You’d have to be just fucking dead or just dead in the brain not to know anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The latest round of fighting follows the age old formula between the two combatants that has changed little since the two have existed. Israel says the Palestinians hate their very existence to the point that Israel feels the need to rule surround Gaza with an economic blockade that chokes the life out of the people there to the point where political leaders feel compelled to fire rockets at Israel that for the most part are destroyed against Israel’s United States sourced iron dome shield but then Israel is compelled to retaliate against the useless Palestinian rockets with its own deadly accurate force with weapons again sourced from the United States against Palestine’s nonexistent iron dome that inevitably winds up killing hundreds of civilian men, women, and Palestinian children to which Israel claims the only reason they wind up killing the children is because the Palestinians hide their weapons amongst the civilians in an effort to use them as shields to which Israel is helpless to do anything but act as a hapless actor in the killing of Palestinians because Israel has a right to defend itself.
The only problem with that scenario is that Israel is far from being unable to control its role in the senseless killing and/or murder of Palestinians. Israel has the right to defend itself. But it does not have the right to needlessly mow down masses of civilians with weapons of mass destruction. On a daily basis we can watch the news for the latest video of Israel’s relentless proclivity for the destruction of the Palestinian people. Israel has taken aim and pulled the trigger at the homes of the Palestinian people. Israel has destroyed entire buildings with the claim that a rocket may have been fired from its vicinity. Last night, I saw a video of their precision guided weaponry taking out an entire city block of buildings in order to prevent another launch of an ineffective Palestinian rocket. They have targeted and devastated schools full of Palestinian children trying to seek refuge from the onslaught. They have destroyed mosques. They have even gone so far as to obliterate buildings flying the flag of the United Nations and designated as a safe haven for anyone trying to escape the war. But even the flag of the United Nations offers no sanctuary from Israel’s war machine bought and paid for with great expense by the taxpaying people of the United States.
It’s as if Israel is hell bent on using the Palestinian people as targets in this slaughter disguised as war. The Israelis have bought deeply into the argument that the warmongers in the Gaza strip are using the Palestinian people as shields to hide their weaponry behind. This argument is so ingrained that the warmongers in Israel believe that all they have to do is target the children because, ipso facto, where there’s Palestinian children there will be Palestinian weapons. Destroy the children and you’ll destroy the weapons. And once the weapons are gone and there’s no need to continue with the murder of the Palestinian people the world can go back to ignoring the fact that Israel has an economic blockade around Gaza to continue the slow murder of a people under the tried and far from true theme that the Palestinians want to destroy Israel. To be honest, if that’s how they truly felt, who can blame the Palestinian people after the shit
Israel has done to them?
I mean really, who but Israel is afforded the luxury of killing children under the pretense that there was a bad guy in their midst. That’s not how this works. It doesn’t matter if the bad guy has a gun pointed at the good guy. If the bad guy is hiding behind a child, a woman, or any innocent bystander then the good guy stops. It doesn’t matter if the bad guy is holding his/her own child. The good guy doesn’t just shoot with and take a chance of innocent people getting hurt. That’s a rule that even Dirty Harry didn’t break. You avoid killing bystanders because if you don’t, you’re no better than the people you claim you want to stop. Keep your gun pointed. Keep ready to look for an opening where you can take the bad guy out with minimum collateral damage. Intimidate the bad guy with catch phrases like “ask yourself if you feel lucky” or “go ahead and make my day” or “get off my lawn” or whatever. But don’t be so cavalier as to shoot first, kill the suspect brandishing an ineffective weapon at you and the hostage without a second thought, and then point a damning finger at the bad guy while telling the world that you had no choice because you have the right to defend yourself. Defending yourself doesn’t mean you have a right to wanton murder.
It is far past time for Israel to be held accountable for its mass destruction of its neighbor. If this was Syria we’d be all into this mess by now with a military threat to punish. If this was Russia claiming they had to kill the people of Crimea in order to defend their selves we would be talking to the world about providing economic sanctions to stop the madness. But when it’s Israel? We simply give Israel more weapons and more armor and more of our tax paid revenue to impose their will on people trying to hide in United Nations sponsored sanctuaries. If this was Dirty Harry Callahan we would have asked for his gun and badge a long time ago. And if that didn’t stop him from killing people who posed no real threat to his existence we’d throw him in jail. Why is Israel different?
Life always gets busy. At least it does for most people. You think you have time to do all the things you want done. You want to contribute to the community. You want to contribute to your household. You want to be there for your family. You want to contribute to that Ford dealership so you can buy a new Mustang Boss. You want to exercise and take care of yourself. You want to maintain a blog. You want to exist to the point that you grow old and realize that you really can’t do it all and something’s got to give. And you start to realize, that amongst other things, a blog really isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. If I stopped contributing to my blog as much, I’d free up a little time to do some of the other things that I would later one day realize weren’t all that important to do either.
