A major story—even if not reported on the front page of the New York Times—is another shooting of an unarmed black youth. Not a black man, but a black youth.
What is the problem here?
The problem is that racial discrimination has not ended in the United States. I recall as a child seeing signs in Virginia, where I visited relatives, saying “Whites Only”.
The problem is a gun culture.
The problem is militarism of the police.
The problem is income disparity.
The problem is….etc.
I do not expect anything to change. On the contrary, everything will become worse: more discrimination, more guns, more militarisation, more income disparity, more etc.
The United States, that beacon of liberty and freedom, continues its slide towards being ranked with Uganda. From Salon:
“Fox News gets something right about anti-LGBTQ discrimination: “In Arizona, you can do that now” Tony Perkins is a bigot, but he's right about one thing: Discrimination is already the law of the land in Arizona”
I did not plan on ever returning to Arizona, but now I have an additional reason for that decision.
Of course, there are other states on the list...and the list seems to be growing. The country of my birth continues its journey in the wrong direction. People touting the Constitution seem to have not read this document. The most-overlooked item of the key documents of the nation is the bit about separation of church and state. Too many want the church to rule the land, not unlike in Muslim nations. They missed the irony in Bob Dylan’s song:
The reason for fighting / I never got straight / But I learned to accept it / Accept it with pride / For you don't count the dead / When God's on your side.
Going off on a tangent, this refrain will chime over the much-desired invasion of Iran. Of course, these fine folks do not recognize--or know--that both sides worship the same god. The problem is humans...
Of which, this is the prime example. This guy has proven to be an idiot. But, this has to be the most-ridiculous utterance to date, as found in Salon:
Glenn Beck supports anti-gay Arizona law because “freedom is ugly”. The right-wing media mogul says freedom can require letting some people oppress others
I guess that he does not understand freedom, which is proof of his stupidity. Perhaps more-stupid are the people that listen to this jerk...
But, this guy is a close second:
“Tucker Carlson: Making businesses serve gay customers is “fascism”. Does this mean Carlson thinks segregation is freedom? (Yes)”
There must be something in the Bible about a plague upon the land...
Note to self: stop reading Salon and watching Fox News!
Fortunately, there is still someone able to make humor from stupidity. That’s why I have been reading the New Yorker for decades.
When I was in private school, braver fellow students than I traveled to the South to march with, as they were called then, Negroes, to fight for equal rights. I recall reading at that time about Medgar Evers being killed and the memory sticks in my mind. I was aware of broad brush strokes in the media about what was happening, but was to comfortable and complacent to learn more or to become involved. (I am not a joiner or protester.) I witnessed segregation in action during visits to relatives in Virginia, but was unaware of any in New England (although it must have existed before my unseeing eyes). The first black student in the school system of the town in which I grew up was a mere curiosity, but was surely grumbled about in some homes and taunted on the streets. Black students were a normal feature of private school and college, and they became a regular feature of my life in the military. I treated them the same as I treated any race: I judged them by their actions and not their skin color. I recall being accused of having “prejudice” (the term for a racist in those days) by a young Black soldier, who I dressed down with words to the effect that I was not prejudice against him because he was black, but because he was a stupid jerk. (That was not prejudice, but sound judgement.) I did not let anyone use racial overtones as a crutch to excuse poor performance of duty.
After the Iron Curtain fell and I started dealing frequently with Russians, I would hear their opinions about the United States during long conversations. I learned that, during the Cold War, Soviet news programs carried regular features about the Civil Rights movement. This was not propaganda; they merely reported facts, which rarely made there way into US news media, if at all. Russians were better informed than I was about what happened in my country. (Despite growing up under different systems, we agreed that all people are deceived by their governments.)
Much of what they knew for fact I discovered by reading, such as a recent article in the New Yorker.
If you, like me, missed or ignored significant aspects of US history, this piece should help you to understand the underlying anger of Black citizens of a country that has cheated them, despite mouth service and laws protecting their rights. I have often said that man is a bad animal. Well, a certain type of white man in the South is one of the worst and a bred still on the loose...
Two prisoners in facing dissimilar charges in two dissimilar countries have fallen afoul of their governments for a similar reason: fear.
Despite their immense power over their citizens, governments fear individual dissent, whether breaking "laws" imposed to protect those in power or speaking out against those in power. The harsh response to these two cases results from the two men having embarrassed their governments in the eyes of the world and their associated feeling of impotence. Each must foster fear on remaining citizens in hope of preventing further embarrassment. They seem to be insensitive or uncaring about world reaction to treatment of these two individuals.
I am not member of the ACLU and am not a dissident. I am a human being with empathy. The US Government treatment of Bradley Manning is unjustified. Incarceration under normal conditions is bad enough; Chinese Government treatment of Ai Wei Wei is similarly unjustified and cruel.
A second finger can be pointed at the US Government. How can it criticize the Chinese about human rights violations? This is the height of hypocrisy. Like the Rhine graben, the moral high ground has sunk below the surface of surrounding land.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.