Can We Trust An Amoral Source To Lead The Resistance Against An Amoral President?

All right, bear with me here.
Discussions on the Tim’s Timely Topics Facebook Page and elsewhere over the last two days have led me to better shape my thoughts on the New York Time’s Op-Ed from the “White House Resistance.” I’d like to share those thoughts with you here, in one message. I am also including this link to the original piece to allow you easy access to full context of any quotes I pull out.
I do not think the decision to release a statement exposing the President’s incompetence to be cowardly.   This president has a long and well documented history of using whatever power available to him to personally and professionally destroy anyone who dares to defy him.   And he currently has access to a considerable amount of power to use toward such goals.
I do not think writing this letter was an act of bravery either though.   No proof of the claims made is provided to be used by us, the readers, to force correction.   No specific incidences of wrong doing are given.
The author, and whatever group is working with him/her, are showing the worst of both aspects here.  They refuse accountability or responsibility while complaining of problems and providing no means to address them.
They do this because they want the problems to continue.  It is to their advantage to create more chaos within the White House, as long as they are suspicious of everyone, they won’t zero in on anyone.   This allows them to keep doing exactly what they are doing.    Which is no better than the president himself.
My original thought, and I still believe it to be the best guess available, is that it was authored by the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. I also believe that it does matter who wrote it, beyond whether it was legitimately written by a member of the White House staff.
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Let me start by saying that I am grateful to know that there are members of the staff that see the problem with Trump’s dangerous lack of morality.
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
 
This is absolutely a problem, and we need people to buffer the world from the damage it could cause while we work to remove him.
But, there’s the rub.
This so called resistance isn’t really attempting to protect the people from the President as it claims.

 

“That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
This is not at all what they are doing.

 

What they are doing is protecting themselves and their corporate donors from the President’s complete lack of understanding of economic and ecological policy and foreign and domestic diplomacy needs.

 

 

They are willing to not only overlook but help obstruct the investigation into his conspiracy with adversarial foreign powers to usurp the Executive Branch of government, and they are willing to overlook and even participate in his stocking of racial hatred and religious bigotry to achieve their party line goals.

“Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more. But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.”
They even went so far as to consider invoking Article 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare him unfit for the office in order to bypass impeachment and remove him.
“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
To sum it all up, this man operating from the shadows for fear of retaliation from both sides, has told us there is a faction in the White House Presidential Administration working against the both the people and the President.   They are overlooking the worst aspects of this president and all the damage he is doing to the American people, economy, and geopolitical power structure, for as long as possible solely so that they can force their own agendas through without us knowing it was them.
They are using the President to shield themselves from accountability to us, and they are protecting him from his own accountability to us to do so.
If they believe that we have a dangerously amoral, incompetent, ignorant, Commander-in-Chief n office then they are duty-bound to do everything within their considerable power to remove him, not to use him to their advantage.
The most truthful, and self-aware, passage in the entire Op-Ed essay is this one, where they tell us they recognize the problem, and have specifically chosen to abdicate themselves from responsibility to fix it at as long as it continues to benefit them:

 

“The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.”
They have the power to fix this, and they have chosen not to for personal gain.
What could be more amoral than co-opting amorality to further a personal agenda?
There is no moral high ground for them to claim here.
If they want our respect and gratitude, they must fulfill their duty to the people, and make the hard decisions.
Step forward.  Step up.

Colorblindness Is Still Racism

With the resurgence of White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and electoral college victory, I am once again seeing many people return to attempting to exempt themselves from any guilt in the resulting racial discord by declaring themselves “colorblind.”

They uses phrases like “I don’t see color, I see people.”

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Image Source

This has been an approach used by White people since the civil rights era of the 1960s, to deflect accusations of racism from being made against them.

As Dr. Williams pointed out in a 2011 article for Psychology Today:

At its face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing — really taking MLK seriously on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It focuses on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity.
However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism.

Ideally, the only reason skin color would need to be mentioned would be as a descriptive device, much like shirt color or hair color.

But that isn’t the case.

People are judged by their skin all the time. And we know all know it, regardless of our own skin color.

Those of us without dark skin haven’t had to cope with that knowledge as it led to our own disadvantage and mistreatment by society, economy, and law enforcement encounters though.

Many years ago renowned sociologist Jane Elliot went around the country asking a single question of White people who had trouble understanding what it meant to be victimized by discrimination.

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She would ask full auditoriums of people “If you as a White person would be happy to receive the same treatment that our Black citizens do in this society, please stand.”

You can view the video of one such instance here.

Invariably, no one would stand.

Ms. Elliot has been a civil rights advocate and educator on the issues of discrimination for decades now and her body of work is quite impressive. I encourage you to research her further.

Just a few weeks ago. this large White man was resisting arrest to the point that three officers have to wrestle him to the ground to subdue and cuff him.

Even as this was happening, he knew deep in his core that being roughed up by the police is something that’s only supposed to happen to Black people.

You can hear him in the video complaining that “You’re treating me like a fucking Black person.”

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View Video

He’s basically saying, in the middle of being arrested, “No matter what I did wrong, I don’t deserve to be treated as badly as a Black person.”

But despite this open display of cognitive awareness of racial injustice along with awareness of and demands for racial privilege, he’s still wrong.

Even as he is tackled by all three of them, he is afforded the privilege of being White.

A Black man of this size requiring three officers to subdue him in this same space would have been lucky to be tasered, likely to be beaten either during or after being subdued, and been at significant risk of being shot.

As an aside; I wonder if, when he gets out, he’ll start to #TakeAKnee to protest police brutality?

Clearly nobody deserves to be treated as poorly as our society treats people of color, especially not the people of color that are actually treated that way.

By claiming to be color blind, we aren’t claiming that we will treat them as well as everyone else. We’re claiming that we refuse to see or acknowledge the hardships, discrimination, overt and systemic racism that they face on a daily basis.

We are telling them that their struggle isn’t worth our attention.

We are telling them that they have to stop seeing their own color as well, so they’ll stop feeling like they receive this treatment because of their color.

People shouldn’t have to deny their cultural and ethnic heritage to “fit in.”

We shouldn’t have to deny their cultural and ethnic heritage or their experiences because of it to accept them.

We should not be color blind.

We should revel in our multiculturalism.

We should celebrate the things that make each ethnicity and culture unique and special while also celebrating and embracing the things that expose our similarities.

We are after all, all one race of humans, separated and shaped by our culture, family histories and personal experiences.

Far too many people love “ethnic” foods while despising the people and cultures that created them.

