Monday, September 2, 2013
Over the last eighteen months every American that pays attention to any “news” has been subjected to the reporting in the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman incident in Sanford, Florida. The case was, as the trial showed, a messy affair with a ton of emotions on both sides and accusations of “racism”, “profiling” and even conspiracy theories that the Sanford Police were going to let Mr. Zimmerman (who is now identified by the new term “white-Hispanic” in the news media) go or that the Federal Department of Justice or the Florida Attorney General’s Office were going to railroad Mr. Zimmerman into a conviction for murder (although a jury ended up acquitting him) or a violation of civil rights charge (which, I imagine could still happen).
Sometimes I wonder if we, as a people, consider the messages we send. As a father, I hope that I can and do send consistent message’s to my children and pray that I can, even if I will fail (and as a human, I will), will make amends for the wrong messages quickly and with an apology. Sadly, I don’t see us as citizen’s doing the same and fear where this “relative” though of “morality” will lead us.
I followed the case pretty closely and was struck by the misrepresentations from both the left and right. Yes, IMO, MSNBC and others worked very hard to make Mr. Zimmerman into a “racist” by editing his words in the 911 call along with the pontification that while raised in a multi-ethnic home, a past history of dating black woman along with advocating against the Sanford Police in a case involving a homeless Blackman and mentoring black children, Mr. Zimmerman must be racist and must have profiled Mr. Martin simply because he was black. Those on the “right” were also guilty of finding every flaw of Mr. Martin’s short life and working to make him out to be not only a thug but also a drug induced criminal. Mr. Martin’s family was viewed with suspicion because of his family status (divorced parents) and the so-called money aspect of the Trayvon Martin Foundation they found along with the legal case against the homeowners association. Mr. Zimmerman and his family were the subject of overt innuendo and threats by a variety of groups including the New Black Panther Party and IMO the promoting of street justice by folks (some famous) who willingly posted what they believed to be the families address on twitter. Sadly, even Pres. Obama became a bit-player in this fiasco with his infamous words, “if I had a son”. Those on the left saw this as compassionate while those on the right saw this as “baiting”. For me, I saw it as an ill-timed comment about an ongoing criminal case that as an attorney the President should have known better than to make. For me, in reality, I believe the truth was someplace in the middle as it often it.
I don’t believe that Mr. Zimmerman is or was “racist” because he saw Mr. Martin as a “suspect” individual that night. I believe he was a man who had seen his community decline in terms of safety and saw an increase in crime. As someone with a B.S. in Corrections and Juvenile Services, not question that I am a bit of a numbers (statistics) nerd. Because of this I spent a great deal of time on Zillow and other resources looking at crime in Sanford and found that although it is a small community they do have a high level of crime when compared to communities of comparable size and socioeconomic breakdown. Does that mean it is a horrible place to live – well, of course not but it does mean that the community has “issues” that need to be addressed. It is possible that Mr. Zimmerman was a good citizen and concerned about his community, sure and it seems there exist no evidence to suggest otherwise. I do think that Mr. Zimmerman’s criminal history is relevant but at the same time understand he was not convicted of two of the three crimes he was charged and was even diverted in the one conviction.
Mr. Martin was without question a teenager who made stupid teenage decisions that most of us are guilty of. Did he post inappropriate photos on facebook and twitter? No question but the reality is that this is now the world we live in and thankfully for folks my age we did not have “social media” back in the 1980’s or a great many of us would not be able to ignore or forget the ignorance that was our existence during high school. I don’t question that Mr. Martin used drugs and alcohol but I don’t think that makes him a “thug” or horrible person but a misguided teenager. I don’t question that Mr. Martin struggled with school attendance and behavior but then again so to do hundreds of thousands of teenagers, myself included when I was that age.
