Paraplegia, taser guns and police brutality

Reading news items like this really gets my dander up.  What this amounts to really is someone challenged the police’s authority, in a non lethal and non illegal way, to the dismay of the police officers who decided to punish the individual, administer street justice for the citizen’s contempt or lack of obvious subservience to police authority.

The Merced Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division is investigating whether an officer twice used a Taser on an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs.The man who was Tasered, Gregory Williams, 40, a double-leg amputee, spent six days in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest, but the Merced County District Attorney’s office hasn’t filed any charges.

Williams is black, and the two main arresting officers are white, but it’s unknown whether race played any role in the incident.

Williams, who was released from jail on Friday, said he was manhandled and Tasered by police, even though he said he was never physically aggressive toward the officers and didn’t resist arrest.

If a healthy and supposedly trained police officer cannot subdue or even deal with in a non physically threatening manner an unarmed and wheel chair bound citizen, then that officer should not be in law enforcement.  Any officer involved in this incident should be relieved of his/her duties.  You can find a video account here.

False Prophets and the Conservative Right

fathima_r_bary1-225x300The conservative movement in America today has taken a descent into the deceit and lies it claims it abhors. Some of its major icons are leading the way with this decit and winning respect and admiration of many of the followers of the movement.  Conservatism has become a corrupt political ideology in America based on fear, hatred and racial and ethnic intolerance.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the story of the young woman pictured to the left who claims despite all evidence to the contrary, evidence sought after and found by two separate jurisdictions that say her statements are not true, that she is in fear of her life from her parents or family friends because of her conversion to Christianity.

Fathima Rifqa Bary ran away from home because of persecution she imagined would happen to her because of her conversion to Christianity; Fathima was born into a Muslim family that lived in Ohio.  Finding her way to evangelical Christians online, Fathima landed in the state of Florida alongside pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz of the Global Revolution Church.  Her case has become cause celebre for the religious and conservative right who just can’t help from putting their feet in their own mouths, first backing Bary’s claim that she has been threatened with death by her parents for her conversion; municipal authorities in the town in Ohio where she lived said there was no credible evidence such threats took place between her and her parents, but it doesn’t stop there.  State authorities of both Florida and Ohio have said that the girl has not been threatened by her parents and that they pose no threat to her.  Even the governor of Ohio has gone on record saying the girl should be returned to Ohio where Ohio authorities can provide for the security and well being of the young woman in conjunction with her parents who had already agreed to some type of foster parent arrangement for her in the state of Ohio.

The people best suited to determine the threat level to Rifqa are the cops and social workers in Ohio familiar with the Bary family and the Muslim community. It appeared they had worked out a good compromise plan, allowing Rifqa to go into foster care while they ensured her safety.
…….. Rifqa’s father, Mohamed Bary, brought his family to America from Sri Lanka in 2000, at least in part to seek medical treatment for Rifqa after she lost the sight in one eye. He sends her to a top high school, where she has excelled and where she is a cheerleader.

Bary is a middle-class jeweler with no documented history of abuse and no record of radical actions or beliefs. Whatever his disagreements with Rifqa — and what parent of a teen hasn’t had his or her share? — he obviously had invested a lot in her care and upbringing.

Such overwhelming evidence of the lack of a threat to her physical well being was not enough to stop the Islamophobe conservatives who then took the offensive by saying the parents aren’t a threat to young Fathima as much as the place of worship of the parents but that too has been quickly dispelled by the members of that mosque who have said apostasy in Islam is not a punishable offense and which has engaged in interfaith outreach to the satisfaction of Christian and Jewish religious leaders of Columbus.  There is a pretty spirited yet civil discussion about that at this link along with the assertion that Fathima had converted and remained in her parents’ home long before her jaunt to Florida.  In other places one can read where while the parents knew of Fathima’s conversion and tolerated it, with her remaining in their home, they cautioned her not to become so aggressive in promulgating her new found faith at school and elsewhere, and one would think such advice would be sound, but the young lady refused to listen, perhaps because she thought her pagan parents weren’t to be obeyed?  Indeed, in her own words, young Fathima writes

“Lord is preparing me and He has me hidden … until the time is right…..I am called to the nations. Send me to the deepest darkest places into the pagan land.”

