Point of View Columns

Coronation as Farce, Discomfort as Justification for Murder and the Normalization of Mass Murder

The past week has made it increasingly clear that as residents of the Planet Earth we are being inured to the bizarre, the obscene and the macabre. The past few days have put all of these woeful scenarios on full display, literally all over the world, beginning with….

The Coronation that Should Never Have Happened

A few days ago, most of the residents of this world could have had access to a scenario that literally was born in the Middle Ages in Europe. It is a scenario that should have been given a proper burial at least a half century ago.

Yet once again, with pageantry in full and unabashed display, the British monarchy was celebrated – as if it was a good thing. Which, history tells us, it is not.

The British monarchy was the center of the British Empire which, during just a few centuries managed to spread racism, genocide, slavery, land theft and the destruction of civilizations all over the planet. It was said that the sun never set on the British Empire. What is true is the sun has still not set on the sins of the damnable monarchy and its empire.

Entire nations were crushed under the heel of the British boot. Race based slavery and the and the globalization of the concept of white supremacy are part of the harvest of sins and crimes that are the true legacy of the British empire and, by extension, the British monarchy.

Yet news announcers going to jelly at the thought of catching sight of “the king and queen” was the order of the day this past weekend. And there was very little concern articulated regarding the use of words like “subjects” and “your majesty” in the 21st century. And even less commentary regarding how some very ordinary people are vested with immense wealth, loyalty and adoration for the simple reason of genetics or marriage.

One can only hope that this will be last whimper of a damnable institution that never had a place, and certainly does not have any place in a world where human dignity is universal and respect is earned and not inherited.

Meanwhile, it appears that murder can be justified for some new and frightening reasons….

Justification for Murder

Last week, on a New York City subway car, a murder took place in plain view of numerous bystanders, and not a single person even spoke out, much less intervened. Some background…

A thirty-year-old Black man, Jordan Neely, was a Michael Jackson impersonator with a long history of mental health challenges. His personal history did not disclose a tendency towards violence, however he was treated for his mental health challenges on multiple occasions.

On his last day alive Mr. Neely seems to have been overcome by anxiety and was running up and down the aisle of a subway car shouting things like “I don’t care if I die”. No doubt that this would be disconcerting behavior for a morning commuter to behold. But there is no indication that Mr. Neely physically attacked or threatened to physically attack anyone and he never displayed any kind of weapon or an object that could have been used as a weapon.

Nevertheless, a 24-year-old Marine veteran by the name of Daniel Penny decided to spring into action and used his military training to put Mr. Neely into a choke hold and killed him. Please keep in mind that Mr. Neely was unarmed and that once he was in a choke hold he no longer presented even a hint of danger to Mr. Penny (who was never confronted by Mr. Neely) or anyone else. And please keep in mind that dying by chokehold is a slow death and that Mr. Neely would have been unconscious and immobile for some time before he died.

To make another sad story short – Mr. Penny has yet to be charged with any kind of a crime even though he was not acting in self defense or in defense of anyone in that subway car.

And it has to be said – if a Black man had killed a white man within the context of the same fact pattern it is almost certain that he would have been arrested and charged with a crime.

And it has to be said – a Black man acting in an erratic and noisome manner can be stopped using deadly force because…well just because.

It was a crime in many parts of the South for Black men to be arrested for “reckless eyeballing”, another crime which really meant that some behavior that made white people uncomfortable was a crime in and of itself.

Let us hope that we are not seeing the past become prologue.

And finally, there is no more new news when it comes to mass shootings. And yet…

The Normalization of Mass Murder

This time (there is always a “this time”) there was a mass shooting in a shopping center near Dallas, Texas. Texas being a state where the only real gun control measure left is that you are advised to have a holster for your pistol or some kind of arm strap for your automatic rifle.

This time eight people were killed, seven were injured (some seriously, as if any gunshot would be anything but serious). The shooter was killed and immediately “thoughts and prayers” were in the air, without a serious word about some kind of rational gun control.