As and avid blog reader and faithful follower of the news, my biggest issue with the Zimmerman case was the continued polarization of citizens into “camps” by blog writers, commenter in the news and even the general public who commented on the news or in blogs. If you were not passionately seeking, “Justice for Trayvon” then somehow you were seen as uncaring and possibly racist. If you were not in the “Zimmerman camp” you were part of the “liberal ignorance”. If you were white and pro-Trayvon you were suffering from, “white guilt” while God forbids you were black and expressed any uncertainty in Zimmerman’s guilty as this would mean you were an “uncle Tom”. Sadly, the polarization becomes a wedge when opinions should be seen as a chance to learn and expand your base of understanding and knowledge of others in a compassionate and intelligent manner.
Watching the trial it became clear to me that the State of Florida had gravely overreached in charging Mr. Zimmerman and that convicting him for murder would be impossible given the scenario of the case they offered. I was struck by the fact that the State sought to include a “child abuse” charge against Mr. Zimmerman and could only wonder if they saw they hypocrisy in doing so. Consider the State sought successfully from arguing any of the past “bad acts” by Mr. Martin as Mr. Zimmerman would not have had any knowledge of the them but somehow Mr. Zimmerman was suppose to know that a man who was over six foot and clearly in better shape than him was now a “child” prior to the conflict. To me this behavior by the State was a clear indication that not only were they reaching but also they were willing to throw out everything including the kitchen sink in an effort to gain a conviction.
I was not surprised by the verdict nor was I surprised by the way the “left” and ‘right” behaved after the verdict. What does surprise me is just how far we have come with “moral relativism”, in my view. We are a nation of laws and I have always believed that we should respect those laws even when we disagree with them. I am fine with the idea of civil disobedience but not with the desire that some on the “left” have expressed that a lack of a conviction against Mr. Zimmerman somehow means that it is “open season” on Blackman in America. The truth is that crime statistics not only don’t support this supposition, giving a national voice to such “ideas” does nothing but also continue to promote a divide in our Country while ignoring the real crime that occurs in our society. I have also been surprised by the continued talk of “stand your ground laws” by those opposed to the Zimmerman verdict simply because of the dishonesty they show, IMO, by taking such a position. In truth, “stand your ground” was not even a part of the Zimmerman case. Yet, here we are.
I have not commented on the case simply because it is such a political hot potato and because I honestly believed that more moderate voices would prevail. While those “moderate voices” did prevail in court our public moderators have remained, “left v. right”, “us v. them” and so on. This is the “moral relativism” that I see as troubling. It is that you are either with us or against us without an acknowledgement that good people can see things differently. When the Florida AG, Angela Corey said on HLN that Mr. Zimmerman was a “murderer” after he was acquitted it gave a voice to civil disobedience and “morally relative thought” that I find not only objectionable but also sickening. Like it or not Ms. Corey’s position of authority gives her voice a weight that most are not afforded and by her own words gives cover to those who wish to view the legal process with objection.
In the movie JFK, Jim Garrison gave a speech to his office where he spoke of “black being white, white being black” and that we are “through the looking glass”. Seems we are in many cases as just this past weekend Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon, was the grand marshal at Florida A&M University or FAMU as they opened football season. Mr. Martin was there to promote the Trayvon Martin Foundation and to raise awareness for the victims of violence. While both are honorable and worthy causes the truth is one other significant thing took place that day at FAMU. For the first time since 2011 the FAMU Marching Band was able to take the field. FAMU Marching Band had been suspended from marching after the hazing incident that resulted in the death of Robert Champion. Since that time thirteen people from FAMU’s Band have been charged in the manslaughter case and face prison for the role they played that resulted in Mr. Champion’s death. While it is without question that FAMU has a right to move on from the criminal behavior of those charged in the death of Mr. Champion, I can’t help but wonder if anyone at FAMU or with the Martin Family considered the “moral relativism” that was shown the day Mr. Martin acted as “grand marshal”. Imagine that on that day Mr. Martin was present to bring awareness to victims of violence and to serve as a reminder to those present, many of whom believe justice was not served in the Zimmerman case and use such belief as an indication of our “communities” supposed continual racial animosity, while at the same time headlines in the news and the audience “welcomed back” the FAMU Marching Band who at the time of the game have thirteen former members awaiting trial for the manslaughter death of a fellow band mate.
