Posts Tagged Civil Rights
Most Americans are not too involved in politics. For the most part, we don’t tend to follow what is being discussed in Congress or the White House too closely, other than, perhaps, during a Presidential Election year. It’s hard to miss it then; because, TV coverage seems to be virtually continuous. For the most part, politics is local in America. We want to know: who will represent us in Congress, the State Legislature, and as Mayor, Sheriff, etc. And of course, the occasional ballot issues that might be important to us.
This year, however, the Presidential Election was ugly. Both sides participated in the “mud-slinging”; however, Donald Trump seemed to take particular delight in making on-going, vicious personal attacks on Secretary Hillary Clinton and her husband, Former President Bill Clinton. Candidate Trump showed no respect for President Barack Obama, questioning his American Citizenship, right up until just before the election, and he also seemed to take pleasure in castigating just about every one of President Obama’s policy decisions or programs.
Candidate Trump focused his travels on middle class, White cities and towns that had high unemployment rates, and which appeared to have limited employment opportunities. He vowed that he, and only he, could fix their problems. Initially, he attacked the Mexicans, said that he would build a Wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing our Southern Border, and also seemed to suggest that “They” were taking all the jobs away from Americans.
Eventually, Donald Trump expanded his attacks, to include virtually any demographic segment of our population that wasn’t White. It was easier to sell his story to the White people by expanding his target enemy base. Many in his small-town audiences bought into his story, and became some of his most ardent supporters. All this is just standard demagogue strategy: “Divide and Conquer!”
Others, who heard Mr. Trump’s story, whether in person or on TV, had misgivings about his Cause and Effect rationale. Hadn’t that local plant and/or steel mill headed down south when they were still in grade school, and didn’t they read about robots and new technology, ages ago? Once doubt enters into the minds of a snake-oil salesman’s audience, that sale often goes unmade. That’s when today’s doubters do a computer check, and they don’t find much about Donald J. Trump, other than: Money; Women, and Donald!
During the Republican Primaries, the Trump supporters were cheering him on, while the doubters were hoping for another GOP candidate—Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Marco Rubio—to knock him off. Ironically, as Donald Trump said one more dumb thing after another, or one more offensive past deed was revealed, Donald just seemed to escape more times than Indiana Jones, on his worst day.
So, it has now been two and a half months since the Election and, although the divisiveness is not as blatant as it had been, there is still a common “We versus They” attitude among many Americans today. The opinions of the two groups still manage to reflected in the “Letters to the Editor” sections of local newspapers. Letters from Supporters of Donald Trump, read something like this: “Get over it, Trump is your President now, show him some respect, and give him a chance.,” and Doubters read somewhat as follows: “He’s not my President, he offended everyone in America and, now he has invented ‘Alternative Facts, in order to lie!’”
Somebody asked me on Monday if I thought we’d be at war. I told her that I don’t think so: I certainly hope not! But, with the more time that I have spent on this post, I just don’t think that the election aftermath is going to blow over anytime soon. While the undercurrents from the Election are evident, but existing just under the radar, maybe it would be best to bring it out in the open, and clear the air in order to maintain friendships.
Consider suggesting to people you know–friends, co-workers, neighbors–that you might discuss the current attitude in America, in the wake of the November Election. You don’t even need to get into the issues, or who’s right or wrong, but “How do we remain our friendship?” If the grudge, on whichever side is more important, so be it! But, it can be less stressful to know that people, who were friends before the Election, can respectfully remain friends afterward–even though their views may differ.
There have always been acts of racism committed in the pat; however, recently Black Churches, Synagogues and Mosques have been firebombed, vandalized or defaced with graffiti. Lately, however, such acts have become more frequent, and more explosive. It might be worthwhile for people in the local community, who are equally appalled, to contact these groups, perhaps attend one of their functions, and let them know that you definitely welcome them to the Community!
It’s just too bad that we don’t currently have a True Leader in the White House, who would take this issue head-on. The Presidential “Bully Pulpit” is the strongest possible medicine for hatred and divisiveness!
It seems that America has continued to have many instances of police officers killing black men. Surely, there are occasional run-ins with other minorities, even women, but it is mostly black men who are shot and killed. And in some cases, the police officer, doing the shooting, is also black. I have known many police officers and federal agents over the years, and they are all good men? So, why are there all of these fatal black-white confrontations?
