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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

As many of you know, I am old white man.  Unlike many other old white men, I don’t watch Fox News, except for some comedy relief, and I certainly don’t agree with anything the Republican Party and their allies spout as what the country should look like.  I am an old white man who is fed up with unequal treatment of women, minorities, LGBT, and other non-white groups.  I served this country because I believe in fair, honest, equal treatment of everyone.  I also believe that is what America is supposed to be all about.

A couple of months ago, there were riots in Ferguson, MO over the shooting death of Michael Brown.  (I am afraid that once the grand jury comes down with their decision about charging or not charging the police officer who shot him, more riots will unfold.  Even though I fully understand the frustration that causes such riots, I am not in favor of violence.)  When the Ferguson riots took place, Fox News was front and center complaining about the rioters and then the peaceful demonstrators that followed.  They are still ranting against them.  Remember, as I go forward, Fox News claims to be a “Fair and Balanced” news network.

Fall has descended on us.  The air is getting chilly.  The leaves are turning.  And all kinds of fall festivals are taking place in various parts of the country.  In New Hampshire last weekend, there was a Pumpkin Festival.  That festival turned into a riot.  Keene State College students were at the heart of this “riot.”

During the incident, they turned over one car and danced on top of it.  They shot off fireworks.  They threw glass bottles.  They even threatened a senior citizen.  It got so bad that the police were called and they showed up in riot gear and brought out tear gas in order to quell the riots.  One female student complained about feeling very unsafe.

There were reports of students pissing on private cars, not their own.  As mentioned they threatened a senior citizen.  Oh, by the way, they were drinking large amounts of beer and alcohol.  To me, the worst part of the riots was that they seemed to be enjoying it.  It was a cascade of violence in what is usually a quiet small town.

Of course the Keene students placed a YouTube video showing all the “positive” aspects of the festival.  In the video you can see a bunch of students tossing back beers, girls twerking, at least one shot of a girls bare butt, and various forms of good ole college fun, all set to a Kayne West soundtrack.  They somehow believe this was just a good time that somehow got a “little out of hand.”

The problem is that anyone who has lived in a college town sees this type of behavior happening every year.  Especially during football season.  This incident at Keene State College is not an isolated case.  That being said, I ask again, Fox New where is the outrage about the riot?  Where is the outrage about students drinking in public?  Where is the outrage about destroying private property?  Where is the outrage about those people threatening old people?

I can answer that in a few words.  You won’t hear any outrage from Fox News.  Why?  Because the participants in this riot were white!  See Fox News isn’t interested in “fair and balanced” news reporting.  If they were, people like Sean Hannity and the self anointed prophet Bill O’Reilly would be screaming at the top of their lungs like they did during the Ferguson riots.  No, Fox News is only interested in spreading their fear and hate mantra on the rest of society about those “others” who cause trouble.  When it happens because white men are doing the rioting, it is just them letting off a little steam and things “getting a little out of control.”

If you seriously look at the reporting from places like Fox News on the Ferguson riots and the lack of coverage on the Keene State riots, you will see with clear vision the differences between white privilege and unequal justice prevalent in our society.  Which of course is what the right-wing and their spokespeople at Fox News clearly want to exist.  Nothing more needs to be said.

 

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The mid-terms are just a couple of weeks away.  There are some that predict that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate.  While others say it is still possible for the Democrats to keep it.  There are some conservatives that are almost giddy over the prospect of taking over the Senate.  Due to the gerrymandered districts, it is almost impossible for the Democrats to take over the House.

The real fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter if the Republicans take the Senate.  All it will mean is that the stagnation we have seen in Washington since Obama became President will get even worse.  All it will mean is that the Republicans will use their “hostage taking” practices even more than they have in the past.  That is not a good way to run a country.

We all know that the vast majority of the Republican agenda would not be signed by the current president.  Even if they take the Senate, the Republicans won’t have enough votes to over ride vetoes.  That means in general nothing will get done, except a lot more President Obama bashing.

