Negligent Homicide - the term that describes a killing without any intent to kill but occurs when a person is acting in negligence.
– Black’s Law Dictionary
"In the  twenties and  thirties denaturalization and denationalization were increasingly used by governments as ways of getting rid of citizens they deemed undesirable…As the stateless refugees entered the countries of the West…it was soon discovered that these were people who could neither be repatriated nor granted citizenship by the host country…Stateless persons were thus among the first Europeans in the twentieth century to experience unrestricted police domination. Once the police tasted the freedom of dominating one class of men unhindered by judicial process of legal restraint, they sought to extend their power to others. This process reached its zenith in Nazi Germany towards the end of the war when the power of the Gestapo and the SS over the German people was almost completely unhindered by any competing institution."
– Richard Rubenstein
"How the number of [Stalin’s] victims grew so large is horrifying to consider but not hard to explain. As with all such episodes of massive evil, the terror involved complicity from the highest levels of the system to the lowest."
– Stephen F. Cohen
"[J. Edgar] Hoover did not endorse the president’s (FDR) orders for the incarceration of the 112,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were carted off to camps after Pearl Harbor. He did not want people imprisoned on the basis of race. He wanted them investigated and, if necessary, jailed for their allegiances."
– Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI
"How do people in Hollywood say 'f**k you? 'Trust Me.'”
– Kirk Douglas
When Senator William Langer (R-ND) signed on to a bill for Puerto Rico’s Statehood shortly after World War II, he knew what he was doing, despite the scarcity of Puerto Rican voters in his home state. As one of the founding fathers of the North Dakota Nonpartisan League (NPL) and its program of state controlled grain and banking operations in the 1910’s, he remembered North Dakota’s colonial status in the thrall of Wall Street and Twin Cities corporate combinations.
Likewise, when, as North Dakota Governor in the 1930’s, he took on misguided Washington, D.C. Democrats of the early New Deal, who failed to notice that his NPL/Republican voters also voted for the Democratic standard bearer for President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the 1932 and 1936 elections, Langer confounded his many enemies in establishments of both major political parties.
North Dakotans who take our state-owned Bank of North Dakota, Grain Mill and Elevator for granted would do well to see President Trump’s studied neglect of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and human disasters in “Langer’s light.”
Puerto Ricans, like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, are proud American citizens, many with distinguished service in the American Armed Forces since World War I, who have no state sovereignty, no Congressmen or Senators they can call their own, unless they live in New York, Illinois, Florida, or North Dakota. This would have been the fate of North Dakota farmers but for the grace of statehood and the NPL, and Bill Langer knew that in 1946. The depredations of predatory oilmen nowadays, like grain dealers and railroad barons of 100 years ago, would have been far worse without the resources provided by the NPL.
Bill Langer also was one of only five U.S. Senators in May, 1943 on the letterhead of Congressman Emmanuel Cellar (D-NY)’s Committee to rescue Jews of Europe. America at the time was rife with anti-Semitism, but Langer would not acquiesce in it. He also confronted fellow Senators like Theodore Bilbo (D-MS) on all levels of race hatred, especially the Jim Crow racism of its day. Langer even held up the Selective Service Act of 1948, at the height of the Cold War, because the U.S. Armed Forces were NOT integrated. In September, 1950, Langer collapsed on the floor of the U.S. Senate (due to an inability to treat his diabetes), during his filibuster against the McCarran, Nixon Internal Security Act, a key source for McCarthyism and all kinds of oppression against immigrants amidst the Red Scare.
Such Republicans in Congress were rare enough then. They are nonexistent now. Confirmed and vocal advocates for human rights are to be found only among Democrats, like Senator Heidi Heitkamp (ND), in her continuing advocacy for Native Americans, and Jeff Merkley (OR), confronting agents of President Trump’s war against families of refugees from oppression in Central America. These oppressions are due, in no small part, to the bad behavior of American corporations like United Fruit and the early CIA in the 1950’s. Senator Langer knew this in 1954 when he recorded the lone vote in the U.S. Senate against the CIA backed invasion of Guatemala under President Eisenhower, a precursor to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba in 1961 under President Kennedy.
But Donald Trump has no use for history that might instruct. He makes up his own historical blend of fact and fiction to suit his fake Presidency. This would be laughable, if not for very real constitutional powers his office possesses, and the damage he can do, combined with Trump’s talent for launching the very worst in himself and his supporters.
Whatever the role of those who gave aid and comfort to foreign enemies of our electoral process, I am not willing to demonize Trump supporters of 2016 who didn’t know what was really going on with the Russians anymore than I did. Regardless of motives, they had every good reason to believe that the establishments in both political parties were more interested in powerful voices than the voiceless. Such was the belief of the NPL leadership of 100 years ago, Governor Langer in the 1930’s and that same Senator Langer from 1940-1959. Such was my own belief, as I supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary and General Election, as the least objectionable, and most competent of the alternatives open to my lone vote’s decision making.
In 2018, however, President Trump is offering his supporters only misogyny, race and religious hatred, in exchange for continuing attacks on their local prosperity through his stupid trade wars and health and retirement benefits through petulant, short sighted rejection of a genuine achievement of his African American predecessor, not to mention attacks on our public education system and the very air we breathe and water we drink.
Moreover, instead of encouraging DACA recipients and young African, Muslim and Central American asylum seekers to enter and remain in this country and replenish an aging, “white” work force, Trump encourages racial and religious bigotry, which only aids and abets those who would turn back the clock on New Deal protections of the 1930’s and Great Society protections of the 1960’s which have safeguarded the elderly and infirm among us. If Trump succeeds in getting his youthful and elderly white supporters to slit their own collective throats by appealing to their individual fears and loathing, it will be a major achievement; right down there with Bolshevik elimination of “class enemies” (ie. genuine producers) and Nazi “useless eaters” (ie. anyone who did not conform to Hitler’s definition of the Master Race).
Among his many negative accomplishments against American national interests, Trump has succeeded in transforming the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln into a Party of the Confederacy’s Jefferson Davis. No wonder so many principled Republican pundits want nothing to do with him! His bluster and incompetence have greatly increased early retirement of dozens of Republicans, some of them rational and able. Those left comprise Tea Baggers, a group of still, small voices of disapproval, and those who try to distance themselves from the Donald in Washington, while supporting him in the “Trumpiest” parts of their district.
Trump, of course, has had much aid and comfort from well before his Presidency from (in the words of former House Speaker John Boehner[R-OH]) legislative terrorists like Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-SC), the organized greed of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the organized cynicism of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Trump’s efforts to behave in the manner of an 18th Century King, 19th Century Robber Baron, or 20th Century Dictator, have kicked off a new version of our War Between the States. This new civil war is currently being waged mostly with ballots; but also with bullets: in our schools, neighborhoods, nightclubs and shopping malls.
Our new civil war is NOT between the South and the North, nor between Red and Blue States. Nor is it between the East and the West Coasts on one side and “flyover country” in the Midwest and Great Basin that includes Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City; Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, North and South Dakota on the other.
This 21st Century civil war is, however, one that often pits the individual States and Cities against the federal government, and a war inside the federal government itself. But it is mostly a war within ourselves, a new version of the old one, so brilliantly illustrated by historians like Jon Meacham (The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels) and Catherine McNicol Stock (Rural Radicals: Righteous Rage in the American Grain).
In 2018 Democrats, Independents and Republicans of all ages need to think carefully on these things, if they have not done so already. But they also need to do more than that. They need to register and vote as if their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren depended upon it. Because they do!
By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…
by HPR Contributor
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