Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America – 2021

June 3, 2021

Now #45 is going around with the truly bizarre prediction/promise/fantasy that he will be reinstated and installed as president in August of this year. Aside from the fact that there is no constitutional provision that even remotely facilitates such a bizarre turn of events, it is clear that in his desperate desire to maintain some relevancy in the cesspool of irrelevancy that is his life, #45 will try anything.

The sad and dangerous part of this particular scenario is that millions of Americans already believe him and as August approaches we may discover that 1.6.21 was just a dress rehearsal.

June 4, 2021

Just when you thought that things could not get any more bizarre, there was a focus on election season in Mexico. As of this date almost 90 candidates for various offices have been assassinated – sometimes the ubiquitous criminal cartels claimed responsibility, sometimes more nefarious political motives seem to be at play.

The point is, with all the discussion about “Second Amendment” solutions and strategies here in the United States, can it be too farfetched to imagine that grievance-laden members of MAGA Nation, the most heavily armed faction in the United States outside of the military and the police, may decide to take matters into their own rifle sights.

It was approximately a year ago that right wing white supremacists plotted to kill the governor of Michigan. Ever since 1.6.21 there have been countless members of Congress and public officials throughout America have engaged enhanced security details because of the threats and dangers that have been fostered and fertilized by #45 and his enablers and supporters.

June 5, 2021

Carnage in the United States of Gun continues and a federal judge in California says that an AR-15 assault rifle is just like a Swiss Army knife. There has been a record of mass shootings in this country since the beginning of the year and yet this judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that California’s ban assault rifles is unconstitutional.

Putting salt in the wounds of all of the families of the victims of gun violence – and pouring gasoline on the firestorm of gun carnage that is sweeping across the nation – this judge actually uttered his Swiss Army knife analogy. Many observers stated that this opinion seemed to have been lifted word for word from a  National Rifle Association list of talking points.

The judge will never meet with the relatives and survivors of gun violence although it would seem that he is insulated from any aspect of compassion or intelligence.

June 6, 2021

Over the weekend it has become clear that the November 3rd election of last year did not result in the election of Joe Biden as president. It appears that Joe Manchin, the senator from the Great State of West Virginia is the head of state because anything and everything that the Biden administration wants to accomplish absolutely must meet with Manchin’s approval.

And now Senator Manchin has announced that he is not going to vote in support of the voting rights reform bill.

So there…and by the way, who actually won the November 2020 election?

June 7, 2021

Democrats are working very hard to find a way to lose the elections in 2022 and 2024 – really. Considering that there is no real argument that the Black vote delivered the White House to the Democratic Party, it would seem that legislation regarding the protection of voting rights and protection from police violence would be “hot knife through butter” tasks.

Yet, this items are caught up in the arcane rules of Congress that are insurmountable except when it comes time for tax breaks for billionaires and Fortune 50 companies. The arithmetic is clear that the Republicans hold a death grip on the putative Democratic majority in the Senate, but the filibuster rule is not written on stone tablets delivered from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

If the urgency of now for Black America means anything, now and in the 2022 and 2024 elections, the Democrats need to find a way.

June 8, 2021

There is a very real opportunity for everyone alive today to be a witness to history being made. Unfortunately, it may not be the best narrative for which anyone could have wished.

But the reality is that by degrading the election process on a national scale, there is a very real possibility that the 2022 and 2024 elections could result in figurative and literal bloodletting as the credibility of the electoral process because Republicans continue to question that credibility.

As has been noted, it is guaranteed that every Republican who loses an election in 2022 will claim fraud – and there is no reason to believe that Democratic losers won’t  also be singing from the same playbook. And there will be enough turmoil and litigation in the two years before the presidential election that once again the Republican/Democratic loser will claim fraud and voter theft and then…and then we will have an opportunity to witness an existential threat to the world’s oldest democracy.

This will be the legacy of #45.

June 9, 2021

The range of possibilities in the Republican journey to the City of Crazy in the Land of Stupid is infinite. Exhibit 278 is the recent pilgrimage of Republican state legislators from all over the United States to visit and observe the voter recount taking place in Arizona.

This November 2020 election vote recount is the most recent of the dozens of recounts that have already taken place all over America – all with the same result…no indication of voter fraud.  Nevertheless, in its infinite wisdom, the Arizona State Legislature instituted a third, and unofficial, audit of the votes cast in November 2020.

