The sanctity of the word: Are we giving words enough respect?

By MICHAEL BUGEJA, Iowa Capital Dispatch

One of the most memorable biblical lines makes a pronouncement, a promise and a pact: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

The term reverberates in everyday sayings, such as:

  • “Mark my word.”
  • “I give you my word.”
  • “You have my word.”
  • “She kept her word.”
  • “A man of his word.”

In the above verse, Jesus personifies “The Word.” He knew the power of words as master storyteller: “He spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Matthew 13:34).

New York Times bestselling author Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church, writes about the benefits of using stories to convey truth. They hold our attention, stir emotions, and help us remember.

That’s why politicians, journalists and teachers rely on — and at times, abuse — the word.

When it comes to words, former President Donald Trump was offender-in-chief, telling an estimated 30,573 whoppers during his presidency.

Perhaps that is why his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, announced at her first conference: “I will never lie to you, you have my word on that.”

That was put to the test when McEnany testified before the Jan. 6 Committee investigating the insurrection. She was compelled to tell the truth under penalty of law.

The U.S. Justice Department takes words seriously. Witnesses are expected to tell the truth. When they don’t, they may perjure themselves.

Perjury has four conditions: A person takes an oath to testify truthfully, willfully makes a false statement contrary to that oath, believes the statement to be untrue, and knows it is related to a material fact.

Perjury, a federal offense, subjects violators to 5 years imprisonment. State laws vary but also classify perjury as a felony.

Two other infractions involve the word — copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Copyright concerns intellectual property and the right to control its distribution, reproduction and adaption. If a person steals from a copyrighted work and impacts revenue, they have infringed those rights.

Copyright is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Congress has the power to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

Plagiarism involves stealing or mimicking someone else’s written, digital, videotaped, photographed, promotional work or research, identifying it as their own without permission.

Copyright infringement is a crime; plagiarism isn’t. That’s an ethical issue. However, consequences can be extreme, as Joe Biden experienced during his 1987 presidential bid.

Biden dropped out of the race because a furor over word theft. He acknowledged that he plagiarized a law school paper in 1965 and lifted sections of other people’s speeches without proper attribution.

Perhaps one of the most embarrassing cases of plagiarism involved Melania Trump’s speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. She said her parents had impressed on her “that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond, and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect.”

There was a bond, all right. It was with Michelle Obama — who said at the 2008 Democratic National Convention that “you work hard for what you want in lifethat your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect. …”

At first the Trump campaign claimed it was coincidence that the above and other sections of Melania Trump’s speech were similar to Michelle Obama’s. The “coincidence” excuse is easily refuted as odds against it are astronomical. Eventually, Trump speechwriter Meredith McIver accepted responsibility for pilfering those words without attribution.

Plagiarism in education and journalism are forbidden. In 2021, University of South Carolina President Robert Caslen resigned after plagiarizing part of a commencement speech.

More recently, NBC News fired former political reporter Teaganne Finn after an internal review discovered plagiarism in 11 of her articles.

Of course, most politicians, teachers and journalists never plagiarize. Nevertheless, they should be concerned about word theft.

What will they do if they witness it?

In “Advice for Plagiarism Whistleblowers,” authors Mark Alexander Fox and Jeffrey Beall state that “the most compelling reason to report plagiarism is to ensure that authors of original work are given due credit for their research and that this credit is not misappropriated by plagiarists.”

They note that reporting plagiarism can correct the record. Also, they state, reporting plagiarism “sends a consistent message to students, that is, that as academics we will hold ourselves to the same standards that we expect of our students.”

Everyone, regardless of profession or station in life, should remember the sanctity of words. We use them every day in texts, emails, posts, papers, speeches and articles. When we respect the word, we keep our promises, earning trust and credibility.

Opinion: Our schools need digital literacy as machine learning, artificial intelligence expand

With the advent of ChatGPT and the popularity of TikTok, several states are revising curricula to help students identify media bias. Iowa needs to catch up.