The law enforcement officers that I have known come mostly from the upper- working class, and are generally well-educated. Sociologists have suggested that some members of the middle-income group, especially from families who have worked their way up, tend to be more resentful of upward-mobile members of lower-income groups. And thus, they might carry subconscious characterizations of various minorities, even though they are not personally aware of, or perhaps ignore, that fact.
Additionally, over the past few years, the Justice Department has been investigating certain police departments—such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland—to determine whether there might be some systemic reasons why blacks are treated more harshly than whites, and perhaps denied their Constitutional Rights. But, something apparently does happen, at least when some officers put on that badge and uniform.
The recent shooting death of a black father-of-four, in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a good case in point. Several police officers, responding to a call, came across Terrance Crutchfield, age 40, whose vehicle had stopped running in the middle of a one-lane roadway. Several of the officers had their guns drawn, when a white female police officer fatally shot Mr. Crutchfield. Police body cameras, from various angles, indicate that the motorist was standing in the middle of the road, and was clearly holding his empty hands high in the air.
Obviously, there are always details which are generally unknown, except to the police at this time. Media reports, however, cited such police radio comments as: he looks like a bad dude; he might have a gun; and he looks like he’s (high?) on something. After the officer shot Mr. Crutchfield, she said that he didn’t get down on the ground when she told him to. A motorist with a stalled vehicle?
Would Mr. Crutchfield, looking at several police pistols directed at him, really want to get into a gun fight—at point blank range? What does it mean that he looks like a bad dude? Police departments have roadside checks for DUI; but that shouldn’t result in being shot! Also, Mr. Crutchfield does have a police record, dating back to his teenage years, and he did serve four years in prison, ending in 2001. But, that is not justification for the use of lethal force. Isn’t there something in the “Spirit” of our laws about: “…having paid his debt to Society?”
Consider the comment by the police officer who killed Mr. Crutchfield, after she shot him: “He didn’t get down on the ground when I told him to!” This is truly a case of Racial Profiling gone awfully, awfully bad. Personally, I surely wouldn’t have gotten down on the ground either, even if ordered by a police officer, when they were responding to my stalled automobile. But, I wouldn’t be dead; because, I am white!
Surely. there are other, more capable people who are trying to get their arms around this problem—both in Tulsa and numerous other cities around the nation. But, there also needs to be better screening of police officer applicants, to include: psychological screening for temperament; establish some acceptable minimum of racial and ethnic intolerance; the ability to think rationally under stress; investigate why an officer was fired from a prior police department; and adequately understand an applicant’s over-enthusiasm about our Second Amendment Rights.
NOTE: Perhaps even veteran officers need to go through such screens, say every ten years or so, to prevent burn-out and the negative results of job stress.
Yes, the actual lyrics of our National Anthem really do end with a question mark. That’s a key point, since so many Americans have no clue as to what those words mean, or what the song even stands for. Most people just stand, because they feel…that’s what you’re supposed to do! Colin Kaepernick, who plays quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers team in the National Football League, has brought a lot of attention to himself, and to our Anthem, because he doesn’t stand when it is played.
Kaepernick recently said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
A number of other athletes—both past and present—have defended Colin Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before ball games. Interestingly, the many soldiers who have served in America’s wars, throughout our history, have similarly defended his right to either stand or not stand. Isn’t that what freedom is?
A number of politicians and other public people have declared Kaepernick’s refusal to stand as disgraceful. But consider: would’t Colin have saved himself a whole lot of rebuke and aggravation by just standing? Maybe so; But standing to honor something that he does not respect is truly insincere. In this case, isn’t standing-up, or sitting down, in the face of adversity, a form of bravery?
Frankly, I have always wondered why the National Anthem is played before sporting events, or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited before school. Shouldn’t love of country, belief in your God, or anything else that you hold to be self-evident be a personal matter? These things should be retained in your thoughts and your heart, and not forced on others. And once again, isn’t that what Freedom truly means?
“Black Lives Matter” seems to be a movement, which was started by people who feel that they have been left behind. Left out of enjoying many of the benefits that America has to offer. Whether that particular phrase is racist or not depends upon how a person, or group of people, cares to perceive it.
On one of last Sunday’s talk shows, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, an early supporter of Donald Trump for President, called Black Lives Matter a racist term. Trump recently proclaimed that America is the most racist that it has ever been. Furthermore, Mr. Trump has expressed sorrow for the deaths of police officers who have been killed recently, in several instances. He has not once, however, expressed similar sadness for the numerous black lives lost at the hands of police officers, under questionable circumstances. Might some of those deaths–on both sides– have potentially been connected?