A renegade firm by from Florida by the name of Voter Ninja (seriously), with no experience in statewide voter recount, has been conducting a bizarre recounting process including testing ballots for bamboo particles (which would prove that they came from China). Nevertheless, Republicans have been flocking to Arizona to see how they can gum up the electoral works in their respective states.

Once again, there is very little doubt that the 2022 local, state and federal elections will be subject to an unprecedented tsunami of challenges to the outcome of countless races. This will only further erode general confidence in the electoral process, thereby setting the stage for a disastrous 2024 presidential election.

Sometimes great empires end not with a bang, but with a whimper…

June 10, 2021

President Biden is now in Europe – his mission is to clean up the diplomatic and strategic mess that is part of the stained legacy of #45. Given that even a casual observer cannot be clear as to how long common sense will reside in the White House, the six other members of the G7 can be forgiven for their reluctance to fully embrace the notion that “America is back”.

That declaration by President Biden will certainly be met with the understandable – if unspoken- response, “Yes, but for how long”?

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Tulsa Atrocity – What We Don’t Know

On this day, June 1, 2021, Joe Biden became the first United States president to acknowledge the Tulsa race massacre that took place one hundred years ago. It took a century for the head of this state of this country to not only to acknowledge the atrocity of the devastation of Greenwood and the murder of hundreds of its Black residents – in the process he also acknowledged the humanity of Black Americans – an act which has been so very difficult for this country.

The fact that an atrocity of such scope could be hidden from virtually all Americans for most of this past century makes it clear that this country has no moral standing to condemn similar atrocities in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It is also clear that even as President Biden offered more than condolences – he also made concrete proposals to address the economic disparities that have been the result of the massacre in Tulsa, and in most of these United States.

But the question must be asked – what is it that we don’t know. If the massacre of hundreds of men, women and children and the total devastation of a large and thriving community could literally disappear from national memory, it is impossible to believe that the destruction of Greenwood was an outlier, an anomaly, some kind of unfortunate divergence from decency.

We do know about the race massacres in Rosewood, Florida and in Atlanta – but what about Elaine, Arkansas where 100-237 Black people were massacred by white mobs in 1919. The point is that Black Americans have been experiencing a reign of terror for centuries in this country.

The difference in the modern era is that we don’t see white mobs decimating Black communities, but sadly we see too many out of control white police officers murdering Black men, women and children one by one. In the modern era we don’t see white mobs roaming the streets of Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant or Compton. What we do see is the systematic and systemic denial of basic human needs – housing, medical care, access to transportation, quality education and clean water.

We do not see the apocalyptic horror of roaming mobs. Instead we see the slow motion decimation of human being, denying the humanity of too many Black men, women and children in the process. And to be clear, it is not only Black Americans who suffer this indignity. And to be clear, it is always Black Americans who are first, last and always the targets and victims of this not so benign neglect.

It is interesting that telling the truth about the experience of Black Americans in this country – also known as Critical Race Theory – is actually against the law in the state of Texas, and we can be sure that other states will follow. It is interesting that too many Americans are comfortable with lies and myths and are adamantly opposed to uncomfortable truths.

Finally, what we do know is that unless and until all Americans confront and address these uncomfortable truths there is zero possibility of this nation ever attaining the ideals that are articulated in its founding documents.

This country simply cannot endure while living a lie.

Standard
Point of View Columns

On the Anniversary of the Death of George Floyd – A Prayer for Black America

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd woke up never realizing that it was his last day on earth. On this day, one year ago, George Floyd had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes, just like everyone else, only he did not realize that it was his last day to be alive. And on this day, just like everyone else, George Floyd was already thinking about what he might be doing next week or next month or next year, never realizing that this was his last day to be alive.

George Floyd did not he was destined to be the living/dying embodiment of what systemic racism means in America. He certainly did not know that his killer did not even know his name and was not planning to kill him when his day began, but at some point he decided that he would kill him.

And so George Floyd joined the ranks of random Black martyrs, sacrificed on the crimson stained altar of racism, white supremacy and systemic injustice. But on that morning, he had hopes and dreams and plans and wishes just like everyone else – except that everyone who is Black always has the unspoken Prayer for Black America somewhere in the recesses of their mind.