By Michael Bugeja, Des Moines Register

Without digital literacy, the emerging generation is likely to misinterpret the world and its place in it. Students will be disenfranchised not by inadequate state funding but by outdated lesson plans.

A 2021 Standard University study found that high school students are largely unable to detect fake news on the internet, citing “an urgent need for schools to integrate new tools and curriculum into classrooms that boost students’ digital skills.”

For more than a decade I have advocated for media and technology literacy. But now we are at a critical juncture as artificial intelligence merges with social media.

That promises to change everything, including who or what informs us — media or machine, reporter or chatbot. In the past, whoever owned the printing press had unrestrained free speech; that has morphed into whoever programs the algorithm.

FOR THE REST OF THE COMMENTARY, CLICK HERE OR VISIT: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2023/02/05/schools-need-digital-literacy-machine-learning-artificial-intelligence/69863911007/

Opinion | If AI kills the essay, I will be a pallbearer at the funeral

In the wake of AI chatbots, professors are scrambling to find replacements for the term paper. Let’s hope they abandon it and focus on reading.

(Shutterstock)

By: Michael Bugeja

The term paper has always been a misguided assignment, arbitrarily graded with little student-professor engagement, apart from awkward office-hour meetings during which errors are enumerated and deductions explained.

The revenge of the chatbot awaits these instructors.

I realize that journalism programs must uphold writing standards. So must English, public relations, advertising and other content-based disciplines.

The news media has published hundreds of stories on how AI chatbots, especially ChatGPT, have threatened the existence of the term paper. Why not examine the shortcomings of that to see if the assignment is worth saving?

For the rest of the commentary, click here or visit: https://www.poynter.org/commentary/2023/will-chatgpt-kill-term-papers-essays/

Opinion | This is how the news media should remember Jan. 6

The anniversary is a reminder of the media’s role in preserving democracy. FDR’s Jan. 6, 1941, State of the Union address still applies.

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, rioters storm the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

By Michael Bugeja

On Jan. 5, 2021, I published a Poynter opinion piece about a “coup without consequence,” warning media outlets about the 126 Republican Representatives who endorsed a lawsuit challenging the results of the 2020 election.

In the aftermath of insurrection the next day, that case was forgotten.

It was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. He asserted that elections in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, which then President-elect Joe Biden won, were unconstitutional, alleging voting procedures were determined by non-legislative means.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the challenge.

Nevertheless, I wrote, there will be a final, futile attempt on Jan. 6, 2021, to assail the results in swing states, essentially resurrecting Paxton’s unsubstantiated claims.

I never envisioned the deadly assault on the Capitol. Few observers did apart from those who concocted it. 

Since then there have been dozens of articles and opinions addressing how we should remember Jan. 6, with most referencing the risk to democracy. Perhaps the most poignant reminder about such a threat occurred on that day more than 80 years ago when Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a prescient State of the Union address to Congress.

For the rest of the column, visit: https://www.poynter.org/commentary/2023/this-is-how-the-news-media-should-remember-jan-6/

Media companies must do more to prevent abuse of women journalists

MICHAEL BUGEJA, IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH

 Female journalists, especially women of color, take the brunt of abuse directed toward journalists. (Photo via Canva)

I think we need to acknowledge what women journalists have gone through. … If you’re in the newsroom and you’re getting attacked, you are not going to be able to ignore it, and you’re not going to be able to do this on your own.

– Maria Ressa, Nobel Prize-winning journalist


Journalists are routinely vilified on social media and on the beat, with women enduring the brunt of abuse.

There were 25 organized troll campaigns targeting women reporters in the first half of 2020, according to Ms. Magazine. Additionally, the magazine cited 267 attacks and threats, with many mentioning women’s appearance and sexuality, including death and rape warnings.

To make matters worse, women of color were 34% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive, sexist and racist tweets.

In any other profession, supervisors would be responsible for addressing and preventing those attacks. But publishers and general managers typically advise reporters to block the trolls and ignore the digital assaults.