Summer seems to be unwilling to go out like a lamb and quietly fade into fall. Recent temperatures have seemed more like the middle of July than the beginning of September and most importantly the autumn air that welcomes football season. Sadly this also means that it is back to school for Jacob, Hannah, Knoah and the beginning of pro-social pre-school for Ethan.
Jacob has completed his first week of school as a freshman at Monroe Saint Mary’s Catholic Central. He seems to be adjusting well to the school and has even talked about his growing network for friends. SMCC was a “tough choice” for me to swallow in some regards but mostly because I had hoped that Jacob would like to attend Madison High School (not far from my house) as I have been impressed with Madison for the rate of student’s placed in college after graduation and because for entirely selfish reasons I would have loved for Jacob to make the decision to move in with me, Laura, Ethan and soon Ian. Of course, I understand that it would have been a tough choice for Jacob because he has spend the majority of his life in Monroe and it would mean being away from his Grandmother, Aunt and Uncle that he is very close to along with Hannah, Knoah and of course his Mom. I respect and admire Jacob making the decision to stay in Monroe – it’s a great, great town and for wanting to attend SMCC as it is a great school with a terrific reputation. On a side note there was also the whole “rivalry” issue of Jacob attending SMCC as I graduated from Jefferson High in Monroe and SMCC was always our most bitter enemy! I get a small lump in my throat seeing Jacob wearing the green and gold of SMCC but in fairness, it is a great place and I pray that he does wonderfully.
Hannah and Knoah will be returning to Triumph Academy in Monroe this year where they will be in the seventh and second-grade this year. Hannah will have one more year at Triumph and I am already hoping to steer her toward the wonderful “middle college” program at Monroe County Community College after she completes the eight-grade. Several years ago Dr. David Nixon (retired Pres. at MCCC) became the impetus for this program and was able to get the support needed to begin it. What an amazing and wonderful concept that kids entering “middle college” can leave after completing with not only a high school diploma but also an associates degree. I am hopeful that Hannah will consider this “option” for her future. Knoah has done very well at school and many of the fears that parents of special needs children may have are addressed with wonderful fashion by Triumph and Monroe County ISD. Knoah has done a terrific job of making friends at school and at learning. He and I enjoy reading together and his verbal communication has been awesome.
Last week, me, Laura and Ethan toured the “pre-school” in Tecumseh were Ethan could be spending one day a week learning basic social skills along with the foundations of education. He is already doing very well and although he just celebrated his second birthday last month, Ethan already knows his ABC’s, can count to 50, is reading some “sight” words and is even nearly potty-trained thanks to “M&M’s”! Ethan has grown very fond of “Dora” and seems to be moving away from his obsessive love of “Yo Gabba Gabba” which as a “stay at home Dad” is AWESOME! There is only so much “Gabba” one adult can take.
Over this past weekend the kids (Hannah, Knoah and Ethan), Laura and I painted “bird houses” for what will become part of “Gnome Village” in our “backyard”. It is a “vision” that I have and one that although Laura laughs at she seems willing to let me do it. Maybe she sees no reason to fight it because in fairness it will be GREAT once we are finally done (even if that is 2021)! Laura’s mom, Debbie, is also a terrific supporter of “Gnome Village” and is actually responsible for getting the “bird houses” for everyone to paint! Eventually both Jacob and Ian will be represented with a birdhouse and while Jacob could have painted his during the weekend he was “to busy” (and to cool) to do an arts and crafts project with us as the X-Box was “calling him”. Part of me wishes that Jacob did not spend so much time playing on-line but at the same time he is “chatting” with friends from school as he plays and I find that social connection a really important thing for him.
Debbie was able to finish Ian’s room this weekend by painting four dinosaurs. Just as she did with Ethan’s room, Debbie did a great job! She is a terrific artist and a really wonderful person who has been amazingly supportive and helpful. I was able to con Laura into the inclusion of a “caveman” on the walls and was happy that it could be “Capt. Caveman” from the old ABC Cartoon series!