This is what creates cultural appropriation.

We need to allow our nation to be the multicultural melting pot that our history of immigration was meant to become.

Understand that an educated person of color isn’t surprisingly articulate, they just have an educated vocabulary.

Don’t use natural ethnic and cultural hair styles and dress to be an excuse to suspend children or to bar them from an education, as long as the clothing doesn’t leave them improperly covered for society’s legal standards, the clothing shouldn’t matter.

Don’t ignore the fact that a black person has to teach their kids how not to even appear threatening or intimidating just by having good posture and making eye contact.

Don’t ignore the fact that every time you feel like standing up to a perceived injustice, a black person has had to make that decision 100 times over knowing that their career, future, freedom, and life is on the line for daring to speak out.

Whether we’re talking about White kids that adopt the dress and hair styles of Black, Asian, and South American cultures, or people talking about “Down Home Southern Cooking” without acknowledging the fact that those traditional dishes were the result of the work by the slaves in plantation kitchens, and spread by poor southern Whites aspiring to eat like their wealthy White counterparts.

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on American cuisine. Something I said, or perhaps everything I said, upset her.
My presentation covered 300 years of American history that started with the forced enslavement of millions of Africans, and which still echoes in our culture today, from the myth of the “happy servant” (think Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle) to the broader marketing of black servitude (as in TV commercials for Caribbean resorts, targeted at white American travelers). I delivered the talk to an audience of 30 at the Maier Museum of Art in Lynchburg, Virginia. While I had not anticipated the woman’s displeasure, trying to forget is not an uncommon response to the unsettling tale of the complicated roots of our history, and particularly some of our beloved foods.

The paragraphs above are from the Smithsonian article:

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Don’t appropriate cultural differences while discarding the people and cultures that brought them to us.

Celebrate those wonderful differences, acknowledge and honor where they came from.

It really is okay for Black people to wear khaki pants, polo shirts, and socks with sandals if they want to. Well, at least as okay as it is for White people to do such things.

It’s okay for Native Americans to wear jeans and cowboy hats.

It’s okay for White people grow their hair out and style it into dreadlocks or like rap music.

It’s okay for anyone from any culture to like and honor aspects of any other culture in their own lives.

It is not okay to do so as a means of mocking those of the culture you’ve appropriated it from.

It is not okay to do discriminate and mistreat the people and cultures that provided it to us.

It is okay to want to eat traditional Mexican food.

It is not okay to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement because you don’t like the fact that the people who cooked and served it were speaking Spanish instead of English.

This returns us to the article by Dr. Williams that we started with:

The alternative to colorblindness is multiculturalism, an ideology that acknowledges, highlights, and celebrates ethnoracial differences. It recognizes that each tradition has something valuable to offer. It is not afraid to see how others have suffered as a result of racial conflict or differences.
So, how do we become multicultural? The following suggestions would make a good start (McCabe, 2011):
  1. Recognizing and valuing differences,
  2. Teaching and learning about differences, and
  3. Fostering personal friendships and organizational alliances
Moving from colorblindness to multiculturalism is a process of change, and change is never easy, but we can’t afford to stay the same.

Can you imagine telling anyone you are friends with, “Let’s pretend that nothing that happened before you met me matters in any way to either of us, because I can’t see your history and still view you as a worthy human.”

Can you imagine anyone telling you such a thing. How would you respond to them?

That is what you are doing when you claim to be racially colorblind.

You’re telling them:

“I cannot like you or treat you fairly if I allow myself to see and acknowledge all of what has made you into who you are now, so please don’t make me.”

Why would you expect anyone to be okay with that.

You know you damn well wouldn’t be.

We Shouldn’t Need Color Filters To See The Humanity In Each Other.

Resist, Protest, Persist.

Step 1:  Bust up the unions to eliminate collective bargaining ability.

Step 2:  Implement ironically named “Right to Work” laws that allow employers to fire any employee at any time for any reason without having to prove cause.

Step 3:  Eliminate requirements for vacation/sick leave benefits after allowing businesses to fire people for needing a day off.

Step 4:  Put as many people as possible into non-standard work schedules so they can’t predict from one week to the next when their shifts will be.

Step 5:  Tie health care to employment so people are afraid that if they lose they’re current job they’ll lose their family health care.

The order of the steps is irrelevant, once completed, not only have you made it difficult for many people to be able to get to an open voting center, but you’ve eliminated their ability to be able to coordinate protest and resist injustice without fear of completely losing their ability to provide care for their families.

People all over the world are asking why Americans are not in the street every day right now protesting what is happening in our Congressional Halls, White House, and Federal and Supreme Courts.

This is the answer.

In addition is the fact that far too many of us are allowing ourselves to have what protest efforts we can manage divided. Some people fight for Black Rights, others fight for Women’s Rights, others are fighting Immigration injustices, some fighting the attacks on the press, others fighting environmentally destructive policies, yet others are fighting against voter suppression efforts, and on and on…. that we’re not coming together to deal with the underlying causation of all of them.

No matter what issue is raised about this president it all boils down simply.

We need to remember that we are fighting against a small group of kleptocrats put in power by an adversarial government with the purposes of dismantling America’s democracy and its international influence, and they are using willful ignorance, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and divisive partisan politics to accomplish it.

When viewed in that light, every single thing he has done, and everything others are doing to defend him, makes perfect sense.

And THAT is what all of us need to be protesting.

As many of us as possible, every moment of every day.

We need to protest at the ballots.

We need to protest in the streets.

We need to protest online.

And we need to never give up.

It isn’t just your rights, freedoms, safety, and future you are fighting for. It’s everyone’s. It’s your kid’s. It’s your kid’s kid’s. Whether they understand it or not it is even that of those that voted for and still defend him after all that he’s already done.

Is There, Really, A Case For Impeachment?

The question keeps coming up about whether a president can be charged, or maybe even be investigated, while in office.

The Constitution has clear instructions on what to do if a president is removed based upon conviction of certain crimes, which could not happen without such an investigation being held and charges being filed.

Article II Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States reads:

 

Article 2 – The Executive Branch
Section 4 – Disqualification

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

 

Bribery and other high Crimes and Misdemeanor charges are no doubt already forthcoming from the Mueller staff based upon everything we have already seen, especially the developments from this last week.

Mueller is now up to 192 indictment charges, nearly thirty people and three companies are among those charged already and the indictments clearly indicate charges against more as yet unnamed conspirators coming soon.