Media companies can do more. As I recommended in a recent article for the Poynter Institute, a journalism research organization, supervisors can:

  • Use technology to identify the IP addresses of abusers, reporting any threats to authorities.
  • Contact abusers and demand apologies.
  • Take risk-assessment measures to ensure the safety of their newsrooms and offer an array of support services to ensure the mental wellbeing of employees.

To be sure, this is not an American phenomenon. Last year, Irene Khan, the United Nations expert on freedom of opinion and expression, said, “From rape, sexual assault, death and rape threats and sexual harassment to trolling, gendered hate speech, disinformation, smear campaigns and threats to family members – women journalists are subjected to threats and attacks in the course of their work just for being journalists.”

Khan recommended, among other actions, that social media companies make safe digital spaces for women. She also held media companies responsible “to ensure zero tolerance of gender violence or harassment in the workplace.”

Perhaps most important was the suggestion that politicians and community leaders “refrain from making statements that could put the women at risk.”

Earlier this year, in the Independent Lens reported that “the internet is a conduit for an electronic wave of hatred, harassment, and threats directed at female journalists.” The web is more dangerous for women journalists than the streets. “In a survey of female journalists, 73 percent had experienced gender-based violence online.”

UNESCO has published “The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists.” Researchers from 16 countries found that online attacks have real-life impacts. “Not only do they affect mental health and productivity, but physical attacks and legal harassment are increasingly seeded online.”

The report emphasized that women journalists “disadvantaged by racism, homophobia, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination face additional exposure to online attacks.”

The reason for these attacks is obvious: power.

I am a dual citizen of the United States and Malta. In 2017, Maltese journalist and blogger Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia was assassinated when a bomb exploded in her car. She was a controversial figure in Malta. Her blog, Running Commentary, became as popular as many traditional media outlets.

There are many theories about why she was killed, beyond the scope here. But one of them, in my view, was how she harnessed the power of internet. For that, she paid the ultimate price.

Journalism in America used to be a male-dominated profession. That is no longer the case. Demographics of 6,500-plus U.S. journalists show that 53.4% are women and 46.6%, men. Some 70.8% are white, followed by Hispanic or Latino (12.0%), Asian (8.5%) and Black or African American (5.4%).

Women are shaping the news, providing different perspectives.

U.S. media companies been hiring more women, including supervisors. Gannett publishes an annual diversity report. In 2020, USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll reported that 48.1% were women, and 51.9% men. “In 2017,” Carroll wrote, “women were only 36% of our team.”

Those numbers have improved. In 2021, USA TODAY reported that 51.7% of their newsroom workers were women and 48.3%, men, with more women now as managers, up from 56.7% to 59.4%.

While these statistics are impressive, they do little to resolve the continuing issue of attacks on women journalists.

Media companies should encourage reporters to document digital and personal attacks. Those are easy to assemble via text, email, voice mail and screenshots. They should be compiled in regular reports disseminated to the public and accompanied by articles documenting what journalists, especially women, are subjected to in the course of doing their jobs.

Additionally, technologies are being developed to alert supervisors about abuse. One such application is called Harassment Manager. “Individuals can review tweets based on hashtag, username, keyword or date,” detecting toxic comments.

The way to combat abuse against women journalists is to use the internet and the First Amendment to alert society, holding offending parties accountable whenever possible.

Media Ethics as Capstone Professional Course

BY MICHAEL BUGEJA

Image by Headway on UnsplashImage by Headway on UnsplashCapstone classes document what students have learned over the course of their academic careers. Assignments must have practical purposes, especially given student debt, higher tuition rates, and competition for paid internships and employment.

Students in the Greenlee School’s senior media ethics class, accessible at myethicsclass.com, create a digital portfolio with a personal ethics code. The assignment plays a major role in our assessment and placement efforts, key compliance components for accreditation or reaccreditation by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. You can view a selection of portfolio links by clicking here. (Students have given written permission to share their links on the class website.)