I knew one day I’d write another post. I just didn’t know what it would be about. Would it be about undocumented Latin American children coming across the border? Would it be about a politician hell bent on keeping black people from voting? Would it be about the Affordable Care Act and how it has helped millions of people obtain healthcare despite some people’s best effort to invalidate President Obama’s signature achievement? Would it be about some white guy took a shotgun and shot a young black woman in the face through a door in the middle of the night because he was so afraid for his life? Would it be about some fat assed politician who stood idly by while his closest cronies got together to illegally shut down a major thoroughfare into New York City? Some of these topics and many others came pretty close to pulling me back to the keyboard.
But as quickly as I thought about writing something I would dismiss the thought. I’d to back to my overwhelming thought that it really wasn’t all that important for me to say whatever to the world. Given enough time I would simply go back to watching the news and continue to sit on the sidelines as the world went to hell in a hand basket.
Then I heard Rula Jebreal call out MSNBC and the other “lame stream media” outlets for their skewed coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict currently unfolding half a world away in Gaza. During her appearance on the relatively new Ronan Farrow Daily program, Ms. Jebreal accused the MSNBC network and the entire news network establishment of being supportive of a destructive Israeli policy by giving too much airtime to Israeli officials and not nearly enough to representatives of the Palestinians. Mr. Farrow tried to defend his network’s coverage, but Ms. Jebreal would not have any of it and continued to pounce. When Mr. Farrow replied that there have been Palestinian voices on the air, Ms. Jebreal countered that the Palestinians would be on for thirty seconds while they would devote entire segments of air time to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As I listened to Ms. Jebreal I had to admit to myself that she had a point. I’ve always thought that the news media simply refused to address the underlying issue of what caused the Palestinians to fire their rockets into Israeli territory. The way the story is often portrayed you’d think that the leaders of Hamas, the organization currently governing Gaza, just woke up one day and decided to try and wipe Israel off the face of the earth with relatively crude rockets that would make a Scud missile look sophisticated by comparison. Along with Israel’s Iron Dome defense system that has been credited with literally shooting so many of these rockets harmlessly out of the sky, the idea that Hamas thinks it could destroy Israel out of some ideological fixation on its destruction is extremely simple minded.
The real reason the latest round in this never ending conflict was started goes back to issues revolving around the lack of mutual recognition for each other’s right to exist as well as border security, water rights, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and the control of Jerusalem and holy sites. Because of an inability for Israeli and Palestinian people to come to terms with these issues, Israel imposes its will onto the Palestinian people by force. The Palestinians live under a military blockade that has caused the vast majority of Gaza’s businesses to close. Thousand of factories were closed and tens of thousands of people were put out of work. Poverty is rampant. Unwilling to continue to live under such woeful conditions the Hamas organization retaliated with rudimentary rocket fire. And Israel retaliated with the latest lethal tools of war courtesy of the United States military industrial complex.
Now by no means is anyone here saying that Palestine is right and Israel is wrong. There is plenty of blame to go on both sides. But it should be noted that the number of innocent Palestinian children that have been killed in Israeli’s retaliatory air strikes far outnumber the number of Israeli soldiers killed as they invaded Gaza in a ground assault. And yet, the media will try to convince us that Hamas simply wants to destroy Israel for the sake of ancient doctrine. If that’s truly the case then the people of Hamas are truly the epitome of stupid, and I seriously doubt if that’s truly the case.
It appears that Israel is controlling the conversation. They always have. It is their contention that everything was fine until the Hamas rockets started falling. Now, the entire Jewish state is at risk of being wiped out unless completely devastating force is used to quash the dissent. The Israeli representatives will say that they have no choice but to annihilate the rebellious Palestinians and the media are just too eager to buy into that argument. Where is the counter argument from the Palestinians? Basically, it is my understanding that this is the question, this is the point that Ms. Jebreal was trying to make. In response to Ms. Jebreal’s passionate outburst, MSNBC cancelled all of her future appearances on the network.
Now this is where my goat gets got. By far the vast majority of my news comes from MSNBC. While it is by no means perfect, I prefer the more liberal bias of MSNBC to the rabidly conservative commentary of FOX News or even the dribble of news reporting from CNN. I’ve watched MSNBC back in the days of Keith Olbermann and Dan Abrams. I will admit that I listened to the network with just a certain amount of skepticism. Not everything you hear on television is true. But it was a lot better than the network promoting their fair and balanced approach to railroading anything that isn’t the most right winged political agenda possible. I always thought that it would be FOX News that would fire people for not toeing the line. FOX News would hardly let one of their fair and balanced commentators or contributors go off their carefully crafted script. Maybe Alan Combs would be their lone, soft spoken, exception.
Obviously Ms. Jebreal was not toeing MSNBC’s line and MSNBC has the right to turn down her future services for it. My rant is not to say that MSNBC is not so entitled. But in their single minded focus on making sure their contributors speak from a single perspective with respect to this Israeli-Palestinian conflict MSNBC has lost the focus of the bigger picture. This is the only network that can take a right winged conservative like Joe Scarborough and left winged liberals like Rachel Maddow into a single formula for the entertainment and education of the masses. MSNBC had the better reputation for giving multiple views on an issue. But that reputation is now tarnished when MSNBC joins FOX and CNN and all the other media outlets that are on the Israel propaganda band wagon when they punish Ms. Jebreal for being sympathetic to the Palestinian’s plight.