There has been a mass shooting (defined as four or people killed, excluding the shooter) for every day of this year. It is now clear that going to a supermarket, a shopping mall, a grocery store or a mall is a life and death decision for every man, woman and child in this country.

Yet from sea to shining sea (the sea shining with the blood of American victims), we are told that there is no real “appetite” for gun control in Congress or in state legislatures throughout the country.

And so, we are now actual witnesses to the normalization of mass murder. Something that is not the case in any other nation on this planet.

And that is what American exceptionalism looks like in the 3rd decade of the 21st century.

Very sad indeed.

Point of View Columns

Not So Late Breaking News – But News Nevertheless

During the past ten days there have been some items in the news which are worthy of comment as well as concern, to wit:

Oklahoma – None so blind as those who refuse to see

Recently the Oklahoma State Legislature determined that no public-school system in the state could have as part of its curriculum any study of American history that might make students feel ashamed of themselves or of America and passed a law to that effect.

It is ironic that Oklahoma is a state totally established on the land that was stolen from the indigenous people who had lived there for many centuries.

It is also ironic that it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma 1921 that white citizens shot, hung, murdered, bombed and burned the very successful Black community in that city. Unknown hundreds of men, women and children were killed and buried in unmarked mass graves and virtually every building in that community was razed to the ground.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Tulsa School Board would approve curricula that included requiring students to learn about that tragedy and savagery that afflicted their city only a short century ago.

And it should come as no surprise that the Oklahoma Board of Education has lowered the accreditation of the Tulsa school system as if by censoring the truth the truth will somehow disappear; that if by closing the eyes of the Black and white children of Oklahoma genocide and murder and lynching will no longer be a part of history.

Indeed, there are none so blind as those that refuse to see.

The Legacy of the British Monarchy

The death of Queen Elizabeth II turned out to be one of those inevitable events that still had the capacity to impact billions around the world. Of course, most of those billions were or are members of the Commonwealth or were colonized by the British, sometimes for centuries.

There is every reason to believe that Queen Elizabeth II was a perfectly gentle soul who performed her service as monarch during a period of seven decades, even as the notion of monarchy has dimmed as anachronism that has outlived its sell by date by a lot.

It does no dishonor to the memory of the queen to point out that the crimes, sins and outrages committed by the British Empire around the world in the name of the monarchy have to be fully acknowledged or even admitted. The death and destruction committed by Empire in the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia is undeniable.

And the rapacious character of the British Empire is also undeniable. The current wealth of Great Britain is due to outright theft, exploitation, slavery and genocide. The historical artifacts looted from civilizations virtually lost to time and depredation are proudly on view in museums in London as trophies of such outright global depredation.

It has been suggested that, with the death of Queen Elizabeth, it may be time to give the monarchy and the myth of the British Empire decent burials with little fanfare.

Then it will be time to discuss reparations, restitution and apology.

Dumb and Dumbest

No more cards and letters please, we have a winner for the Dumb and Dumbest Prize of the year.

It turns out that there are some Mensa dropouts in the Democratic National Committee have aligned with political and nonprofit organizations to donate over $50 million dollars in support of Republican primary candidates who are to the right of Genghis Khan, and some of them actually make Donald Trump seem well, rational.

The strategy that has been revealed is that by helping the most outrageous right-wing Republicans win their primaries, especially for House and Senate seats, will result in candidacies that are too radical for most general election voters thereby virtually guaranteeing Democratic victories (remember that word “virtually”).

Of course, if this strategy had been employed in 2016, millions of Democratic dollars would have gone to Donald Trump thereby derailing the likes of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. And we now know how that would have turned out.

Why anyone would want to risk millions of dollars that might result in the election of one or more mini-Trumps is simply beyond comprehension.

We can only hope that this is not one time where being too smart turn out to be pretty dumb.