Some Thoughts

June 4, 2020 10:43 am

I wrote this in response to a rather callous Facebook post I saw which essentially excused George Floyd's death because he had a criminal record (I don't know if that's even true, because it's not relevant to what's happening) and then denounced continued protests because the officers were arrested so, "Sounds like justice was done."

Some context of my post is lost without the original to which it's replying, but I'm not going to repost it here. Some quotes that are alluded to in my text: "I don't know why we keep putting criminals on pedestals for [equality movements]" and "we’ll never get anywhere with an out of control mob."


Despite announcing independence from Britain with the phrase "all men are created equal" the founders of this country immediately produced a government where the only citizens that counted were white, male, land owners. And, despite fighting an entire war with ourselves over it, we're still trying to fix that failure.

George Floyd's death happened to be the straw the broke the camel's back for this generation. Having the officers involved arrested and tried does little to address the larger issue. Until systemic change actually happens there will be repeated cycles of pressure build up and outbursts.

One of the most prominent recent protests for the cause of racial equality was a football player peacefully and respectfully kneeling during the national anthem and a huge part of the country denounced him for doing so. Years of peaceful attempts to have racist monuments removed throughout the South have failed. And throughout, repeatedly and regularly, black men and women have continued to be killed at the hands of white police officers with little improvement.

Sadly, as JFK portended, when the people populating the institutions of power ignore the problem eventually it bubbles up into a violent confrontation. Our country brought itself into existence by violent confrontation. Slavery was ended in this country by violent confrontation.

Throughout history, and around the world, we've repeatedly seen that unfortunately an "out of control mob" has sometimes been the only way that we "get anywhere."

I don't know anything about Floyd's past. But his past is entirely irrelevant. No one should have a police officer kneel on their neck until they suffocate to death. The pedestal he's put upon is the pedestal labeled "humanity" and we all stand on it together.

To dust our hands and say, "Sounds like justice was done" because in this one instance--after days of protests and rioting across the entire country--the perpetrators were arrested is to ensure that the cycle of anger and violence will continue for another day.

This is Nationalism

August 6, 2019 3:05 pm

In 2012, I warned about the growing nationalist movement in the United States.

In 2016, I expressed my concern that then President-elect Trump's rhetoric would lead to nationalistic violence in our borders.

In 2018, I denounced Trump's exclamation that he's "absolutely a nationalist, and proud of it."

Today, we are seeing that violence play out across the country on a weekly basis.

A man shot and killed a bunch of people at a Wal-mart because of nationalism.
A man shot and killed a bunch of people at a garlic festival because of nationalism.
A man fractured a kid's skull at a fair because of nationalism.
This is just a selection of stories from a single week.

We are in the midst of a wave of nationalist terrorism.

It will get worse until the people spreading fear, anger, and hatred have their megaphones taken away. Afterward it will be a long process of deradicalizing the extremists.

It starts with changing the public rhetoric. And it needs to come from the top and not only in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks.

In his speech yesterday Trump said, "our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy." And I fully agree.

I would suggest to Trump that next time he has a rally in which his audience suggests "shoot them" as a "solution" to immigration that, instead of laughing it off (after the cheers subside), he immediately denounce the idea and make it clear to his audience that such an opinion is not welcomed, condoned, or tolerated at his events.

I would suggest to Trump that next time he has a rally in which his audience chants "Send her back" about a U.S. citizen and refugee of non-Caucasian descent that, instead of basking in the anger, he cut them off and make it clear to his audience that we have a right to express differences of opinion in this country whether we're born here, naturalized, or even just visiting; and shouldn't be threatened with exile for disagreeing.

I would suggest to Trump that next time one of his supporters murders a counter protestor that he not respond with "... but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides." People adhering to an ideology of white supremacy are, by definition, not "very fine people." They're abhorrent and need to be denounced. It needs to be made clear that their viewpoint is not accepted. It's not welcome. It's not condoned. It will not be tolerated.

If you're not sure what that looks like, you can look to Bernie Sanders as an example of how to do it. When a supporter of his opened fire on a Republican-congressmember baseball practice he responded with:

I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be — violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values.

Bernie Sanders

So, instead of reading off the teleprompter about how "our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy," just start doing it yourself.