MSNBC proves that it is no different than any other media outlet. They all have a job to do and that job is to make money. And since there is far more money backing the well to do Israel than there is backing the ninety percent poverty stricken Palestine any media outlet would be foolish to allow anything to jeopardize that revenue stream including the truth. Israel wants people to believe that they are just defending themselves regardless of what’s really going on. Anybody who makes the suggestion that there’s another side to this story and it should be heard just as loudly is just asking for trouble. The truth will always take a backseat to somebody’s political agenda no matter what news outlet is used for the delivery medium.
Yes MSNBC has hired activist Al Sharpton to be their talking head. Mr. Sharpton’s reputation for speaking up for people who are being railroaded by the establishment is well known. MSNBC wanted to capitalize on Mr. Sharpton’s reputation to strengthen its appeal to people who can sympathize with the downtrodden. The network went out of its way to develop an environment of political progressivism. The network even promoted itself with the tagline, “What Progressives have been waiting for”.
But when MSNBC is given an opportunity to truly develop its own reputation for speaking up for the downtrodden in Palestine it does just the opposite. Truth be told, if this latest attempt to put a leash on journalism is any indication, progressives will just have to continue waiting.
President Barack Obama learned a long time ago of the dangers associated with being a black politician at a national level and vocalizing anything about the institutionalized racism of the United States. While obviously racially non black politicians are free to remind the public of America’s racial shortcomings, a black politician doesn’t have that luxury out of some perception that the black politician would appear too close to the black community. When such an observation starts to manifest, the fear is that the black community’s need would trump the white community’s wants and America would never tolerate such a circumstance. It wouldn’t matter if the entire black community was slipping further into the oblivion of poverty and all the social ills associated with that condition, if white America wants ice cream somebody better make sure there’s a national plan to provide ice cream. To hell with black people!
When the news broke that candidate Barack Obama’s pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a closet racist who hated white people, regardless of how inaccurate the story was, Mr. Obama had to stiff arm his spiritual mentor for his political survival. When Mr. Obama weighed in on the arrest of his friend Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. and called the behavior of the Cambridge police stupid for arresting the prominent black American out of his own house, Mr. Obama was so vilified by his political opponents and many across the country that he had to back pedal his comments like Michael Jackson in a Billy Jean video. And when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in cold blood and his killer was allowed to go home with his murder weapon and protests were being held all over the country, Mr. Obama’s rather benign comment that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, his political critics again pounced on him calling the President a race baiter as they did their best to inject race into the matter as they rallied support for the black teenager’s murderer.
But all of that happened prior to Mr. Obama being reelected for his second term as commander-in-chief. Now that he’s been reelected and is no longer eligible to run for the highest office in the land again, Mr. Obama is a little freer to express himself more openly about issues of race. Before being reelected he would do his best to quell the specter of racism by saying that he didn’t think race was a factor in any happenings no matter how racially charged. But if Mr. Obama’s latest venture into the unwelcomed discussion of America’s racial dysfunction that many loath to have is any indication, things might be a little different now from the President’s perspective.
Six days after a six women jury acquitted George Zimmerman of any wrong doing in his assassination of Trayvon Martin the President surprised the White House reporters by appearing before them during a routine press conference being conducted by Press Secretary Jay Carney. Unprompted and unscripted the President extended his sympathies to the parents of Trayvon Martin. The President actually empathized with the murdered teenager saying that he could’ve been Trayvon thirty five short years ago. Thirty five years ago a young Barack Obama could have been murdered as he was walking home minding his own business and somebody thought it a good idea to snuff his life out and his murderer could’ve been acquitted because young Barry foolishly thought he could rebel against the establishment like so many other teenagers do, black and white.
Mr. Obama talked about how people responded to him in his earlier years by locking their car doors as he walked through the neighborhood, by people crossing the street as he walked towards them on the sidewalk, by women clutching their purse closer to their body as he got onto an elevator, and by being followed through a department store as if he would shoplift at any moment compelled to do so driven by his black skin. Mr. Obama knows all too well that being black is not even close to being some kind of benefit in our social construct. It is a curse that makes it possible for a black teenager to be murdered in the darkness of the evening.
Mr. Obama is ready to talk about his racism of the past. But he still needs to acknowledge the racism he continues to experience to this day. How else can anyone explain how the most powerful man in the free world is constantly hounded to produce his birth certificate as proof that he belongs in America and is eligible to serve as President unlike every single President that has come before him who were all accepted to be a citizen without question? Even though he doesn’t have to run for office again he still needs the support of the American people in order to do his job and hold his political opponents at bay. And the last thing America wants is to support any black person who is willing to say that they can’t do their job because of the racism that runs rampant in this country. Too many people are too ready to dismiss claims of racism as little more as whining in order to cover incompetence. Pull yourself up by your bootstrap is the knee jerk, overly simplistic response to racism regardless if it can be proven or not. The question is can you prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. And for many people, that shadow is so long it can never be overcome.