So with today being “Labor Day” and the kids still sleeping, I’m happy that I was able to get a “quick update” done in our lives. Sometimes I think that I am slacking off way too much on writing a blog but I always keep in mind that the sole and only purpose of the blog is to have a record of my thoughts and feelings for the kids in the future. I do know that I have to become more “active” but don’t envision that anytime “soon” with Ian’s arrival scheduled for next week.
The summer has been filled with lots of ups and downs. Being unemployed still sucks. Not being able to take the kids and do some of the fun things that I would like has been a downer but then again the “ups” have been terrific also. The Australia exhibit at the Toledo Zoo, fireworks, cookouts, playing outside with the big red ball among others have been “great”. Ethan’s birthday is almost the “close” of summer for us in many ways at it falls on the 15th of August and this year he received an amazing gift from his Grandparents of a “playscape” that is, IMO, out of this world. It is HUGE and will be able to accommodate him and Ian for years to come. Knoah and Hannah have been having a magical time playing with him and teaching him how to climb the ladder, go down the slide and even enjoy the trestle bridge.
Sometimes I don’t think that I keep in mind how terrific my children and my life are. I guess that I have always had that as a “problem” like many people as I only see what is right in front of me sometimes and I need to be reminded how awesome things really are. Laura continues to be nothing short of amazing and her family have proven to be so extraordinary in the acceptance they have shown not just me but Jacob, Hannah and Knoah.
I always “know” that things are better than they seem but can get “sidetracked” but silly things. This past weekend at dinner while we were all talking and laughing the comment was made by one of the older kids that they were so proud of their “half-brother” Ethan. I understood the context of what they were saying but in fairness it rubbed me the wrong way because I don’t want them “seeing” one another like that. We had a long conversation about it and I understood after listening to them that it wasn’t a concept that they had “thought up” but one that they were introduced to. It was a difficult conversation for me, more so than the kids because of all I know about my life and the lives of the kids prior to 2010. We discussed that “family” is about people who care about you and have a commitment not only to you as a person but accept and love you for who you are. I think they understand and given everything that “connects” them I hope they begin to see each other as what they are; “siblings”. I struggled sleeping that night and Jacob and I took a short drive to look at the stars and clear my head once Hannah, Knoah and Ethan were in bed. It was and is hard for me to understand the category of “half” being communicated by Jacob, Hannah and Knoah given everything and one that I hope will quickly leave the thoughts they have as I fear if this does not happen that one day it will cause a sense of pain and alienation for them. Anyhow the truth is all that I can do is try and be a good Dad and pray for the kids.
So there it is, a not so “brief” update on my life as I continue to look for work. Continue to love my children. Continue to move forward with a great relationship with Laura and gleefully await the arrival of Mr. Ian Jayce Henricks-Sweat.
I will post photos of the birdhouses and other “stuff” later. Sadly – another “low” was finding my laptop dying a very painful death a few weeks ago.
Happy Labor Day and Welcome to the 2013-2014 School Year! It is going to be a GREAT year.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Wanting to “expand” some of the focus of the blog has led me to the thought that I should “share” something more about me. Obviously my personal life has been an open book but my core beliefs have not. Recently I had an exchange with another blog writer over the rodeo incident in Missouri where a clown acted as Pres. Obama. His take was that this was racist and mine was to rather so, hey, not so fast. During the exchange with him I wrote my thoughts and wanted to share them here. Not so much because I think that I am 100% correct but because I believe we have gotten far removed from logical discussions when it comes to politics in general. With that in mind here is what I submitted to his blog regarding my thoughts and “race” and so called attitudes of “racism” directed toward our current President.
The trouble with this discussion in that it depends upon not only the prospective and history each individual brings but the manner in which they view the world around them.
