Staff Sergeant Gary Stein will get an other than honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies of the United States Marine Corp. Mr. Stein is being discharged for his high profile and public criticism of his boss, President Barack Obama, on Facebook. Mr. Stein used his Facebook page to express his contempt for his commander in chief with statements like “screw Obama” and openly admitting that he would refuse an order from the President and images that went so far as to compare Mr. Obama to a jackass. He later amended his statement to say that he wouldn’t follow an unlawful order of the President. But his contempt was still very much evident.
The Marines Corp say that Mr. Stein was repeatedly warned about his posts. While troops are encouraged to carry out their obligations of citizenship and are allowed to express their personal opinion on political issues and candidates and issues, they cannot take part in any political activities as official representatives of the military. Mr. Stein included a disclaimer on his posts that said that what people read was his personal opinion and not the opinion of the Marine Corp. So in all fairness he was doing nothing more than exercising his constitutionally protected freedom of speech. So Mr. Stein was able to avoid a court martial. But unfortunately for him, while freedom of speech meant that he wouldn’t have to face time in jail, it doesn’t mean immunity from any reprisals for expressing his rage of his employer.
After serving the Marine Corp for more than nine years, Mr. Stein will get an other than honorable discharge and lose most of the benefits that come with military service. Mr. Stein said he loved being a Marine and enjoyed his career as a military meteorologist. He just didn’t love it enough to keep his opinion in check and express his displeasure with Mr. Obama in a more respectful manner. He claims that all he was doing was expressing his freedom of speech. But he forgot that the military also has its own right to express its freedom of speech.
What better way for the military to let the world know that it doesn’t care for rather over the top dissention of the commander in chief than to fire people who engage in such activity? And it’s not like Mr. Stein was just yanked out of his uniform the first time somebody caught wind of his expression. He was warned and he was warned repeatedly. He made the choice to continue down a path that would pretty much guarantee a confrontation.
Mr. Stein named his Facebook page, Armed Forces Tea Party. While it’s not clear if he was an official member of the tea party, he appears to have made a connection nevertheless. He probably felt that his affiliation with an organization so vociferous in its opposition to Mr. Obama would give him ample protection to make the suggestion that Mr. Obama was a jackass. The only problem was that most of the people in the tea party who carried signs saying that Mr. Obama was a lying African and should go back to Kenya didn’t work for Mr. Obama. Mr. Stein did. He knew that he was treading in thin ice and yet he continued to press forward. It was inevitable that the amount of force he was using to push the issue would eventually meet sufficient opposing force that would make him regret his actions.
I have never served in the Marine Corp so I cannot speak from experience or with inside knowledge, but I do believe that it’s a given that the chain of command is highly valued and protected by every branch of the military. People who serve and openly challenge their superiors do so at their own peril. It doesn’t matter if an individual’s actions were unintentional or purposeful the military has an obligation to keep discipline and order. Allowing a subordinate to undermine respect for their superiors cannot be good for the smooth operation of organizations charged with the protection of our national security. Any challenge to discipline and order should be met with enough corrective action to discourage similar behavior in the future.
Mr. Stein believes he is being made an example to others. I couldn’t agree more. Other people in military service should think twice before they openly criticize any of their superiors with contempt and loathing, let alone the President. Besides it’s only fair. Mr. Stein made Mr. Obama an example of his disrespect. It wasn’t like Mr. Obama had a history of making unlawful or unreasonable orders to the military. What prompted him to suddenly voice his need to hold Mr. Obama to a standard that he didn’t hold for Mr. Obama’s predecessor President George Bush Jr.?
All things considered it looks like Mr. Stein brought his premature discharge on himself. Now he wants to cry foul and talk about regretting his choices. Maybe he’s learned from his ordeal. Too bad the price of learning was so high. He should look at the bright side now. Once his termination is complete, he will be free to exercise his freedom of speech without the fear of losing his job that he already lost. Isn’t that what he wanted, at least more than he wanted his career.
According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington nonprofit organization that examined a series of newspaper, television, radio, and Web outlets, President Barack Obama suffered from more negative news coverage than any of the candidates in the brutal and long winded Republican primaries. The study went so far to conclude that Mr. Obama did not enjoy a single week where his favorable treatment was more than the negative treatment. He was heavily criticized by the entire Republican field on a variety of issues that directly linked the President to happenings with negative connotations such as rising gas prices, high unemployment, and renewed criticism about the yet to be fully implemented healthcare reform.
