Point of View Columns

To Stop “Stop Snitching”

Our days swirl with news and commentaries from all over the world. Some seem to come directly from outer space without even slowing down while going through the ozone layer.

The midterm elections have a back to the future aspect as prospective voters ponder the advisability of rebuking the policies of President Obama and going back to the policies of the Republicans who promise not to be inept, profligate and deceptive……..anymore.

We have a true loon of a pastor in Florida threatening to burn Korans in protest of Lord knows what. The predictable uproar from the global Islamic community (which has been famously offended by cartoons and novels in the recent past) was actually drowned out by the stentorian tones of the White House and the Vatican condemning this literally inflammatory stunt.

And, not to be outdone, the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin predictably felt compelled to step into the lower Manhattan Islamic cultural center imbroglio. And that’s when we started to hear about analogies of Muslims to Nazis and comparing the building of the cultural center to the burning of Korans. And if your head is already spinning, get a supply of Dramamine for the next few months because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

The war in Afghanistan rages while the economy continues to be a bubbling brew of bad news with a touch of hope. There are issues relating to the environment and health and education that simply won’t wait until Congress comes to its senses and realizes that now is not only the time, it’s the only time.

It is, therefore, understandable that we may lose focus on the day to day events that are truly life and death in nature. Take, for instance, the now six year old slogan to “Stop Snitching” which has been in use in many urban communities. The slogan is meant to encourage witnesses to crimes to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, presumably so that the perpetrators of the crimes will not be caught. And this results in the perpetrators being free to commit more crimes against the friends, family and neighbors of the witnesses.

This mindless, self-destructive bit of inner city marketing has been co-opted and copied by suburban youths or all ethnicities and hues, in the name of “keeping it real”. And somehow, six years after “Stop Snitching” first was heard on some miscellaneous rap video, the slogan and its underlying theme continues to be part of the contemporary lexicon.

The leaders and members of racist and racialist organizations from the Knights of the White Magnolia to the Ku Klux Klan to Posse Comitatus have racked their pea-brains for years trying to come up with new and innovative ways to strike terror and fear into the hearts of black Americans. By torchlight and by fluorescent lamps they have hoped and wished and prayed for ways to bring dismay and hopelessness into black communities throughout this country.

But if they combined their double digit IQ’s and came up with their very best idea, the racists and racialists couldn’t come up with a better tool to implement their evil designs than “Don’t Snitch”. And the sad part is that this slogan was created by black people for black people. And the even sadder part is that since most black Americans are indeed law abiding citizens and not criminals, it is only the vicious and predatory element of the community that can benefit from the specious notion that cooperating with law enforcement to help catch a murderer or rapist or thief is “snitching” and therefore wrong.

We are well aware of depredations and lawlessness exhibited by too many police in too many communities. The perception and reality of police brutality and misconduct in minority communities remain stubborn challenges for local governments and law enforcement. But if you ask the mother or father of any young black boy about the greatest danger that their child faces on the streets of Nashville, Los Angeles, New York or any other urban location, they will tell you that it is not the police.

Errant, arrogant and indefensible police misconduct occurs on too many occasions. Violent, murderous, misogynistic and senseless violence is perpetrated by black Americans against black Americans every day. The single most frequent cause of death for a young black man is another young black man. If the Klan was killing black people at the annual rates achieved by other black people there would be protests and claims of genocide being practiced.

Because the actors in this sad tragedy are black people – killing other black people – there are no massive protests. Instead we get “Stop Snitching” which some people think of as a quaint and quirky bit of urban culture. Some people think is darkly humorous. And too many people take it seriously. The prosecutors and police in just about every urban center can recount case after case – for murder, rape, robbery, child molestation – that has to be abandoned because witnesses cannot be found or the witnesses refuse to testify.

There are so many challenges that exist in the cities of this country. Some are systemic in origin and many are being addressed by strong, bright and creative men and women who understand that challenges can be met and overcome. The total elimination and eradication of “Stop Snitching” would be another important step in the right direction.

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