Discrimination

Understanding Charleston and That Flag

Confederate Battle FlagReading time – 4 seconds  .  .  .

If you want to understand Charleston, the Confederate battle flag and U.S. history, read this.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Far Too Much Love

Reading time – 64 seconds  .  .  .

Concord, New Hampsire, June 26, 2015

Seventeen announced and presumptive Republican presidential candidates for the 2016 election, all campaigning in New Hampshire today, hastily called a press conference in response to the Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage throughout America. Surrounded by the presidential wannabees, Mike Huckabee spoke from prepared text, saying,

“I’m speaking for all of us when I say that this is a very sad day for America. Everyone knows that there is far too much love in America and this airhead ruling by the Supreme Court that makes same sex marriage legal in all 50 states threatens to expand what already has flooded our land. And the story is even worse than that.

“We all agree that it’s sad that those nine people were gunned down in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, but now some southern states are talking about getting rid of the Confederate battle flag. That flag was created and hoisted up the capitol flag posts as honorable resistance to the menace to the United States made by the civil rights movement and in honor of the Confederate dead in the War of Northern Aggression. We were just keeping their memories alive and it had nothing to do with slavery. No, really. The very suggestion of allowing full citizenship of those people now smacks of – what? – maybe respect? It’s just too much.

“Now we may be on the brink of getting ready to think about possibly preparing to have a tentative conversation about immigration – immigrants! – as though there might be room in this country for those people. That would be a horrendous abdication of our centuries old superiority over other people. How can we tolerate dropping that and allowing some liberal wave to drown our red, white and blue conservative bones?

“Perhaps it is time for term limits for our Supreme Court justices. It might even be time to begin impeachment proceedings against a few of them.

“I say again, there is far too much love in America and we are on a slippery slope toward destruction of what we hold dear. It is time to stand strong against this invasion, this attack on our establishment.”

With that the presidential candidates left the room, refusing to take reporters’ questions, although Donald Trump was heard to say that this issue is “huge.” In reply, Rick Perry admitted that he didn’t know what the issue is.

Note: The above is satire. However, Huckabee actually did lose it following the Supreme Court decision. Read about his brainless rejection of the First Amendment here.

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Addendum

Writing for the majority in the same sex marriage case (officially Obergefell v. Hodges right side of the SCOTUS home page under Recent Decisions), here are the closing comments of Justice Anthony Kennedy:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the  highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

“It is so ordered.”

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

It’s The System, Stupid

Freddie Gray being arrested in Baltimore for no known reason

Freddie Gray being arrested in Baltimore for no known reason

Reading time – 71 seconds

It’s been wall-to-wall coverage of the riots in Baltimore and the conversation has largely been focused on who is to blame. It’s the thugs. It’s the mayor. It’s the police. And everybody wants to figure out what the police should do to tamp down the violence. Once again we’re looking the wrong way and solving the wrong problem.

Our hard liners look at the rioting and are appalled, calling the people in the streets lazy and shiftless (“Why don’t they get a job instead of looting the CVS?”), ignorant and useless (“Why don’t those kids stay in school?”). They say that those people should have respect for the police.

Really? What happened in West Baltimore was predictable with a certainty matched only by gravity.

The people who were able to get out left long ago, taking their money with them to the suburbs and allowing the city schools to rot, so the kids left behind now receive a lousy education. The factories were rewarded for sending their jobs first to the south, then to other countries, leaving those still in the city without jobs. The businesses that stayed have been rewarded for their short term thinking that only enriches stockholders and the bosses. There was no money left for innovation or for worker training. The police aren’t policed and the bad cops take out their meanness and anger on helpless citizens, like Freddie Gray.

It doesn’t work the way proscribed by the hardliners when there is no education to be had. It doesn’t work that way when there are no jobs to be found so that the unemployment rate in West Baltimore is 21%. And it doesn’t work that way when the police beat the stuffing out of people, even if they aren’t suspected of a crime.  Wake up: The entire system is broken.

