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On Friday, WLOX reported that a man from Gulfport, Mississippi has pleaded guilty to staging a cross-burning in order to scare his Black neighbors.
"Prosecutors say Axel Cox, 24, admitted burning the cross to intimidate his Black neighbors," said the report. "He also used threatening and racially derogatory remarks toward them. Cox said he gathered supplies from his home, put together a wooden cross in his front yard and propped it up so his neighbors could see it. He then doused the cross with motor oil and lit it on fire."
The decision to charge Cox federally was first reported in September.
“Burning a cross invokes the long and painful history, particularly in Mississippi, of intimidation and impending physical violence against Black people,” said DOJ Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who use racially-motivated violence to drive people away from their homes or communities.”
Cross burnings were originally popularized as a white supremacist symbol in "Birth of a Nation," the early 20th century Ku Klux Klan propaganda film that took the nation by storm and painted Klansmen as the saviors of American culture. Although cross burnings weren't actually used during the original KKK in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, the tactic became a stable terrorist symbol during the "second wave" of the KKK, which went after not just Black people but Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and liberals.
To this day, the remaining KKK descendant organizations still practice cross burnings. One such event was proposed in Harrison, Arkansas as a Labor Day celebration, with Klan groups even inviting people to bring their children for a good time.
Republicans would rather think 'demonic forces' control America than accept nonwhites as equals: Maddow
On MSNBC Friday, Rachel Maddow walked through one of the key reasons why anti-Semitism is becoming so popular within certain corners of the GOP — and why it is such an easy ideology for authoritarians and opponents of democracy to push.
Simply put, she argued, far-right Republicans understand many of their views are unpopular — and so it's a convenient narrative to believe that the voters who are against them have been manipulated by some higher force, which in this case would be the Jews.
"As America and the whole West becomes more secular, people are replacing it with this need to have, someone is orchestrating the things going wrong in my life," said anchor Joy Reid. "I'm not talking about people who are openly Nazis at all. I'm saying there's a common vernacular on the right that is the globalists, right, they can't just be that more people like to vote for Democrats. George Soros is orchestrating this. It can't be that Black people wanted civil rights. The Jews are tricking them and making them want civil rights. It feels like that's a common theme ... and unfortunately, the train that's never late is that it's the Jews. It's the Jewish people getting attacked."
"Always," said Maddow. "Anti-Semitism and authoritarianism are always sistered together. Always, always, always. When you see not only a rise in the expression of anti-Semitism but a sort of mainstreaming of it, and one of the major political parties of our two-party governing system flirting with it in a way that doesn't immediately get denounced throughout the political system, like that, there isn't a surprise I think that that's going with the sort of proto-authoritarian movements you're seeing in that party. Those things always go together."
Fundamentally, Maddow added, "the American democratic experiment is that a country that is made up of all different kinds of people, from all over the place, all get an equal say" — and outside of these far right corners, "it's hard to argue we don't want American democracy anymore."
"Democracy is uncomfortable because we don't like everybody having a say," said Maddow. "We prefer that just we have a say. It's easier to say, our country has been hijacked by demonic forces and shady people behind the scenes that you can't see. That always lends itself to anti-Semitism, or toward whatever kind of cabal you want to imagine. But at its core, it's just something you hide behind when what you don't want is to participate as an equal citizen with others who are different than you in a group decision-making process. You don't get to be in charge. You just get to be a citizen among many. For people who don't want that, the idea is where they often first go."
Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow on anti-Semitism www.youtube.com
'Moral coward' Republicans will stay silent about Trump — even as he's facing indictment: John Brennan
On Friday's edition of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," former CIA Director John Brennan slammed the Republican Party as "moral cowards" for sticking by former President Donald Trump through all of his ugly behavior and scandals.
And all of that could put Republicans in a deep bind if Trump ends up indicted in the federal investigation of classified documents stashed at his Mar-a-Lago resort, he continued.
"Some of those items might have been benign, but what I'm worried about are those top-secret documents that are critically important to our national security," said Brennan. "And he seemed to treat all of these items with that callous disregard, believing that he had the ability and was entitled to keep them in whatever manner he wanted. And so again, I think this just underscores just how irresponsible and reckless he was throughout his presidency. This has come to light, but just imagine some of the stories that some of those advisers could tell should they want to about what he actually did with this nation's secrets."
"Do you think we'll ever find out?" asked anchor Nicolle Wallace.
"I don't think we'll find out everything, but I'm hoping that there's going to be accountability for what I do believe is criminal responsibility on Donald Trump's part," said Brennan. "And I'm still shocked that today, there's any American that supports him or has even the slightest bit of respect for him. But if he is going to be indicted and going to be convicted, I think it will make it much more difficult for a lot of these Republicans in Congress, these moral cowards, who continue to not talk about him in real terms, in terms of what he has done to this country."
"So, again, if we can — if the courts are going to find him guilty of this criminal behavior, I think it will block his path to the presidency once again," Brennan added. "But I think it will clearly expose just how irresponsible, reckless he was when he was at the White House."
John Brennan calls Republicans "moral cowards" www.youtube.com