Please God, let me go through this day without having my patience or my self-respect tested by some aggressive store security guard or snarky cashier or pompous doorman which could lead to my reacting in a way that could get me killed.

Please God, let my son go out of the house today and come back alive. Please do not let him be killed because he has a toy gun, or a bag of Skittles or was playing the music too loud today or doing anything else that would give some white policeman or wannabe deputy a reason to kill him.

Please God, do not let any person, especially a white person, touch my hair, ask to touch my hair or ask me about my hair as if the hair of a Black woman was so otherworldly that it requires this high level of inquiry and investigation.

And while you are at it God please do not let someone mistake for the waitress or the maid or the salesperson or the secretary because in the minds of too many, there is no other role for a Black woman to play in these United States.

Please God, let me go through this day without being stopped by the police while driving with a faulty brake light or an air freshener on my rear view mirror or without my license – any of these things could be a reason for a white policeman to shoot me to death or beat me to death or just simply choke me to death.

Please God, let my son and daughter always remember The Talk that we had – never, never, never run from the police – never talk back to the police – never, never, never resist if you are searched or arrested – always, always remember that in these situations the police literally hold your life in their hands and they might get careless or they just might not care.

And finally God, thank you for the blessings of life and family and love and community that I have been able to enjoy, even in the most difficult of times. So please God, don’t let a white policeman kill me today – please let me live another day.

Amen.

We can be sure that George Floyd offered up his version of The Prayer for Black America a year ago today.

And we can be sure that in these United States of America the prayers of Black America are not always answered.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Majesty and Travesty and Nikole Hannah-Jones

Earlier this week, in its infinite (and non-existent) wisdom, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina denied Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure at that institution. It should be noted that as a member of the faculty she had been appointed to a chair funded by the Knight Foundation and that tenure appointment has been routine for past faculty members in this position.

It should also be noted that the Board of Governors at the University of North Carolina are appointed by the North Carolina legislature, not known to be a bastion of free thinking (or even intelligence on occasion). And it is quite clear that Ms. Hannah-Jones groundbreaking “1619 Project” which began an historic reconsideration of American history and Black people is the unforgivable sin that has resulted in her application for tenure being denied.

There are many ways to look at this travesty. On the merits, Ms. Hannah-Jones is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship to go along with her Pulitzer Prize and a literal boatload of other prestigious awards. It is inconceivable that any college or university with aspirations of academic excellence would treat her in such an incomprehensible and disrespectful manner.

But, of course, there is the back story. The white members of the North Carolina legislature are part of an underground band of cultural guerillas determined to maintain white supremacy and American mythology at all costs. Keep in mind that Ms. Hannah-Jones has been accused or “rewriting history” when it comes to the narrative of Black people in America.

And of course, the answer is damned right.

American history as it has been taught for over four histories has been built on a foundation of lies, myths and white supremacist delusions. American history has been an exercise in whitewashing the crimes, the genocide, the slavery and the literal theft of a continent from people who were living here. American history has somehow justified the enslavement of millions of Black human beings and then gone on to minimize the pain, misery and eternal jeopardy of being Black in America.

Damned right that American history has needed to be rewritten. The sins, crimes and wrongs that are a literal part of the foundation of this nation need to be acknowledged before true justice, equality and equity can be possible in this country. And the fact that teaching and learning the true American story can be seen as a problem demonstrates what exactly is the problem.

The problem is that too many white Americans take comfort in myths, revel in the lies and wallow in the mud of deception as long as it reinforces the crumbling concepts of white supremacy, and by extension, Black inferiority. The problem is that the so-called 1.6.21 insurrectionists were not in Washington to simply overturn an election, they wanted to stop the constant and now inevitable erosion of the myth of American exceptionalism and white supremacy.

That problem is the reason why 47 states are trying to subvert the Constitution (into which slavery was embedded, by the way) in order to limit or deny the right the vote so that a white supremacist alternate reality can last a little bit longer. And, of course, Nikole Hannah-Jones represents the voices that must be silenced so that the fantasy – which is a nightmare for everyone who is not white – can continue for as long as possible.

There is nothing that the University of North Carolina can do to ever diminish the majesty of Nikole Hannah-Jones and her life’s work. The travesty belongs to the University of North Carolina and its racist enablers.

And, in the end, the truth about America will prevail and it is then, and only then, that this country will be a better country.