There has been a lot of talk about the differences between the Republicans and Democrats during this cycle.  But, in my opinion, all of this talk has missed the point totally.  This isn’t about traditional Conservative vs. Progressive politics.  This is about whether or not we live in a country with equal rights and justice for everyone.  It is about whether or not we continue to be one of, if not the, true democracy in the world.  If the current batch Republicans were ever to win both houses of Congress and the White House, our democracy will take a drastic turn for the worst.

If you take a few minutes to look and listen to the current Republican Party, you will hear nothing but hate and discontent towards everyone who doesn’t agree with their backwards thinking.  If you believe income inequality is wrong, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that people should be allowed to marry whom they want, regardless of race, religion, or sex, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that women together with their families and doctors should be allowed to decide on whether or not to have an abortion, you are against Republican candidates.

Republicans have waged a war against women’s rights for decades.  They have fought against the right for workers to unionize for decades.  They have fought to force Conservative Christian Cult’s beliefs on the rest of society.  They are fear mongering idiots who believe that the only way to win an election is to take the right to vote away from different groups of people who just might vote Democratic.

The current batch of Republicans have formed an evil alliance between Conservative Christian Cult, Ultra-Conservative billionaires, Tea Party, and Racists.  Sorry, but that is the only way to describe this alliance.  Conservative Christian Cult members want to force their brand of Christianity on everyone else.  If you don’t follow their religious beliefs, you are considered a Christian in Name Only (CINO).  They say they are against the government meddling in your religious beliefs.  Yet they want a “Personhood” amendment that would totally ban abortions.  Even if your religious beliefs says it is okay.  They are against marriage equality.  They are even against the right of gays to live in peace.

The Tea Party is the ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans.  They will tell you that if you are not a Tea Party Member, you are a Republican in Name Only (RINO).  They just want to form a government that throws the poor under the bus.  You will hear all kinds of arguments against Welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Taxes.  But you won’t hear a word about the subsidies given to oil companies, utilities, farmers, etc.  These people also want government “out of our lives”.  Yet they are also against abortion and equal marriage rights.  It seems like every time a Tea Party candidate talks about liberty, they are demanding that about half of the country’s population not be allowed those same liberties.

The billionaire club led by the Koch Brothers simply want to form a dictatorship based on the philosophy that the country should return to the “good ole days” of the 19th century and the Robber Barons.  It is perfectly right for them to make millions of dollars every year, but the rest of us should have to work our asses off just to get by on $2 per hour.  It is the Tea Party and the Billionaires who want to eliminate the minimum wage and pass laws outlawing unions.

I don’t think we have to discuss much about the Racists.  You just need to look at the voter suppression laws that have been passed in several states to know their agenda.

In this mid-term election, one party is screaming about liberty all the while they are passing laws that take liberty away from anyone who isn’t like them.  They are screaming about getting government out of our lives, all the while they are passing laws that put government in the lives of women.  They are preaching about the American dream all the while they are fighting laws like raising the minimum wage and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

They have been screaming about our “porous southern border” but say nothing about our porous northern border.  They claim that Ebola will wipe us off the face of the planet, yet they continue to cut funding for the CDC and NIH.  They wanted a “Czar” for the fight against Ebola, yet screamed when one was named.  Their hypocrisy has no limits.  They believe that if they continue to fear monger, we will fall for their demagoguery.

In the last several years The Republican Party has seen a renaissance.  Unfortunately, unlike the renaissance in the past, this isn’t one of enlightenment, it is a return to the Dark Ages where religion and the wealthy rule the country.  We have already seen places that prove the Republican Platform is destructive to liberties and opportunity.  Just look at Kansas and Wisconsin.  These were supposed to be Conservative Republican utopias.  Yet they have turned out to be anything but utopia for the common citizen of the state.

There is still time to fight back.  To use their own phrase, “it is time to take our country back.”  This time we need to take it back from this evil alliance and restore freedom and democracy to the greatest country in the world.  But, we can’t do that unless you go to the polls and vote this mid-term.  Let the Republican Party know that they cannot bullshit us anymore with their fear mongering and their lies.  We have grown past the 19th century and refuse to go back.