Roger Stone openly admitted that not only was he likely the unnamed “U.S. Person” serving as the conduit between a Russian operative and the President’s campaign but that the only person on that campaign he had contact with during that time was Donald Trump.   Thus, openly confessing live on CNN not only his own guilt but that of President Trump.

 

According to the indictment: “The Conspirators, posting as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back…”

“In initially denying that this passage referred to him, Stone stepped in it, bigly. He told CNN (emphasis mine) that he didn’t think he was the unnamed person in the indictment because, ‘My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials.'”

And then, “I think I probably am the person referred to,” he said on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time.

 

The Mueller investigation has already documented quite a few different ways the Russians were funneling money to the Trump campaign, including through the NRA, so bribery has easily been established.

Each of these by itself is grounds for impeachment and conviction, which would then invalidate the placement of the entire administration under the Constitutional article referenced above.

Now, after the Helsinki Summit, we’re hearing talk of Treason.

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.

However, the Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war. Acts of dis-loyalty during peacetime are not considered treasonous under the Constitution. Nor do acts of Espionage committed on behalf of an ally constitute treason.

It is also important to note that under Article III a person can levy war against the United States without the use of arms, weapons, or military equipment.

In 2012, the Pentagon concluded that computer sabotage by another country could constitute an act of war.

 

The officials emphasize, however, that not every attack would lead to retaliation. Such a cyber attack would have to be so serious it would threaten American lives, commerce, infrastructure or worse, and there would have to be indisputable evidence leading to the nation state involved.

 

Saundra McDavid, Faculty Member of School of Business at American Military University, explains:

Actions that would qualify as acts of war are 1) the disruption or destruction of a nation’s financial institutions and nuclear command and control systems, and 2) computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks or financial systems that might result in physical damage or economic disruption of Department of Defense (DoD) operations. These events would rise to the level of cyber attacks that could prompt a declaration of war.

We have linked the cyber attack to Russia, both through social engineering, through hacking efforts against the DNC and Clinton campaign, through manipulation of our voting machines, and our voter registration databases.

We have established links for the funding of it through the NRA.

We have linked both the Russian operatives and the the NRA operatives to the Trump campaign and directly to the President through Roger Stone, at the very least.

The result of these actions is the destruction of American environmental protections by Trump appointed EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

The near complete undoing of Civil Rights by Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos in the Justice and Education departments respectively.

The stoking of racial and religious hate crimes by the President himself.

The threat of abandoning our allies in the United Nations along with the agreement to pull back from North Korea leaving all the former territories of the U.S.S. R. unprotected and ripe for re absorption by Putin’s Russia.

Starting trade wars that are detrimental to American farmers and businesses, and our allies, but beneficial to Russia who will fill the gap in product loss on the international markets caused by the tariff wars.

Trump is dismantling our government from the top of every organization downward.   He is destroying long standing economic alliances.   He is putting American jobs at risk while claiming the corporate profits are rising.  He is putting American lives at risk by removing environmental protections of them and stoking violent hate crimes.  His administration is committing crimes against humanity at our southern border, by actively abducting and trafficking in immigrant children while extorting their families for political purposes.

No matter what issue is raised about this president, and his administration, it all boils down simply.

 

We need to remember that we are fighting against a small group of kleptocrats put in power by an adversarial government with the purposes of dismantling America’s democracy and its international influence, and they are using willful ignorance, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and divisive partisan politics to accomplish it.

 

When viewed in that light, every single thing he has done, and everything others are doing to defend him, makes perfect sense.

The president of the United States accepted bribes from a hostile foreign government and conspired to assume power and put that government’s interests in advance of Americans to the determent of American lives.

The attack on our elections was an act of war directly resulting in the disruption or destruction of a nation’s financial institutions and nuclear command and control systems and financial systems that might result in physical damage or economic disruption of Department of Defense (DoD) operations.

It has threatened American lives, commerce, infrastructure and worse, and there is indisputable evidence leading to the nation state involved

This is treason.

This is every single issue the founders said could individually result in not only the removal of the President, but also his Vice President and every civil service member of his administration.    This should invalidate any appointments or laws executive orders issued by such a president as well.

Any member of congress who, knowing all of these things, continues to obstruct Mueller’s investigation is just as guilty as those already convicted of these acts.

There will be pressure, very soon, from Republicans on Trump to resign, as Nixon did, to prevent impeachment.  If this happens, and the investigation stalls as a result, the rest of the Trump administration and cabinet will be allowed to remain in place.

There is enough evidence already to impeach and remove them all.

Barring that, absolutely no further appointments should be confirmed until the investigation has completed, especially not life long judicial appointments.

Step Up. Step Forward. Step In.

I have, up to this point, refrained from saying much on this specific person, but now it is time to do so, but I’m not looking to have the same discussion everyone else is having regarding her and what she did.
Earlier this month, a white woman found herself filled with faux-fear of Black people gathering in the public space at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California for a barbecue.

As a result of this fake fear she called the police and reported the group for “suspicious behavior” for no reason other than to get the police to officially harass the family, most likely in the hope that someone would become belligerent about the unwarranted harassment and give the police an excuse to escalate the encounter.

We know for a fact her reported fear was a false fear because she spent the entire time waiting for the police verbally harassing the group, shouting at and berating them.

Thankfully, the police handled this situation correctly, and she was the one they ended up removing.

In the aftermath she has experienced her 15 minutes of Internet infamy, finding her image photoshopped into nearly every significant image of people of color gathering from Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech to “Soul Train,” to the “Sugar Shack,” to the “Last Supper.” In every image she is on her mobile phone reporting the suspicious gathering to the police.

We also now know that she is a Stanford educated Doctor of Philosophy with a focus on Chemical Engineering. Her name is Dr. Jennifer Schulte.

This means that intelligent or not, she is most definitely highly educated. We also know that a racist “Doctor of Philosophy with a focus in Chemical Engineering” is the closest social media will allow you to come to labeling yourself a “Doctor of Eugenics” whether on your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile.

What I want to talk about is bigger than her.
What I want to talk about is bigger than the increasing frequency of exposure of white people reporting people of color to the police in order to have them harassed for going about their normal daily activities. Activities such as meeting friends at a Starbucks, leaving an Airbnb property, napping in the college dorm, or just trying to do their job.

What I want to talk about is bigger than the racist bigots calling ICE on anyone with a Latinx/Hispanic appearance or who dares to speak Spanish in a public space. Especially if their targets happen to be working in a restaurant or other service industry business. They do this with no regard to the fact that many, if not most of them, may very well be natural citizens and legal immigrants, they just want to see them persecuted for daring to share the same space.
What I want to talk about is bigger than all of that.

