Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Pat Downs, No Peace

Hey America, your privilege is showing.

     For about a week now, I have been trying to figure out why I am not outraged about the TSA "Enhanced Pat downs" taking place across the airports of America. Had I bought the propaganda about terrorism? Had I put to much faith in our government since the executive was someone I voted for? Was I just desensitized by the 24 hour news cycle and was waiting for the CNN's of the world to move on to the next topic?

     While reading today, I realized what it was, I've been getting patted down for years. Clubs, Airports, Random Stops, I've been frisked when given a traffic ticket. It's business as usual for a large portion of the population. Take New York City Police department's "Stop and Frisk" policy. They stopped and frisked about half a million Blacks and Latinos last year (490,000), in that same time period they stopped about 50,000 whites. The arrest rate was just above 6% for people of color and white Americans, even though there was large disparity in the number of people stopped.

     What that tells us is a big, largeenormous part of the POC population that was "Stopped and Frisked" were ordinary law abiding citizens who got stopped and groped for no reason other than they "fit a profile". At least in the airport you are aware of the possibility, there is an element of risk involved. I shouldn't have to be worried about being groped on my way to the store for a gallon of milk. So while these Americans are complaining about these new "intrusive" TSA pat downs, another group of Americans said welcome to the club.

     And least we forget, in the past there have been very specific threats regarding airplanes and airports and BOMBS IN UNDERWEAR! So there is at least, a specific, reasonable, good faith justification in some of these "intrusive patdowns". There is also a part of me that believes that airports are businesses, and if that's what they feel they need to do to protect their business you can opt with the full body scan, or vote with your wallet.

     Compare that with many of these "Stop and Frisk" procedures where there is no rhyme or reason. When an police officer does engage in said procedure, they has to fill out a form stating the reason. Approximatively 19% of the officers involved listed no reason and simply stated "other". That's about 93,000 people that we know of whom were possible stopped for illegitimate reasoning. Where is the outrage at this unconstitutional show of government force and power, where is the anger at Americans being subjected to this draconian rule of law.

     It's absent, because in America whats happens to THEM is sad, but as long as it only happens to THEM it's okay. America has told THEM to calm down, these places are high crime areas and the police need to have the tools necessary to stop crime. The police are keeping the streets safe, THEY have nothing to worry about if THEY are not criminals. And to the few people who's lives get disrupted, it's an acceptable price to pay to keep our streets safe.

     So to my fellow Americans annoyed by the intrusive patdowns, who are acting like this is some new procedure in America, and some new attack on our rights and civil liberties I say this: Calm down, the TSA needs the necessary tools to keep our planes safe, you have nothing to worry about if you are not a terrorist. And to the few passengers who's lives are disrupted it's a acceptable price to pay to keep our skies safe.


edit: 11/25/10 2:34am

I'm not going to change any of the original text, because I feel that it is important to see words as they were originally written, but due to this blog traveling to various parts of these hollowed "inter-webs", I will clear up a few things, with a 3 part addendum:

1.      The "bombs in underwear" paragraph is not an endorsement of the police, but an example of how there is at least some semblance of logical reasoning behind the intrusive patdowns (regardless of how horrible), as opposed to the sometimes utter lack of reasoning when the government engages in "stop and frisk". Additionally it was meant to imply that flying (for most, but not all) is a convenience, not a necessity and it can be avoided, while people walking to and from their own houses in their own neighborhoods have no chance to avoid "stop and frisk" policies. 
2.      The final paragraph is not an endorsement of the argument of these policies, but rather as some of you saw a tongue in cheek attempt to mirror the same argument meant to pacify POC communities in the face of this outrage, it was meant sarcastically. But the outrage that many of you felt at seeing someone attempt to justify these procedures with a weak argument mirrors the same outrage the POC communities have felt in the face of these "stop & frisk" policies for years.
3.      Those that didn't get those 2 points from this article , I can see how they were overlooked, and I will do a better job in the future to clarify my points in a more effective manner. Thanks for the criticism, it keeps me sharp.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Destroy Ignorance.

      When I was in middle school I got into a fight. I did not win. But I fought because I was being bullied, and when I went to the vice principles office he said I should …instead of fighting employ a tactic of ignoring. He told me that if I ignored the bullies and the bulling that it would just go away. Needless to say, that I in my belief that adults, and more importantly teachers were generally right utilized these tactics next time I got bullied. I wanted to see if they would work, and more importantly my mother had told me not to get sent to the office again. Needless to say, this tactic did …not….work.

     What I know now, but what what I did not know then was, history has shown us, that the tactic of ignoring does not work. Whenever a people has ignored an annoying evil, it grew into a small evil. From a small evil it grew into a large evil, and transformed into full blown out EVIL. Stalin did not start off his career as a dictator. Hitler did not wake up one morning and invade France, the Ku Klux Klan began as a group of old men trading old war stories.  How would our world, country, communities be different if people had acted in a  pro-active fashion and met these threats in their infancy, in their beginnings. How would of history been different if instead of ignoring these issues someone had directly confronted these groups and through a combination of norms, customs, laws and direct action we had phased these groups out of existence.