I began requiring professional portfolios upon teaching media ethics at Ohio University in 1986. Until the late 1990s, student projects were created via video or audio cassette, photographs and print projects, from posters to brochures.

Some students who graduated years ago still maintain their sites. Here’s an example from Angela Krile, president and CEO of Krile Communications, who took my class at Ohio in the mid-1990s. She writes:

Our Core Values

While they are fairly straightforward, we live by them in everything we do:

  • We follow the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.
  • We do it right, and when we don’t, we make it right.
  • We care about each other, our work, our clients, and our community.
  • We harness our creativity to help our clients tell their story.
  • Good work and good life are both important. One won’t work without the other.
  • We hire people, not positions.

In this article, I will be posting YouTube instructional videos to save space and to illustrate visually methods and finished products. The portfolio project involves an entire semester’s work. You can view the process via this YouTube video:

Here are portfolio requirements as outlined on the syllabus:

Home Tab : This page is a showcase of what’s inside. Design it attractively with visuals (photo of you) and menu.

About Tab : This page gives viewers a sense of your personality, your dreams, goals, hobbies, etc. Again, include a photo that meshes with your personality.

Resume (or My Bio): The resume has to be designed as a web page. Do not take a photo of your resume and then post it. Do not put a document in a download link. Employers won’t download content onto their phones. This web page represents you. Make it shine.

Work Samples (or separate tabs/dropdown devices for my internship, multimedia, videos, photography, campaigns, social media, class projects, blog, etc.): You should have at least two platforms. Again, DO NOT just provide links and downloads. If you link to another site, such as The Iowa State Daily, to showcase an article, then take a screenshot of the article, make it a thumbnail, briefly describe the content, and then design the page with external links.

Ethics Code: You must have 5-6 values, and again, this must be designed with visuals, illustrations, etc.

Contact Information: Add a visual or even design this tab as a final reminder to attract the viewer.

FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE OR VISIT: https://www.mediaethicsmagazine.com/index.php/browse-back-issues/219-fall-2022-vol-34-no-1/3999400-media-ethics-as-capstone-professional-course

Opinion: The right to freedom from homelessness

Thousands of Iowans are without homes as winter approaches. When we give thanks on Nov. 24, let us remember them and the organizations that serve them. You can make a difference.

Four centuries ago, 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the 90 indigenous Wampanoag people.

We often forget that those Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, were homeless when they set sail for the Americas in 1620. A year later, they not only celebrated the harvest but, more importantly, gave thanks for shelter.

When your family gathers in your home this year, chances are you will prepare the same type of meal depicted in Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want.” The painting, created 80 years ago, features grandparents serving a large turkey to generations of smiling, happy relatives.

Rockwell based this and three other paintings on Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “Four Freedoms” speech delivered to Congress in 1941. Franklin, concerned about war in Europe, reminded Americans about our fundamental rights: freedom from want and fear and of speech and religion.

When people lack a home, they confront the twin terrors of want and fear, muting their voices.

The homeless, of course, are free to worship in the many churches, temples and synagogues that also feed those without permanent shelter.

Roosevelt might have added another right: freedom from homelessness. Rockwell likely would have portrayed that within the convention of his times,  depicting parents on the front porch of a dwelling as children frolicked behind a white picket fence.

FOR THE REST OF THE COLUMN, CLICK HERE OR VISIT: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2022/11/17/freedom-from-homelessness-giving-season/69654504007/

Opinion | Media had a subpar response to Tuberville’s racist remarks about reparations

New reporting standards are needed to expose “fake history.” Here are resources to help make it happen.

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is introduced at a rally for former President Donald Trump at the Minden Tahoe Airport in Minden, Nev., on Oct. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Villegas)

By: Michael Bugeja

At an Oct. 8 rally for Nevada Republicans, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville said this about Democrats: “They’re pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”

News organizations denounced Tuberville’s comments but did relatively little to define reparations, reference the historical record or cite legislation about it. They might not have grasped the gravity of his comments, which conjure “fake history.”

