Showing posts with label Black Lives Matter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Lives Matter. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Portland protesters: Are student loans and a crummy job market driving the anger?

Like many Americans, I have been surprised by the intensity of the Black-Lives-Matter protests that take place nightly in Portland, Oregon. Why Portland?

USA Today speculated yesterday that Oregon's racist past is fueling the city's protests.  As the newspaper pointed out, Oregon's territorial constitution, adopted in 1857, barred people of color from entering Oregon Territory.  And Oregon had a very active Ku Klux Klan during the early 1920s, as USA Today noted.

But I don't think Oregon's "dark history" of racism explains the violence in Portland's streets.  Portland is, after all, one of the most progressive cities in America. US News and World Report recently listed Portland as one of the nation's top ten best cities.

And no one can accuse Portland's politicians of being racist. The city's progressive political scene is so famous that the television series Portlandia lampooned it for eight seasons.

Nor is Portland torn by racial strife. Portland is a mostly white city in a primarily white state.  Only two percent of Oregon's population is Black, and only about one in twenty Portland residents is African American.  Compare that ratio to Baton Rouge, where I live. My city is 52 percent African American, and no one is rioting.

Watching the Portland protests night after night, I have been struck by the fact that most of the protesters are young, white people. I find myself wondering whether these enraged wokesters have college degrees, whether they have good jobs, and whether they have student-loan debt.

We know that millions of Americans are burdened by student loans that hinder them from getting married, buying homes, or saving for retirement.  And we know that a majority of these debtors are not paying down their loans.  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos admitted as much almost two years ago.

I'm guessing that a lot of the people who are protesting on Portland's streets have student-loan debt that is completely unmanageable. Although the demonstrators may have college degrees, those degrees did not lead to good jobs for many of them.

I am not questioning the sincerity of people who have taken to the streets of Portland this summer. I am sure most of them are genuinely disturbed by racism and economic injustice.

But I wonder: How many people who are throwing bricks and bottles at the police would stay in their homes at night, munch on popcorn and watch a Netflix movie if they believed they were financially secure, had a good job, and were not weighed down by student loans.

Portland protesters: most are young and white

Thursday, July 16, 2020

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out." Reflections on Martin Niemöller, who stood up against the Nazis

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller
 (1892-1984)

Like most Americans, I am familiar with Pastor Martin Niemöller's famous quote, but I knew almost nothing about him until recently. I knew he was a Protestant pastor who opposed Adolph Hitler during the 1930s, but I did not realize that Niemöller spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp.

As William Shirer noted in his memoirs, Niemöller would seem to be an unlikely person to stand up to the Nazis. Niemöller had been a decorated U-boat commander during the First World War. He was a fervent nationalist during the post-war years, and he welcomed the day when Hitler became the chancellor of the Reich in 1933.

But Niemöller slowly became disillusioned with Hitler, and he spoke out publicly against Nazism from his pulpit. At some point, Niemoller realized that Hitler meant to wipe out Christianity in Germany and replace it with the National Reich Church.

Indeed, Hitler's national church publicly repudiated the "strange and foreign" Christian religion. The Reich church openly acknowledged that it intended to place Mein Kampe on church altars instead of the Bible.

With great courage, Niemöllerdefended his Christian faith against Hitler's paganism. In 1937, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau.

Shirer, reflecting on the struggle between Hitler and German Christians during the 1930s, admitted that he had perhaps paid too much attention to it. After all, most Germans were not alarmed by what the Nazis were doing. "I should have realized," Shirer wrote, "that a people who had so lightly given up their political, cultural and economic freedom were not . . . going to die or even risk imprisonment to preserve freedom of worship."

Today, the United States is swirling in a witch's brew of cancel culture, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and "wokedom." Elected politicians publicly denounce the police, and demonstrators feel free to throw bricks and bottles at police officers. Day after day, vandals posing as protesters destroy statues and monuments that memorialize America's heritage. Churches and businesses are being set afire, and almost no one is prosecuted.

If the United States had a free press and healthy universities, all this destructive rhetoric and criminal behavior would be thunderously denounced in the media, much as some newspapers denounced the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.

But America no longer has a free press. Instead, as Bari Weiss wrote this week in a letter to the New York Times," a new consensus has emerged in the press . . . that truth isn't a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else."

If our nation's universities were truly a marketplace of ideas, as the Supreme Court once described them, our intellectuals would speak up when a professor is bullied and even fired for failing to acquiesce to the destructive agenda of the cancel culture. But they are not speaking up.

For the most part, Americans are indifferent to the mass assault on traditional American values and our nation's democratic traditions. Our media and our universities are hell-bent on destroying American society, and few people dare to stand up to them.

We are like the Germans of the 1930s who stayed on the sidelines instead of opposing Hitler's thuggery. And like the Germans, we will eventually regret our cowardice.



Pastor Martin Niemöller spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp.


Monday, July 13, 2020

Two Hispanic cops killed while responding to a domestic disturbance in the border town of McAllen, TX: Do Brown lives matter?

Last Saturday, two police officers were shot and killed in the Texas border town of McAllen. Officers Edelmiro Garza and Ismael Chavez were responding to a domestic disturbance call at a local residence. When they arrived, a man identified as Audon Ignacio Camarillo opened the door and shot both men, who had no time to draw their weapons. Camarillo took his own life later that day.

What does Black Lives Matter have to say about this tragedy? Good cops are dead cops, perhaps.

And how about those lunatics on the Minneapolis City Council--the people who want to dismantle the police department even as they buy personal security for themselves. Do they have any comments?