When the Obama administration would try to defend its position on the variety of topics, that message was drowned out by the sheer volume of coverage surrounding the conservative candidates and the discipline the candidates showed when they tied their individual campaign message to the theme that anyone would be better as President than Mr. Obama. While Mr. Obama is the incumbent for the White House, the overall perception is that Mr. Obama is more like just another candidate unproven in his ability to govern and mistrusted to lead as the commander in chief despite the fact that he has been leading as the President for the past three years. This message was drilled home especially after Mr. Obama’s open microphone comment picked up when he was telling his Russian counterpart that he would have more flexibility after the election. Mitt Romney seized on this incident and tried to convince people that Mr. Obama was planning to sell the country out to what he referred to as our sworn foes.
The biggest problem for Mr. Obama is that it doesn’t take much to create a negative issue around him. Some people are still thick in the delusion that Mr. Obama is not a citizen of the country and faked his Hawaii birth certificate because somebody in some government agency somewhere slept instead of pulling out all the stops to authenticate the fact that Mr. Obama was indeed qualified to be President of the United States. Mr. Obama is still fighting suspicions that he’s a Muslim in cahoots with terrorists and is waiting for just the right opportunity to surrender America to people who hate us because we have the freedom to give up our freedoms in the irrational pursuit of people who hate our freedoms.
We’ve been told that our President hates our freedom the first time he wanted the job to lead us. Now we are told that he hates successful businesses and businesspeople. We are told that Mr. Obama hates success even though he succeeded in becoming President. We are told that our President is out to take away our right to bear arms even though as President he has not implemented a single policy that endangers our rights to own guns. We are told that Mr. Obama goes around apologizing to the world for America being America, and even though no one can point to a single apology, a lot of people have bought into the contention hook, line, and sinker.
When Mr. Obama says a murdered black teenager would look like him if he had a son, conservatives pounce and call Mr. Obama a racist. When Mr. Obama calls a woman demonized by conservatives as a slut and prostitute because she wants to exercise her right to free speech, conservatives pounce and call Mr. Obama a hypocrite for not calling Sarah Palin after she was attacked be liberals. But those same people never said Ms. Palin should apologize to the President for making insinuations that Mr. Obama is a terrorist, is creating death panels with his healthcare reform, or for a number of accusations against Mr. Obama and Michelle Obama that were unfounded or untrue.
Now that the Republican primaries are just about over and Mr. Romney is unofficially the conservative rival for the White House, all the money that was poured into the nasty, negative, campaigns to win against people who share a common political ideology and for the most part can accept each other as kindred political souls, all the money that went into treating each other like conservative dirt and can be directed against the President, the man many of us are ready to believe should have never been in the White House for whatever reason or another.
Some of the people who were running for the conservative nomination were primarily doing so with the blessing of a single financial donor. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision that has allowed people and corporations to put unlimited financial backing behind a campaigner through the sleight of hand of Super PAC donations, people who financed the conservative political civil war that has yet to officially declare Mr. Romney the winner, all that money can now be turned against the incumbent in a unified assault to fulfill the ultimate conservative dream to make Mr. Obama’s a one term presidency. Mr. Obama has had his fair share of financial backers, but the money that Mr. Obama’s reelection campaign has raised pales in comparison to the number of people with really dip pockets willing to write an eight figure check to make sure Mr. Obama loses. Soon, rumors of an illegitimate birth certificate and accusations of being an undercover terrorist will be given new life nourished by a financial tsunami that will be unlike anything we have seen in our politics before.
Mr. Obama’s reelection campaign is taking up the gauntlet thrown down by the conservative challengers. Just about any incumbent with a passion for power probably would. But if people think Mr. Obama has weathered negativity before, they haven’t seen anything yet. A financial tsunami like no other is coming. A perfect storm of political differences, personal loathing, and a Supreme Court decision that has opened the flood gates of corporate money has combined to make the future of politics like nothing we’ve seen before. The media negativity that Mr. Obama has seen to date is nothing like what’s coming.
The ugliness of racism has been brought back into the spotlight with the murder of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin by self appointed, wannabe sheriff George Zimmerman and the botched, seven hour and thirty minute investigation, give or take about five minutes, by the Sanford police and other Florida authorities who failed to give the crime its due consideration. Initially, the police claimed there was no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim that he murdered the black teenager in self defense. The police bought the story and sent the shooter home with the gun he used to kill Trayvon in hand. It wasn’t until the people protested did the higher ups in Florida realized that a high profile travesty of justice was happening in their backyard and reopened the investigation and Zimmerman was finally charged with a crime and held in police custody.