I accept that racism exists however do not see racism as the powerful impediment to progress that others give it. As you know nothing about me or I you, let me share a little. I am a divorced father for three children (14, 12 and 6) from my first marriage (I will be getting remarried – hopefully, next year) of thirteen years to a black woman. I am currently in a committed relationship and we have one beautiful son who will turn two this month and another who will be joining us in September. All of my adult life beyond my military service has been spent working in the non-profit social service community as a formerly licensed social worker and substance abuse counselor.
Because you included two me’ me photos (one from a local party official in San Diego – who was removed and other that was not sponsored by the Republican Party) I believe that you are OK with extending what others associated with a political belief or party do in assessing the actions and belief of that actual party. Using this as a baseline, I would offer that race has been interjected into the term of Pres. Obama’s tenure but I believe that this occurred well before the election. Please don’t forget that it was Rev. Jesse Jackson who opined that candidate Obama was, “talking down to n*****s” and that he (Rev. Jackson) “want(ed) to cut his nuts off”. Keep in mind that it was Senate Leader Harry Reid who tried to offer a “weird” comment that because candidate Obama was, “light skinned and only spoke in a Negro dialect when he wants to” as a reason he would be palatable to “white America”. Also keep in mind the critique by self-professed, “gay liberal activist writer” David Ehrenstien who wrote that candidate Obama was, “the magic Negro”.
These things do not occur in a vacuum and while you make the observation that a clear racist strategy exists for Republicans (btw, I am neither a Republican or Democrat – neither party represents my views), I would disagree. Allowing those who agree with the party line the latitude to make such comments and “accepting” them as just being “honest” or making a “mistake” then attempting to feign outrage when those on the other side of the isle make such comments is, to me, the clear strategy. Racism or the calling of another “racist” is used as a shield to not only shut down debate on issues but to alienate and divide. What human would like to be called a “racist”?
Consider simply that it was Bill Maher who opined that he thought we would be getting a “real black President like Suge Knight” and instead we got “President Wayne Brady”. But the silence of the Democrat party was astonishing on his observations because, IMO, he is seen as “on our side” instead of being seen as ignorant and wrong, which he was.
For me the issue has become one of honesty and I do not see much truth in either side. As a military veteran and someone who adores history I have seen a good portion of the world and know that America, for all of our faults, have progressed further than any “white European” country. Name me one place that has elected minority (black, Latino, Asian, Women and so on) Mayors, Governors, Senators, Representatives and so on. Our neighbors to the north, No. Our closest friend, the United Kingdom, Not even close. We, America, have grown closer to the dream and promise of not just our Constitution and Bill of Rights but to the wonderful expression of freedom expressed in deTochville’s, “America”. Yet, we would rather be polarized for what we “are” in terms of ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation than we would to accept that while we will never all “get along” we are further and more advanced than most places on this earth. Electing and embracing a diversity of elected officials that is unparallel.
Pres Obama has, I believe, used race not as a means to “unite” us and to forward the ideal of judging one as an individual but to judge us as a “group”. It strikes me as odd that Pres. Obama once said that there existed no “red America or blue America” but only “America” and while his words were elegant and inspiring his actions were to willingly interjected himself into the “beer summit” calling the police “stupid” without knowing what occurred. Pres. Obama’s opining that, “if I had a son” regarding the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case was, I feel, a clear example that first we must see each other not as individuals but as the ethnic identity was carry.
I can’t question the comment attributed by Sen. McConnell that his goal was to see Pres. Obama as a “one term leader” but would offer simply the truth – isn’t he suppose to feel / think that way if he truly believes the policies he advocates are best for the country? Sure it was stupid to say aloud but it is no worse than former Speaker Tip O’Neil writing in his book that whatever Pres. Reagan proposed was, “dead on arrival” once it hit his desk. Yet, in the case of Sen. McConnell it is “assumed” that the man married to an Asian woman is “racist”. How silly is that? Oh, should we also not look at the ad’s ran by Progress Kentucky that used racial slurs and photos of Mr. McConnell’s wife. Sure, they apologized (once they were caught – much like my six year old) but this was the same group, founded by Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison who bragged about recording outside of Sen. McConnell’s office and then turned the tape over to Mother Jones. Mr. Morrison, who maybe facing charges, was not some strange outsider but a man who attended at least one White House “activist” briefing. But “tolerance” is the mantra – well, that is unless one sits across the isle then all is fair, right? No – it should not be and yet that is exactly what we see.