She must convert her family to Christianity, she wrote, including her older brother, Rilvan, 18, who worships “demonic music.” She must approach strangers and talk about Jesus. She saved a list of tips on how to do that:

“Do NOT be sneaky,” she wrote. “Sit down … get to know them … [Ask] would you mind for 5min if I share the gospel with you.”

She compared herself to the Old Testament heroine Esther and wrote out or saved religious pep talks.

“What does it take to be a prophet?” she wrote. “If I am a friend of God I can be prophetic. … You have to want it. Everyday pray for prophesy.”

Yet this is the type of person the religious and conservative movement wants to pin their hopes of Armageddon on as they continue their politics of fear, distortion, lies and xenophobia. Under ordinary circumstances, people like Ms. Bary would be heavily sedated and monitored or promptly dismissed for serious flaws in character, intellect and sanity. However, the insane “right” has decided to hitch their wagon to her delusions of prophecy and religious fervor, which makes them, the right, as insane and out of step with reality as Fathima Bary. This association is further evidence the conservative movement in America is unable to represent or propagate the interests of this country as long as they engage in the politics of division, derision and self-destruction of its adherents and its opponents.

Meet Uncle Ruckus

Uncle_RuckusIf you haven’t heard of him, uncle Ruckus is the character from the cartoon television series, now defunct by the way, called Boondocks.  If ever there was a self-hating man for any ethnicity, it’s Ruckus who hates and denigrates everything  that has to do with African-Americans while extolling and exaggerating  everything about whites.  This is what is written about him.

Ruckus claims God says the path to forgiveness for being black is to rebuke your own race. Ruckus champions the small traces of Native American, French, or Irish ancestry he claims to have although a DNA test he took to hopefully discover white blood showed he was “102%” African descent, and wishes that all black people were still enslaved. He prattles white supremacist rhetoric and calls Michael Jackson (who suffered from the pigmentational skin changing disorder vitiligo) a “lucky bastard”, as he no longer looks black. Ruckus claims that he himself has “re”-vitiligo, to explain his own skin tone. During the Civil Rights Movement, he protested against Martin Luther King‘s marches, and would occasionally throw bricks at him, but usually missed. Ruckus served on a jury in 1957 (making him a minimum of 70 circa 2009) in Tennessee that helped convict a blind black man of killing three white girls. In spite of being blind, the African American man supposedly shot the three with a Winchester rifle from about 50 yards away. (Ruckus is the only black person on the otherwise all white jury, in what is a Jim Crow courtroom.)

I must say Ruckus is extremely profane and his often use of the “N” word means I will not quote some of the profound, self-hating revelations he has uttered on the show.  One might think therefore it would be difficult to find someone in real life like this character,  but I think I have.  Meet Rev.James David Manning, a self anointed doctor who preaches in the heart of the black community of New York city, Harlem, his own special brand of Uncle Rukusism and who has been discovered by racists who oppose Obama.  He is featured prominently on a Louisiana Gun website  that is a place for gun enthusiasts and others of like mind who might like the comic relief of dr. Manning’s rantings. What’s sad about the pairing of a Manning and a 2nd amendment website is the latter somehow thinks it has a connection to the former; Manning is a stereotypical portrayal of what many even in today’s 21st century America think black people should look, sound and think and the fact there are many who are comfortable with this real life caricature is more disconcerting to this observer than the buffoonish Manning who wants to join in the white revolution against Obama .  No one, least of all me, ever heard of this character until Obama’s act came to Washington, but if you want to see how life is sometimes stranger than fiction or how Manning is really more outlandish than an Uncle Ruckus, take a look.

The South Has Risen Again!