Americans want to hear that everything is good and racism is in our past or at least it’s getting better. In fact, Mr. Obama said as much when he gave his impromptu press conference. Despite our racial dysfunction, Mr. Obama says he looks at his daughters and their friends and comforts himself with the belief that things have gotten better and will continue to improve with time. We believe things have gotten so much better that we don’t even recognize the horrible fact that nothing’s changed. Just like Emmett Till was murdered way back in 1955 accused of doing something unseemly and paying for it with his life, Trayvon Martin was murdered today under accusations of attacking the man who was stalking him. Just like black people testified about what happened to Emmett Till and were dismissed, according to juror B-37 Rachel Jeantel’s testimony was dismissed as unreliable because of her lack of proper diction and the fact that she wasn’t properly educated. It’s a fair bet that the fact that she was black had something to do with her lack of credibility as well. Just like back then somebody got away with murder even though he was standing right there with the gun in his hand.
Things might look like they’re getting better. But the simple fact that to this day we continue to let our black children die and their murderers walk free proves that it isn’t getting any better at all. In fact, if you add the lies that things have gotten better, the deception of racial equality that we live under, things are far worse now than they’ve ever been. Back in Emmett Till’s day black people knew that they were second class citizens and no amount of sugar coating about how black people weren’t slaves anymore was going to make it better. Our measure for discrimination is not how good or bad our ancestors and elders had it. The measure for racial discrimination is the fact that we still do not live in a racially equal society. Our black children will continue to die until we wake up and recognize this simple fact and really begin to do something about it.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a very disgusting man. The country was cursed to suffer this man on our highest court by no other than the pope of conservatism, President Ronald Reagan, in 1986 and has been doing his best to roll back every social gain achieved by this country in the past half century. Mr. Scalia was never one to hide his disdain for minorities or for anybody who needed advocating on their behalf. He prefers a strict interpretation of the country’s Constitution. In this small man’s opinion, if the founding fathers were okay with it, it’s good enough for the rest of us almost two and a half centuries later. And if the founding fathers thought it was okay for the people of African descent to be less than human or considered white people’s property, it is reasonable to assume that it is Mr. Scalia’s expert justice opinion that the black people of today are just going to have to learn to deal with second class citizenship as their lot in life in the United States.
It has been said that Mr. Scalia is the type of justice that revels in his ability to illicit a shocking reaction to his outlandish statements. He loves the attention it garners. Leave it to Mr. Scalia to say something kooky enough to take the nation, if not the world, aback.
But Mr. Scalia’s latest statement for the sake of shock and awe appears to have crossed the line of reasonably acceptable for a justice. Mr. Scalia made the comment that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was a perpetuation of racial entitlement. The law that protected black people’s right to vote, because that right was being routinely sabotaged by white people intent on keeping black people from being able to vote, was a form of perpetual racial entitlement. Mr. Scalia went on to say that, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
Now a sense of political entitlement is an assumption of political privileges that don’t apply to everyone. Racial minorities having their rights protected because some, notably state politicians with an overblown sense of white privilege, wanted to unfairly eviscerate the voting rights of black people, leaving that right as a privilege of being white. So in a sense, without even realizing how appropriate his words were, Mr. Scalia hit the racial nail on the racial head when he said that it is difficult for a society that adopts racial entitlements to get out of them through the political process.
From the very moment white people felt entitled to lord over black people it has been a fight for them to relinquish that sense of entitlement. The problem isn’t protecting black people’s right to vote. Anybody who cares to look at this country’s history of institutionalized racial discrimination will know that people across the racial spectrum had to fight and die for black people to be recognized as white people’s equal. From the very moment black people were injected into this country’s social makeup against their will, white people had assumed, had adopted a sense of racial entitlement and privilege. Too many people have adopted the idea that black people wanting what white people have claimed as their own is an attempt to change the status quo and skew our social construct into black people’s favor. Anything that challenges white people’s sense of racial entitlement is in itself racial entitlement.
This closed circuit circular argument of illogic is the root of Mr. Scalia’s thinking. In his attempt to point a damning finger at people who understand the need to protect people from the racist whims of state legislators who would have no qualms about using their position of authority to run roughshod over the rights of some for the benefit of others, Mr. Scalia bares his gnarled skewed soul for the world to see. And to their credit, many people are aghast to see the new depth of injustice that lies at the pit of this man’s heart.
Any other justice in any other court in this country would have the good sense or, at the very minimum, the responsibility to their job to recues his or her self from the trial in question if they had vocalized such a totally biased statement. But it should be obvious by now that Mr. Scalia has no true sense or understanding of justice. Or, if there is some kernel of legal propriety within his comprehension, it takes a way back of the bus seat to his need to perpetuate his racial entitlement. It would be no surprise to see the Voting Rights Act go down in flames under the whim of this current version of our high court. Indeed, it would be surprising to see the Voting Rights Act survive in its intended form to protect the rights of all people to influence their government in a fair election process. It will be no surprise to see Mr. Scalia leading Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, and Anthony Kennedy to undo one of the pillars that actually gives meaning to our pledge of justice for all. If there was ever a case for term limits being given on our Supreme Court, Mr. Scalia has made the case most ineloquently as any single person could. God deliver us from such small minded people.
Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu decided to wear his racism on his sleeve after former Secretary of State Colin Powel went public with his decision to endorse Barack Obama for a second term as President of the United States instead of his Republican associate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Way back during the GOP primaries Mr. Powell was critical about Mr. Romney. After Mr. Romney made the comment that Russia was the number one geopolitical foe of the United States Mr. Powell made the suggestion that Mr. Romney should actually think about what he’s saying if he wants to become President. Instead, Mr. Romney doubled down on inconsistent nonsense and conservative rhetoric meant to excite the Republican faithful but few others. In the end Mr. Powell made his critical endorsement.
Like a pit bull trained to attack, Mr. Sununu leapt to criticize Mr. Powell. During an interview with CNN’s Pierce Morgan, Mr. Sununu made the suggestion that Mr. Powell suffers from being black. Mr. Sununu said that when some black people are conditioned to support other black people in a key position or role no matter what. Mr. Powell supports Mr. Obama only because of the commonality of their skin color and not because Mr. Powell made an honest assessment and concluded that Mr. Obama as the better choice to lead the country. Mr. Sununu wants people to believe that a black man that served three conservative white skinned Presidents is now so color struck for another black man that he can’t think straight.
Later, Mr. Sununu offered an apology to his “good friend” Mr. Powell and retracted his statement. Like a lot of conservative politicians these days, he says his words filled with race baiting rancor were being taken out of context. But the message was clear to the racially bigoted voters who could be motivated to keep a couple of Negroid boys from working together to keep America out of the hands of people who are most assuredly more competent simply because we know that they aren’t black.
Yes it is true that a lot of black people have a lot of pride in the fact that Mr. Obama is our first black President. And it is also true that there are black people who will support Mr. Obama for President no matter what simply because of the color of his skin. But Mr. Powell hardly fits into such a category. Mr. Powell is one of the many black people who understand facts from their personal perspective and have decided that Mr. Obama is a better choice for the black community as well as the larger community of America as well as the world. And in the grand pantheon that comprises the black community, some black people might isolate between the two conditions of color struck and thoughtful analysis.
But just like some black people may suffer from a color struck condition that will drive their preferences, this malady is far more prevalent in the white community. Far more white people will see a black person and respond instinctively to skin tones. White people’s penchant for judging people by the color of skin is so strong that they have an entire history of enslaving people for nothing more than having the wrong skin color. And with white people’s history of blatant, disparate racism, why would a white person like Mr. Sununu feel compelled to accuse Mr. Powell of overt racism? Mr. Powell explained his position in thoughtful detail and yet Mr. Sununu felt compelled to play the race card and say that it all boils down to black people wanting to see each other do well.
So do white people ever feel compelled to see other white people do well? Or more appropriately we should ask do white people ever feel compelled to make sure black people don’t do well? All we have to do is look at America’s racially polarized history to find the answer to that question. American history proves that white people will go out of their way to keep black people from being successful or credible. For some white people, to see a black person do well is to see a target that needs to be attacked and taken down at all cost. Some white people are so driven by this instinct that they would be willing to throw the country into chaos just to keep a black man from being successful. How else would you explain why four years ago a group of white politicians got together to make sure the term of America’s first black President would be as ineffective as possible and do their best to block his every move with filibusters and legislative maneuverings meant to being government to a screeching stop.
Mr. Sununu’s assessment of Colin Powell was a twofer. He knocked the black former Secretary of State for being so racist that he would support a black President with nothing to base that decision on but the color of his skin. Both Mr. Powell and Mr. Obama have a history of working for white people and with white people that should prove their willingness to put everything else to the side for the bigger picture or the issue at hand.
The same can’t be said about Mr. Sununu. In his eye, the only reason black people support other black people is the commonality of skin color. Unfortunately, Mr. Sununu is one of those white people who cannot stand to see black people do well and is driven by an inherent need to follow his racially biased instincts at all costs.
Years ago I was in a Home Depot store trying to buy eight feet of heavy chain for a home project. Home Depot sells chains by the foot off of a large spool of chain hundreds of feet long. You have to get some assistance in order to have the chain cut to your specific need. After the chain was cut the Home Depot employee handed me the chain and I asked if all I had to do was take it to the cashier and checkout. The guy replied that he had to give me a sales slip that indicated how much chain I had and how much it cost. Then in a rather pitiful attempt at humor, as he handed me the sales slip the guy said that if I took the chain upfront without the slip that they would put me in chains.
I’m sure the guy didn’t mean anything by what he said. He was a young black guy, probably still in high school, and there was a good chance it was probably his first job. Nevertheless, I was somewhat offended by what he said. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to give good customer service. When I first arrived in the hardware section he was helping a white couple with whatever it was they were purchasing. Without trying to eavesdrop as I waited for my turn for service I could hear how courteous and professional he could be. When he started to help me he started with the same customer service demeanor. The quip was totally jarring. Without another word I snatched the sales slip out of the guy’s hand and left to complete the purchase.
I was reminded of that incident in the Home Depot when I heard the news about Vice President Joe Biden’s reference that the Republican’s repeal of Wall Street regulations enacted since the financial crisis that threw the country into economic crisis would throw people back in chains. The remark was made in front of an audience of supporters with many African Americans. I thought Mr. Biden should not have gone there. Whatever excuse he had for the inspiration of the metaphor he should have thought twice about it. For me it didn’t matter if it was a reference to the some conservative saying that Republicans should unshackle business from the burden of unnecessary regulations imposed by the Obama administration.
