A letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Roy Innis said a kindness to me years ago that significantly lifted my spirits. It was related to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a hero of mine for as long as I have memory. I’m 63. It occurred to me that the kindness Mr. Innis offered me is more accurately applied to you. Mr. Innis and I were members of a panel on a Newsradio 88 talk show in NYC in the wake of the Bernie Goetz shooting incident, December 22, 1984.

That I was on the panel with Mr. Innis was related to my experience with gun violence; I was held up and shot in the head at point blank range, August 24, 1984, the bullet remains lodged in the brain. Also, I was one of the co-founders of the NYC Chapter of Victims for Victims, a victims advocacy group, founded in 1982, by actress Theresa Saldana. Years ago, Jim Brady and I met during a Handgun Control (now Brady Center Against Gun Violence) convention. The moment was not without its humor; we agreed we were the founders of The Can’t Duck Worth a Damn Club of America.

Before I tell you what Mr. Innis said, I’d like to first, please, share a few thoughts with you.

I can’t begin to imagine what you are experiencing now, other than to point out the obvious, that we are in a democracy-gut-check wake-up call moment. Only when it happened, when this man was elected, did I realize something, nearly in an instant. The moment we are in now was bound to come. My hope is that we are witnesses to white power’s last gasp.

As for this election outcome, the fact is we the people dropped the ball. You didn’t. If even for a moment you notice your mind drifting in the direction of blaming yourself, please call it on back. Many of us, and that includes me, made the mistake of believing we were more healed on the bigotry front than we are. In short, we couldn’t help but be the flawed, sometimes dopey, and sometimes dangerous creatures, our species is capable of being.

While I wouldn’t wish your experience on anyone, Mr. President, I am grateful beyond-the-reach-of-words that history chose you when it did. It is inconceivable to me that anyone could have handled and managed the task of being the first black president with, what history will show — and many of us already know — the level of greatness you brought to the job. Your greatness, Mr. President. I’m dead serious. It’s not just charisma, a gift we’re all lucky you have, it’s your uncanny ability to manage your interaction in the moment you’re in, without taking your eye off the ball, while at the same time understanding the moment’s role, or potential role, in history. It’s like that moment in “Team of Rivals” when Mr. Lincoln was told the time had come to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, I think in Seward’s office. Lincoln had been shaking hands all morning with White House visitors. His arm and hand were a bit sore. When he lifted the pen to sign, his hand was a little shaky. He put the pen down, explaining to his staff that if his signature looked shaky, people in years to come would think he wasn’t sure about the proclamation, and, of course, he was. As you know, he waited until his hand calmed, and signed. He understood the moment he was in. Therein lies the brotherhood you have with this man.

Mr. President, you’ve recognized the moment of history you are in every step of the way with uncanny accuracy, you did your best for this country and all its people, every step of the way. And, you never lost your cool! Though, if my fantasy of dribbling, say, Ted Cruz up and down the court came true, and you were the ref, I’m willing to bet you might not call the foul, at least not right after the first dribble.

To Mr. Innis. On the panel, Mr. Innis sat to my right, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato was on my left, William Kunstler and Curtis Sliwa sat across the way. Mr. Innis proposed that civilians be trained and armed to help keep the streets safe. I disagreed, saying that I adhered to the nonviolent methods we learned from Dr. King and that arming civilians seemed to replicate the arms race. While I believed Mr. Innis’s proposal was from the heart and well-intentioned, he’d lost two sons to gun violence, I thought it misguided.

It was in the moments right after the show ended that Mr. Innis said the kindness to me, that I, Mr. President, would like to say to you. When we stood up and shook hands, I told him he was someone I admired. I told him Dr. King had always been one of my heroes, and how much I wished I could have known him. And then, it happened. Mr. Innis looked at me with a smile and said: “Martin would have been very proud of you tonight.” It was one of the most mind-blowing, beautiful things anyone had ever said to me. So, let me tell you now, Mr. President, Martin would be very proud of you. So would Malcom and Nelson Mandela. So would Rosa Parks, Medger Evers, Emmet Till, and, yes, Mr. Lincoln. All of them and more, Mr. President, would be proud of you and grateful that you are, indeed, the truly good and decent and courageous man you are.

I am one of many who genuinely love and care about you and your family. If our paths ever cross, my hope would be to shake your hand, give you a hug, and thank you in person.

By the way, the rallying cry that I am encouraging those around me to use, is: We Shall Overcome because Yes We Can. Like I said, Mr. President, Martin would be proud of you.

With great warmth and respect,

Peter S. Kahrmann

 

  • A hard copy of this letter was mailed to the president on November 18, 2016
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Donald Trump: White Power’s new leader

The white-power movement has found its leader in president-elect Donald J. Trump. Our democracy is in danger. If it is to survive, if we are to survive as our founding fathers intended, we need recognize the dangerous reality we are facing, and we can’t blink. If we do, our democracy is lost. We are fools to think otherwise.

 
Trump is an all-around bigot with facist leanings and the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party are thrilled. Every individual he is considering for his cabinet has pronoucned racist-bigot. By definition, a bigot believes some segments of the population as less worthy of rights than other segments of the population.

 
Doubling this danger, of course, is Putin-Trump bromance.

 
You don’t need a cornflake’s imagination to envision Trump and his Drumpfian Klan trying to overthrow our democracy by selling pie-in-the-sky promises to white racists while shattering our declaration of independence and constitution along the way.