Standard
Point of View Columns

America and Republicans are on a Slippery Slope

We have been watching the slow-motion transformation of the Republican Party from a political party to the vehicle for a crusade – led by zealots and followed by true believers over the last half century. As been noted by many observers, as late as 1960 Republicans included moderates, liberal and conservatives from all parts of the country.

As late as 1960 Richard Nixon garnered over 30% of the Black vote, a percentage never seen again. As late as 1964, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress found a way to work together on a wide range of issues.

And then along came Barry – Goldwater that is. As the presidential candidate of the party in 1964 he proclaimed that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”. He was speaking about liberty from government – things like Social Security and civil rights for Black Americans. He was speaking about the need for justice for white Americans who were feeling increasing disenfranchised as the concept of rights for all Americans began halting steps towards reality.

Goldwater lost by a landslide, but Nixon followed the Goldwater playbook and was narrowly elected in 1968 and reelected by a landslide in 1972. And since then, despite efforts to soft pedal the rhetoric of its leadership, the Republican Party has moved inexorably rightward, so much so that the ascendancy of 45 could have been foretold.

In a crasser, brash and obscene fashion, 45 gave voice to the most fundamental and fundamental core values of the Republican Party – nativism, xenophobia, racism, sexism and intolerance. And most of all, he legitimized a total disavowal of any aspect of the governmental system that did not provide infinite and boundless power to the white majority that saw minority status looming on the horizon every time a nonwhite baby was born in the United States.

And now, after 84 million Americans voted for Joe Biden for president, the Republicans and their 74 million voters want to disenfranchise the majority by making false and baseless claims of voter fraud. And now, 70% of Republicans say that they do not believe that President Biden is legitimately the president.

Clearly a democracy cannot endure for long where, in a two-party system 70% of the membership of one party refuses to acknowledge the victory of the other party. Yet somehow the Republicans believe that it is o.k. to keep promoting the Big Lie and they are therefore blind to the institutional consequences.

First, going forward the losing party of either party in any local, state or federal raise is going to raise the false flag of voter fraud. And when a significant portion of the population in a city, state or in this country starts believing lies on a regular basis the January 6th insurrection in Washington is going to look like a picnic when compared to the civil warfare that will rage across this country after every single election.

The Republicans and 45 are playing with fire and either they don’t know it, which makes them fools, or they do know it and don’t care, which makes them malignant domestic terrorists.

These are very dangerous times indeed.

Standard
Point of View Columns

May 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

May 1, 2021

32,346,895-576,239 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Today it was announced that 101,407,318 Americans have been vaccinated. That amounts to one-third of the nation’s population. That is the good news. The not so good news is that it is going to be more than a struggle to get the other two-thirds to also get vaccinated.

Close to two-thirds of self-identified Republicans (60%) have indicated that they are not going to get vaccinated. Clearly this is a way for the Republican Party to be more of a minority than it already is – but stubborn stupidity is hard to overcome.

How stubborn and how stupid? The Man Named 45 has publicly encouraged Republicans to get vaccinated and while they would clearly follow him over a cliff in true lemming fashion, they are refusing to save their own lives and the lives of those that they love. That’s how stubborn and that’s how stupid.

May 2, 2021

32,415,395-577,007 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Clearly there is no such thing as a slow news day on this planet anymore. Tens of thousands of people are dying in India every day. Like something that might have been written by Dante, bodies are being burned in the streets as all of the crematoria are overflowing with corpses.

India is a nuclear power. India has a modern navy. India has countless billionaires and wealthy families. India is an international destination for concierge-style state of the art hospital care.

But clearly, the powers that be do not think that universal health care is a right, but rather its a privilege.

Sound familiar? It should. It sounds a lot like the talking points of too many opponents of the Affordable Care Act right here in America.

May 3, 2021

32,421,989-577,045 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

It was reported that over the weekend Senator Mitt Romney was booed mercilessly at the Utah State Republican Convention. It turns out that the Romney was the target of a censure motion, his crime was voting to convict 45 both times that he was impeached.

It is important to remember that it was just nine years ago that Romney was the Republican presidential candidate in what turned out to be a losing campaign against Barack Obama. It is also important to remember that the Romney familiar, devout Mormons to be sure, are part of the institutional foundation of Utah.