I’m not talking about that “South” which steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that America can and is being led by an African-American, I’m talking about the South that acknowledges that racism is the source of Obama’s critic’s discontent, and it’s  Southern white men who are making the case.  They should be the ones who call out the racist critics of Obama, because as we all know, ‘it takes one to know one’, but this pot calling the kettle black (or in this case racist) is not coming from racist whites but rather from white people who have lived with them down in the deep south all their lives and know how they think and behave.

We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes.. Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we’re back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we’ve proven what conservatives are always saying that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to “assassinate Obama.”

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?  How long before we start(ing) “living out the true meaning” of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that “red and yellow, black and white” all are precious in God’s sight?

If you have policy differences with the POTUS, and God knows I surely do, that’s one thing but to resort to the behavior of Obama’s critics to the point of intimidation and threats on his life is another thing altogether illegal, despicable, and based on a belief he’s not worthy of being where he is. Look at the imagery used by his opponents to portray him as unfit for office, pictures that are steeped in the very images passed down through racist ranks about black Americans since their beginnings on this continent.

watermelon_patchobama-witchdoctor-muckAnd one can easily think the genteel looking men sitting next to congressman Joe Wilson below, with smirks on their faces because they have gotten one of their own to so disrespectfully call the president out were probably thinking of him in those terms as they posed during Wilson’s outburst for their constituents on national television.   They will no doubt say theirs is a measured response to Obama’s administration in much the same way as others, like myself, demonstrated our disagreement to the Bush administration, but it surely was not, because I cannot find images which denigrate Bush’s whiteness or call into question his ancestry in much the same way as the pictures above do for Obama; similarly I can’t find a news clip where a member of Congress acted so disparagingly towards the commander-in-chief as Wilson did on the floor of the Congress before a nationally televised crowd.  Yet, in many ways, I wish someone had called Bush out as a liar when he regaled us with stories of how big government was necessary to protect us.  The compatriots of Joe Wilson most likely hate to read New York Times’ columnists refer to Obama as elegant and erudite, because that’s not the notion they have of African-Americans and not the one they want the public to have either.

heckler_wilsonEveryone knows the look and the attitude, that is those who have had it flung at them during their life time.  Even the good natured Bill Cosby who has had some stinging rebukes to direct towards other African Americans admitted “During President Obama’s speech on the status of health care reform, some members of Congress engaged in a public display of disrespect….While one representative hurled the now infamous ‘you lie’ insult at the president, others made their lack of interest known by exhibiting rude behavior such as deliberately yawning and sending text messages.”

And so it goes, the dehumanization of another group of people at the hands of the Republicans who manage to foist this attitude on the people they claim to represent which further damages the social fabric of this once great Republic and turns it increasingly into a banana republic.  It was not enough that we turned on one another out of fear and handed over our liberties to protect the state, as we fought the global war on horror and demonized members of the Islamic faith, now we are asked to distrust the very official(s) we elected less than a year ago and accept the notion that his death might be the only solution to the problems for which he at the moment is not responsible.  In the interim we are abandoning all sense of civility and decorum in our opposition towards one another, and steering a course towards disorder and anarchy.  Are we our own worse enemy or what?

Again, Olbermann nails it!

The Indoctrination of Lying

liarWe’ve become so used to fear and hatred…’s as American, indeed human, as mom and apple pie, but I can never get over how easily people can lie without showing any effects from this hideous disease.  I shouldn’t be surprised therefore to read that the rather pleasant looking young lady above who claims to have confronted a school mate for an infraction against her loyalties and sensitivities made the whole thing up…….or in other words lied!

It didn’t happen, and the victim of this lie didn’t do anything that approaches the charge young Heather Lawrence accused her of; not even remotely, so why did Lawrence even go there?  No doubt some of it is home training or the lack thereof.  Parents sitting around any part of the house and lamenting the state of modern day America probably say things they don’t want others to hear or know, but with impressionable children around, such talk often gets translated into the type of action that Lawrence initiated.