I want to talk about us, and by “Us” I mean all the White people, just like me who consider ourselves to be “not a racist,” but live in a world that accepts all of this going on around us on a daily basis.

The racist argument is based entirely on the fact that an entire classification of people can be judged by the behaviors of their worst members, no matter how few of those worst examples there are.

As long as we allow this to continue unchecked, as long as there are not consequences for the worst of those of our own demographic, we cannot honestly blame anyone for grouping us in with our own worst element. And sadly, we have more than a few. We’ve empowered them into the highest levels of our government, economy, and social structure.

People with beliefs just like Dr. Jennifer Schulte are teachers, loan officers, police officers, politicians, firemen, ambulance technicians, doctors, plumbers, contractors, bus drivers, and more. And if this is the way they behave when they expect anonymity and/or preferential deference, you know that they’re unleashing far worse on their targets within their professional capacity to do so at every opportunity they believe they can get away with it.

We’ve allowed them to establish the laws, regulations, rules, policies, procedures, and algorithms that permit them to enforce their bigotry and hatred upon their victims.

We often even benefit from the systemic racism they’ve established, it’s become so entrenched that we may not even notice it. And when it is pointed out to us, we often become defensive. We say we didn’t make the rules. We say we don’t have the ability to change them. But, we don’t go out of our way to avoid the benefit of them either.

It is no longer enough, it really never has been enough, to be not-racist. We must all be aggressively anti-racist.

We must call it out whenever we see it.

Every instance.

Every time.

This is the pro-active strategy that we can implement:

Be alert and vigilant in public spaces. Look for a “suspicious” white person when a black person or a group of black people walk into the space.

Such a person will appear nervous, agitated, or angry. If they call the police:

1. Begin to record the scene.

2. Approach the black individual(s) and explain that you are an ally as a witness.

3. Call a friend or relative to let them know what you are doing and that you may get arrested.

4. Remain on site as a witness until the police arrive.

5. Once the police arrive, engage with the police if they detain or arrest the black individual(s). Get names and badges numbers.

6. If the black individuals are handcuffed and taken to the police station, DO NOT post your video on social media.

7. Instead, call local media.

8. Call the local bar association to get a pro bono attorney to follow up.

If you sense that the police may arrest you, immediately send your video footage to your cloud account or a friend.
If arrested, do not say a word while detained in lock-up.

You have privilege.

Don’t just talk about how bad things are, or worse, ignore overt and systemic racism as “Not my problem, not my responsibility.”

Use it to create equality for those that do not.

Until we take it upon ourselves to bring about the necessary change, nothing is going to change.

You have privilege.

Don’t just talk about how bad things are, or worse, ignore overt and systemic racism as “Not my problem, not my responsibility.”

Use it to create equality for those that do not.

Until we take it upon ourselves to bring about the necessary change, nothing is going to change.

Please Pay Attention

Immediately after Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw its military troops from Syria, another chemical attack occurred in within the country.

 

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A picture said to show victims of the attack in a building in Douma. Credit Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, via Associated Press

 

In response, Israeli fighters used Lebanese airspace to launch missiles at an Iranian base in Russian and Turkish supported Syria, using the chemical attacks on Syrian citizens as their justification.

All while a blustering United States President –with no understanding of diplomacy or conflict resolution — refuses to stand against Russia or Syria in any substantive way because he hero worships the leaders of Russia and Turkey.

Meanwhile, that same United States President is engaged in a trade war with China undermining any incentive for them to help with North Korean negotiations.

At the same time he’s escalating a border conflict with Mexico.

Then there is the domestic front, where The United States President’s Administration is inciting racial and religious discord, sowing distrust in the free press, dismantling our educational systems as well as our environmental and civil rights protections for personal gain, using his office to attack a business rival (who wouldn’t be a rival if the President had properly divested from his businesses when elected), and tanking the stock market with ill-thought social media commentary.

All this happens as the president is facing impeachment, civil, and criminal legal issues ranging from violations of Federal Elections Commissions regulations during his campaign, to conspiracy against the United States in the election, to obstruction of justice and abuse of power, to sexual harassment, to witness tampering.

If you don’t see where all this combined international and domestic designed incompetence and conflict is headed, you really need to start paying better attention.

Pluralistic Ignorance – Overcoming #Culturalinertia Part 7.

A recurring theme on the blog, the corresponding Facebook page and Twitter feed, over the course of the year has been exposing #Culturalinertia and discussing how it affects us.  You can read those previous entries here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Today, as the year nears its end, I’d like to put forth for specific consideration a slightly different type of message.

Instead of looking at specific examples of the phenomenon, let’s look at the major cause of it and the best tool available to us to over come it.

One of the major causes of Cultural Inertia is termed “Pluralistic Ignorance.”

 

Pluralistic ignorance occurs when people erroneously infer that they feel differently from their peers, even though they are behaving similarly.

 

This ignorance can be reinforced or overcome by properly applying the concepts of “Social Proof.”

 

Social proof is based on the idea of normative social influence, which states that people will conform in order to be liked by, [people] similar to [them] or accepted by the influencer (or society).

 

The combination of these concepts indicates that people, when unsure of how to behave, will look to those around them who are similiar to them, or people they respect, and mirror that behavior.

The need to conform to the social proof can even force a behavioral change in someone who knows the actions they are observing to be morally incorrect so as not to be seen as different and made an outcast.

Now, consider a Person of Color being verbally abused by a White racist, if nobody stops to intervene, the social proof for those walking by is that the behavior is acceptable enough that they are not supposed to do anything about it, even if they disagree with it.  Especially if they are physically similar in appearance to the attacker instead of the victim.

If there are mutliple attackers the social norm could drive enough pluralistic ignorance to compel those passing by to join in the attack instead of help the victim, even if they themselves would not normally initiate such an incident on their own.

However, if another similar looking White person stops to intervene, another will follow their lead instead of that of the attacker.   This proof of proper behavior will spur more to choose the role of protectors.

When it comes to this bigotry and racism, we need to change the social proof to indicate without question that such behavior is unacceptable.   We cannot allow the normal accepted response to such behavior to be apathetic indifference or a mob mentality attack.

Until we do so, we condemn ourselves to having to constantly wonder why this is still continuing, why we must keep having the same battles.   And worse, we condemn those victims of it to the choice of either remaining victims or aggressively reversing the situation on their own, and then we’ll complain about their methodology instead of helping them specifically because they violated the social norms of acceptable behavior themselves.