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I haven’t decided yet if our friends over at Fox News is just having a much too slow news cycle, or if they are really only interested in speaking up about all of their perceived “attacks” on white Christians.  We are just 83 shopping days away from their annual attack on Christmas meme.  So, to fill the void, they are now arguing that there is a new attack.  This time we are attacking Columbus Day.

It has started because a Seattle school board has voted to redub the Columbus Day holiday as Indigenous People’s Day.  What the hell will they think of next.  As Fox News has put it:  “It’s a social and political statement that says Christopher Columbus was a violator of indigenous people. It’s a slap. It’s an attack on Columbus. Day.” (sic)

Ever since I was a child first learning about Christopher Columbus, I wondered why he was credited with “discovering America” when he never even saw the continent.  Remember, he never set foot on either North or South America.  He merely sailed around the Caribbean Sea landing on a few small islands.

Why don’t we celebrate Leaf Erikson Day?  It has been proven that the Vikings were on the North American continent 500 years before Columbus.  Not only were they here, at least in what is now Canada, they actually had a settlement there.  As a matter of fact, everyone in Europe knew that there was land to the west of Europe.  They didn’t think the world was flat as the myth of Columbus want us to believe, they already knew it was round.  So why all of the myth around Columbus?   Could it be that Fox News believes that only Christians can be credited with “discoveries” and not Pagans?

In recent years, there have been other “discoveries” about who was on the continent first.  There is some evidence and new theories about the Polynesians being in South America and even as far north as California.  There is evidence that the Chinese were on the west coast as well.  There are even theories about European people arriving as well.  All of these people arrived over a 1000 years before Columbus.

Since the first colonization of North America, our history is rife with the slaughter of indigenous people.  Manifest Destiny could not have happened without this onslaught.  Indian Tribes on the North American continent were systematically slaughtered in order to “make room” for white settlers.  Those who did survive were herded onto “reservations” where most of them still live, in poverty.

Besides the battles between indigenous people and the settlers on the East Coast, the first real egregious action came from Andrew Jackson.  He ordered the complete evacuation of all Indians from the East Coast.  The tribes were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma Territory.  Hence, the “trail of tears” when thousands of Indians died on the trek from starvation and disease.

The Indian Wars basically finished off the Indian Tribes of the Great Plains and Southwest.  They were herded onto reservations and forced to become “Americanized” by their conquerors.  Even as late as the early part of the 20th century, Indians were forced to attend boarding schools.  During their time there they were forbidden to speak their own language and their hair was cut short to be better Americanized.  Everything was done to wipe out their culture.

The elimination of the indigenous people’s cultures began with Columbus.  So yes Fox News, Columbus did violate the indigenous people.  As time went by, it became more and more barbaric.  It became policy that if they refused to change their ways, they would face total destruction.  The Indian Wars were extremely bloody.  Atrocities happened on both sides, as usually do in wars for survival.  But once the Indians were beaten, the peace that was forced on them was just as bad as the wars themselves.

This is a part of our history that is not always taught in History Class.  We avoid teaching that from the day Columbus put foot on a small island in the Caribbean, the survival of the indigenous people in the Americas was in jeopardy.  It all turned into a war of cultures.  When that happens, there is usually only one winner.   The modern-day equivalent is called genocide.

Columbus Day is one holiday that we can do without.  It is time for it to die off quickly.  Don’t you think we can find better ways to celebrate our country without honoring someone who started the culture wars in America?  I once had a T-Shirt I bought on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina that read:  “Homeland Security.  Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.”  If you really look at it from the Native American perspective, that is an accurate statement.  Isn’t it time we stop honoring it?

 

 

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We are getting close to the end of the August recess for Congress.  The mid-term elections are just a few months away.  The Republicans are fighting hard to win control of the Senate.  They need 5 seats to win the majority in the upper chamber.  In the next couple of months, the election season will begin anew and the fight will get real nasty.