Following the rally, I searched Tuberville’s statement on Google news and accessed 14 reports and analyses by these media: Associated Press, BuzzFeed, CBS News, Daily Beast, The Hill, Mother Jones, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Vanity Fair, Washington Examiner and Washington Post. I did not cherrypick outlets; simply, their stories came up within the first 50 entries.

I explored whether the posts defined reparations, linked to any source about its history, or mentioned legislation (namely H.R. 40, “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act,” first introduced in 1989). The bill died in committee in every congress until the current 117th where it reported out of committee but stalled with no plans to bring it to the floor for a vote.

I am not advocating for or against reparations but am presenting an ethical standard on how journalists should cover this issue with more impartiality so as to guide the national debate.

For the rest of the post, click here or visit: https://www.poynter.org/commentary/2022/media-had-a-subpar-response-to-tubervilles-racist-remarks-about-reparations/

Annotated Bibliography on Reparations

40 Acres and a Mule

Library of Congress

Below is a short list, by no means definitive, of reparation definitions, historical records and related legislation.

Definitions

International Center for Transitional Justice:  

  • Reparations are meant to acknowledge and repair the causes and consequences of human rights violations and inequality in countries emerging from dictatorship, armed conflict, and political violence, as well as in societies dealing with racial injustice and legacies of colonization.

Movement for Black Lives

  • A process of repairing, healing and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights by governments, corporations, institutions and families.

National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC):  

  • Reparations for slavery is the application of the concept of reparations to victims of slavery and/or their descendants.

Oxford Bibliography, Reparations:

  • Reparation refers to the process and result of remedying the damage or harm caused by an unlawful act. … It can also serve as a measure to end ongoing breaches and to deter future ones, as a vehicle for reconciliation or to restore relations between the violator and injured parties, as well as a basis to repair or rehabilitate physical and psychological integrity and dignity.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

  • The point of reparations is not to make people equal to others; reparations is not defined as making the wrongly harmed equal to others. In fact, equality has little to do with reparations. People deserve reparations as a matter of right when they have been wrongfully harmed by transgression but a person may be harmed as a result of transgression and may therefore have a right to reparations and yet be better off than others.

History

Freedmen and Southern Society Project

  • On the evening of Thursday, the 12th day of January 1865, the following persons of African descent met by appointment to hold an interview with Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and Major-Gen. Sherman, to have a conference upon matters relating to the freedmen of the State of Georgia.  

Pew Research Center, Reparations for Slavery:   

  • Discussions about atonement for the enslavement of Black Americans has a long history in the United States. Most famously, General William T. Sherman drafted Special Field Order 15 in 1865. The order stipulated that Confederate land seized in Georgia and South Carolina would be split among formerly enslaved Black people in those states, no more than 40 acres per family.

Reparations4Slavery:

  • An Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1783 through 2020 by the United States Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, and Colleges and Universities.

Semantic Scholar, African American Reparations: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

  • This descriptive selective annotated bibliography is primarily focused on the African American experience in the U.S. in accordance with the intent of our journal in joining The Black Scholar, The Journal of African American History, Souls: A Critical Review of Black Culture, the Journal of Black Psychology, African American Learners and other scholarly publications.

UMass-Amherst: Reparations in the United States:

  • An Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1783 through 2022 by the United States Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, Universities, Corporations, and Communities.

Legislation

Center for American Progress, Truth and Reconciliation:

  • In order to address centuries of collective harm to African Americans, the United States must acknowledge the impacts of slavery and make an intentional choice to rebuild itself in an equitable manner.

Congress.gov, H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act

  • This bill establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. The commission shall examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.

NAACP, Reparations Resolution:

  • Reparations would involve a national apology, rights to the cannabis industry, financial payment, social service benefits, and land grants to every descendant of an enslaved African American and Black person a descendant of those living in the United States including during American slavery until the Jim Crow era.