The protest that brought Zimmerman to justice was led primarily by people in the black community. People all around the world gave their support. But the mass of thirty thousand people that descended onto Sanford, Florida was disproportionately black, outraged over another example of white on black crime compounded by a police department with a history of contributing to racial tension that appeared reluctant to take the murder of an unarmed black teenager seriously. President Barack Obama was asked his opinion of the Trayvon Martin case. Along with an expression of sympathy to Trayvon’s family, Mr. Obama said that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon.
Mr. Obama’s sentiment only added fuel to the fire people used to justify the shooting and subsequent lack of an investigation of the boy’s murder. People already dismissed Trayvon as unworthy of justice simply because he was black, kind of like Zimmerman denied Trayvon the right to walk down the street without being harassed because he was black. But when Mr. Obama made his statement saying that he could identify with Trayvon, some people took their racial animosity to the stratosphere. It was wrong for Mr. Obama to insert race into a situation that had race written all over it. Newt Gingrich went so far as to interpret Mr. Obama’s statement as an endorsement that it would have been acceptable of Zimmerman had murdered a white kid. Only a race baiter would attempt such a colossal and irrational leap of logic and few people outside the seriously ravenous hatemonger took Mr. Gingrich seriously. Nevertheless, the fact that race was playing a part in this whole ugly ordeal could not be ignored.
The news was filled about how once again we should be opening up a nationwide dialog about race. Did race play a part in the murder of Trayvon? Did race play a part in the initial lack of an investigation by the Sanford police? How did race factor in the response by the black community? What role did race play in the response by so many people who were saying that black people were rushing to judgment? What role did race play in America’s history of racial intolerance? You get the point.
Many television news programs asked the question is it time for America to have an honest talk about race. I saw it on many of the programs on MSNBC including Morning Joe, Up with Chris Hayes, Now featuring Alex Wagner, Political Nation with Al Sharpton, and quite a few others. Many people were talking about whether or not the shooting of Trayvon was an opportunity to talk about race. But few of these shows took the opportunity to actually talk about race.
Instead of asking a question if now is a good time or talking about racism from a perspective that only adds ambiguity and confusion to the issue in order to spare somebody’s feelings, why can’t we have an honest discussion about America’s racial disparity. How is it possible that even in twenty first century America an unarmed black teenager can be murdered by a man who, if rumors of his compulsion to call the police at the site of an unknown black person holds true, obviously has a problem with black people and can walk away from the scene of his crime with the murder weapon? How does that not bring to mind the history of pre civil rights era of a place like Mississippi or Alabama when racism was so rampant? Why don’t we talk about the fact that something like half of the white population were tired of hearing about the Trayvon case just weeks after the boy was shot and Zimmerman remained free while more than eighty percent of the black community felt otherwise?
If we are going to ever have a conversation about racism then let’s have a conversation about racism. Talking about why we should talk about racism just doesn’t cut it. That ranks right up there with talking about arresting somebody who killed an unarmed teenager and yet the police told him to have a good day as he walked away. People need to want that conversation about race instead of pretending that racism is just a ghost story from our unenlightened past. It’s nothing to fear. And the longer we put it off the longer it will take for America to heal the wounds that we have suffered all in the name of racism and the continued subjugation of people of color.
Senate Republicans derailed the Buffett Rule bill pushed by the Democrats and President Barack Obama Monday that would force the nation’s top income earners to pay a minimum federal income tax rate of thirty percent. Republicans used the day before federal taxes are due to defy Mr. Obama on one of his signature election year issues. By an almost party-line vote of fifty one to forty give, United States Senators voted to keep the bill alive but fell nine votes short of the sixty needed to continue debating the measure. The outcome of failure was no surprise to anyone. The vote was designed to win over public sentiment and to make life difficult for Senators who are facing close races this election year. The vote was hardly an attempt to push the Buffet Rule into law.
Senate Republicans said that the measure was divisive and called it a distraction from the nation’s real problems. The thinking is that it would not significantly impact the nation’s economy and therefore it really wasn’t worth implementing. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said that the legislation would do nothing in the way of job creation or gas prices or economic recovery and does nothing but draw attention away from the issues that the American people are most concerned about.
Mr. Obama issued a statement to denounce the defeat of the measure saying that once again Republicans chose to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. He said that it was just plain wrong that millions of average American people pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires who not only have the resources to hire accountants and lawyers to make sure they take advantage of every loop hole available, but our tax system itself augments the disparity by allowing the wealthy to pay their taxes at lower rates. But if it was such an obviously unfair system, how did it get implemented in the first place?