Most of us have already come to the conclusion that a Republican controlled congress would not be good for the government.  With President Obama still in office, we can be sure that the veto pen will be in heavy use.  We also figure that the Republicans will continue their assault on personal liberties in the name of “liberty”.

But, Mitch McConnell has come out and laid the groundwork for a Republican controlled Senate.  I guess he wanted to make sure the Tea Party was fully aware of his plan to run the Senate and destroy the country.  I don’t say that lightly either.  The plan he laid out will definitely destroy the country.

Interviewed by Politico aboard his campaign bus, the Senate minority leader offered his vision for the Senate should he be promoted to majority leader: confrontation, manufactured crises, and the ever-present threat of a government shutdown:

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

“Move to the center” is a real nice catch phrase.  But, what it really entails is that the President and the country will be held hostage again and again under a Republican controlled Senate.  The tactic is quite simple.  Add bogus riders to legislation so the President has no option but veto the bill.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the “line item veto” the Republicans thought was so wonderful as unconstitutional, there is no longer any other measure to stop their radical agenda.  If moving to the center is such a great idea, why doesn’t Mitch McConnell “move to the center?”

According to Mr. McConnell’s plan, seniors, the poor, vets, and anyone who depends upon the government will be held hostage by the Republican Senate in order to get what they want.  You know, like the last government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.  There are going to be a whole lot of ugly legislation proposed by a Republican Senate.  They will attack Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIP, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, Woman’s Rights, Welfare, Same Sex Marriage, etc.  You can bet that under a Republican controlled congress, the debt ceiling will be blocked and we will default on our debt.  That alone will destroy our currency since it is based on the full faith and promise of the U.S. Government.

Other things will also be under attack.  They will go after the Department of Education.  They will try to eliminate the EPA.  They will make sure all “free trade agreements” are passed quickly without debate, meaning thousands more jobs will be exported.  They will push for their donor’s tax cuts they promise all of the time.  They will try to open up drilling in all of the national parks.  They will do everything they can to eliminate any subsidies for clean energy while increasing them for the oil companies.  They will try to pass legislation eliminating the Federal Minim Wage Law.

These are just a handful of their pet projects, and you can be sure there will be flurry of activity by a Republican Senate to make them real.  Of course, the Immigration Reform Bill will die completely.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Bill will die completely.  And, a Personhood Amendment will surely be introduced.  They will also push for another war in Iraq and one in Syria.  Don’t be surprised if they even pass a formal declaration of war against both countries in an attempt to force the President into war again.

Well, there you have it.  Mitch McConnell is planning to take hostages, shut down the government, and basically destroy the country.  That is his plan if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  And, he said so himself!  If you think that the gridlock in Washington is bad now, wait until McConnell gets control of the Senate.

If the Democrats don’t use this as a fighting point and make hay out of it, then it is possible for it to happen.  They need to make sure all of the states who are holding Senate elections understand just what they are in for if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  If the Republicans win, it just might turn out that Mitch McConnell and his cronies will be able to do what the Russians were unable to do.  Bury us!

 

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I think it is fair to say that all too often, justice is not blind.  At least it isn’t blind in terms of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.  Too often, the color of the people involved in an incident helps determine who is guilty and who is not.  There are exceptions of course, but I think that race plays a big role in determining who is to be arrested and who is not.  Who is allowed to “fear for his life” and who is not.

Wednesday, Matt Zoller Seitz shared a story to illustrate how white privilege kept him from getting arrested or otherwise harmed by the police after he started a fight on the street.  The piece is worth reading.  But, it is really interesting the conversation he had with the police when they arrived.  Matt Seitz admits in his story that he instigated the fight with an Hispanic man outside a deli.

After telling the two white officers that he had confronted the guy and punched him in the face after the stranger jabbed him in the chest with his fingers, the cops asked Zoller Seitz if he wanted to press charges for assault:

“I don’t think he actually meant to touch me, though,” I said, while a voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he’s making it plain and you’re not getting it.