People don’t riot because they are ignorant, shiftless or lazy or inherently bad. People riot because they are angry and frustrated and feel trapped. They riot because the people who are supposed to protect them instead beat them and kill them. They riot because they have been abused all their lives and it’s gone on for generations and it’s nearly impossible to see even a tiny ray of hope.

If we don’t want people to riot, we have to fix the reasons that people riot. Just being reactive to the violence won’t get the job done. In fact, all it will do is to ensure that there will be yet another round of rioting in the future.

None of this excuses the rioting, the looting, the arson or the brick throwing. But answer these questions for yourself: If you lived in utter hopelessness, as had all your forebears, how long would you tolerate it? If the kid next door was beaten so badly by the cops that he died, how would you react? If you were constantly the last one hired and the first one fired and your children were hungry, what would you do?

This isn’t a game. It is the lives of millions of Americans in our cities and especially those in areas like West Baltimore. We can change this if we have the will to stop thinking short term and solely for the benefit of just a few and instead focus relentlessly on what really needs to be done. We can change this if we are willing to do something other than just clamp down harder. Or we can go on pretending that more police will cure the problem.

But how’s that working for us?

One last question: Who benefits from a system that works like this? Hint: Follow the money.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Modest Proposal – v2.0

Indiana

Indiana

Reading time – 59 seconds  .  .  .

The clarity came to me in a blinding flash of the obvious and we can thank Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) for being the spark that ignited the flash.

We are beset by haters and Pence showed us another dimension to that, as he signed into law a bill that will allow Indianans to discriminate and to use religion as their excuse. In fact, religion won’t just be their excuse; it will be their legal justification. How proud Pence’s mother must be of him for his endorsing a law to legalize hate and discrimination. But that leaves us wondering what to do with those Indiana haters to whom Pence is sucking up.

There are haters in the North Carolina legislature, too. They think it’s a great idea to take away the right to vote from poor people and minority people. And one of their senators (Thom Tillis) thinks it’s government overreach to require food service workers to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. He must hate a lot of people, because it’s clear that he really doesn’t care about the ebola infection you’ll get. BTW – how were those McDonald’s fries?

Let’s not forget the haters in Congress who think it’s a good idea to shut down the government in some “I’m so powerful” chest thumping display of infantile temper tantrum. They actually don’t care if they shut down the USDA and FDA and you end up eating tainted food and taking poisonous meds. Lost at sea? Too bad, because the Coast Guard is on mandatory cutbacks.

Really, the haters are everywhere and they are infecting our country. Clearly, there is only one thing to do: Give them their own state. Let’s choose Indiana, since that state has the current lead in hating.

We’ll require all the haters from around the country to move to Indiana. They can buy the houses of those sensible Americans who will be moving to other states. To be sure that we don’t allow for future infections of hatred elsewhere, we’ll divert the funds from the project at the Mexican border and build a big wall all around the entire state of Indiana to keep those people and their hatred right there.

The haters will have free reign to live as they please, inventing laws that dribble hate throughout the state. Giving full vent to their hate will probably mean they will cull the herd, removing the weak haters so they don’t dilute the gene pool. It should only take three generations or so for them to reduce their numbers to just a handful of very lonely haters who may agree to an extended rehabilitation program and be slowly reintegrated into sane society. If not, we can leave them, say, Evansville, IN, a border town we can quickly enclose with parts from the rest of the state wall that we will be able to remove.

Howard Beale, from the movie "Network," MGM, 1976

Howard Beale character, “Network,” MGM, 1976

Don’t dismiss this idea out of hand, because it might be very attractive to the poison spewers. And it just might send a message to our elected officials that we won’t tolerate their self-serving stupid stuff, that there are consequences to their words and actions and that we are watching and listening.

We’ll follow the imperative of Howard Beale, telling them,

“We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any more!”

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Hey Good Cop: Where Are You?

Rodney King Beaten By LA Cops

Rodney King beaten by LA cops

Reading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

An open letter to the good cops of America

When Rodney King was blasted by a Taser and then had the stuffing beaten out of him by four Los Angeles cops, what did you have to say about that? Did you speak out?