The Republicans didn’t implement this unfair tax system that has the wealthy paying lower tax rates all by themselves. At some point in our past the Democrats were collaborators in this unfair tax system setup. They actively participated in passing legislation that would give top income earners a more advantageous tax rate and/or they didn’t care enough about their average constituents to fight the good fight in order to keep tax breaks for the wealthy from becoming law. It would have been easy to keep that bullshit from ever hitting the books. If the Democrats wanted to protect the middle class they would have blocked unfair tax rates when it came up for a vote the way the Republicans now block just about everything that comes up for a vote even when legislation has its roots in conservative circles.
Now that the issue of tax fairness has gained widespread attention, Democrats want to flipsides. The people who were complicit with the Republicans and even competed with them to win the favor of wealthy income earners now wants to change direction and says that the whole script is too unfair. But the truth of the matter is that it is just as unfair now as it was when you did it.
Tax unfairness isn’t something that just crept up on us. Democrats helped put this disparity in place and now they want to feign fairness and out the Republicans as trying to protect the wealthy. The Democrats protect the wealthy as well. And that includes Mr. Obama. They might not wear their colors of disparity as proudly as the Republicans. They may even have come to some awareness that the stacked games they played in the past are now coming back to bite us all in the ass. But the soapbox, high ground morals that they want to flaunt now just doesn’t cut it. They helped put the disparity in place and they have to own their responsibility for it.
With presidential and congressional elections approaching this November the two major political parties are pulling out all the stops to win favor with the masses. Battles are waging over an economy that is trying to sputter its way out of the doldrums. Everyone knows that a sputtering economy spells trouble for the political party in charge. And right now it’s the Democrats in the driver’s seat with the Republicans riding shotgun itching for their chance to take the helm back.
The Republicans are focused like a laser beam on protecting the interest of their wealthy constituents whether they need the protection or not. Fairness depends on perspective and while it might be easy to say that the wealthy should be forced to pay the same tax rates as everyone else, Republicans are thick in the rhetoric that it would be unfair to raise their taxes on just a few Americans at a time when we need them to use their wealth to create more jobs. It’s called trickledown economics and we tried that tactic with the previous administration. The rich only got richer while jobs evaporated. Rich people simply don’t share their wealth so freely.
The Democrats are focused as well. But their focus is to act like a weather vane stuck in political winds. They went along with the idea that helping the rich lift their yachts will help everybody else lift their rubber duck. But now that the yachts are high enough and strong enough to withstand a tsunami, rubber ducks are still in danger of going down when there is so much as a ripple in a bathtub.
Now we need to correct our collective course from the path of destruction that both political parties have chosen for the country. While Republicans are still rooted to the idea of just helping the wealthy and everyone else will benefit eventually, Democrats appear to have a better grasp on the reality of our situation. While it is true that the wealthy income earners do better when we give them lower tax rates and other political giveaways that pander to their interest at the expense of everyone else, it is also true that the wealthy will do better when we institute policies that assure that everybody will do better.
But the idea that Democrats can point to Republicans and say that it’s entirely their fault is simply not true. Both parties have contributed to the income and wealth disparity that is allowing the rich to get richer while the poor get left behind. Both parties have benefited from catering to the wants and desires of big money under the guise that it is going to help everybody. If Democrats really cared like they now say that they do we would have never been in the situation we are in now that gives the wealthy every advantage.
Last week, taking advantage over the controversial statement by political consultant for Democrats Hilary Rosen that his wife Ann has never worked a day in her life, conservative presidential contender Mitt Romney and his campaign pounced big time. Mitt Romney believes all mothers work hard and the work that they do should be respected and shouldn’t denigrated by anyone. Ms. Romney was right there with her husband telling everybody that even though she was a stay at home mom she had days where she really worked hard to help their staff raise their three sons. Ms. Romney referred to Ms. Rosen’s criticism as an early birthday gift.
But early Sunday morning I was watching MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes and they played a clip of Mr. Romney back in January on stage and telling a conservative audience that he believed that a mother with a child as young as two years old should be forced to go outside the home and work for a living in order to earn some social dignity. He said that his statement might sound harsh but he was willing to have the government pay more in order to supplement a welfare program to separate a child from his or her mother rather than pay less and leave the child’s rearing to the mother, the one person more than any other who we believe will work hardest to keep the child safe and to watch out for their well being. It might sound harsh, but Mr. Romney is willing to pay more to put the child at a higher risk of something happening to it.