And it is also important to remember that, during the ascendancy of the Cult of 45, none of that matters. Blind loyalty to 45 is all that counts and means everything. The Cult of 45 is the reincarnation of the Lost Cause that proliferated throughout the former Confederate states, keeping a tight fisted grip on unreality even in light of the fact that they had lost.

Elements of the Lost Cause exist to this day – consider the proliferation of statues of Confederate heroes and the stubbornness with which so many white Southerners cling to these faux idols to this very day. So it should be no surprise that in the modern era the Lost Cause has now been resurrected as the Cult of 45.

May 4, 2021

32,472,129-577,565 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

The tumbrils are rolling down the avenues and boulevards of the Republican Party. The mobs are looking for the turncoats, traitors and apostates that might dare suggest that 45 didn’t lose the election and also dare to state that truth, not lies, should be the brand of the party.

Danton, Marat and Robespierre would have been proud, disappointed only that actual heads are not rolling. But careers, reputations and the work of lifetimes are being trashed – just ask Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney and we can be sure that there will be more.

The fact that 70% of Republicans still believe that 45 won the 2020 election reveals everything that we need to know about the Republican Party – it has become a nihilist tool of authoritarian strategies and ambitions, with healthy doses of white supremacy, racism, nativism, xenophobia, nationalism and guns – many, many guns – thrown in for good measure.

It should be clear by now that what is happening to the G.O.P. is a danger to democracy in the United States and should be the subject of real concern. Of course, figuring out what to do with 50 million Americans that have just gone off the rails of the nation will not be easy.

The last time there was a schism this profound was in 1861 – and we all know what happened then.

May 5, 2021

32,513,803-578,504 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Today an independent advisory group recommended that Facebook continue to suspend 45 from using its services for at least another six months. This means that he is barred from tweeting his brains out in the middle of the night but it will not loosen his stranglehold on the Republican Party for even a millisecond.

We have seen dominant political personalities in this nation, but any historian would be hard pressed to name a man or woman who has ever had such a widespread and devout following. By now anyone who has been paying attention knows that all 45 wanted out of being president was to be the object of attention and adulation.

To be clear, the job of president was always secondary for him – it was being the center of attention 24/7 that fed his insatiable ego. Now that he doesn’t have the busy work of the presidency to distract him, 45 can now spend all of his time cultivating his MAGA mob, which he has been doing quite well even without access to Facebook and Twitter.

It appears that we will not be hearing the last of 45 for quite a while.

May 7, 2021

32,558,718-579,286 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Say goodbye to Liz Cheney – at least as a part of the leadership of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. It should be noted that Liz Cheney is one of the most strictly conservative members of Congress and has been that way ever since she came to Washington.

However, she seems to be considered guilty of the unpardonable sin (A least on the Planet Republican) of criticizing 45 for continuing to lie about the 2020 election and for fomenting and inspiring the 1.6.21 insurrection.

And for telling the truth and having the temerity to speak her mind on the matter she is being banished to the furthest reaches of the party.

And it should be clear that we are seeing a preview of what this country might be like if 45 was ever returned to power as president. Loyalty tests anywhere and everywhere will be the order of the day and the cult of personality would be a matter of public policy.

We have seen this before – Germany and Italy circa 1935, North Korea circa 1950, Iraq circa 1985 – and it never seems to go well for the subject country.

As Americans we can never say that we haven’t been warned.

May 8, 2021

32,652,416-580,904 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Federal civil rights violation charges against Derek Chauvin and three other officers connected to the murder of George Floyd – this simply never would have happened when 45 was president and William Barr was the Attorney General.

What a difference an election can make.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Message to Tim Scott – Its Only Make Believe Until You Believe

Yesterday two members of the Republican Party demonstrated that the members of this cult (it is no longer a true political party) are comfortable swimming in the deepest cesspools of white supremacy and systemic racism any time and all the time.

Exhibit A is a nonentity from Louisiana, State Representative Ray Garofalo, who began to whine about how badly white America is being portrayed in more truthful and historically accurate educational books being used or considered by school systems in his state. When whining was not enough he started to argue about the need for “balance” and then he said:

“If you are having a discussion on whatever the case may be, on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery: the good, the bad, the ugly,”

Being able to recount anything “good about slavery” Representative Garofalo attempted to moonwalk away from the sheer, arrogant stupidity of his statement. But words do matter and his words revealed a not surprising ignorance and insensitivity to the criminal aspects of the history of the treatment of Black Americans by white Americans and how – even in the third decade of the 21st century – there are just too many white Americans who just don’t care.