The social proof of pluralistic ignorance becomes even harder, but more vital, to overcome when those in positions of great power and authority are openly displaying and calling for behavior we know to be abhorrent and unacceptable.

When that happens admissions of sexual assault become “locker room talk,” and secretly conspiring with adversarial governments to undermine and overthrow our own becomes “partisan disagreement.”

If you want to break the momentum of this, or any, Cultural Inertia, you must be willing to be an agent of change.  You must step up and help provide the social proof that the behavior you want to see is behavior that others should mirror.

You need to be the shining light allowing those lost in the dark to see.

If you aren’t willing to do that, you have become one of those lost to the pluralistic ignorance, reinforced by the social proof you see around you, that has led you to believe that it is too late to do anything or that anything you do won’t be enough.

As long as enough people believe that, they’ll continue to be right.

It is time to change the norms.

We must, each of us, be willing to be the one that makes the change.

Is Accountability Really What You Want?

Remember that the Republicans devoted more than a two-year investigation, encompassing 33 hearings held in congressional investigations and four public hearings, at an estimated cost of $7 million and counting, to the involvement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the events related to the attack on Benghazi.

 

Ultimately, while the conclusions drawn by the competing reports are in sharp contrast with each other, neither place blame directly on Clinton for her actions during the Benghazi attack. The Republicans’ report alleges that “the response to the attacks suffered from confusion and miscommunication circulating between agencies,” NBC News reports. The Democrats’ report concludes, “the U.S. military could not have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives of the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi.” Both, undoubtedly, are correct to some degree. Perhaps now, after four years and eight separate investigations that all failed to find evidence of a cover-up, the G.O.P. can move on.

 

We can all rest assured that if the Republicans — who spent nearly three decades campaigning against the possibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency — had found a single actionable item with enough merit to convene a grand jury or allow them to bring charges they would have done so.  If for no other reason than to be able to say she was on trial during the 2016 campaign cycle.

 

But they didn’t, because their own investigations always led back to the same conclusions.   That the blame for the incident lied solely with Republican forced budget cuts to the State Department’s security funding, and that as a result, no support troops were in range to respond within a time frame to have prevented the outcome that occurred.

Recently the Republican President added the African nation of Chad last month to his most recent installment of travel restrictions, and everyone from the Pentagon to Chad’s leaders to the French government was perplexed. The U.S. has praised Chad’s cooperation on counterterrorism, especially its campaign against a vicious Boko Haram insurgency spilling over from Nigeria.

 

All because Chad had simply run out of passport paper to issue new passports.

 

Instead of allowing those with proper passports to enter, Trump decided to add everyone from the nation to his ban of all travelers to the U.S. 

 

At a crucial moment, the Trump administration has caused unnecessary friction with Chad, whose military is the strongest in the region.

 

As a result, Chad’s leadership withdrew their soldiers that were the primary fighting force against ISIS and Boko Haram in Niger from the region.

 

This allowed for an immediate resurgence of enemy forces that led to the deaths of four American Army special forces personnel who were on a mission in unarmored non-military vehicles with no planned air support.

 

The French military provided air support within 30 minutes of being called, but refused to open fire because they could not identify a specific target without the risk of hitting U.S. and Nigerian forces also.

 

The extraction of this team was farmed out to a French “contractor,” Berry Aviation., which failed to recover one of soldiers during the extraction effort.

 

The Republican president’s administration covered up the incident for several days until that last body could be recovered.

 

Then the president diverted attention from the actual incident by redirecting it to his mismanagement of the contact of family members and subsequent obvious lies about that.

 

He then had his Chief of Staff publicly attack the integrity of a Black Congresswoman with fabricated accusations to create more diversion from the original incident in retaliation of her exposure of the lies.

 

Anyone still screaming “Lock her up!”, or “But Benghazi!”, and not equally incensed about the details of the deaths in Niger, were clearly never interested in achieving accountability, in protecting or saving American lives, or in identifying the issues that led to these deaths and preventing them from happening again.   They are simply desperate to “Lock her up” on whatever Trumped up charge they can get to stick.

 

Shouldn’t this newest incident, and these four new deaths, warrant the same level of diligent investigation as the first?

 

If you think not; why not?

 

Please show your work.

Improving Social Discourse, One Word At A Time.

Language has evolved throughout history and will continue to do so far into the future.

As part of that evolution words get repurposed.

When people originally began using the word “run,’ they had no way of knowing it would eventually be used to describe the functionality of an engine, motor, or electrical appliance.

Or, that the word “gay,” which originally described being happy or carefree, would become used to indicate a person’s sexual attraction to partners of the same gender.

Sometimes, words take on a newer derogatory meaning.

During the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, “gay,” was repurposed again by many to describe something that was considered stupid, bad, or lame.

Sometimes, derogatory words are reclaimed to diminish their abusive usage.

This is seen with the incorporation of the word “gay” back into the mainstream acceptance of the LGBTQ community.   People often use “LGBTQ” or “LGBTQ+” to mean everyone included in the “LGBTTTQQIAA” community.  This includes Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Transsexuals, Two-Spirited people, Queers, Intersexuals, Asexuals, and Allies, as well as those who identify as Pansexual, Agender, Gender Queer, Bigender, Gender Variant, and Pangender.

Additionally, there are instances in which aspects of popular culture change the meaning of a word.  In the 1970s, the phrase “Bad ass” was used to describe something as exceptionally good or tough.   The 1980s shortened this further to “Bad,” redefining the way the word was used for years.

Finally, we will see conflation and/or redefinition of terms to push a political agenda.

During the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the American government managed a massive, and remarkably successful campaign to conflate all of the widely varied definitions of Socialism and the definition of Communism into one great “Anti-American” enemy in order to pave the way for the unleashing of Corporatism on the socially democratic Capitalism that made the United States the greatest and strongest economy the world had ever seen at that point with the strongest middle class that had ever existed.  The success of this propaganda effort is still clear today as those fighting against progressive reform attempt to label those fighting for it as un-American, communists, or evil socialists!

After the Civil Rights movement successfully made overt racism unacceptable, this era also brought about a much more subtle and subversive form of racial oppression by those in power.  Some attempted to repackage the language of their racism behind false patriotism, while others held out Freedom of Religion as a shield for their hatred.   This ushered in an era of better veiled, but more extensive systemic racism in deceptive packaging.

These various forms of language evolution happen so regularly that each year the Oxford English Dictionary adds entries for approximately 1000 new words, along with roughly 4000 new definitions, to the compendium of our language.