“It doesn’t matter if he meant to touch you, he hit you first,” he said. He was talking to me warmly and patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being imparted.

“You were in fear of your life,” he added.

By now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was disproportionate to the “assault,” and the tone of this exchange with the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

Zoller Seitz even admitted that when the police arrived, he had the stranger on the ground in a chokehold.  Which most reasonable people might conclude that he was the attacker.  But, while Zoller Seitz was speaking with the police, the stranger was being held face down on the sidewalk and handcuffed.  In the end, Zoller Seitz was allowed to go home.  He does not know what happened to the stranger he admittedly attacked.

This is important to remember.  There is a grand jury being seated in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson.  If this case does go to trial, it would be apparent that at some point the notion that Wilson could have reasonably feared for his life during his confrontation with Brown.  Witnesses at the scene have said that Brown had his hands in their air to surrender.  Others, mostly other police officers, hint that Brown charged Wilson so the resulting shooting was a result of physical confrontation.

I wrote in an earlier piece this year that the called “stand your ground” laws would cause more trouble than they were worth.  Remember the case of George Zimmerman, who is white and Latino, after he killed Trayvon Martin?  His lawyers got him off by using the “afraid for his life” argument.  In the case of Theodore Warfare, the jury came back with a different result.  In that case, Renisha McBride, who had arrived on his porch seeking help after a car accident was shot and killed through a locked screen door.  The defense in that case claimed that the loud knocking so alarmed their client that he felt he had no other choice but to shoot her.  Fortunately, this jury didn’t buy the “afraid for his life” argument.

Then there is the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother in Florida.  A man with a documented history of physical violence, a man who told Alexander that he was going to kill her, did not present a credible threat. Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, broke down the door of the bathroom where she was hiding during a domestic violence incident. He grabbed her by the throat, and choked her as he held her against the floor. Alexander then tried to escape through the garage, but found herself trapped when the door wouldn’t open. She returned to the house having retrieved her handgun from her car and fired at a wall near where Gray stood. No one was harmed. But when Alexander tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, she was denied. Twice. According to State Attorney Angela Corey, Alexander was “not in fear” but “angry” when she fired the warning shot. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.

It isn’t just color that defines who is allowed the “fear for his life” argument.  Luke O’Donovan, a white queer activist in Georgia, was last week sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation after he used his pocket knife to stab five men who had confronted him in an alleged anti-LGTBQ hate crime in 2012. Donovan was stabbed three times.  Apparently if you are gay in Georgia, being stabbed three times is not a sufficient “fear for his life” argument.

These are just a few examples of how our justice system is not as blind as people would have us believe.  Color, sexual orientation, race, even religious beliefs are all factors in determining who is being blamed and who gets off.  Zoller Seitz’s story is very telling.  Especially when compared to these other incidents.  The straight white guy got a break.  The others did not.  It makes us wonder just how the case in Ferguson will turn out.  But, one thing is for certain.  As long as white privilege is a reality, more Fergusons will happen.

Until we, as a society, come to terms with this phenomenon nothing will change.  If we do come to terms with it, then maybe we will have a society where justice was truly blind!

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With the advent of the FOX News Network, and I do use the term ‘News” loosely, there has been a lot of talk about how things have gone from bad to worse.  Especially considering that FOX has a tendency to cleanse things to their liking to prove their point.  This is hardly new information.  And, FOX is not the first of the so-called “conservative” networks on TV and Radio that are guilty of this.

It is not unheard of that both sides are trying to cherry pick the points they want to expose.  It is very easy to take a quote, pick out the parts you like or dislike, and make those small points out to be major problems.  When this type of reporting is done, that leads to misinformation rather than informing the public.  I admit that both sides are guilty of such practices.  However, the length that FOX goes in this is remarkable considering that they not only cherry pick the points they want to make, they then demonize anyone who points out that is what they are doing.