Bear with me for a second as I propose for the sake of argument that we take Mitt Romney at his word back in January and he wants to help all mothers. It is our error that we assume that Mr. Romney wants to help people financially when in fact he wants to help women psychologically by helping them get their dignity back after their dignity was lost when they made the choice to stay at home to raise their child. In Mr. Romney’s opinion, there is no dignity in staying home to do the really hard work of being mother. It’s better if we pay for a woman to go outside the home to do easier work and leave the child rearing to somebody who wouldn’t have nearly the vested interest in the development and protection of the child. Makes sense so far? Now if Mr. Romney feels that women who stay at home don’t have any real dignity how does Ms. Romney deal with her lack of self esteem?
Now I don’t think Mr. Romney has a problem with Ms. Romney staying home and working to manage the staff helping to raise the Romney boys. In fact, I’m willing to bet Mr. Romney doesn’t have a problem with anyone who stays at home to do the hard work of raising a family as long as it happens without any financial assistance from government. What actually leads to the loss of dignity is the need for financial aid. Everybody likes to say that working at home as a mother might be the hardest form of work on the planet. But if that very hard work comes only with the assistance of government, then it really isn’t worth a damn and we’d be better off paying more to put the child in the hands of strangers so that everybody can have dignity. However, I’m pretty sure that if you asked most mothers they’d say that they’d rather stay at home and raise their child and suffer the loss of their dignity to people who don’t value their contribution to society’s future rather than have government pay to put the child in a daycare so that they can go to a job that they can run the risk of losing when they have to take off in order to take care of the child that got sick at the daycare the state paid to put the child in while the mother earned dignity.
Mr. Romney said that he gets his information about what women want from his wife who tells him that women are worried about the economy and about the lack of jobs and all things happening with Wall Street at the core. Maybe that’s because the women than Ms. Romney talks to are the ones whose husbands earn their money off of Wall Street investments. Ask these women what’s most important to them and I’d have little evidence to contradict the contention that market indicators are important to these hardworking, dignified women who passed on the really hard work of raising children.
But ask a woman who needs help and doesn’t have the choice to stay home but is forced to earn their dignity by earning a paycheck and putting their child in a subsidized daycare and the answer might be a little different. I think this woman would be concerned about their ability to provide for the child. They are concerned about the social programs that provide the housing subsidies and the welfare assistance that helps her keep her head above water while she does the hard work of being a mother and raising a child without the assistance of a staff waiting at her beck and call.
If Ms. Romney truly believed that the work of being a mother is truly important and that she wanted to report back to her husband the real concerns of women, I’m sure that if she really valued her membership in the sorority of mothers who work hard, she would say that women are concerned that their children are not getting the benefit of having their mothers care for them. I would think that if she really felt that being a mom was as hard as her staff tells her it is, I think she would tell Mitt to make sure that he doesn’t gut the social programs that help so many mothers be the kind of mother their children can depend on. If everybody agrees that motherhood is so important, then it should be important even when it is done with the help of government, whether or not the people who run the government think these people have dignity or not.
Comedian Bill Cosby says that the debate over the killing of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman should be focused on guns and not race. In Mr. Cosby’s opinion, saying that the unprovoked shooting that took the life of an unarmed black teenager walking home from the convenience store and minding his own business was racially motivated doesn’t solve anything. In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union that aired this past Sunday, Mr. Cosby says that the bigger question is what was George Zimmerman doing with a gun and who taught him how to behave with it.
This is a stark contrast to Mr. Cosby’s reputation for criticism of people in the black community and how black people are not willing to do their fair share to help lift the black community out of its perpetual second class condition with higher than average instances of poverty, crime, and everything else that’s socially unacceptable. For example Mr. Cosby didn’t hesitate to stand in front of his well to do peers and tell them that they’ve done enough and now underprivileged black people need to step up to the plate of responsibility and quit purchasing five hundred dollar running shoes.
Mr. Cosby gave a speech to the NAACP back in May 2004 in which he was highly critical of black people. He ridiculed poor black people’s speech, poor black people’s dress, poor black people’s goals, and other stereotypical aspects of black people that are often portrayed in various media. The speech is referred to as the pound cake speech. And Mr. Cosby had no problem with his criticism even though his criticism didn’t solve a goddamn thing.
In fairness to Mr. Cosby, maybe he has learned a thing or two since he took his criticism of black people on a high profile nationwide tour to try and shame the black community into some kind of action. Maybe he’s learned that just saying black people aren’t doing enough isn’t enough and now Mr. Cosby is operating from a theory that not saying anything about anybody’s behavior is the better route to go. Maybe Mr. Cosby has figured that people aren’t the problem but the things people used to manifest what they feel are the problem. Ergo, if somebody gets shot the problem isn’t the shooter but the shooter’s gun. Therefore, if we just eliminate the guns utopia will fall into place.