Mike Brown on the street in Ferguson, MO

Mike Brown on the street in Ferguson, MO

After Officer Darrin Wilson killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, why didn’t we hear your concern about Wilson’s actions? Why was the only public statement made by Ferguson cops focused on creating a legal defense fund for Wilson? What about Mike Brown?

Walter Scott attempts to flee in North Charleston, SC

Walter Scott is shot in the back in North Charleston, SC

This week Officer Michael Slager put 8 bullets into the back of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC. Scott was attempting to flee, but his overweight, 50-year-old body could barely manage a jogging pace. Nevertheless, Officer Slager decided that his own life was in danger as Scott ran away from him and he shot Scott to death. Then he placed evidence near the body to make it look like he had justification for murdering Scott. We’ve all seen the video of the episode. So have you, good cop. Where is your voice of outrage over this? Where are you?

Francis Pusok being beaten by sheriff's deputies near San Bernadino, CA

Francis Pusok being beaten by sheriff’s deputies near San Bernadino, CA

Also this week, cops in San Bernadino, CA apprehended Francis Pusok after a car, foot and horseback chase ended in the high dessert. Pusok flattened himself face down on the ground, spread eagle, making it clear that he was surrendering. For his effort he got Tased, beaten with fists and clubs and kicked repeatedly in the head by 10 deputies. Other than Sheriff John McMahon saying that there will be an investigation and that the deputies were put on administrative leave, there simply haven’t been any voices of good cops raised in protest over the outrageous violence of the obviously bad cops.

In fact, when bad cops act out there never are voices raised by good cops. Is the fraternal bond so stupidly strong that good cops refuse to speak out against their own bad actors? If it is, then there is something dreadfully wrong with that fraternity. If this were a social fraternity on a college campus, it would be expelled.

Are we supposed to understand the frustration of deputies chasing on foot over rocks and up mountains after a bad guy and then accept that they get to vent their frustration on the guy who caused the chase and that it’s okay for them to beat him to unconsciousness? If you think that, good cop, then you are badly misguided. And you are part of the problem.

Here’s the thing: If you can’t keep your emotions in check so that you act professionally at all times, then find another line of work, because you aren’t worthy of the public’s trust, nor worthy of authority over anyone else.

On the other hand, you likely know quite well the difference between right and wrong. We’re just not hearing about it from you. We’re not hearing your outrage over the brutality of the bad cops. We’re not hearing you press for special prosecutors in cases of police misconduct so that the cozy relationship between cops and prosecutors doesn’t short circuit justice. All we are hearing is your thunderous silence in the face of the reprehensible behavior of your fellow cops.

It’s time to stand up and be counted for what is right, good cop. Where is your voice? Where are you?

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stupidity

Governor Mike Pence - IN Photo: Robert Sheer/The Star

Governor Mike Pence – IN
Photo: Robert Sheer/The Star

Reading time – 39 seconds  .  .  .

This was a tough week for Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He took major heat from private citizens, corporate movers and shakers, liberals, conservatives – pretty much everyone but those who identify with pandering, hate-spewing, Joe McCarthy wannabee Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). It was all about the new legislation in Indiana that enshrines into law the right to practice outright discrimination against certain citizens and even provides the protection of the courts for offenders. Didn’t we put away America’s original sin with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Didn’t we agree as a nation that discrimination wasn’t okay, that it was blatantly unconstitutional?

Side note: Somebody please explain to me why we need a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The way I heard it was that the First Amendment covers that.

Clearly, I don’t know what is in Pence’s heart. I don’t know if he really believes that his Bible thumping, not-very-Christian fundamentalist primary voters really should be able to practice discrimination. I don’t know whether Pence thinks he and his viscerally motivated, neo-cortex-light state legislators believe their own self-righteous proclamations of religious purity. I couldn’t know if Pence would get off on hearing some Indiana florist proclaim proudly, “I’ll serve who I damn well please and the rest can go to hell, ‘cus that’s where my religion says they’re headed.” We all want to feel powerful and in control, so maybe Pence would go for that.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Regardless, discrimination is wrong. It sucks up to the most ignorant among us and makes us all stupid.

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.” Margaret Atwood

Have a nice day, Governor Pence.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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