But, FOX is not the leader in this either.  Limbaugh has been lying to his listeners since Reagan did away with the policy of allowing opposing views on any news point.  It used to be that if Limbaugh said something that another group disagreed with, his network was required by law to air an opposing view on the same topic.  Reagan did away with that law, and the lying moved to new heights.

Throughout the past elections, there has been talk about the public being uninformed.  There is a lot of talk about low informed people going to the polls and basically voting against their own interests.  An example are white poor people who continuously vote for politicians who want to take away the very social safety nets these poor people depend upon.  They vote for these politicians against their own interests because the politicians tell them that their plight is the fault of those “other” people.  And, that is what the poor white people want to hear.

This leads us to the mess in Ferguson, MO.  As I have written before, I am opposed to the violence that has occurred there.  Looting and rioting is not the answer to the shooting and killing of a black man who was unarmed.  However, the nice people at FOX seem, at least to me, to want this incident to continue.  It is my opinion that they are helping to foster the atmosphere that usually leads to trouble.

Many of the FOX “reporters” and pundits are making statements like the victim may have deserved to be killed.  They are leaning towards their opinion that the police can never act badly and that the shooting was justified.  Instead of reporting on the facts of the case, they are more interested in reporting that the New Black Panther Party has a couple of their members there.  As if that makes everything the police have done and are doing justified.

When the Ferguson Police released a security video showing a man who looks like the victim robbing a store of a box of cigars, FOX went on the rampage basically saying “see, he isn’t innocent.”  It was much later that the Ferguson police stated that the officer involved in the shooting was unaware that Brown may have been a suspect in the robbery. FOX did not back off though.  They are still saying that the shooting may have been justified.

They keep bringing up the fact that Al Sharpton is in the area.  They keep bringing up that people like Louis Farrakhan have made comments against the shooting.  They keep bringing up that the New Black Panthers have people there.  They even go so far as saying that the reporters who were arrested in a McDonalds deserved to be arrested.  Their argument is that they did not “obey” the police order quickly enough or that videoing them in the restaurant provoked the police.  For a network that claims to be a “News” network, that is a remarkable thing to say.

This is a perfect example of how so-called news reporters can lie and mislead the viewers into believing something based on totally unrelated information.  Rather that reporting the facts, they look for side stories that show the victim is the one to be blamed.  They are actually using the defense too often used by rapists and their lawyers.  The victim wanted or deserved what happened to them.

However, when the “offended” person is white, they call them patriots.  Remember Cliven Bundy?  Here is a freeloader who owes the government about a million dollars for illegally grazing his cattle on government land, and FOX called him a patriot.  Worse, the man in the picture lying flat on the ground of an overpass behind concrete barriers pointing a high-powered rifle at Federal Agents, they call a patriot.  The difference in these cases is that in the second, the government was acting on court orders.  Yet, the criminal was a patriot.  In the first case, a young black man was shot and killed by a white officer.  That makes the victim not a patriot, but a criminal who deserved what he got.

When people hear lies enough, they begin to believe them.  When people already believe that Brown was guilty of something, then the lies are even easier to swallow.  FOX news plays to the hate and bigotry that already exists.  I won’t go so far as to say they make things up, but they do emphasize the points to justify the bigoted beliefs that the victim was wrong.

It used to be that “fair and balanced” meant that all sides of a story would be explored.  That the truth, no matter what it turned out to be was the primary focus of news reporting.  That meant that all sides of a story had to be reported.  FOX News has perverted that phrase of “fair and balanced.”  They have made it to be whatever they deem to be fair, and balanced has nothing to do with reporting the news.

I don’t agree that most Americans are low informed.  I do believe that they are misinformed on purpose for political points.  That is not reporting, it is propaganda.

 

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We have seen the picture way too many times.  It has permeated our society for generations and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  I am talking about what is going on in Ferguson, MO.  On Saturday, a young black man was shot and killed by a white police officer.  The reason the officer shot Michael Brown is still unclear.  But, one thing is clear, it is being handled extremely poorly by the Ferguson Police Chief.