Now is the time for all of us, young and old, to stand up for every individual’s right – including the individuals who are illegal immigrants – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you really want to be kind of country that says they don’t have these rights, and or, it is not our problem, so sorry they might suffer, and in many cases, die, then don’t tell me you’re a practicing Christian and don’t tell me you’re an American.

 
The very rights that some are so quick to deny others, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are rights memorialized in both our Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latter includes illegal immigrants, people who are not the evil, slinking, shadowy enemy the newly empowered white-power movement would have you believe. The white-power movement is in part rooted in the culturally-fabricated belief that the darker the skin, the less valuable the life.

 
It is by no means a stretch to say the Pilgrims — white people — were the beginning of the white-power movment. White settlers were essentially illegal immigrants who went on to enslave, slaughter, imprison, and steal the land from American Indians and, as if that weren’t enough, claimed to be Christians in the process.

 
Any of this ring a bell, people?

 
The only ones that slaughtered innocents were the whites. For those inclined to cite American Indian raids let me reintroduce you to reality, we attacked them, they fought back, so get a grip. Many of our black brothers and sisters, as you know, are descended from those who did not come here voluntarily: slaves. White people are the ones who stormed this land.

Now, we have elected a president, praised by the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members, who is making cabinet appointments that increases, not decreases, the roar of approval from white-power leaders. We have elected a facist who is just as willing to trample and slaughter as many white settlers were. This cretin doesn’t want to make America great, he wants to make it bigoted, white racist nation once again.

 
My father and uncle fought the Nazis in World War II. I grew up with a minister who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve got good role models. I will fight, through nonviolent means, the newly empowered white power movement with all my heart and soul.

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Our admirable foolish pride helps Trump

I am not jumping up and down with joy because Hillary Clinton is the Democrat’s nominee for the presidency. However, you can bet I’m going to vote for her because Donald Trump is a direct threat to what freedoms and rights we do have at the moment. You’re a fool, delusional, or, astonishingly gullible, if you don’t think the man is a flat out racist and bigot and misogynist, if you’re going to vote for him, you are, to some degree, a bigot.

Now, there are friends of mine who, like me, love Bernie Sanders and wish to hell he’d won the nomination. Sanders has urged his followers to vote for Clinton, pointing out, correctly by the way, that now is not the time for a protest vote. Some, marching under the banner of admirable but misguided foolish pride, have rejected his advice. Some have even gone so far as to treat him as if he betrayed his own message. Rubbish. He realizes, like many of us do, that our country’s very ability to keep what shaky and unfairly distributed freedoms it currently has, is at risk. He realizes that the very freedoms we do have is what allowed his candidacy to succeed far more than anyone predicted (except Sanders) in the first place. He realizes that if Trump wins, these freedoms (and many others) that allowed his candidacy may not be around next time. Trump is already lining up freedom of the press in his cross-hairs.

When it comes to how a leader must treat the public, consider Trump: “[T]he better he understands how to treat them psychologically, the less the workers will distrust him, the more supporters he will win among these most energetic ranks of people. He himself has nothing in common with the mass; like every great man, he is all personality.”

By the way, Hitler said that, not Trump.*

Scared yet? I am. I’m also voting for Hillary Clinton.

*(The Rise & Fall of Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 48)

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The power of kindness

I am not beholden to that influential piece of propaganda that says kindness is weakness. Here’s one example of how wrong that propaganda is. The act of responding to anger and rage by walking away is an act of kindness because the person walking away, disengaging, if you will, is choosing not to inflame the moment any more than it already is. Yet the act of walking away is often considered weak. Rubbish. If it is an act of weakness to be kind, to walk away, then why is it so hard for so many to do exactly that?

If walking away was weakness doing it should be breeze, and it ain’t. As a human rights advocate, I’ve walked away, figuratively and literally, from some nasty, cruel and very often dishonest people, when a part of me fancied the idea of dribbling a few of them around the room and out the door.

 
There is a reasonable question to be asked. How is it, exactly, that walking away is, in fact, an act of kindness? If we equate the world we live in to the body and mind we live in, would it not be fair to say I am treating my body and mind with greater kindness by sparing both surges in stress and anxiety and anger? Are we not being kind to the world we live in when we choose not to add conflict? I certainly think so.

 
Kindness is just about as close to sacred as a human trait be, in large part  because you can’t have kindness without respect. Nearly every wound one human inflicts on another requires the absence of respect.  In fact, the depth of the wound one person inflicts on another, can often be measured by the degree to which the respect for the person is missing.

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Send a White Hood to Trump Campaign

Former KKK Grand Dragon Scott Shepherd says racists like Donald Trump.  That makes sense because not only is Donald Trump a bigot and misogynist, he is a racist. I am asking everyone to mail or peacefully deliver a white sheet or pillow case to Trump at the the address listed below. Include a note suggesting he be honest and wear the white hood.

In February, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump if he would disavow the white supremacist groups – and former KKK leader David Duke – who’d come out in support of his campaign. Trump said, “”I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists…  So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Later, Trump said he’d had a bad earpiece and couldn’t hear well which is a bizarre claim given his answer exactly matched the question he was asked.

Did I mention Trump’s a liar?

Please mail or peacefully deliver a white sheet or pillow case  to:

Donald J. Trump President, Inc
C/O Trump Tower
725 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022

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