I have no question that “racist” exist in both parties and that racism is a very real undercurrent throughout the world. Having been to the P.I., I can tell you the “racist” feelings that exist against non-Muslims and of children born to mixed-ethnic relationships. The same is true in Thailand and Japan. Having lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio and Alaska, I don’t question that I have seen ‘racial” divisions. I will say that in my experience dating and being married to a black woman, I never felt “racism’ more prevalent than I have in Toledo and Detroit. In the case of Toledo although I owned a home, I moved my family because of the openly racist attitude of the community. It strikes me as sad that not only do these attitudes exist but that we continue to, I believe, driven further away from one another simply to ensure political “power”. Imagine a white candidate or elected official making the comments attributed to Rep. Rangel (D-NY), that anyone who agrees with the “tea party” are “crackers” and nothing more than “Jim Crow”.
Calling others “racist” has become a “shield” and at times a “sword” to wield power. I believe the same can be said for the so-called, “war on women”. Consider that Mr. Weiner remains in the race and as a father and a man in a committed relationship his behavior and treatment of women is appalling – yet, there he is. Let’s not forget Mayor Filtner and his treatment of women. But largely the “party” of “tolerance” is silent but to say that the actions were “inappropriate”. Nothing like understating the obvious, right? It isn’t that there have not been (and will be in the future) Republicans who maybe bigoted against the advancement of Women and minorities (just as there have been and are Democrats) it is the “absolute” manner in which Pres. Obama and his party has sold the “War on Women” that “if your not with us, your against “women”, “minorities” or “the poor”. Really, reasonable people are no longer able to agree? Of course Republicans do this also but as Democrats continue to “preach” tolerance should they not also be asked to show it?
You see, I think we could both continue to throw out antidotal stories about each party but the truth is that until both stop this will not end. It is my belief that Democrats, if they are who they say they are, must be the ones to “stop” this behavior from within the ranks of not just the party but from those who support and defend the positions they take. Yet, I don’t see this happening because until the day comes that “racism” can no longer be used as a sword to cut the “enemy” it will continue to be used to polarize the electorate and ensure “party” power, even if it is destructive for the American Society.
Consider the words of, Black Caucus Chair Emanuel Cleaver when speaking about the historically high rate of black unemployment as he said, “if not for Barrack Obama we would be marching on the White House”. Don’t forget that it was Andre Carson (D-IN) who opined that the “tea party” would like to see, “blacks hanging on a tree” or Maxine Waters (D-CA) who said that the “tea party” should, “go straight to hell”. Honestly, anyone that identifies with an idea of the tea party wants to lynch black people and should simply take up residence in hell? Really? But that is the thing now, IMO, identity politics that are not used to unite America but to polarize and divide in an effort to do nothing but ensure the maintained of power. Still the question is never asked – to what end? Does this help or hurt us as a nation and I believe in the long term it hurts us.
While you bring up the much-maligned “southern strategy” that was forwarded by Lee Atwater and others you fail to look at the historic gains fostered by the Republican Party for minorities in America. Should we deny the foundation of the GOP in our own State (Jackson, MI), which had attendees from our own home, Monroe County that had the direct goal of ending slavery? Should we forget the Emancipation Proclamation? Should we forget the record numbers of Republicans that voted for not just the Civil Rights Act but also the Voting Rights Act? Without them the Democrats (who held the Presidents office at the time) did not have the votes to pass either – including the vote of VP Gore’s father who voted against them. Should we forget the “Dixie-crats”, many of who were openly racist including the much loved former Klu Klux Klan Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV)?