Now, more than ever, due to the politicizing of many important words, it has become vital to ensure we use words that truly communicate the meaning we are attempting to convey.

The disconnect in the arguments presented against progress and understanding often come from an intentional deception behind the misuse of the words used to present those arguments.

We need to evaluate the more divisive words used in these discussions.

This requires differentiating between preferential bias, bigotry, racism, and racial oppression.

People may find themselves more attracted to a person of the same skin color or even a different color as sexual partners or friends.    This is preferential bias.   It does not necessarily mean they hate or dislike people that don’t match what they are naturally drawn to.

If, however, a person hates people of different color and treats them in a manner less respectful than other people because of their skin color, he is displaying overt bigotry.

When bigotry progresses to the use of derogatory language to dehumanize another, or an attempt to bring harm to another – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. — because of this arbitrary criterion, we have entered the realm of racism.

Combining racism with the power to create a more sweeping practice to dehumanize and/or harm entire communities creates institutionalized racial oppression and injustice.

Often those resisting the fight to reform institutionalized racial oppression and injustice will qualify their statements with some form of “I’m not racist, but…”

What they’re really saying is:

 

“I don’t call those people derogatory words, I don’t burn crosses in their yards, I don’t wear a hood to lynching parties, but I don’t want those people living in my neighborhood, or going to school with my kids, and if they’re being unconstitutionally beaten or killed by police it’s probably because they deserve it.”

 

Clearly, these people are racist, they have just learned not to be overt, by using coded language.

These same people like to toss around the word “Thug,” because the use of words such as the “N-word” make it impossible for their metaphorical white supremacy hood to mask their racist identity.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the original definition of “thug” is:

 

“A member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travellers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.”

 

The same source lists the correct current definition as:

 

“A violent person, especially a criminal.”

 

Yet, as John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, explains; what people mean when they use it in context of talking about black people protesting injustice, or even Black people in general, is:

 

“A nominally polite way of using the N-word. Many people suspect it, and they are correct. When somebody talks about thugs ruining a place, it is almost impossible today that they are referring to somebody with blond hair. It is a sly way of saying there go those black people ruining things again.”

 

With this connotation, even community leaders and rich, successful businessmen become “disgusting, disrespectful thugs” if they dare to protest injustice, even peacefully.

Which brings us to “respect.”

Over the last year a passage has been traveling the internet that explains the misuse of this term quite well.

 

Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.”

And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person.”

And they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

 

Demanding respect while refusing to return it exposes the incredible sensitivity over the word privilege, especially regarding White Privilege.

Having privilege does not mean having a better life.   It means having less barriers to a decent life than others.   This privilege often manifests in ways that those benefiting don’t even realize is happening.

 

  •  A White person receives a job offer because the resume of a better qualified person of color was thrown in the trash because the hiring manager didn’t like the ethnic sounding name.
  • A White person makes an offer on a house in a great school district, because a family of color wasn’t shown the house the previous week by a realtor attempting to maintain the “racial integrity” of the neighborhood and school.
  • A White person gets stopped for running a stop sign and doesn’t have to immediately begin thinking about how they’re going to survive the next few minutes if their skin color is scary enough to make the officer “fear for their safety.”

 

Privilege is the absence of systemic obstacles created to provide a more difficult path to success for a specific group of people.   If those obstacles are designed properly, people who are not affected by them, never notice them.   We have spent centuries perfecting the design.

Look at how hard some states make it for specific communities to obtain the necessary ID to vote. Intentionally placing the offices which provide the necessary documentation to receive ID as far from each other and from the community as possible, making the hours of operation of such centers difficult for low income families with multiple jobs, and who rely on public transportation, to utilize.  They do all this, however; without creating a fee for the actual ID that can be identified as a poll tax.

Just before a push for voter registration began for the 2016 primaries, Alabama closed more than thirty of their Driver’s License locations in Democratic districts to make voter registration of new low income Democratic Voters more difficult.

Wisconsin pulled a similar trick by eliminating polling centers forcing voters to travel to much harder to reach locations, with limited hours of availability, and longer waiting lines designed to deter elderly, infirm voters, as well as those with small children and no financial resources for child care while voting.

Privilege is a “trigger-issue” for many White people because it forces them to admit that successful Blacks managed to become more successful despite having to overcome greater obstacles.

Black families have long taught their children it’s necessary to work twice as hard as a White person from the same neighborhood to achieve half as much.   While I am not sure the ratio still holds exactly true, the concept certainly has not been invalidated, yet.

This brings us to “equality.”

Those arguing against equality use an argument that defines equality as the same in all aspects.   They claim those fighting for equality want everyone to drive the same fancy cars and live in the same fancy houses.

This is not what anyone fighting for equality is attempting to achieve.

We are fighting for:

 

Equality of Opportunity

 

All people regardless of color, gender, religion, sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, or any other arbitrary qualifier should have the same opportunity, the same obstacles or lack of them to their success.    Whether they achieve their own definition of success in life should be nothing more than a matter of individual drive, motivation, persistence and ability instead of systemic blocks to prevent them from becoming successful because those who have already obtained more power don’t approve of them.

 

Equality of Pay

 

The point isn’t that everyone should be paid the same amount of money despite their type of work, quality of work, or volume of work.   Only, that two people doing the same type of work, the same volume of work, the same quantity of work should not be paid less because of any of those arbitrary criteria.   Assuredly, those doing better work and/or more work, should not be paid less.

 

Equality of Justice

 

No one is saying that White people should be treated worse by police, or sentenced more harshly for the crimes they commit.   The argument is that People of Color should not be treated any worse than those White people that commit the same violations, nor should they be sentenced any more harshly.

 

The race for equality is not over when the first person or team crosses the finish line, it is only complete when the last does.
Those bringing up the rear could get there sooner if everyone would help push and pull each other forward along the way.
Our society would be far better off if those that had already reached the finish would grab a vehicle and go back to start giving rides.
Sadly though, far too many reach the end and forget all about those they left behind, even the ones that helped them along the way.
Even worse, a significant number are intentionally laying traps to hinder those behind them.   They don’t have to do it by tossing around dehumanizing slang.   What they’re doing is far more evil.

 

We must stop them.

 

When it comes to racism, institutional oppression, and injustice, there are no innocent bystanders.

You’re either guilty, an enabler, a victim, or you’re actively working to put an end to it to help the victims.

If you choose to fight against these things in our society and help us progress forward to a truly inclusive and cooperative society, don’t allow your opponents to redefine and reframe your message.

Finally, we must understand the vast difference between access and inclusion.