The police officer, who is yet to be identified, claims that when he attempted to exit his squad car, Brown pushed the door back on him.  He then claims that Brown attached him through the window and tried to get his gun.  There was a gun shot inside the car.  Brown was shot 35 feet away from the car, meaning the officer got out of the car before opening fire again.

On the other hand, a witness, who was with Brown at the time it happened gives a completely different story.  He claims that the officer tried to exit the car next to the two teens.  The door hit them both and ricocheted closed again.  According to the witness, the officer then grabbed Brown by the neck through the window.  After a shot rang out, Brown and his friend started running.  The officer reportedly shot Brown who then turned around with his hands in the air and said “I am unarmed”.  The officer then shot him several times killing him.

The Ferguson Chief claims the officer was treated at the hospital with a “swollen face”.  He doesn’t say how exactly the officer got that swollen face.  But, he implies that it was because Brown attacked the officer.  By the way, the only thing the two boys were doing wrong?  They were walking in the street rather than the sidewalk.

Even if the officer’s claim about being attacked is true, that does not justify lethal action by the officer.  You cannot shoot someone several times simply because he bruised your face.  Especially when that person was unarmed, as alleged by his friend.  In my view, that simply means the officer was wrong in his actions and should be punished.

That brings us to what has happened since.  The residents of Ferguson started rioting.  I oppose violence in all cases and the residents are wrong to riot over the incident.  However, the Brown family, Al  Sharpton and others have criticized the rioting and looting and asked for “peaceful protests”.  The last few nights, the residents have tried to use peaceful protest.

However, the Ferguson Police Department, equipped with all sorts of militarized equipment have met them head on.  Tear gas has been fired at the protesters.  According to one news report on scene, the tear gas was fired just 15 seconds after the police gave an order to move on.  That hardly seems like enough time for everyone to even get the news from the police.

News reporters have been arrested.  Even news camera trucks were ordered out of the area before the tear gas was fired on the crowd.  That brings back memories of the riots in Chicago in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention.  Rather than sitting down with the protesters, especially the family and try to work something out that would help clear the way for an independent investigation into the incident, the Ferguson Police has decided to basically go to war with its residents.

Referring back to the Chicago Convention Riots, Mayor Richard J. Daily said on national television that “the police are not there to cause the riot.  They are there to preserve the riot”.  I was there, I lived there, and I can say that the police did an excellent job of “preserving” the riot.  What we are witnessing in Ferguson is no different.  Except the Chicago Police were not equipped with military equipment like the small town of Ferguson Police are.

There are calls for the people to “trust the authorities” to get to the bottom of this.  How can we trust the authorities when they are the ones who seem to have caused the problem in the first place?  All across the country police departments are getting more and more militarized.  SWAT teams attack people’s homes without warning.  All too often they attack the wrong house and hundreds of people are being injured during these attacks.  Even infants like the one injured by a flash grenade that was thrown into the crib.

This is more than a black/white issue.  This is what happens when any media, conservative or liberal, tries to pedal that one group is better than another.  It is what happens when old white men decide that their power base is in jeopardy and they start demonizing races of people.

This case is another example of the American Tragedy played out before the cameras.  There was no reason I can see why this teen was shot and killed by a police officer.  There is no reason to use this case as an excuse to riot and loot a community either.  The only problem is that far too often, oppressed people believe that when no one listens, the only recourse if violence.  Violence may get people’s attention, but it will also lead to more deaths.  There have been more deaths in Ferguson as a result of the riots.

There is a cry of “no justice, no peace”.  But, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. proved that no peace doesn’t mean violence.  Non-violent protest is also a form of “no peace”.   The Ferguson Police Chief claims the officer involved “is hurt” over the incident.  Maybe, but not as hurt as his victim.  The Attorney General said that the Federal Government will investigate this incident.  Hopefully, the truth will come out, and this officer will be punished for any offense he committed.

But, until we end the era of intolerance perpetrated by the loud mouthpieces mostly on the right, we will have more Ferguson’s in our future.  If we don’t stop demonizing people simply because they are different from us, how can expect anything less?

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