Why emphasize Black Lives? Surely All Lives Matter! Many of the descendants of the African slaves, who were brought to our shores beginning in the 1600s, bound in chains, seem to be the forgotten people. Over the past couple of hundred years, numerous waves of immigrants have arrived here, from various countries. They faced discrimination at first, segregation, and then they eventually were assimilated into American society. That same scenario hasn’t played-out for many of the blacks, and some of the Latinos. They have just not enjoyed that last, necessary step—assimilation. And that means equal protection under the law!
Many blacks and Latinos have continued to live in a vicious cycle of: poverty; ghetto life; insufficiently funded schools; poor health care; discrimination in the labor force, etc. And their children seem to be destined to follow in this same path. Oftentimes, the younger generation’s only “role models” are parents laboring at minimum wage jobs, local gang members, or the drug dealers and pimps in the ghettos. So, think of “Black Lives Matter” as just being another way of saying: “We are People Too!”
The Police and People of Dallas, Texas, recently demonstrated how race relations should be carried out, and maintained at their very highest level of true cooperation and understanding. Several weeks ago, there was a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration on the streets of Dallas. Police Officers, wearing their everyday uniforms—and without riot gear—mingled amicably with the demonstrators. Unfortunately, one lone shooter, a non-participant with a rifle, shot and killed five white Dallas P. D. Officers. Those officers’ lives mattered too!
The whole City seemed to feel the grief! On the day after the officers were killed, there was a public mourning, and a demonstration protesting the massacre. Marchers seemed to represent all segments of Dallas society, and there was strong representation from the surrounding area.
Immediately, there was a call for support of Blue Lives Matter in many parts of America. When we focus too much on any one segment of our society, however, aren’t we just putting the others down? Dallas seems to have taken the high ground on this.
In the end, we should all agree that: “Life Matters!”
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was actually January 15 (1929); however, as is the usual practice, most holidays in the U. S.—other than the majors, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and the Fourth of July—are “celebrated” on a Monday, thus giving many people a three-day holiday weekend. Unfortunately, many of the people that Dr. King championed—the black and the working poor—have minimum-wage jobs, and they do not get paid holidays off.
King was a civil rights leader and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and certainly ranks up there with Nelson Mandela, another Prize winner. Both cite Mahatma Gandhi as their inspiration; however Gandhi—nominated five times—was never awarded The Peace Prize, perhaps so as not to have angered Britain. It is unfortunate that discrimination can even exist at the highest levels; but, the facts are the facts.
Dr. King was an inspiration to anyone who ever felt discrimination: blacks; Latinos; Jews; Asians; other foreigners; women; gays and lesbians; the disabled; elderly; and anyone else who was blocked from Mainstream America: decent jobs; a right to live safely wherever they chose; to marry whom they wish; and a job that pays a living (not a minimum) wage.
Sure, we no longer have slavery in the U. S; however, it has just been replaced by Economic Discrimination. Blacks are relegated to more dilapidated schools, forced to live in drug and gang-infested ghettos, left with the mostly lower rungs of the employment landscape, and they can only pass-on more of the same to their offspring. No health insurance, insufficient food and shelter, no extra funds to set aside for college, and with no hope of escape from that morass.
Perhaps Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller said it best, back in 1946, when he wrote the poem: “First they came…”, about the failure of Germans to understand the dangers of Naziism:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Sure, China has the second largest economy, ranked by Gross Domestic Product, the primary measure of all economic activity within a country. That measure, however, is mostly due to the country’s 1.36 billion population. When qualitative measures are considered, such as Per Capita GDP and Average Annual Income, China ranks somewhat lower, than other, more advanced nations.
The International Monetary Fund had recently announced that the Chinese Renmimbi (RMB) would become a “Reserve Currency,” beginning on October 1, 2016. It will then join the U. S. Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound as “freely exchangeable” currencies. However, China had only recently stopped “pegging” the RMB (tying it) to the Dollar, and there have been numerous past occurrences of government interference with it’s trading in the open market. Can its stability be readily expected?
China has across-the-board problems—not just in its export-oriented markets and its currency—but also with its manipulation of the stock and bond markets. Additionally, examples of China’s dishonesty include: its cherry-picking of supposedly nationwide high school standardized test results from just Shanghai, its best-performing school district; it has enabled on-going disregard for established international copyright law with regard to intellectual property; and under-reporting past pollution results, just to name a few.