     There are reasons that ignoring doesn’t work, in this day and age of 24 hour media coverage and due to the rise of non-traditional  media such as webpages, social media and blogging;  ignoring a group or a message does not invalidate that group, it gives it a vacuum in which it can define itself. This applies to organizations as well as messages. For example, in 2007 Newsweek conducted a poll that said 41% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11. A 2010 Washington Post article stated that at least 20% of the population believed that President Obama is Muslim. Ignoring these issues will not cause them to go away, or vanish but rather will give them room to grow, to evolve, to thrive. It is in that same vacuum that hateful individuals and groups wish to flourish.

     The Westboro Baptist "Church" recently "brought their talents" to East Lansing, Michigan. They were protesting at East Lansing High School, supposedly because "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates East Lansing", who whatever other dilapidated logic made them think East Lansing would be a good place to go protest. An article in Michigan State University's student paper covered the event, and some students in the "on-line" version of the paper suggested that a good course of action would be to ignore the group, some were quoted as saying

       "The Westboro Baptist Church gets the win today.
I told everyone to ignore the event; however,
you went and watched 
the Westboro Baptist Church get their point accross.
Whenever you are protesting something you always want a large crowd. 
Westboro you got your large crowd. "

"If they don’t show up, they don’t show up.
If they do, maybe enough people will “not attend” that it will be a non-event."
"NOOOOO! Do not bring attention to any events these people go to! 
That’s what they want! They want people to come and fight them
and bring media with them. 
No one should ever cover(or go to) 
any story or event this group does or attends. BAD NEWS!"

These are the same "non-confrontational" strategies people wanted to employ when the skinheads come marching through town. And while I understand this way of thinking, I believe it's outdated, wrong, and never works. It's based upon an "Ostrich Strategy". If i put my head in the sand and ignore it, it will pass me by. And while you put your head in the sand, the groups feeds, lives and grows. Ignorance and evil must be checked, parried, and destroyed. It must be confronted directly, history has shown that to do less, is to invite travesty. I leave you with a pair of quotes: 

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
-Edmund Burke 

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. 
-Martin Luther King Jr.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Plea to Police Officers

So, often when you hear the right talk about Muslims in relation to terrorism, they state that their biggest problem is that "Moderate Muslims" are not standing up. "Moderate Muslims" are not letting their voices be heard, "Moderate Muslims" are letting a few rogue members of their faith warp the public's perception. In that same vein I ask, in the wake of the Oscar Grant murder and the subsequent slap on the wrist for former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, where are the voices of the Righteous Police Officers? Johannes Mehserle shot, and killed a detained, unarmed man from point blank range, and he will be eligible for release in less than 7 months. Where are the Moderate police officers? Where are their voices, their cries of outrage?

Now before we go on, this is not an anti-cop rant. I do not believe all cops are bad, or all cops are racists, anymore than I believe that all black people like watermelon, or anymore than I believe that all Muslims are terrorists. In effort to promote full disclosure, my family bleeds blue. I have cousins, friends and fraternity brothers "on the job". My father was a state trooper murdered in the line of duty. My godfather was a police officer in Detroit, I empathize with and understand the plight of  Police Officers. Which is why rogue cops enrage me, which is why racist cops drive me insane. These felons in cops clothing make it harder on the rest of the law abiding, upstanding officers who are trying to Serve and Protect.

But for you officers out there on the fence, hiding behind the shield, know this. When your voices are not heard, you make communities believe the worst. When your cries of outrage are non-existent, a community  turns it back and looses hope. When the price of a black man's life is 7 months in jail, a community start to do the math. They add things up and realize that Plaxico Buress got more time for shooting himself, that Micheal Vick got more time for killing dogs. To the moderate police officers, this Johannes Mehserle is not one of you, he perverts your teachings, he does violence in your name, he cloaks himself in symbols and murders the innocent. Yeah, he knows your language, and goes where you gather, but he is not one of you, he and his kind are extremists, and when you do not speak against him, you make communities believe he is the norm, he is the constant, he is the control, and the rest of us are the experiment. It is times like these when the "big blue wall of silence" and the "stop snitching" campaign seem to be different sides of the same coin.

Oscar Grant was shot in the back, while detained and he was unarmed. The convicted criminal Johannes Mehserle will probably get about 7 months in jail. A mother has lost her son, a daughter has lost her father, a community has lost it's faith. And your voices, the voices that could help convince us that this man was indeed a rogue; Your voices, the voices that could show us that you understand our anger, Your voices, the voices that could help us see you are indeed here to Serve and Protect, are quiet. And your silence is DEAFENING.