At first glance the remark could be construed as somewhat racially insensitive. But kind of like the young black guy back at the Home Depot a few years back who probably wasn’t trying to offend a customer, I’m pretty certain that Mr. Biden wasn’t trying to offend his supporters. Mr. Biden has a reputation for making gaffs and his speech the other day is just one of the latest in a long line that goes back decades. Generally speaking he has been the type of politician that supports the view of the black community on most issues. If his words can be judged to be racially insensitive it is more than likely a momentary lack of judgment and not just the latest manifestation of a personal philosophy of racial insensitivity or a possible hostility towards black people.
Compare Mr. Biden’s single sentence remark to the recent philosophies of conservative politicians who wear their disdain for black people on their sleeves. Compare Mr. Biden’s single sentence to Newt Gingrich’s core belief that black people need to give up their pursuit of welfare checks and start earning an honest living. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to Ron Paul and his newsletter with its plethora of racist statements like black people will stop rioting when the welfare checks arrive or that young blacks accused of crimes should be treated as adults because they are black. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to Herman Cain’s contention that black people are too brainwashed against the conservative philosophy of the Republican Party. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to the conservative’s current political strategy to disenfranchise black people from voting under the guise that voting fraud is so rampant that new standards for voter identification are required to combat the problem. In all honesty the slip of Mr. Biden’s lip is nothing compared to the long chain of political attacks against black people as well as the institutions and policies that support a large portion of the black community.
Now some conservatives want to point at Mr. Biden’s statement and say that he’s the one that is now being divisive and insensitive. Some claim that Mr. Biden telling people that the Republicans want to put people in chains is out of line. It is an affront to the party of President Abraham Lincoln who freed black people from America’s nationally institutionalized racial enslavement. But these same people don’t have a problem saying that President Obama has chained or shackled businesses with regulations. These are the same businesses that continue to show record profits and distribute massive executive bonuses while at the same time shedding jobs for workers. When Mr. Obama took office, the stock market was trading somewhere down in the eight thousand range. Now it is trading over thirteen thousand. That’s a healthy improvement for anybody forced to operate under the burden of shackles.
So I guess we can wrap this all up real quick by saying Mr. Biden shouldn’t have said what he said. We all know he wasn’t trying to be literal just like we all know that the conservatives who accuse liberals of trying to shackle business to the burden of regulation weren’t meant to be taken literal. If some conservatives want to act like they’re so offended, after all the shit that they have said about and have done to the black community, join the fucking club. Whatever Mr. Biden said pales in comparison to what many conservatives have said and done. Some of these people have made political and personal attacks against black people an art form.
It has been a while since conservative Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann used her profile office to spew the type of racism that has an appeal to a lot of people. A few weeks ago it was Ms. Bachmann who threw out the suggestion that Huma Abedin, the longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of former liberal Congressman Anthony Weiner who left the House of Representatives after a scandal that revealed his lack of integrity, should be investigated for a lack of patriotism due to the fact that the Abedin family had an association with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that defends acts of violence against civilians and is suspected of funding and supporting terrorism.
There was a quick backlash against Ms. Bachmann for her slander. She has been criticized on the floor of the Senate and heavily criticized by pundits on both sides of the political aisle. She has stimulated a petition calling for her to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee. Ms. Bachmann has never been one to care about reality. The woman has a reputation for treating facts like an unwanted stepchild. But this last time, the usual flirtation with outright lies caused her a bit of trouble. Senate Republican John McCain, House Speaker John Boehner, and many other conservatives have actually come out the woodwork in support of Ms. Abedin. Ed Rollins, Ms. Bachmann’s former campaign chairman said that Ms. Bachmann should stand on the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to Secretary Clinton and to the millions of hard working, loyal, Muslim Americans for her wild and unsubstantiated charges. Mr. Rollins went on to say that she should ask for forgiveness for her grievous lack of judgment and reckless behavior.
But just as soon as Ms. Bachmann started to suffer the bipartisan condemnation, hardcore conservatives like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stepped out of the shadow of irrelevance to double down on her racist accusation. It only makes sense to someone of only his self inflated intellectual stature that it is only logical to perform an investigation into the relationships of people who have access to sensitive information with a questionable family ties. He then innocently asks, what’s the problem? He’ll do his best to sound frustration and feign a lack of understanding while he raises his hands to add a little body language to drive the show totally home for his constituent audience that is primarily white and primarily conservative and primarily very insensitive to issues that do not pertain to white people.
Since Ms. Bachmann made her allegations against Ms. Abedin and people of Muslim faith or heritage, there have been to mass shootings. One was in Aurora, Colorado and not too far from the infamous Columbine High School massacre shooting spree of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. During the world premier of the latest Batman thriller, The Dark Knight Rises, James Egan Holmes walked into one of the theaters at the Century 16 at the Town Center at Aurora and killed twelve people and wounded almost sixty more. According to police investigations the gunman acted alone.
