Saturday, July 09, 2016

All Lives Matter Is Racist. Here's Why.

What do people not get?

"Black Lives Matter" is in response to a world that hand waves away the unnecessary deaths and ever present discrimination against African Americans. A majority that too often says minority issues are "not our problem." Every day, society is acting as if black lives don't matter, or matter less. That's why when you say "all lives matter," you're either completely missing the point, or an unabashed racist.

Of course all lives matter. No one is saying they don't. You're arguing against a straw man. Let's not pretend the civil rights act suddenly made everything hunky dory. Until white Americans take responsibility for the institutions, policies and attitudes that remain biased against those with different skin, and seek to change them, we can't claim all lives matter. Not when we act as if black lives don't.

When you say "all lives matter," you're not making some bold brave stand for humanity. You're just telling black people, once again, that their perspective, their experience, their lives, are worth less.

Friday, July 08, 2016

What Matters

No one is asking for perfection.

As long as police departments continue to be staffed by human beings, and not sophisticated crime-fighting robots, tragic errors in judgement, sometimes brought on by racial biases, will continue to happen. No amount of training or culture shift can ever remove incompetency entirely. I get that.

Being a police officer can be a scary job, and when a quick reaction can be the difference between life or death, the calls get tough to make. I get that too.

And sometimes, sure, even when we see the videos, we can't quite tell what happened. The instant replay doesn't quite give us indisputable evidence either way. I get that too.

What I don't get... and what I'd imagine most decent people don't get... is how police departments and our elected so-called leaders can continue to erode the public trust by acting like all these shootings are just accidents, incompetence, or tough calls. As if it was some office worker who accidentally lost a big client, or the keynote speech just bombed, or Larry in accounting fudged the numbers.

If you kill someone, you haven't just failed at your job. You've killed someone. That's should be more than a fireable offense. Officers who pull their weapon and kill someone should face appropriate punishment. They've committed a crime. Many would charitably call it involuntary manslaughter.

Instead, there's this circle the wagons thing that happens every time. The police protect their own. The people have no faith justice will be served... because it never is. From Rodney King to Philando Castile, police officers who use excessive force go free or get a slap on the wrist. Fireable offense? Many aren't even fired!

There's an old saying the police like to repeat over and over--"Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6." Sure, we all would. The problem is, these officers are never judged by 12. That outcome is unfathomably rare. So an officer is left with a different calculus--the only thing holding them back is bad press. Shoot first--maybe be asked some questions later.

The public isn't demanding perfection. We know that's impossible. But we demand accountability. Killing someone isn't just some workplace fuck-up. Someone is dead! Why should an officer of the law get a pass? Because their job is tough? Because they got scared? Shouldn't we examine any evidence that suggests they didn't have to be? That someone didn't have to die? Those responsible for the murders of police officers in Dallas yesterday will be rightly captured, tried, convicted, and punished. What about the police officers responsible for murdering--however inadvertently--people they were sworn to protect and serve?

By all means, even up the racial makeup of the nation's police departments, so there is less disparity between the demographics of a police force and the community it serves. Put a camera on every cop, so there's a unbiased record of truth in every interaction. Train officers in peaceful deescalation of conflict and the proper procedures for securing a suspect. Work to break ingrained stereotypes and eliminate racial profiling. All that will help.

But the biggest thing that matters? When someone is killed needlessly, justice must be served. Right now, no one trusts the police, the justice system, or our politicians to do that. Of course there is anger toward law enforcement. Because they keep on treating these cases as if each victim was just a set of tragic circumstances, an unfortunate error, instead of a living, breathing person who didn't deserve to die.

I wonder why that is?

Monday, July 04, 2016

Why You Should Worry About Trump's Tweets

Is Trump a capital-R racist? Is he the second coming of Hitler? Perhaps I'm giving him far too much benefit of the doubt, but I'd say no. Hitler wouldn't associate himself with Omarosa, for example, and he wouldn't be too happy about his daughter converting to Judaism to marry a Jew. But that doesn't mean that Trump isn't a godsend to the racists and anti-Semites out there.

Even if he doesn't intend to be, Donald Trump has become a very public mouthpiece for bigots, xenophobes, and white supremacists. This is not in debate. It's fact:

The tweet above? Originated in a vile white supremacist message board.

It's not the first time he's passed along a message crafted by neonazis.

Or the second.

He does this a lot. Passes on memes, photoshops, and tweets from some of the most hateful people from the darkest corners of the Internet. He does it uncritically, no filter. During a presidential campaign, when he knows every piece of communication from his camp will be heavily scrutinized, he copies things he sees and sends them to millions of people, without even checking the source or worrying about whose message he's passing on.

If he's not doing it deliberately, then he's being hoodwinked, again and again, by KKK-loving anti-government hatemongers. We should worry about someone who is continually deceived into spreading messages lovingly crafted in the backrooms and basements of people determined to wipe out everyone except for white American Christians.

How stupid can one be, really? [UPDATE: Pretty damn stupid. Trump put out an official statement saying the image was taken from another Twitter user. This is another image put out by the same Twitter user.] Trump's latest defense, that the star in the tweet above is a "sherriff's star" is absurd on its face. The image was produced by an anti-Semite for a white supremacist message board. Hillary's email problems have nothing to do with the $100 bills and Jewish star... That's common messaging from Hitler worshippers who believe Hillary is bought and owned by the so-called Jewish elite.

It's not "the media" (the Jewish-owned media, the image's creator would point out) that is twisting this image into something it's not. It takes a lot of squinting and a ton of mental gymnastics to interpret this graphic as a criticism of Hillary's email shenanigans and a reference to the FBI's ongoing investigation. For instance, why $100 bills and not emails or email inboxes as the background (those cute little AOL inboxed would be a particularly germane graphic to use)?  And why not use the FBI logo or the FBI shield (which is not a Star of David) if you intend to refer to the investigation taking place? Nothing about this image says emails or FBI. It's made entirely of anti-Jewish imagery.

Which is exactly the kind of imagery you'd expect once you know this was created for a white supremacist message board.

The fact that Trump has continually given a voice to this type of hate imagery and hate speech should worry anybody who isn't a card carrying racist. Trump's own staff attempted to take his Twitter privileges away because he repeatedly shares content from the internet's scariest trolls. So claiming the image above depicts a sherriff's badge and isn't in any way connected to anti-Semitic bullshit doesn't hold water--if that were the case, then why is Trump's communications team trying to reign him in?

If Trump retweets something, does he believe it? It doesn't matter. What matters is he is exposing these hateful viewpoints to millions of his followers. Every time he retweets a supremacist, he sends that supremacist thousands of new followers. Whether he means to or not, Trump has emboldened the once dormant hate group movements in this country.

If he's giving them such a voice now, can you imagine how loud they'll get if he ever comes to power?

It doesn't matter if Trump is Hitler. He hasn't done anything to counter these voices. He hasn't preached tolerance or expressed scorn for the people who would gas his Jewish grandchild if given a chance. For someone who talks so much, he's said remarkably little about the white supremacists who have gravitated to his campaign.

Plenty of politicians rose to power in 1930s and 40s Germany on the back of Hitler and the nazis. They didn't have to make speeches about the stab-in-the-
back myth or come out against the Jews. All they had to do was give the growing tenor of hate their tacit approval. All they had to do was go along for the ride.

Trump may not be Hitler. But he sure is enjoying the benefits of that kind of hate. He's riding on the backs of racists, bigots and xenophobes. He's echoing their voices and spreading their messages far and wide.

If we don't hold him accountable for that, then he'll only be accountable to them.

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