National Council of Churches

  • Reparations, H.R. 40 Aligns with the National Council of Churches anti-racism campaign to A.C.T. NOW to End Racism. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), H.R. 40

  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Budget and Homeland Security, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, issued this statement on the introduction of H.R. 40.

Reparation Data Sheet

This is not a post but a data sheet for an article being prepared for the Poynter Institute. I will link to that article if and when it is published. The purpose here is to provide a transcript of news articles and analyses concerning Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s outrageous remarks at an Oct. 8 rally for Nevada Republicans.

Rather than summarize my data in the article, I will link to this page for any Poynter viewer who wishes to see my excerpts.

My intent is to explore how major news media covered the Tuberville speech. Specifically, I want to know if the outlet defined “reparations,” linked to its history and cited H.R. 40, Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

This is a non-scientific snapshot whose purpose is not to advocate for or against reparations but to set an ethical standard for journalists covering racial narratives that lapse into “fake history.”

Here is a brief video segment by CBS’s Gayle King who includes Tuberville’s speech, defines reparations and cites legislation.

Note: This segment was not included in the study.

On Oct. 10-11, I pasted his comment into Google News and then accessed reports from major media that included it in their posts. Those links and excerpts appear below.

Coded here are No. 1, “definition of reparations” (defined); No. 2, “link to its meaning/history” (linked); and No. 3, “reference to legislation” associated therewith (cited).

Only one medium, BuzzFeed, provided a definition, linked to historical content and mentioned H.R. 40 or other legislation. Five provided a definition, five linked to history and nine cited legislation.

Here are my findings in alphabetical order for the following news outlets: Associated Press, BuzzFeed, CBS News, Daily Beast, The Hill, Mother Jones, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Vanity Fair, Washington Examiner and Washington Post.

Associated Press

Senator: Dems back reparations for those who ‘do the crime’

Excerpt: The Democratic Party has not taken a stance on reparations for Black Americans to compensate for years of unpaid slave labor by their ancestors, though some leading Democrats, including President Joe Biden, back the creation of a national commission to study the issue.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]

BuzzFeed

A Republican Senator Is Being Called “Ignorant” For His Racist Comments About Enslaved People’s Descendants

Excerpt: Reparations refers to the process of compensating the ancestors of enslaved people for the suffering they endured, as well as centuries of the systemic inequality spawned by slavery.

Democrats have no official party position on reparations, although a bill to study the issue received support from a House of Representatives committee last year and has since stalled in Congress.

The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the US, condemned Tuberville, who is a strong ally of Donald Trump and who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

[defined: 1; linked: 1, cited: 1]

CBS News

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville faces backlash for controversial comments on Democrats and crime

Excerpt: The Democratic Party does not support reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved, but the topic arose during the 2020 presidential campaign. Nearly all Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, supported studying the issue.

A bill introduced in the House by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas to create a commission to study and develop reparations proposals has broad support from her fellow Democrats in the lower chamber and was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in April 2021 with backing from its 25 Democratic members. The committee’s Republican members opposed the legislation.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]

Daily Beast

Sen. Tommy Tuberville Goes on Racist Rant Over ‘Reparations

Excerpt: Saturday’s Donald Trump rally in Nevada naturally featured some extremist comments, chief among them a false—and racist—tirade from Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who claimed that Democrats are in favor of “reparations” because they are “pro-crime.” 

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 0]

The Hill

Tuberville reparations remarks bring renewed attention to House bill

Excerpts: Democrats and advocates pounced on the remarks instantly, decrying the comments as racist and harmful. But the controversy is shining a light some say could be critical to a years-long legislative push to form a commission to study reparations that supporters hope might still move forward before 2023.

The commission bill, known as H.R. 40, was first introduced by the late Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) more than 30 years ago and filed by the congressman again and again throughout his time in office until he retired in 2017.

It didn’t receive its first markup and committee action until last year, after it was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on the heels of the nation’s racial reckoning following the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.