The other mass shooting was just last night when forty year old white supremacist Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin with more than four hundred members. As people were entering the temple for Morning Prayer, the gunman got out of his car and shot his first victim as soon as he got out of his car. Without saying anything he walked into the temple continuing to fire. Page was killed by police at the scene. In less than twenty four hours into the investigation into what may have prompted the shooting, authorities were able to determine that the gunman acted alone and had no affiliation with anyone else even though he was known to be a white supremacist and was a member of not one but two racist bands named End Apathy and Definite Hate.
So far Ms. Bachmann and Mr. Gingrich have been silent on the matter. But that’s really no surprise. With fire and brimstone to fuel her rhetoric Ms. Bachmann is quick to point a damning figure at a Muslim woman who has served Ms. Clinton and her country faithfully for years. Huma Abedin is entitled to the gratitude of every American and to the best of knowledge has never done anything to cause anyone to question her loyalty and patriotism. And Newt Gingrich, a politically weakened figure with tarnished reputation from his ill fated attempt to win the Republican nomination for the White House, desperate for anything that could jump start a faded career, knows that jumping on the racism bandwagon is a quick and easy way to jump back into the good graces of many people with the same racists viewpoints. The fact that Ms. Abedin is a minority with a religious faith that many Americans believe goes hand in hand with foreign terrorism makes her prime target for baseless condemnation.
But the face of domestic terrorism is predominantly white. It is the face of the previously mentioned Columbine shooting, Aurora shooting, and the Oak Creek shooting. It is the face of the shooter who tried to murder Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Gifford. It’s the face of George Zimmerman who shot Trayvon Martin and it is the face of all the people who gave donations to make sure Trayvon’s murderer got the best defense money can buy.
What would happen if there was an investigation into all the people of the Congress and their aides and staff and find all the people who might be related to someone with might be affiliated with an organization with a history of using violence against innocent people? And imagine what an investigation like that would cost and how long it would last. Both the cost and the task would be staggering. We couldn’t afford it. That’s probably why we don’t do it.
We usually wait until somebody does something that gives us a reason to do an investigation before there is a call for an investigation. We have to judge them by what they do. Otherwise, we are prejudging and that is the root of prejudice. Relying on good old fashioned gossip to single out people when it’s one of those things that happens on both sides of the racial divide is nothing but racism.
Back in the day, before black people had anything acknowledging their civil rights, it didn’t take anything for white person to accuse a black person of a crime, hold a black person in jail for a crime on nothing more than the word of a white person, and/or convict a black person for a crime with the only evidence being the testimony of a white person. The racial prejudice against black people in America was institutionalized in all levels of government, in every branch of government, from the high of the federal down to smallest of local jurisdictions.
America’s penchant for racial disparity was fictionalized in stories like To Kill a Mockingbird. Assigned as the prosecutor in the rape trial of the black Tom Robinson, Horace Gilmer faces off against Atticus Finch in court. The facts of the trial proved far beyond a reasonable doubt that it was virtually impossible for the one armed black man being tried could not have raped anyone, Mr. Gilmer does little to prove Tom’s guilt. Instead, Mr. Gilmer relies on the racial prejudice of the all white jury to ignore the testimony of the black man. America’s racism was so thick that it was no surprise to see the white people in the story ready to lynch the black man with nothing more than an accusation.
There is no better example of America’s racial disparity than the case of Emmett Louis Till. Emmett was a fourteen year old black boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi after he was accused of whistling at a white woman. Emmett was from Chicago, Illinois and was visiting his relatives when he had the audacity to actually speak to twenty one year old Carolyn Bryant in her grocery store. Several nights later, Mrs. Bryant’s husband Roy and Roy’s brother snatched Emmett out of the house where he was staying, took him to a barn, beat him and tortured him before Emmett was shot through the head. His body was dumped into the Tallahatchie River with a seventy pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Roy Bryant was tried but acquitted of Emmett’s murder. A few months after his acquittal he admitted killing Emmett in a magazine interview. Protection from double jeopardy prevented his confession from being used against him.
Now a lot of people would think that such travesty of justice is behind us, that in the twenty first century America has learned from her racist past and looks only towards the future of racial harmony and brighter days. At least that is what we would like to think. But again, if we actually look at the evidence presented before our very eyes we will see the reality is very different.
Many people continue to refuse to believe that President Barack Obama is an American citizen despite the fact that government agencies with the responsibility to protect the Office of the President as well as the President himself remain silent on the issue. We’re supposed to believe some hick sheriff in Arizona has discovered the truth that the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and everybody else couldn’t figure out. The only evidence we have is his testimony and the fact that Mr. Obama is black. What other President or even presidential contender has ever dealt with such an indignation? The answer is not a single one. This indignation is Mr. Obama’s burden alone.
Many people accuse Mr. Obama of being an appeaser to people around the world who want to do this country harm. People believe this despite the fact that Mr. Obama kept his promise to do whatever it took to bring the leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, to America’s unique brand of justice. Many of us believe this even though there is no audio or visual recording of Mr. Obama apologizing to anyone. The only proof we have is somebody’s accusation.
Mr. Obama is accused of being the food stamp President. He’s accused of being the President that saw the country lose more jobs than any other President in history. But again, if we look at the evidence, the country was losing more than seven hundred thousand jobs a month when Mr. Obama took office. Within a couple of months of assuming office, the job loss numbers began to drop. It took fifteen months, but the job loss numbers turned into job creation numbers. This happened despite the fact that Mr. Obama was working against all the Republican legislators who were committed to making sure Mr. Obama was a failure by doing their best to keep the country in economic freefall.