A retail business may become handicap accessible by putting a wheel chair ramp outside their front door and rails in the bathroom stall.  That doesn’t make the aisles inside wide enough or clear enough for a wheel chair to traverse, or the products reachable by someone confined to a wheelchair.

Telling People of Color they can use the bus, but they have to ride in specific seats because they’re not worthy of the better ones was similar.

This is what access without inclusion is telling people:

 

“You can use this service, we’ll let you inside, but everyone, especially you, should clearly understand you’re not really welcome here.”

 

I hope you’ll join me, and that this information helps, in the fight to build a more equal and inclusive society.

One where no one must give up their ethnic identity, religion, gender identity, sexuality, or find a way to “pass” just to be welcomed.  

One where we openly acknowledge our commonalities and celebrate, instead of requiring forced denial, of our differences.

A society in which the success of one person or group does not require the manufactured failure of another.

 

It’s Time To Take A Stand — Overcoming Cultural Inertia Part 5

This is the fifth entry in an ongoing series exposing entrenched patterns in our societal culture that hinder our progress and what we can do to break free of them.   Previous entries are still available.   Part 1.   Part 2Part 3Part 4.

It is time to take a stand.  Neutrality is not an option.

Now, more than ever, if you are not part of the solution, you ARE the problem.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote in his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail:

 

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

 

The long term aggressive societal enforcement of that negative peace is why we are still having the exact same civil rights battles today.

It is why there are actual armed Confederate Nazis walking the streets of our nation waving the war banners and screaming the rhetoric of the two greatest enemies our nation has ever faced and holding rallies to advocate for the continuance of systemic injustice, oppression, and advocating for religious and racial genocide.

It is why the stance of such people has been allowed to be elevated to acceptable modern political discourse.

It is no longer enough for anyone to be “not a racist,” we must be actively anti-racist.   It is no longer enough to be “not a fascist,” we must be actively anti-fascist.

Recently, a family member of mine, in response to a message on my own social media page, commented that:

The antifa who attacked peaceful white nationalists in Berkeley are exactly as morally corrupt as those white nationalists who perpetrated violence against peaceful demonstrators on the left. To make quips that somehow the media is being unfair is disingenuous and ultimately serves to perpetuate the myth that only one side can be right. In Berkeley, the Left has successfully quashed free speech for the Right. It’s wrong.

 

With this statement, and the lengthy debate that followed, he continued to equate a moral equivalency with those that stand against racism, oppression, and genocide as with those that advocate for them.

Let me be perfectly clear.

There is nothing peaceful about racial, religious, gender, sexuality or any other form of enforced systemic oppression.

There is nothing peaceful about open calls for genocide.

There are no “good people” who advocate for such things.

Let me say that again.

There are no “good people” who advocate for such things.

Anyone who attempts to tell you there is has already joined their ranks.

If you make the claim, “I’m not racist,” or “I don’t support fascism” but you don’t actively and aggressively stand against those things each and every time they occur in your presence, then you are the problem.   Possibly even more of a problem than those that actually are actually advocating for or committing such atrocities

Silence is acceptance.   Silence is permission to continue.   Silence is permission to escalate.

If you aren’t willing to have these discussions with those friends and family you’re closest to because you don’t want to make things “uncomfortable,” you will never have them in situations with acquaintances, co-workers, or strangers which will be even more uncomfortable.

Your refusal to step in and step up, signals to all the victims of such things that you are okay with what is happening to them.   And that makes you as much the cause of everything they must endure as the people doing it to them.

People don’t stop oppressing others because their victims complain about it.

Abusers don’t stop abusing because their victims complain about it.

They stop when someone with equal or more power/authority makes them stop.

For people of color victimized by systemic injustice that leaves two options.

Wait for enough anti-racist Whites who already have power to actively force change in the laws and the enforcement of them, or seize enough power to do it themselves.

Legalized voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College have made seizing that power through any legal means nearly impossible, leaving only riot/rebellion as viable options.

If Whites don’t want to see those riots and rebellions continue to escalate then they need to start using whatever the power and privileges they have attained to force the changes necessary to prevent it.

Saying we must remain civil and entertain such things as legitimate political discourse is what allows it to continue today.    If we had dealt with this after the Civil War instead of embracing the Lost Cause appeasement narrative to soothe the Southern Whites after their treasonous uprising was defeated, if we had dealt with it during the Jim Crow era, if we had dealt with our own nationalism and racism after World War II, if we had dealt with it during the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century, we would not still be having to fight to maintain the small progress we’ve made on these issues to prevent backslide, but instead advancing as a fully integrated society striving for mutual success and betterment.

The former Naval Intelligence Officer and current political and social commentator Jim Wright had this to say just this week:

 

jimwright
Original Link

 

At the very beginning, the United States threw off the mantle of a theocracy to declare its own freedom.

Then, the Union of States went to war to stop a treasonous uprising of the Confederates who wanted to retain the right to enslave People of Color.

We not only joined, but led the world, in two World Wars to put an end to fascist states and their leaders.

The vast majority of the world’s military powers went to war to fight Nazi fascism and White Supremacy and put an end to the genocide and oppression they were spreading.

We set up the United Nations in order to help police the world and stand up for all those whose rights have been oppressed.

After the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century, the United States government began work to end segregation and work towards legislating equality of rights.

Yes, along the way, we could have and should have done much better at enforcing those equal rights. And some corrupt/flawed leadership led us astray or convinced us to turn a blind eye to where we might be needed, more than once.

Despite the missteps, we’ve prided ourselves on continuing to push forward, always.

The United States has always defined patriotic pride as fighting against the oppression of fascists, and built the world’s greatest modern military to do so.

Today, Nazis have formed a resurgence and established a power base in the White House.

And the Republican President is equating those that would stand against them as being just as bad as them.

They, along with him, are treating being “anti-fascist” as unpatriotic and using it as a derogatory term.

To make matters worse, the press is helping them by adopting their terminology in reporting the resistance to fascism, hate speech, calls for violence against our own citizenry, and armed intimidation tactics.

These modern American Nazis aren’t clashing with “antifa.”

They’re clashing with real patriotic Americans doing exactly what we are supposed to do — what we’ve always done — standing up and defending the constitutional and human rights of others, as aggressively as necessary against the fascists that would deny them.

If you are going to instigate violence and hate crimes you cannot play the victim when good people are brave enough to step up and shut you down.

If you truly believe you are a patriot, especially one who has taken a military oath of office or has sworn to protect and serve the public, you should be standing right there in line against all those that would openly call for oppression and genocide. Against all those that would incite terrorist attacks within our own borders, against our own citizens.