Like the soon to be forgotten State Representative Ray Garofolo of Louisiana.

Not to be outdone, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, was chosen to provide the Republican response to President Biden’s message to the Joint Session of Congress. It was to be expected that Senator Scott was not going to become a cheerleader for President Biden and the Democrats, but for him to say that Democrats are trying “to tear us apart” and that little white boys and girls are being taught that they are “the oppressors” was more than ridiculous, it was, given America’s history of systemic racism and its foundational history of white supremacy, obscene.

But it turned out that Brother Scott was just getting warmed up. For a Black man from South Carolina to stand before a national audience and proclaim that “America is not a racist country” ranks right up there with the old saying about “don’t believe your lying eyes”. Tim Scott knows, must know, that this isn’t true. After all, he lives in the state where a young white man named Dylan Roof shot and killed nine Black Americans while they were praying with him, and when he was apprehended by the police there was no gunfire and the police bought him a hamburger.

Meanwhile, last week white police officers in Elizabeth City, North Carolina – just up the road from Senator Scott’s home state – shot and killed an unarmed Black man by the name of Andrew Brown, Jr.  – while in the process of serving a summons (not an arrest warrant) for a nonviolent crime.

In America the racial disparities to be found in healthcare, education, employment, law enforcement and housing are seriously documented and undeniable – no matter what Senator Scott says. And when the President of the United States publicly announces an agenda to end systemic racism in America it is only a good start if people like Senator Scott and his fellow Republicans continue to believe that there is no systemic racism that needs to end.

To correctly state that systemic racism is part of the American sociopolitical fabric and that therefore America is a racist country, is not to say that every white American is a racist.

Because every white American has a choice and Senator Tim Scott and the Republicans are not helping white Americans make the right choice by continuing to reside in the Great State of Denial.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Chauvin Verdict – What It Is and What It Is Not

Today Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts for killing George Floyd. This former Minneapolis police officer faces more than a half century of time in prison. In many parts of the country and the world this has been seen as a cause for celebration.

In some very real ways this verdict is a reason for celebration because it is so rare that in America a white policeman is convicted for killing a Black man. It is so rare that when it happens it is a cause for celebration. White police officers in America have been killing Black men with impunity for centuries – so when there is a unicorn of an outlier of a result where justice actually appears, it is a cause for celebration.

It should be pointed out that in the days and hours leading up to the verdict that there was real concern that there would be an acquittal or a mistrial. There was a real concern that even though Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd was viewed around the world, because in America the tradition was that white police officers could kill Black men with impunity.

In many ways it is a damn shame that a slam dunk, open and shut, videotaped murder might not be reason enough to convict a white police officer for killing a Black man. The concept of Black Lives Mattering has barely entered the national consciousness and even a casual student of history knows that there are far too many unreported tragedies at the hands of police that were never recorded and will never be known except by the dead victims and their bereaved families.

It should also be point out that this verdict could be a turning point, or a tipping point as Malcolm Gladwell has termed such opportunities for change. Even as a white supremacist America First Caucus was strangled in its Congressional crib, it is clear that many more Americans have become aware of the pernicious existence of the twin evils of racism and racial disparity throughout this nation.

When the President and Vice President of the United States take note of the conviction of a white police officer for killing a Black man any student of American history knows that this represents a real difference in America. The question remains as to what happens next.

There is already legislation pending in Congress – the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act –  that would provide new guidelines for police departments across the country when it comes to use of force. What cannot be legislated are the hearts and minds of the men and women in American law enforcement. What is not subject to a presidential executive order is the mind set of too many white Americans who are prepared to give the police the benefit of the doubt in virtually every lethal encounter with Black Americans, especially if there is no video record.

It is in fact telling that there was a sigh of relief when Derek Chauvin was convicted, because Black Americans know that verdicts in these kinds of cases have gone the other way – think Sean Bell, Eric Garner and Amadou Diallo for just a few sad and tragic examples. If nearly ten minutes of a video murder and the testimony of the chief of police and a boat load of experts was needed to get a conviction, what happens when the evidence is not as overwhelming?

Will white police officers continue to get the benefit of the doubt? Will Black men and boys have to consider even the most innocent encounter with the police to have the potential for a lethal outcome? Will Black mothers and fathers have to continue to tell their 8-year-old sons and daughters about the special care that they must take if they come in contact with the police? Conversations that white parents simply do not have with their children.