Admittedly, China has been made a permanent member of the UN Security Council, joined the World Trade Organization and the Group of 20 major economies. And, due to its economic achievements, it will have a larger role in both the IMF and the World Bank in the near future. But, due to its top-down economic manipulation, human rights violations and its deviant past actions, I maintain that it is still a House of Cards.
Although the government hierarchy speaks of democratic principals and market-based economics, truly everything is managed by the Communist Central Committee, the Party’s governing body. For instance, the One-Child Policy, which limited families (with few exceptions) to have just one child; however, that will be modified this year. But, recent surveys suggest that many Chinese women of child-bearing age have little interest in having another child. Furthermore, it would be some twenty years before today’s newborns will be ready to join the workforce.
That instance of Social Engineering is truly one that has backfired on the CCP. Currently, China’s workforce is aging rapidly, and the question is: where will the new workers come from? The government-manipulated economy has never diversified toward more domestic consumption and a higher-end, professional workforce. Such an economy might have enticed today’s older workers to work longer; but, now that appears to be too late.
This is a dilemma that authoritarian socialist governments have been failing to recognize for the better part of the past century. But will they ever understand the risks at hand? And, in the case of the Chinese government, it seems to believe that it is superior to the invisible hand of the marketplace and, over the past 35 years, even to nature.
NOTE: There are a number of posts on this blog regarding China’s many and varied problems. Just click on the China tag on the right and a list of those posts will appear.
There have been numerous comments on the Flag issue, in and by the American media; however, a good bit of it is utter nonsense. The Confederate Battle Flag represents Southern Heritage! Confederate soldiers were traitors! Neither of those accusations passes the “smell test” once reality is factored in.
During the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), even President Lincoln referred to the nation as a “house divided”. No one in South Carolina or Georgia was any less an American than a resident of Massachusetts or Delaware. They were all among the original 13 colonies to sign-on.
History shows that most, if not all, of the various state militias–on both sides–fought under their own (generally) regimental banners. In fact, it has been suggested by some that the Flag currently flown over the Confederate Monument on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse was actually that of the Tennessee Regiment. Others say that it was the West Virginia Regimental colors (flag). The linked report from the Washington Post sheds some light on the history of (what is now regarded as) the Confederate Battle Flag: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/evolution-of-a-controversial-flag/1738/.
In reality, the Confederate Battle Flag in question had not been flown throughout the South ever since the Civil War. as some might claim. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texan, pushed through the Civil Rights Act, followed by the Voting Rights Act in 1965. At the time, he stated that that probably meant that the South would go Republican for some time to come. The movement of those historically Democrats-turned-Republicans was know as the “Dixiecrats”. The South has leaned mostly Republican ever since.
The claims that that Flag honors traitors is likewise without merit. The overwhelming majority of Southerners, during that period (or before or since) did not own slaves. Many didn’t even own property. Let’s also not forget that a number of our Founding Fathers were, in fact, slaveowners.
The average soldier in the Army of the Confederate States of America was merely doing their job–perhaps as the best way to support their families during hard times. I doubt that their dedication and motivation was any different than that of their comrades in the Union Army. And, the same could certainly be said for today’s military serving in the middle East, and elsewhere around the world.
It is important to acknowledge, by the way, that one of the most capable and respected soldiers that the American Army has ever produced was General Robert E. Lee. He did not wish to join the Confederacy; however, he said that, as a “Son of Virginia”, he believed that it was his duty.
So, the Battle Flag has been hijacked by White Supremacists and represents a “call to action” for those who believe that hatred and violence–bringing others down, will demonstrate their “supremacy”. Instead, it shows their own insecurity and incompetence. This brings up a serious case of “whatchamacallit” from those on the “Right”.
For the past year, most Republicans have castigated President Barack Obama for not referring to the various terrorist groups in the Middle East as “Islamic” or “Islamists”. Perhaps Islamophobia sells well to the “Right”-Wing Base; but, those killers are no more Muslim than Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City Bomber) was a Christian.
Likewise, those on the “Right” have trouble condemning what happened at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, as Racism. The vilest form of hatred! The GOP, in fact, seems to like having the argument focus on the flag–which is a mere symbol of the problem–rather than look behind the curtain at the inbred racism that still persists today in America.
You see, many of those in the Republican political base tend to hate–Muslims, Jews, Blacks, etc. That’s why some states in the South have tried to ban Sharia Law from being introduced in the U.S. Frankly, that’s like trying to ban a convention of mythical Easter Bunnies. So, among the “Right”, Blacks are bad, and racism seems to be OK. Oh, and let’s throw the Gun Lobby in as part of the same movement. Just don’t label; it as such!