Maybe ignoring the appointments or elections of Gen. Powell, Ms. Rice, SC Justice Thomas, Romualdo Pacheco (first Hispanic Gov. 1863), Hiram Revels (first black Senator, R-NC), John Lynch (former slave and Chair of 1884 RNC), Octaviano Larrazolo (first Hispanic Senator), Hiram Fong (first Asian Senator), SC Justice Earl Warren and many others would be the thing to do, right? Republicans and whites who disagree with Pres. Obama are of course, “racist”, correct. Should we ignore that it was the 1871 Civil Rights Act supported by Republicans that “banned” the KKK? The 1875 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination in public accommodations? How about forgetting that it was Pres. Eisenhower who ordered the end of segregation in Little Rock Schools? History is a “funny” thing and ought not be forgotten or re-written to fit an agenda and while I understand that the argument is, “well, those are not today’s Republican’s” to ignore this history is not just dishonest but a disservice to not only our country but creates an ignorance among our citizens that will prevent progress as I believe this “minimizing” of true history is done not to further progress but to maintain power. Again, to what end?
Yet – this is what “we” do now and not only as a public but what those who provide us the “news” lead us to do; we count by ethnicity or gender instead of results. Consider that the Huffington Post, a leading resource for politics, questioned the Republican House on the fact that “not one” leadership role when to a minority all the while forgetting that of the two black Senator’s in office today (Tim Scott R-SC, Mo Cowan D-MA) neither are in a leadership position – although in fairness both are “new” to office.
In your post to another writer you mention the Newsweek article that discussed the opinions of “black Americans” regarding race. I don’t question those personal “opinions” as each person has a right to feel the way they chose. However, it is just that – opinion.
Sure, racism exists but is it the systemic “issue” that we give it the weight of being? As the father to three children who are classified by the State, Federal Government and School District as “black” (regardless of my ethnicity or appearance and might I say that with specificity my son Knoah who is six and a little person will have difficulty convincing people that he “is” black regardless of what the “government” classifies him), I would differ.
I would argue that the issues are socio-economic and educational in nature and not based upon “race”. “Racism” does not explain the historically high rate of illiteracy, poor educational performance, crime and drug use in some majority black communities. No question that “racism” once had a more powerful impact but considering the upward mobility of a great number of blacks in America over the past 40 years it can only be seen as one “factor” or “variable” and not the “controlling variable”. To not question the impact and decline of education (causing diminished employable skills) in the black community is dishonest. Further to ignore the rate of criminal behavior and write it off simply as the cause of a “racist” system is not only dishonest but ignores the individual choice each person has to be the citizen they desire. Each individual must make a decision to do for themselves and those they love and while racism can and does make this difficult the off set of opportunity remains present. I believe, the more we tell people that things are “bad” the more they will see and believe them. Consider Oprah Winfrey who recently said she was treated wrong while in Europe because of her race. She has since retracted that after the store came out and said this was not true. If we wish to see something – we will find it.
One need only to look at the racial narrative we have been “sold” regarding the Zimmerman case – even though this was a man of Hispanic background who had mentored black children, dated black women, protested against the police and the treatment of a black man and was a registered Democrat who voted for Pres. Obama, he “must” be racist – even if the FBI found no evidence of a racial narrative in July 2012 and issued a report that said so. Yet, here we are with the NAACP and others calling for a civil rights investigation against Mr. Zimmerman and the creation of a public DOJ email (firstname.lastname@example.org) asking the public to forward any information about “racial” incidents Mr. Zimmerman maybe involved in. Perception has overtaken reality in my view.
As a “white male” (actually, my background is pretty odd in that my grandfather was Cherokee and part of my family was considered “non-white European” by the US Census in 1930 – but, I look white, no question) former social worker I can’t tell you the number of times I have been subjected to the, “white boy” perceptions by the black community. It isn’t fair but it is reality. Think about CNN Host Don Lemon, a black man, who came out and said, “yes” we should not have black youths acting like hoodlums and “yes” we need to restore the black community. In exchange for his assessment he was not called “thoughtful” or “introspective” but rather an “uncle tom”. It is sad but that is the “sword / shield” mentality that has invaded America.