And the "Defund the Police" nut jobs--what is their take on this?  I suppose they will argue that the city of McAllen should have sent a "woke" social worker to deal with Mr. Camarillo instead of two cops.

Both slain officers were Hispanic, shot in a town that is overwhelmingly Latino (or Latinx). Does ethnicity affect the way anti-police yahoos think about this tragedy? If blue lives don't matter, can they at least acknowledge that Brown lives matter?

All over the United States, the police will tell you that the most dangerous scenario for them is a domestic violence call. The guys who beat their wives are unstable and often have guns. Alcohol is frequently a factor.

What is the best way to deal with these perilous situations--which happen every day all over the United States? Do we dispatch a SWAT team in an armored vehicle? Do we send an unarmed community caseworker? Or do we ask the police to deal with guys like Audon Ignacio Camarillo?

Right now, our society sends cops--both men and women--to deal with domestic abusers, who are human time bombs that can explode unexpectantly.  It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Is it too much to ask, then, to say that blue lives matter? Is it too much to ask Americans to say thank you?





Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Rather than defund the police, let's scrap those armored personnel carriers

George Floyd's death is a tragedy. Police violence toward black men is intolerable and must stop.

So what do we do? Black Lives Matter call for defunding urban police departments, an argument that has a certain appeal. No doubt about it, we could eliminate police violence if we got rid of the police.

But most Americans are opposed to that idea. If we get rid of the cops, critics say, the bad guys will steal our stuff.

Personally, I'm not that worried about people stealing my stuff. Why? Because I have absolutely nothing that anyone would want to take.  

I have a smart TV, but my grandkids tell me that it is not nearly smart enough, and I doubt anyone would burglarize my house to take it. I have hundreds of books on Catholic history and literature, but would anyone want to steal them? Doubtful. As for my Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, please swipe it before I throw it out. 

Here's a better idea for reforming American police departments than merely shutting them down.  Why not take away all their military hardware, including their Army-surplus armored personnel carriers?

According to the New York Times, the U.S. military gave hundreds of tons of military equipment to American police departments between 2006 and 2014, including 432 mine-resistant, ambush-proof armored vehicles (MRAPs) and 93,000 machine guns. 

Police officials say they need military hardware in an era of escalating violence. "I don't like it. I wish it were the way it was when I was a kid," one police chief said.  Nevertheless, "We're not going to go out there as Officer Friendly with no body armor and just a handgun and say 'Good enough.'"

Let's face facts. Over the past 30 years or so, our urban police departments have begun to resemble South American paramilitary units. Surely this transformation from "Officer Friendly" to black-mask wearing SWAT teams has made minority communities more afraid of the police.

And this creeping militarization began long before President Trump took office. The New York Times article I referenced was published when Barack Obama was in office. 



Police officers rightly argue that they occasionally need armored vehicles to deal with riots, looting, and homicidal maniacs. And I sympathize with that view. After all, hundreds of police officers were injured during the George Floyd riots.  If someone is going to throw a brick at me, I would much rather be inside an MRAP truck than standing on the street with only a plastic shield to protect me from the mob.

So I propose a compromise.  The police will stop killing black men in their custody.  The minority community will stop setting fire to their neighborhoods. And the police departments will scrap their armored trucks and give their machine guns back to the Army.

You think such a deal might be arranged?








MRAPS BY STATE
WA
ME
432
= 1 vehicle
ND
MT

Monday, June 8, 2020

All lives don't matter: If you think they do, then you ain't woke

Julia Lea, captain of a Mardis Gras parade group, was denounced recently by her group's members for posting a social media message that said "All Lives Matter."  

Some group members claimed Lea's statement was insensitive, coming so soon after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer on Memorial Day. Lea apologized, explaining she did not know some people would be upset by the phrase, but dozens of group members refused to accept her explanation and resigned from the group.

"As a former police officer and a leader, we don't believe that you didn't know the meaning of these statements and why they are offensive to the Black community and its allies," protesting members said in an open letter. "A leader like you, in a predominantly black city, has no excuse to be that ignorant. This racist statement does not represent us."

Essentially, Lea was condemned by her colleagues for being insufficiently "woke." She didn't know that the phrase "All lives matter" would be interpreted as a racist expression.

Moreover, her unfortunate remark is flat wrong. All lives don't matter: and Lea, a former police officer, should have known that.

First of all, police officers' lives don't matter, at least not this week. Two black police officers were murdered shortly after Floyd's death. Another officer was stabbed in the neck, and nearly 300 NYPD cops have been injured on the job, mostly by thrown bricks and bottles.  But to say "blue lives matter" could be interpreted as an atrocious racist slur. So, for God's sake, don't come to the defense of the police, or you'll be written off as a racist son of a bitch.

According to the CDC, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from opioid overdoses. In fact, since 1999, about three-quarters of a million people have died from drug overdoses. You don't see anyone throwing bricks about that tragic statistic.  No buildings have been looted or burned. Why? Because people who die from drug overdoses don't matter.

Then there are the millions of unborn babies who have been aborted since Roe v. Wade--so many millions we've basically stopped counting.  Hardly anyone is alarmed by those numbers apart from a few Catholics and deranged pro-life activists. And that's as it should be because, as all woke Americans know, unborn babies don't matter. 

So--if you are unwoke and wish to be woke, you can start by repressing any urge to say all lives matter. You might be branded as a racist if you say that right now, and, in any event, it ain't true.


Photo credit: Boston Globe