More than a year has passed since the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill in a historic vote, and some proponents are hopeful they’ll see action on it during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Advocates argue reparations are needed to address the harms of slavery and historical discrimination that continue to permeate society in the present, including in areas spanning housing, health care, education, the environment and others.

[defined: 0, linked: 1, cited: 1]

Mother Jones

Tommy Tuberville Decries Reparations as Payments for “People That Do the Crime”

Excerpt: Reparations are financial recompense for Black people whose ancestors were enslaved and lived through Jim Crow. The policy of giving reparations to Black Americans has support on the left, but it is not the policy of the Democratic Party. President Joe Biden has said he supports a study on reparations, which is in the party’s 2020 platform, but has ignored calls to create such a commission to enact the policy. Democrats do not support violent crime as a way of seizing property to compensate for the harms done by slavery and legal oppression.

[defined: 1, linked: 0, cited: 1]

NBC News

NAACP denounces ‘flat out racist’ remarks by GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville at Trump rally

Excerpt: Some Democratic lawmakers have expressed support for studying proposals that the federal government issue reparations to Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves. Legislation on that front, however, has stalled on Capitol Hill.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1]

Newsweek

Republican Tuberville Accused of ‘Open Appeal to Racism’ at Trump Rally

Excerpt: Reparations advocates say that descendants of slaves should be paid financial compensation for their uncompensated work and the historic racism they say has led to financial disparity between races. The NAACP defines reparations as “a financial recompense for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves and lived through the Jim Crow era.”

[defined: 1; linked: 1; cited: 0]

NPR

Alabama Sen. Tuberville equates descendants of enslaved people to criminals

Excerpt: Over the years, there’s been growing support to offer reparations for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved as a way to address the lingering effects of slavery.

Last spring, a bill to study reparations for slavery had the support of more than 170 Democratic co-sponsors. A House committee voted to advance the legislation but it has yet to be considered by the full House of Representatives.

[defined: 0, linked: 0, cited: 1

Rolling Stone

Watch Trump Crowd Eat Up Sen. Tuberville’s Bizarre Racist Tirade

Excerpt: Reparations, according to the NAACP, are “a financial recompense for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves and lived through the Jim Crow era.” They are meant to compensate those whose families lost or were unable to build generational wealth due to slavery and Jim Crow era racist policies, including the redlining of majority white neighborhoods to prevent Black people from purchasing homes there.

[defined: 1, linked: 1; cited: 0]

USA Today

GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville promotes racist narrative about Black people, crime at Trump rally

Excerpt: A call for reparations for descendants of African slaves has been around for decades and has grown in recent years. Reparations could involve an apology for slavery, payments, land grants and more.

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Washington Examiner

GOP senator claims Democrats want reparations for those who ‘do the crime’

Excerpt: Reparations for U.S. descendants of slaves have been discussed by some Democratic lawmakers. Democrats on one House committee, with control of the majority, took an unprecedented step last year to advance legislation to examine whether the federal government should provide slavery reparations to African Americans. Republicans have generally been opposed to giving reparations, citing the amount of time passed and the complexity of finding direct descendants.

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Washington Post

Democrats call Sen. Tuberville’s comments about crime and reparations racist

Excerpt: Although a handful of Democrats in Congress have expressed support for reparations for Black Americans who descended from people enslaved in the United States, the Democratic Party as a whole does not support the idea. House Democrats have backed a bill that would create a commission to study reparations, but there has not been enough support in the Senate from Democrats or Republicans for the legislation. As a result, some prominent Democrats have encouraged President Biden to sign an executive order that would create the commission.

While Biden has not signed an executive order, he backed plans to study reparations while campaigning for president in 2020, a position he has maintained since he took over the presidency.

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Vanity Fair

“I’M NOT GOING TO SAY HE’S BEING RACIST”: FELLOW REPUBLICAN DEFENDS SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE’S REPARATIONS REMARKS

The condemnation of the Alabama senator’s comments, especially by the media, was harsh and swift.

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