While I applaud Obama for trying to diffuse the hatred directed towards Muslims and Arabs from all quarters of American society, the first step begins with punishing those who cross the line like Lawrence and letting them know there is a zero tolerance for actions that are clearly forbidden by the rules and regulations of businesses, the workplace, schools and other institutions.  Political grandstanding at the expense of innocent people, in other words demagoguery, cannot be tolerated in today’s America.  There’s enough of that going on under the guise of free speech on the air waves of America, but when it’s translated into actions that are intimidating or violent, should be met with the full systemic force of those responsible for rule and order.  The school officials who have punished Lawrence acted appropriately and are to be congratulated; the young girl’s parents need to be taken out to the nearest woodshed and spanked, while their daughter is made to watch, and then she too should be punished again.  At some point this young girl is going to have to become her own person, mature enough to discern what is right from wrong in her social relations, but until that time, her parents/guardians, her legal and moral authority, have to assume responsibility for her actions.  I shudder to think this girl may some day join a law enforcement agency and act out as inappropriately with much more at stake then she has now.  Such behavior as hers is the jumping off point for the likes of Sgt. James Crowley who somehow thought he had more right to remain in the home of someone than the actual homeowner did.  This family owes the victim of their daughter’s hatred and deception an apology, and to us, the greater society a pledge that while they can believe whatever they want good citizenship demands a strict adherence to the rules of law and institutions that make up this Republic.  Get busy Lawrences’…….you have work to do on yourselves and your daughter!

Blame the victim

The French government has come out four square against the rights of French Muslims to decide for themselves how they want to express their religious beliefs on the grounds that France is a secular society.  That secularism should apply to all religious expression, so goes the French rationale and one wonders why at the first hint of France’s Islamophobic response that anyone wouldn’t think that tendency to ban any and all religious  expression would be the natural outgrowth?!  For those who silently cheered on the sidelines as Muslims were targeted the full weight and oppression of the state is headed to a religious community near you, just don’t blame the Muslims.

The backlash against Muslims in France demanding religious rights in the public sphere has also hit Jews, who feel that their own, similar requests are being treated increasingly negatively.

“Things have got worse since more and more Muslims started pushing demands, sometimes with political motives. Now we’re compared to assertive pushy militants and our own requests are denied outright,” said Marc Djebali, vice president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris. “Now officials tell me: ‘we can’t accept this, this is a secular state’.”

In America we call that, ‘chickens coming home to roost’. Of course Jewish concerns for their religious expression should be honored just as Muslim expression or any other religious group that lives in what’s supposedly a free society as France claims to be; otherwise no faith can or should supersede any other faith, and that means Jewish women will either have to wear state approved swim wear or not swim at all, and Jewish men will have to doff their yarmulkes just as Muslim women do their hijab. Instead of blaming a politically inclined Muslim movement, perhaps French Jews should blame their tacit support for French racism against Muslims which is now slowly headed their way as well. Have French Jews forgotten how racism fueled a world war in the heart of Europe only a few short years ago? Do they think the same ingredients of racism, lies, distortions xenophobia today won’t produce the same results, or do they think they are now immune from the dangers of anti-semitism?  Que sera, sera.

I have some good Muslim friends

Tenn_mayorYeah, right.  In a throwback to ‘some of my best friends are Negro’, this Tennessee mayor applies the stereotype to Muslims to cover up his ignorance contained in an email he forwarded where he asks readers to remember a series of “Muslim” terrorist attacks. For example, “Remember the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993! To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.”

Choosing to ignore the scores of Muslim victims of 911 and the rather dubious aftermath of the attacks where calls for a more honest and open investigation are being made everyday, Clarksville Mayor Johnny Piper wants to lie and mislead people about that fateful day in American history in order to score points on the Islamophobia battlefied.  In the process he gets most everything wrong, like the assertion that the stamp is new, and its creation was ordered by President Barack Obama, when in fact it has appeared in five of George W. Bush’s eight years in office.

The politics of hate, lies and distortion are being ramped up as people find purpose and comfort in such tactics to reinforce stereotypes and prejudices that have long simmered under the American collective psyche.  People of reason and faith should recognize the tactics of the Pipers of America, call them out on it and discard them as quickly as such people spring up.