In more fairness to Mr. Cosby, the man is almost seventy five years old and just might be suffering from some form of dementia that keeps him from thinking straight. That’s the only thing I can think of to explain his head up his ass philosophy that prevents him from taking a more encompassing look at the social issues that confronts the black community as a whole and individual black people like Trayvon Martin who lost his life to a man who had so deeply embraced the social programming that has taught us to quickly condemn black people as unworthy and inferior.
George Zimmerman was taught a subconscious suspicion of black people. His mistrust of black people was so deeply ingrained that he was willing to bet that if he killed a black person under the most dubious of circumstances he would be vindicated once the true nature of the unfortunate black person comes to light. If Mr. Zimmerman encountered a young white male under the same circumstances, it’s a fair bet that nothing suspicious would have registered on his consciousness.
The Sanford, Florida authorities that were responsible for investigating the shooting of Trayvon saw that the victim was a teenaged black male and quickly wrapped their investigation up in less than eight hours confident that the dead boy was nothing but another young black gang banger who got his comeuppance. Authorities across the country have been programmed to see black people as more trouble than they are worth. Therefore, if a black person gets shot, it’s a fair bet that the shooting was justified and so no thorough investigation, no true opportunity for justice, is necessary.
It is this same programming that has influenced the behavior of Mr. Cosby. The man can turn a blind eye to the social stigma that has been placed squarely on the backs of black people. Like a lot of people who look down their nose at black people, Mr. Cosby has shown that he holds black people responsible for what happens to black people and continues to absolve everybody else of any responsibility. To this day, Mr. Cosby gives lectures in black communities expressing his frustration with the problems that seem so endemic in the black community such as illegal drugs, teenage pregnancy, crime, offensive clothing, single mothers, and all the other problems that impact every social economic subgroup. Even though everyone is impacted by these problems, only the culture of the black community is defined by these problems.
What if George Zimmerman didn’t have a gun? What if he used a knife to kill Trayvon Martin? Would guns be off the hook and knives be declared the source of our problems? What if it wasn’t a knife and George Zimmerman used his fist to beat Trayvon to death? What if he used his feet to kick Trayvon when the boy was on the ground? Would hands be the problem and the easy solution would be to amputate everybody? That just sounds stupid. It sounds about as stupid as saying that the real problem we suffer as a collective is the tolerance of guns.
The real problem we suffer is the tolerance of racism and social discrimination based on race. It wasn’t the gun that was responsible for the killing of Trayvon. What killed that young black man that night was an irrational suspicion that black people are criminals. This idea was planted and nurtured by a culture that not only tolerates racism but perpetuates it. It is perpetuated by people driving down the street who see a black man walking on the sidewalk. It is perpetuated by authorities who fail to take the murder of a black teenager seriously. It is even perpetuated by old black comedians who bend over backwards to dismiss any notion of motivation due to race.
The more I see of Mr. Cosby the more I am convinced that he is a black man who suffers from willful ignorance about the black community. Instead of adding something meaningful to the conversation, he offers an out for everybody that applies responsibility to nobody. And if Mr. Cosby really felt that way would he be willing to give a speech and go on tour saying that black people have done enough to reverse the ills of the black community and that black people have done enough? Somehow that sounds very doubtful.
Mr. Cosby says that it’s the gun that’s our major problem and not our psychosis of perpetual racial disparity against black people that allows somebody to kill a black teenager and then allows that same person to walk away with his gun in hand. But that’s just not true. The gun is just the tool that helps manifests our social collective’s desire to punish black people for the offense of being black.
Black people have been programmed to think that it is some kind of virtue for us to always take the higher ground when we’ve been wronged. You see it a lot when some poor soul who has spent the last twenty years behind bars convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. When evidence is uncovered that their DNA didn’t match the DNA sample that was recovered from the crime scene after years of legal hurdles put up by the prosecutor’s office to keep the truth from seeing light, the poor guy who has had his life stolen from him will say something virtuous like he’s not mad at anybody and just gives thanks to Jesus for never losing his faith that one day he would be set free.