Mitch McConnell made the statement that his number one goal was to make sure Mr. Obama was a single term President. We have that proof. We have a conservative legislator interrupting the President’s State of the Union Address to the Congress with a boldfaced accusation that he was a liar. Other legislators say this man is so foreign you’d have to study Kenyan economic philosophy to understand his policies. Political pundits accuse him of being racist and hateful against white people. All of this and much more is believed to be true without a single shred of fact to support these allegations. But instead of getting an honest, bona fide analysis of his performance and of his person, he has to contend with conjecture, speculation, disrespect for him and for his office, and outright lies.
If people disagree with the President’s policies then by all means speak up and put their concerns, observations, whatever it might be on the table for us to review and discuss. But to make baseless accusations simply because America still suffers from institutionalized racial bigotry is a sure fire indication that we are still stuck in the racist muck that continues to dog just about every aspect of American life these days. In the twenty first century America still faces the same racial animosity that Emmett Till and Tom Robinson faced way back in the pre civil rights twentieth century. Racism was all around us then and it is all around us now and it looks like it will be with us forever.
The shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado was the epitome of our definition of wickedness. James Holmes took a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12 gauge shotgun, and .40 caliber Glock pistol into a movie theater showing the latest Batman flick, tossed a smoke grenade into the unsuspecting audience watching the film, and opened fire. Twelve people were killed, ten of them declared dead at the scene while two died in hospital. Thirty people are still receiving medical care in area hospitals. As of this writing eleven people remain in critical condition.
The recognition that something horrible had happened was instant. The outpouring of sympathy and compassion was immediate. No one is standing in line to defend James Holmes. Everyone understands his actions were criminal. Everyone understands the people in the theater minding their own business were victims. There is no confusion about the legality of what he did. The only questions regarding this perpetrator’s future is how long will he be incarcerated and/or how many death sentences he will receive.
The hospitals taking care of victims without medical insurance or with inadequate healthcare coverage are announcing that they will waive some if not all of the medical cost. A great public relations move and a sign of community in an era where any signs of socialism is considered anti American. A website asking people for donations to help cover the cost of caring for the victims has already collected more than half a million dollars. There is a lot of support for the people who had to suffer through the horror of that night.
Compare that to the general public’s reaction to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman. When the police in Sanford got the call that there was a shooting, like the police in Aurora they swarmed onto the scene. But unlike the police in Aurora, the police in Sanford decided that they didn’t have enough evidence that a crime had occurred even though a black teenager lay dead on the ground with a hole in his chest and the shooter was standing right there with a smoking gun in his hand. Mr. Zimmerman was allowed to go free with his gun in his hand and the Sanford police closed their investigation in a matter of hours.
The reaction by the public to the shooting in Sanford fell along racial lines. Black people were outraged that Trayvon’s murder was quickly swept under the rug leaving an impression that resembled a bowling ball. So many white people reacted to black people demanding further investigation. Many saw Trayvon as nothing more than a black teenager out to make trouble. Trayvon’s background was instantly investigated. And when he had no criminal record or even a record of a misdemeanor, his school records were combed for anything that would justify his murder. Nobody in the theater in Aurora had to suffer such an indignity.
When President Barack Obama made a comment that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, the President’s opponents jumped on the statement with indignation. The President was trying to inject race into an issue that already had race written all over it. Compare that to the reaction to the President’s words about the shooting in Aurora. His words were appreciated and recognized as an offer of support to all the victims.
After the murder of Trayvon, the website that was created to ask for donations that garnered the public’s attention was the one that was intended to help the murderer, George Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman collected so much money that he felt compelled to lie to the court about his finances in order to avoid paying a huge bond. Does anybody care to guess what would be the public’s reaction if somebody put together a website asking for donations to help cover the cost of defending James Holmes? It would be no surprise if such a site was started it would struggle to reach a hundred dollars. But then again, Zimmerman only killed a black teenager while James Holmes killed white people.
But what was really telling was that after the murder of Trayvon a lot of people applauded George Zimmerman for his crime and attacked the family Trayvon. When Trayvon’s mother made a public announcement about Mother’s Day and how she would be spending that occasion in memory of her son people accused her of being a gold digger trying to profit off of her son’s death. Within days of the crime, people in the white community were saying that they were tired of hearing about Trayvon’s murder and suggested that we move on. It is a sure fire bet that a year from now we will have a memorial to the Aurora victims that will receive national attention. And people will continue to roll their eyes at the name Trayvon.
People will try to defend these disparities in two very similar yet very different tragedies. They’ll say Holmes planned to kill innocent people while Zimmerman was only trying to defend himself when he got out of his car with his nine millimeter and gave chase to the unarmed black teenager walking away from him. They’ll say that there were innocent victims in Aurora where Trayvon was black, hooded, and ripe for automatic suspicion of being up to no good. But there is nothing that could justify the disparity in reactions between these two acts of murder. Not even America’s inherent penchant for racism against black people.