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

While that oath of allegiance sworn by every officer and enlisted in the U.S. military is a requirement to follow every lawful order they receive, it also enforces upon them a duty to disobey an unlawful one. And to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic, even when — especially when — that enemy turns out to be among their own ranks, even one of superior rank.

The same holds true of Police who swear to protect and serve. The oath doesn’t exempt them from protecting against criminals in uniforms abusing their power from behind the protection of the badge.

And yet, still, the conservative news outlets, and their faithful believers, are claiming that the Utah nurse, Alex Wubbles, should have abandoned her oath to protect her patients’ lives, health, and personal welfare while in her care and just complied with the unlawful and unwarranted attempt of police Detective Jeff Payne to draw blood from an unconscious victim (not a suspect).  An action the officer was so desperate to take that he attempted to bribe hospital personnel with favorable treatment from his second job as an ambulance driver.  He was in violation of the law, offering to put more patients at risk by bypassing other hospitals to get to them, violating the rules and conduct for both of his jobs, in order to obtain the blood of a victim of his own police chase unrelated to any aspect of the crime or suspect that led to that chase.   And for her bravery, she was arrested, and detained illegally.   By doing so, the officer prevented her from doing her job, prevented her from providing care to an unconscious, critically burned, car accident victim.   In Utah, as it should be anywhere, interfering with a health care professional in the performance of their job is a felony assault.  It should carry two counts, one for the health care worker and one for their patient.

People are telling us that instead of standing against such fascist abuse of power by criminals with badges, we should just comply, no matter the cost to ourselves or those around us for doing so.

It is the same thing they have been telling People of Color for similar incidents for years, decades, centuries.   “If you don’t comply with unlawful demands of those with authority, you deserve what you get.”

To make matters far worse, the people who believe this — that maintaining peaceful order is more important than achieving a just and fair society have attained the highest offices in both our Federal and State legislatures and Executive offices.  For them, there is no need for those enforcing the law to follow, or even know, the law in the process.

This nurse did absolutely everything within her power to defend her patient.  We all should do no less.  But those with the training and ability and authority to do more that stand by and watch instead of intervene are just as guilty.

In the case of Alex Wubbles, we can view her patient as the a representative of all victims of systemic oppression and abuse of authority.   The nurse is a representative of all those “anti-fascists that would stand against them by whatever means necessary to defend themselves and others.

More importantly, the other officer accompanying Detective Jeff Payne, who stood there as an innocent bystander and allowed it all to happen instead of stepping in and using his own authority and power to defend both her and the victim from being attacked by the obviously incorrect, unacceptable. and illegal behavior of his fellow officer, is a perfect representative of the people this essay is about.

Those that choose to remain detached and allow it to happen while convincing themselves that it isn’t their fault or their responsibility to do anything about it are the people this essay is about.

Those Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive Whites who talk about systemic injustice without ever pushing,  let along demanding, any legislation to correct those injustices are the people this essay is about.

Those that would prefer not to have the hard conversations with their family, friends, and coworkers, because they don’t want to make the racist oppressors that they know uncomfortable are the people this essay is about.

This is the negative peace we have allowed to become entrenched within our cultural inertia and from which we must break free.

In a brilliant excerpt, published in The Atlantic for his new book, “We Were Eight Years In Power,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes of our new Republican President who rose to office on a campaign of fascist White Nationalism and racist rhetoric:

 

Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

 

The essay concludes with this:

 

[T]here really is no other way to read the presidency of Donald Trump. The first white president in American history is also the most dangerous president—and he is made more dangerous still by the fact that those charged with analyzing him cannot name his essential nature, because they too are implicated in it.

 

It was not a slip of the tongue when, speaking about White Nationalist Confederate Nazis in Charlottesville, Donald Trump said there were good people on both sides of the situation.   He even went so far as to include himself amonth those so called “Alt-Right” rally attendees by stating how terrifying it was when the counter protestors to White Nationalist Racism “Came at us.”

People of Color have always had more to lose and the electoral college by design designates their vote value to the old 3/5 of a White vote.

I do not blame a single person of color for being so disenfranchised by our system that to them it really didn’t matter between the overt racist and the quiet moderate who helped establish the school to prison pipeline and move the Democratic party right on economic issues harmful to black communities while paying lip service on social issues.

An argument could be made that by allowing Trump into office instead of Hillary brought all that closeted racism into the open to finally be dealt with once and for all.

Now more than ever Whites are forced to deal with the fact that it is not enough to be “Not a Racist” and remain quiet while others are. We are forced to either be anti-racist or racist.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Trump has eliminated the possibility of neutrality on the issue. And for those still suffering from over four centuries of systemic abuse that is a long overdue development.

His chosen party and Presidential Administration are actively taking steps to criminalize dissent and protest against them.   If they succeed it is only a matter of time before their desire to expand their ability to victimize more and more groups of people to further entrench their power base.

Ijeoma Oluo, writing for The Establishment points out that:

 

What is the compromise between justice and oppression? What grey area between inequality and equality exists? There is none. You cannot have a little injustice and call it justice. You cannot have a little inequality and call it equality. And whenever you decide that you have the power to slow or stop justice and equality for others — you are immediately ensuring the continuation of injustice and inequality by placing yourself above those seeking justice and equality. There is a claim of superiority inherent in believing that you have the right to slow racial justice. It is a claim of superiority that white supremacy has granted you, and that you cannot accept without becoming a willing proponent of this white supremacist system.

 

Break free of the cultural inertia demands for the maintenance of negative peace and join the fight for justice and equality.

If you are not willing to do so, you can never again claim to be “not a racist,” or “not a fascist.”

Not taking aside against them is by default joining those advocating for the oppression and genocide of others.    There is no neutrality.

Understand that your ability to choose to avoid having these confrontations while others suffer is in itself the ultimate pinnacle of unearned privilege.

Make yourself uncomfortable, make your friends and family uncomfortable.  Have the hard discussions with the people you care about the most.  If you don’t, who will?

Defend a stranger, if you don’t, who will?

Join the protests against fascism and the protection of systemic oppression without attempting to dictate the terms of the protest so you can be comfortable with it participating.

Choose to be part of the solution, from this day forward, or own your culpability.

Because we will make you own it.

Friend or not.  Family or not.

We began with a quote from Dr. King.    We’ll close with two more.

The first from an Interview with Mike Wallace in 1966:

“I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”


The second from “The Other America” from 1968 just prior to his assassination.

 

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

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