You ended the response by writing, “What I was having a hard time figuring out is how someone can simultaneously be a socialist and a corporate sellout; or a tyrant and a weakling. That was the nature of my criticism”. Forgive me for being skeptical but your “criticism” by beginning and focusing on the ethnicity of the President would never allow those questions to actually be highlighted because, again, racism is used as both a “sword and shield” and only polarizes. I believe you are intelligent enough to see that.
Attempting to answer your question, I can only say that my view of Pres. Obama is that he will do and say whatever is most efficient at keeping both him and his party in power. I imagine that is true for many elected officials but in his case we were “sold” that he would be different that “we were the ones we had been waiting for”. He has continued the tyrannical authority he spoke out against by accelerating the NSA spying program, use of drones to kill American Citizens in Yemen, prosecution of “whistleblowers” and the continuation of GITMO among others.
Pres. Obama, is a “weakling” (your words) because of his administrations lack of oversight or action regarding the IRS, NSA, BATF (fast and furious), Iran, Egypt and Syria.
I believe, Pres. Obama, is a “corporate sell-out” by his administrations actions regarding GE, John Corzine and the very real fact that we will not recover the monies provided to GM and Chrysler given through the bailout (which, btw, was started using TARP funds by Pres. Bush prior to leaving office).
I won’t go as far to call Pres. Obama a socialist because I do not believe he is. I believe his is an abhorrent opportunist. I do believe the lack of insight into the Health Care Reform Legislation has shown a poor ability to manage and or write legislation (consider, how many more “delays” must we have before we just honestly admit that it was not very well thought out?). I also find that the President has a blatant disregard for the Constitution and the order of law, even if it is his “keystone” legislation, if it will benefit him.
Consider why we are having the “postponement” of the employer mandate for health care reform during an election year along with the number of “waivers” granted – why? Really, the “planning” for this will take more than three years. No, it is opportunism 101 and it is odd that the health care reform legislation demands that no part can be taken out of the legislation, yet, we continue to “chip away” at timelines for implementation even when SC Justice Roberts stated that no one part of the bill could be removed.
The truth as I see it, is that neither Democrats nor Republicans in positions of power above the local level are actually concerned about the average American. Oh, I believe they play the game and act “concerned” but in truth – I almost see this as nothing more than “political professional wrestling”. They play a part (good guy / villain) and those parts are interchangeable depending on the audience.
So - is it possible to simply say, as a "white male" that I dislike the political positions of Pres. Obama and feel he is neither a good manager or a good President without being called a "racisit" and if not how can I explain to my oldest three childern that many in the world see thier father as a "racist". SMH - we seem to have forgotten to judge by "content of ones character" and instead have reverted to "color of ones politics". I guess Candidate Obama was wrong - there is a "red and blue" America and it seems to be getting worse.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Although we seem to be growing more divided as a nation and are facing a great deal of uncertainty in our future today I can only think of how wonderful we are as a Nation.
Growing up in Michigan I remember hearing the editorial of Canadian Gordon Sinclair on 760 WJR. It was a difficult time in the 1970's with the Vietnam War, Watergate, domestic upheaval, natural disasters (floods, tornados) and it seemed America was "on the ropes". We have no only survived by thrived from that time and although today many see our Nation to be again in decline, I know that we will again come through and show ourselves to be the beacon of liberty for the world.
I love my country and am proud that I am an American. We are not without fault but we remain the single greatest experiment to democracy the world has ever know.
And just in case there are those that feel that we, American's, can't or won't return to the greatness that is written in our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution, please keep in mind that this line of, "America is in decline" is not new. We have seen our share of ups and downs yet through it all AMERICA has persevered and today, while difficult and trying, will be seen as nothing more than a period of "growth" for America. Anyone questioning that should be reminded of the very wise words of Charlie Daniels when he reminded us, "this Lady may have stumbled, but she ain't never fell"!
Finally . . . . my all time favorite song about the Greatness of our Nation - "Living in the Promised Land" written by David Lynn Jones and performed by Joe Cocker. God Bless and have a Great Independence Day!