With hate crimes on the rise, GOP senators go all-in for racist statues

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Donald Trump has led the push against removing Confederate monuments.

The final version of the omnibus government spending bill for fiscal year 2021 passed by the Senate this week is missing a provision on the removal of monuments to people "with unambiguous records of racial intolerance" from National Park Service sites, including the U.S. Capitol, that had been passed by the House — even as the number of racist attacks carried out in the United States continues to rise.

Roll Call reported that House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum (D-MN) issued a statement on the removal of the provision from the final version, saying, "I am disappointed that Senate Republicans and President Trump refused to include House-passed provisions to remove hateful Confederate symbols from our national parks as a step toward confronting our nation's legacy of racial injustice. I look forward to working with the Biden administration to pursue these critical provisions in the next Congress."

The removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee statue from the Capitol building on Monday at the request of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam drew the ire of conservatives. The statue was relocated to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond, and museum officials say it's unlikely to be on display for a number of years.

Donald Trump has led the push against removing Confederate monuments and changing the names of federal facilities that memorialize Confederate figures, saying he plans to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, the first time it will have been vetoed in 60 years, because it mandates the renaming of military bases currently named for Confederate figures.

In late June, he launched an attack on the NDAA, threatening to veto it if it included provisions about renaming military bases named after Confederates — Despite broad bipartisan support in Congress for renaming the facilities, Trump has been attacking it since June, when he tweeted, "I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth 'Pocahontas' Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!"

Two-thirds of Black Americans and almost half of American troops supporting the renaming of the bases.

Meanwhile, racist and xenophobic attacks are on the rise in the United States even as the GOP Senate majority blocks the removal of monuments to the country's history of slave ownership and racism.

The number of hate crimes and racist incidents is soaring higher than it has in a decade, with studies showing 60% of them were motivated by race or ethnicity.

Some of those incidents involve people in positions of authority.

Jenna Amacher, a freshman city alderman in Tullahoma, Tennessee, has come under fire in recent days for posing with a Confederate flag at a party at which signs containing offensive language were displayed.

Amacher has also been slammed on social media in recent days for allegedly using a racial slur in a Facebook Live video; she's also alleged to have written a Facebook post calling murder victim George Floyd a "burglar" and "rapist," denying the existence of white privilege, and announcing that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is "NOT Black."

Meanwhile, the city council in Murdock, Minnesota, approved a permit this week for the Asatru Folk Assembly, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a white supremacist "neo-Volkisch hate group, to establish a church for white people only.

Over 50,000 local residents had signed a petition protesting the decision. The city said it feared it would face expensive legal challenges if it denied the permit.

And International Paper Company, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, said Monday it would be reporting a racist incident to the FBI after a security guard at its Prattville, Alabama, facility received a threatening note that included a racial slur three times and was signed "KKK".

Republican lawmakers continue to make racist remarks on social media.

Sen. Ted Cruz has appointed himself the gatekeeper of Latinx identity, tweeting Tuesday that "nobody who's actually Latino uses the made-up word 'Latinx'."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn has repeatedly made offensive remarks about China and Chinese individuals in recent days, tweeting, "China has a 5,000 year history of cheating and stealing. Some things will never change."

And Sen. Kelly Loeffler has recently been blasted for racist attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement and on her Democratic opponent in the upcoming Georgia Senate runoff race, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, condemned by religious leaders as "a broader attack against the Black Church and faith traditions for which we stand."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.