Watching a Government Wash Down the Drain

            Whenever I have my phone or keys in my hand, and I walk across a street drain, I clutch them more tightly. I have a fear of dropping them down a drain, making them forever irretrievable.

            Unfortunately, I cannot clutch the government of the country I’ve lived in all my life, the government of a country that made people want to come here and live because this government was believed to be better than so many others. Here there were freedoms and fair elections. This country was an idea and an ideal that people in other countries recognized as being special and rare. We called it a “democracy.”

            But it turns out that a fair number of Americans did not like or appreciate democracy, and it seems that they have resented “the experiment” for some time. The very pluralism that helped make America stand out was a source of irritation for many. It got in the way of the maintenance and growth of white supremacy, and that was not acceptable. (https://www.fordfoundation.org/news-and-stories/stories/posts/democracy-is-a-threat-to-white-supremacy-and-that-is-the-cause-of-america-s-crisis/)

            Since the 2016 election, this country has been on a downward spiral, with things like truth and ethics being washed away as lies and racial hatred and an almost hysteric series of actions designed to keep white people in power. Fox News has helped the process, but so has the mainstream media. The rights of Americans are being taken away, bit by bit, and are being lost in drains that move swirling waters of raw political ambition further and further away from even a chance of those rights being retrieved and saved.

            While the Republicans have been largely silent and have defended the attacks on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, calling what happened legitimate political discourse, they have been quick to condemn people in this country who for the most part have engaged in peaceful protests for their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms – including freedom of speech, religion, the press, and assembly.

            The only freedom for them that is sacrosanct to them is the freedom to bear arms, a freedom that leads to untimely and unnecessary death, not life, as they proclaim to support.

            It is probably not hyperbole to say that millions of Americans wake up every day to see if the Department of Justice is going to do something to plug the drains before there is so much water in them that the drains will overflow. But there is nothing, and the people who are running roughshod over the right of people to be treated as human beings are getting more and more emboldened. They are cocky about their capacity to be white in this country and get away with pretty much whatever they want, a sentiment that was expressed by one woman who participated in the insurrection who said she would not be arrested because she was “white with blonde hair and blue eyes.” (https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/jenna-ryan-convinced-she-wont-go-to-jail-apologizes-for-having-white-skin-blond-hair-12000445)

            All that is going on is part of the work to “make America great again,” but what people are yearning for was not great. It was filled with discrimination, racism, sexism and unfettered violence. It was a country that allowed and encouraged discrimination against people who were easily identifiable and not worry about being held accountable. It was a country that supported the rights of wealthy white men, primarily, who brought their women along although they treated them as objects just as they did non-white men and women.

            These people cannot be called Republicans. Or Christian. Or Conservative. They are nationalists, rabid supporters of white supremacy. In the current controversy about the renunciation of a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will (or can) carry a fetus, they are blind by their quest for white male domination, and unconcerned about “liberty and justice for all.” They believe not just in big government, but in enormous government, a government that controls every aspect of the lives of its citizens. They want control of women’s bodies, yes, but also control of a woman’s right to privacy, the right to use contraception, and a child’s right not to be forced to carry a fetus after having been raped by a stranger or family member.

            They want to end public education, get rid of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, raise taxes for the very poor, and make everyone practice the same religion. (https://thehill.com/homenews/media/581443-michael-flynn-says-of-the-us-we-have-to-have-one-religion/)

            We are watching it happen in real-time. Those who hate democracy, who ignore the Great Commandment that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves – a commandment that appeared in the Hebrew Scriptures and was repeated by Jesus -are on a mission. The United States Supreme Court is not a believer in liberty and justice for all; it is and has always been, a political tool used to uphold and protect white supremacy, which attacks not only the rights of Black people, but of Brown and Asian and Indigenous Americans, women, and anyone whom they think is not “American” enough. Women, even white women, are not protected from white male nationalism. They will see, but by then, it will be too late.

            When something falls into a drain, the rushing water pushing it along, there is a sense of hopelessness as you reach and try to catch it before it gets out of reach. But the water is strong and the drain is there; your phone or keys or glasses are gone forever.