While people want to point to this guy as a model of civil behavior and the epitome of understanding, our larger society is never so forgiving and understanding to black people. It’s pretty rare to hear somebody say that they forgive the black man they believed has committed a crime against them. Hello No! Black people are more likely the scapegoat for somebody else’s crime. How many times have we heard some white woman claim that a black man stole her children from the back of her car only to realize that the woman killed her children herself? I might be wrong so I won’t say it’s a fact, but I’ve never heard anyone say that the black man did me wrong but I forgive him because somebody has so much faith in Jesus. The black man is rarely forgiven or given a break. It is standard procedure to come down on black people with the heaviest hand available, whether they or guilty or not, which explains why so many innocent black people get released from jail.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Trayvon Martin’s mother offer a few words of understanding to killer man Zimmerman. After weeks of freedom after he murdered Trayvon under very suspicious and dubious circumstances, George Zimmerman was finally charged with second degree murder and was finally in police custody. Zimmerman says that he killed the young black teenager in self defense because after Zimmerman got out of his SUV to run after Trayvon on foot armed with his nine millimeter pistol, Trayvon decided to attack Zimmerman with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman said that Trayvon knocked him down with a punch that broke his nose and then jumped on top of him to bash the back of his head into the sidewalk. And then Zimmerman claimed that while he was on the verge of blacking out from Trayvon’s attack, he remained conscious enough to scream for somebody to help as he maneuvered his hand to his concealed weapon and killed Trayvon with a single shot to the chest.
At least that was one of the stories that were told. Another one has Trayvon coming out of the shadows and telling Zimmerman that he was about to die. After he made his announcement like some over the top bad guy from a Dolemite movie, Trayvon then went after Zimmerman’s concealed weapon because even though Zimmerman never pulled the weapon out, somehow Trayvon knew it was there. There was a struggle between the two men that wound up with Trayvon being accidentally shot.
Regardless of what story or stories or combination of stories he told to the police, the authorities quickly wrapped up their investigation and declared the incident an open and shut case of self defense based on Florida’s stand your ground law. Zimmerman went home and Trayvon’s body went to the morgue for three days before his parents were allowed to claim him.
Now I’m a parent. In about a dozen years my son will be Trayvon’s age. What in the world would possess me to forgive somebody who would shoot my defenseless son as he walked home from the convenience store minding his own business? Not a goddamn thing is the answer that comes quickly to my mind. Why would I want to offer compassion to a man that started stalking my son as he walked home because he looked suspicious, a man that looked down on my son because he was black and wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up because of the light rain that was coming down? What could possibly motivate me to show sympathy to the man that had no sympathy for my son?
Then after he slaughtered my son, why would I forgive the man that would then slander my boy? The man with the smoking gun tells the police that my son attacked him. I hear the 9-1-1 tapes of my son screaming for help. I recognize my son’s voice. But the man that murdered my son says that the voice on the tape wasn’t my boy screaming for help. Zimmerman claims it was his voice screaming at the top of his lungs as he took aim at my son’s chest and pulled the trigger.
I don’t know Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother. I don’t know why she would say that she believed that the shooting of her son was an accident. Maybe she misspoke. Maybe she meant something totally different. But when I saw her say that she believed that the shooting of Trayvon was an accident and all she wanted was an apology, I could’ve reached through my television and slapped her out of her delusion to appear as upright and moral as possible. She probably didn’t want to look like just another angry black woman because that’s a racist and sexist stereotype against black women that has all kinds of connotations.
But the truth of the matter is that Ms. Fulton has lost her son because of the actions of a single individual with delusions of grandeur. She has every right to be angry and to focus that anger on the man that took her son’s life. She doesn’t have to forgive him and she doesn’t have to wait for George Zimmerman to apologize to her. Mr. Zimmerman has already exercised too much control of her life. Sever that link and be done. If that was my son, Zimmerman could apologize until he was blue in the face and I’d still want him to rot in hell for the rest of his life and the rest of his unnatural life.
Me show compassion for my son’s killer if I was in this situation? Fuck that shit!
After colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage, the infamous RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, a hundred years ago yesterday. The sinking caused the deaths of more than fifteen hundred people in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history that was not the result of war. She sailed away with more than twenty two hundred people onboard. She left Southampton, United Kingdom on April 10, 1912. On April 14, 1912, she was steered into the path of an iceberg that delivered a glancing blow to the ship’s hull at 11:40 pm ship’s time that caused the ship’s hull plates to buckle along her starboard side and opened five of her watertight compartments to the sea. The ship was designed to withstand a breach in a maximum of four of these compartments. Over the next two and a half hours the ship filled with water. Just before 2:20 AM on April 15th, the Titanic succumbed to the ocean and sank to her grave on the seabed more than two miles beneath the surface.