The Chauvin verdict does indeed represent the opportunity for change – but to be clear, it does not represent change itself.

The American justice system got it right this time.

We need for the American justice system to just be right.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Silent Plague

The past few weeks/months/years have seen a proliferation of sad and tragic videos of Black men being killed by white police officers. From Ferguson to Detroit to Staten Island to Brooklyn Center, the sad and tragic scenario of death and desolation is replayed seemingly countless times. But this proliferation raises a very important question – is the simultaneous proliferation of police body cameras and cellphone videos the reason that we know about these tragedies or……has this been going on all along and our awareness is simply based on the advance of technology.

It is possible to believe that the awful occurrence of Police on Black crime is increasing because of the economy, COVID or the malevolent presence of 45. But a bit of logic is important to note. Because during the past few decades there has been some real progress in terms of police training as well as situational awareness. Yet, despite this progress, these police homicides seem to proliferate like malevolent weeds in the garden of our lives.

An alternative thought is that it was actually worse years ago. When there were no police body cameras or pesky cellphone videos police could do whatever made sense to their universe of perspective and there was no alternative reality.

Consider the fact that if the death of Davoun Martin at the hands of the police had occurred in 1970 there would have been no video or photographic evidence. The police officers involved would have concocted a story about Mr. Martin presenting a danger/reaching for a gun…whatever, and that would have been the end of the story. Literally, no one reading this would ever have even known his name, much less the circumstances of his death.

Accepting this alternative theory, it is possible to realize that police/law enforcement authorities have been killing Black men without consequence for centuries. Keep in mind that since the appearance of Black people in America in 1619 there were actual laws which mandated that it was not a crime for white men to kill Black people for any cause whatsoever until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

That virulent mind set had already spread into the body politic prior to the ratification of the Constitution and it was only due to a civil war and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments that Black Americans were according a semblance of citizenship and humanity. Nevertheless, the dehumanization of Black Americans has persisted through the deconstruction of Reconstruction into the Jim Crow Era into present day America and the arrival of the James Crow Era.

During all of these centuries the devaluing of Black lives made it simple, easy and logical for law enforcement to impose capital punishment on Black Americans for whatever real or imagined offense might come to mind. And that is why it is possible to believe that technology is not the reason why there is a proliferation of Blue on Black Crime in America.

We have every historical, statistical and anecdotal reason to believe that the law enforcement institutions of this nation have been killing Black men, women and children with impunity throughout the history of the United States. It has been such a part of the DNA of American law enforcement that some police officers have been unable to stop such vile conduct even with the knowledge that body cameras, cell phone video and street cameras are everywhere.

In other words, it has always been here. Before the founding of the Republic.

Except now we see it in real time.

And sadly, we will continue to see this infernal replay until justice and the recognition of the innate humanity of Black Americans becomes a reality.

We can only hope that that day will come sooner than later.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

April 1, 2021

30,461,748-552,076 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It is still early in the Biden-Harris administration but it is not too early to inquire as to whether the urgency of the nationwide suppression of the Black vote in America is being sufficiently prioritized within the public policy universe of competing demands including infrastructure, COVID-19, the economy and climate change.

April 2, 2021

30,548,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the sad and tragic testimony at the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd ebbs and flows forward there is an overwhelming sense of maddening sadness. Sadness because the testimony to date makes it clear that Mr. Floyd did not have to die and in a normal universe he would probably still be alive to this day.

Maddening because this police-Black man scenario has played out so many times that it seems like well-rehearsed satanic performance art. A Black man has an encounter with the police and for no apparent reason the Black man ends up dead in a situation which would see a white man walk away or be peacefully arrested – and in any event alive.

It is maddeningly sad because we know, we all know, that this will not be the last time that we are witness to this tragic scenario.

And, as a reminder of the madness that is flowing the streets and cities and supermarkets of America, a young Black man tried to crash his car through the barriers that surround the Capitol. After crashing he left his car and attacked two Capitol Hill police officers, killing one and wounding the other before being shot to death.

There appears to be no motive other than the madness that is on display in his social media rants. And while there appears to be no philosophical or political motive, it is undeniable that the atmosphere of madness and violence that hangs over America like some kind of cloud cannot have a salutary effect on people with serious mental health issues.

