piece of information that I couldn’t find, and I said I’d have to go look for it. She assured me that she would wait on the phone as long as needed, and she did.

“Who is this woman?” I asked myself. And I knew the answer – she’s a child of God, just like me and everyone! She was the expression of God’s goodness, and I was seeing this spiritual individuality manifested in her compassion and wisdom. While such “good deals” often last just a short period and then return to a high rate, she assured me this one lasted until the loan was fully paid.

The financial benefit was a great relief. But the real blessing was in knowing I could turn to God, listen for Love’s guidance, and free my thought from seeing anyone or any situation as not under God’s control. The truth that divine wisdom is always in control is God’s promise to all of His creation, and I’m so grateful that we can prove this in our lives.

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Alta acqua

Luca Bruno/AP
Tourists push floating luggage in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Nov. 13, 2019. The high-water mark hit 74 inches late Tuesday, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 76 inches in 1966.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris. )
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In Our Next Issue

( November 14th, 2019 )

Thank you for joining us today. Tomorrow’s Daily will include our recent Weekly edition cover story from Hong Kong, which offers a perspective often overlooked in international coverage of the unrest. Please come back again.

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