The Titanic carried a total of twenty lifeboats with a total capacity to save about twelve hundred people on a ship that was carrying almost twice that number. But despite that, only a little more than just seven hundred of her passengers survived the sinking. Titanic was designed with the capacity to carry more than sixty lifeboats which would have been enough for four thousand people. However management at the White Star Line decided the ship would sail with only twenty lifeboats to accommodate only a third of the ship’s maximum capacity. At the time she sailed, regulations required British vessels of Titanic’s size to carry a minimum of sixteen lifeboats with a capacity of a thousand occupants. The White Star Line actually provided more lifeboats than it was legally required.
Captain Edward John Smith of the Titanic received a series of warnings from other ships of drifting ice in the path on the ship’s course. But the ship continued to steam at full speed, which was standard procedure at the time. It was believed that ice posed little danger to large vessels and Captain Smith had declared that he could not imagine any sea condition that could threaten his ship. The Titanic and her sister ships were advertised as built to be unsinkable. And just like today, back then people believed that if a marketing agency said it then you could rest assured that it was true.
The passengers and crew on the massive ship were not prepared for the fate that befell it. The crew had not been trained adequately in carrying out an emergency evacuation. The officers had no clue as to how many people they could safely put on a lifeboat. Many lifeboats were launched at barely half their capacity. Third class passengers were left to fend for themselves and were trapped below decks as the ship went under. Hundreds of people went into the water and were killed either by hypothermia from exposure to the freezing water, heart attack from the exertion of their ordeal, or drowned. Only thirteen of the people who went into the water were rescued by one of the lifeboats even though they had enough room for another five hundred of the doomed passengers.
Before survivors could arrive in New York, Titanic’s destination, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the disaster on April 19, the day after rescued passengers arrived on the Carpathia. The two inquiries reached a similar conclusion that the maritime regulations in place were inadequate and out of date, Captain Smith had failed to take proper heed of ice warnings, the lifeboats had not been properly crewed, and the collision with the iceberg was the direct result of steaming too fast into a dangerous area. Recommendations included new safety measures such as ensuring that sufficient lifeboats were provided, that lifeboat drills be conducted on a regular basis, and that communication equipment be manned around the clock as a ship travels.
The regulations implemented after the Titanic disaster no doubt helped to cut down on maritime fatalities and travel by ship is much safer. Left to their own devices a corporation like the White Star Line would rather do the minimum required to assure the safety of its employees (the crew) and/or its customers (the passengers). If a regulation said sixteen lifeboats were mandatory and the company invested in twenty, they’d say that they went above and beyond what was legally mandated, even though ethically they would have needed forty lifeboats to assure every passenger’s safety. Relying on a regulation that required lifeboats for a thousand passengers back in the day when the maximum capacity for ships was a thousand passengers doesn’t make sense when ship capacity is upped to four thousand passengers.
But if the White Star Line was in operation today they would probably be complaining that job killing government regulations are impairing their ability to operate. They would be much more efficient if they could operate their company without the big brother of government looking over their shoulder in order to assure regulation compliance to passenger and crew safety. The company would do its best to assure the public that safety is their utmost priority. But the problem is that previous behavior proves that safety is not a corporation’s priority and is often left wanting with disastrous consequences. We have seen this happen with corporations over and over again. We saw it when the White Star Line launched Titanic on her maiden voyage. We saw it when Ford decided that it was more profitable to let people burn to death with exploding Pintos instead of correcting a known design flaw. We saw it when the tobacco industry continued to defend cigarettes saying there was no link between them and lung cancer even though they knew otherwise. We saw it when the automobile industry fought tooth and nail to keep government from mandating that airbag restraint systems become standard equipment in passenger cars. We saw it when the meat industry refused to implement safe operating practices for its employees or for its product without being forced to do so under federal government regulations. We have seen cows stumble into the slaughter house obviously suffering from the affects of mad cow disease but are added to the food supply anyway. We see it over and over again when corporations argue that regulations meant to keep water and air clean, food safe, toxins away from our children, consumer products safe, working conditions safe, and other things that we take for granted because they have worked to protect us and to assure that corporations don’t use their massive resources to take advantage of a trusting public.
No one would say that we need to reverse regulations that were put in place after the Titanic disaster. To go back to exposing ourselves to unnecessary dangers simply to make a corporation more profitable would be to turn our backs on the people who lost their lives in an accident that was so easily avoidable and to make their sacrifice worthless. There was a reason those regulations were put in place. Without regulations, more people would perish unnecessarily because we simply trusted a company to do the right thing. But a company isn’t in business to do the right thing. A company is in business to make money. And it’s well understood that one way to make money is to cut corners. Regulations help keep corners from being cut and people from being sacrificed in corporation’s single minded pursuit to make money.