April 3, 2021

30,610,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

There is a weekend pause in the Chauvin murder trial and it is definitely timely. The repetition of the recitation of the cause of the death of George Floyd is a necessary part of the trial process. However, the enormity of Chauvin’s crime goes beyond murder.

It is total dismissal of the humanity of Mr. Floyd – shared by his police colleagues on the scene – which is difficult to comprehend. Veterinarians and butchers demonstrate more empathy and care than Chauvin and that is what is so hard to understand.

One could actually understand a flash of cruelty – a gun shot or gun shots, for example. But killing someone so slowly and personally – sustained sadism actually –  for over nine minutes reveals a certain kind of pathology that endangers all of society.

Chauvin might be an outlier but he is not alone.

April 4, 2021

30,703,999-554,992 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today marks 53 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was killed by some nonentity named James Earl Ray, although how a two-bit crook was able to elude an international manhunt with multiple passports and funds seemingly from out of the sky has never been explained. And at this point probably will never be explained.

Dr. King’s assassination marked a turning point in the struggle for the rights of Black Americans and a recognition that whatever good will might exist in this nation, it was not enough the stem the centuries-old tradition of naked violence in support of white supremacy. His death also sparked insurrections and protests throughout the country, but in the ensuing 53 years there has been grudging progress but systemic change has been resisted virtually everywhere and anywhere.

Still, it was interesting that, even though it was Easter Sunday, there was virtually no mention of the anniversary of the slaying of Dr. King.

And that cannot be a good thing.

April 5, 2021

30,706,129-555,001 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The promoters of the Big Lie of Voter Fraud, which has served as the faux justification for the raced-based voter suppression assault across America. There seems to be a belief that if a lie is spoken enough times it will somehow be considered the truth.

It is a fact that the Black voters across the country, but particularly in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are directly responsible for the electoral victory of Joe Biden, in the processing dashing the fevered dreams of conservatives and white sup remacists who desperately wished for a second term for 45. And so, in 43 states there are legislative commando raids going on which, while not being able to reverse the results of the 2020 election, will certainly make it incredibly more difficult for Black voters to exercise voting rights and impact an election in the same way.

It is clear that there is a virulent, cancerous segment of white America that is prepared to bring down the temple of democracy if it means holding on to white supremacist minority rights.

These are dangerous times indeed.

April 6, 2021

30,785,734-555,619 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So now we are learning that Major League Baseball (moving the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver), Delta and Coca Cola (issuing statements of concern to date) are announcing their displeasure with the voter suppression efforts in Georgia.

It is good to see elements of corporate America publicly recognize the seemingly eternal need for racial justice in this country but it remains what it is that corporate America is going to do? After all, there are 42 other states considering various types of voter regulation that could easily morph into voter suppression.

What is corporate America going to do?

Delta is not going to stop flying to Texas. Coca Cola is not going to suspend sales in Pennsylvania. And Amazon…well Amazon is going to keep being Amazon. So if there is no consequence beyond some rhetorical sniper fire, we can be sure that voter suppression will soon become the de facto law of the land in much of America.

April 7, 2021

30,847,926-556,529 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Hopefully the Matt Gaetz Distraction of the Day will be just that. There is just too much grave and serious issues and tidal waves of perilous change to worry about finding out that one of 45’s most vocal and bellicose supporters is a sleaze bag.

How can that be a surprise when Gaetz idolizes 45, who has taken the concept of sleaze bag to Hall of Fame levels that will be difficult to surpass.

Meanwhile there are actual arguments over whether people should carry proof of vaccination as part of the effort to stem the lethal COVID-19 tide. Once again, we see the argument of personal liberty being juxtaposed against all of us dropping dead. It should not be a hard decision.

History does not reveal this kind of visceral opposition to the smallpox, polio or measles vaccines. So what has changed so that over a half century later, when ostensibly more people know more about science and how vaccines work, that there is this intransigent, indigestible segment of America that will refuse vaccines because (a) it threatens their personal liberty) or (b) there is no real “proof” that vaccines work. Insofar as (a) is concerned, the calculation that personal liberty is more important than the lives of others is stunningly cruel. With respect to (b), it may be that there is simply no arguing with intentional, obstinate and immovable stupid. But it will be hard for the (b) group to argue about anything when they are in an ICU somewhere

Standard