            If we can plug the drain, if we can put something over the grid to slow the water down, we may save democracy. But we had better move more quickly than we have. The storm of white nationalism is getting more and more intense, and we are all at risk.

A candid observation …

Michael Dunn, George Zimmerman, and Fear

I wonder if any black person has ever had the benefit of  having a trial with an impartial jury.

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution says that American citizens are entitled to a trial with an “impartial jury.” That  phrase has been interpreted as one having the right to a trial with a jury “by one’s peers.” That’s not exactly what the Constitution says. It says we’re supposed to have trials with an “impartial jury.”

I have long struggled with trials for black people that have had juries which were nearly all white. Because I thought the Constitution said we have a right to a jury of our peers, I have long thought that something was very wrong. Well, there’s a lot wrong, but for this moment, I just want to concentrate on the one thing I felt was wrong: Black people were NOT having trials with juries “of their peers.”

But along those same lines, black people have not had many trials with impartial juries, either. In the Dunn trial, there were four white men, four white women, two black women …one Asian woman and one Hispanic American. Were these jurors impartial? I don’t think so. Out of the total of 12 jurors, 8 were white. Impartial?  I cannot believe that they were.

Chris Cuomo of CNN interviewed George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, in spite of being free, is pouting. He says HE is a victim and was made a scapegoat by the government, naming the president and the attorney in general. Michael Dunn is amazed that he was convicted even of attempted second degree murder. He said from jail that he was attacked. Apparently, the juries believed both these men, that THEY were victims. I cannot believe that that the jurors who saw him as victim …are impartial.

White people are so often afraid of black people…just because they are black and because the media has been very effective in portraying black people as criminals.  Almost every black person I know has experienced a white person gripping her bag more tightly when she has seen a black person, primarily a black man, approaching her. It is a fact that one can be (and is) stopped just because he is black.  Statistics show that while blacks commit a large number of violent crimes, most of their victims tend to be black. A report done by CNN indicated that the most likely victim of black crime is a black male, 12-19 years old, and the least likely victim, a white male, ages 35-64.  Blacks, in relation to being only 12.5 percent of the population, commit “a disproportionate number of crimes,” but, the report said, “whites commit more crimes.” (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1994/06/01/88911/)

Blacks have been criminalized historically, something that began after Reconstruction, when white people in the South needed a way to get blacks back on the farms to do the work that would improve the South’s economy. Blacks could be arrested for the most petty things – like being outside too late, or walking on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, for loitering (even as they waited in line to get a job!) The message was being given that black people were bad, unworthy of freedom. That sentiment has persisted…

The overarching feeling of many whites, then, is that black people are bad and are to be feared, and fear drives white emotions, beliefs and actions. Why did the man in Dearborn, Michigan, shoot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face as she banged on his door in the wee hours of the morning seeking help? Because he was afraid. Why did the police officer shoot injured and unarmed Jonathan Ferrell as he ran toward police, seeking help? Because he was afraid.

Both Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman are murderers; they both shot unarmed black teens …but their actions were driven by fear and they had jurors who were ALSO afraid, or who know the fear of which they spoke, and in the cradle of that fear, acquitted these men of their crimes. The juries were NOT impartial. Fear prevented that.

When I hear Dunn and Zimmerman say they were victims, my blood boils. They were not victims of anything other than their own fear.  Fear leads people to insecurity and irrational actions…which is what we saw in the case of both these men.

Somebody on the Dunn jury was connecting with his/her own fear…and that’s what drove them. Dunn is still shocked that he was convicted of anything, given the scenario as he feels it happened. He was afraid of Jordan Davis, afraid of what he believes to be true of all black people. His fear, probably fed a bit by machismo, increased as Davis offered him an angry challenge to Dunn’s request that the teens turn down their money. Dunn  rode into that gas station with contempt for and fear of black people in his heart. He acted on both…and contrary to his sorry claim, he was NOT the victim; he was NOT attacked. That 17-year- old kid was the victim and was attacked and killed.

I get that. But the jury, which was NOT impartial, did not.

It’s a sorry and tragic shame, what has happened.

A candid observation …