Point of View Columns

Apocalypse Now or Later?

When historians look back on these times, if there are historians able to look back, it will be clear that the very foundations of society in this country are being eroded and contorted into something that cannot sustain even reasonably peaceful life in this country, and around the world.

Here in the United States there is this almost alien-like aversion to truth and justice and fairness and equity. Anything that looks like empathy, or even sympathy, for the current condition and history of Black people in America is considered “woke” and needs to be banished from good company and what passes for good society.

While racial disparities are scientifically proven in health care, income, education, police practices, housing and incarceration – even referring to this historical inequities and injustice is termed to be “woke” and therefore unworthy of consideration, much less response, by the increasing number of white Americans who are seemingly comfortable with racial inequity or, and much more likely, have just gotten tired or caring (if they ever did care in the first place).

Point of View will take another look at the death of Jordan Neely, the (intentional) fantasy world of Tim Scott and the problem with the NAACP calling to boycott Florida.

The Death of Jordan Neely Will Not Just Go Away

Approximately two weeks ago 30-year-old Black man by the name of Jordan Neely, who was a street performer and also a human being suffering of severe mental illness, began ranting and raving on a subway car in New York City. By all accounts his ranting and raving were not directed at any one individual. By all accounts he never touched, must less hit, anyone in the car. And by all accounts he never threatened to hit or hurt anyone.

Certainly, such behavior on a crowed subway car can make other passengers uncomfortable. But the discomfort of total strangers witnessing a mental health episode cannot be a reason for violent restraint, much less murder.

Nevertheless, a 24-year-old white ex-marine by the name of Daniel Perry decided that the temporary discomfort of anonymous subway passengers required him to act, and act he did.

Using his Marine combat training he put Jordan Neely into a chokehold and killed him. It should be noted that two other white passengers held Mr. Neely down until he passed out and then died.

It gets worse. The police come unto the subway car and after a brief conversation with Mr. Perry, let him walk away even though it should have been clear that some kind of homicide (justified or not) had taken place. And it wasn’t until several days of community outrage was Mr. Perry finally arrested and charged with manslaughter and released on bail.

How many ways is this just wrong? If Mr. Neely was white and Mr. Perry was Black there is simply no doubt that he would have been arrested on the spot. He certainly would not have been allowed to simply walk away.

Continuing this imaginary scenario, if Mr. Perry was the Black killer of the white Mr. Neely there would have been no spontaneous $2 million defense fund magically appearing, presumably in support of the notion that white people can kill Black people by any means necessary if they are in fear of their lives, or in this case, if they are made to feel uncomfortable in the presence of a Black man who is nonviolently experiencing a mental health episode.

The last final fact of this ongoing tragedy is that there are a number of men and women, presumably of good will, who are willing to look at “both sides”, presumably asking all of us to think about a Black person acting in an erratic, but absolutely non-violent, manner could/should be killed if a white person feels too uncomfortable.

The law is not blind in America.

And the law is definitely not color blind.

Indeed, the rule of law rules against Black people, especially if they commit the Original Sin of making white people uncomfortable.

An uncomfortable truth.

But the truth nevertheless.

On What Planet Does Time Scott Live?

Earlier this week Tim Scott announced his candidacy to be the Republican candidate for President in 2024. It is always interesting that when a Black person rises to some level of prominence in the Republican Party Black people like Herman Cain and Larry Elder and Ben Carson – and now Time Scott – who sing the same song with the same lyrics – sometimes the tune may be a little different.

But the basic theme is that “America is alright with me”, and “There is nothing in America that is oppressing or holding Black people down” and finally, “If a Black person is not successful in life is because they choose failure because there is no such thing as institutional racism and the American Original Sin of slavery is no excuse for failure in the 21st century”.

Not surprisingly, there is a white wing of the Republican Party that just loves the Tim Scott Show because he absolves white people of any responsibility for the racism and racist reality that is a part of the lives of most Black Americans.

Instead Tim Scott delivers a message to Black people that, if spoken by a white man or woman would be termed racist. But there is no way that a Black man could be racist…right? And therefore, white America is absolved of any possible responsibility for the institutional racism that permeates education, medicine, law enforcement, housing and…you get the idea.

St. Tim Scott provides shelter for white Republicans who might otherwise be called racist.

There is a future for St. Tim Scott.

But it will not be the presidency.

NAACP Call to Boycott Florida – Wrong in So Many Ways

Recently the NAACP called for a national boycott of Florida based on the racism and right-wing mania in the behavior of its governor, Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis and his policies are odious and offensive and racist in so many ways, it is impossible to understand how the NAACP would call for the boycott of the State of Florida.

First of all, close to 3.4 million Black Americans live in Florida. Most adults are employed or are entrepreneurs who are in turn employing Black men and women. It should go without saying that any damage to the economy of Florida will hit Black Floridians first. It should also go without saying that a boycott of Florida can just be the first step down a really slippery slope.

After all, the voting rights restrictions in Texas and South Carolina and Virginia (to name but a few states complicit in the conscious decimation of Black voting power) would certainly be candidates for sanctions.

And then how about all of the states where Black murders by the police end up with the perpetrator in blue to walk free – Minnesota, Illinois, Mississippi and New York come to mind immediately.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust will rethink a strategy that is doomed to failure – it will not stop the institutional racism in any state and will, in the process bring real harm to Black men, women and children who are already the victims for no reason except that they are Black.

What an incredible irony that the NAACP, an iconic institution in the struggle of Black Americans, would end up being the cause of even more victimization.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust can do better than a pyrrhic boycott that in the end will accomplish nothing but pain for Black Floridians.

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.