The refusal of lawmakers to address the epidemic of gun violence in this country is despicable. This is not new, and it is not the only problem that one of our two major parties refuses to do anything about.
So it turns out nobody from GLLU was available to attend the GLOV meeting tonight because once again all GLLU... http://t.co/DfSMw1vkFR— David Mariner (@DavidMarinerDC) September 25, 2015
David Mariner makes an excellent point. Meanwhile, the Blade reports on the transfer of Officer Justin Markiewicz from GLLU to the Sixth Police District.
My column this week looks at how the GOP is sinking in brainlessness and bile. Here's an excerpt:
Any sufficiently shameless and ambitious politician knows that a smoothly delivered fabrication on live television impresses millions more than will read the next day's refutations. Take Carly Fiorina (please), the never-quite-senator from California with her bag of imaginary business triumphs, whose numbers shot up after her well-delivered zingers at last week's Republican presidential debate.
Never mind that repeated investigations of Benghazi have turned up no sinister actions by Hillary Clinton. Never mind that several state investigations have turned up no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. Carly has to appease the Ignorati (as I dub the right-wing base), so she touts a nonexistent fetus-harvesting video. Just as her $40 million golden parachute cushioned the impact of being sacked by Hewlett Packard, her bump in the polls softened the blow of being called a liar.
The facts don't matter any more. Donald Trump pushes a discredited link between vaccines and autism. Mike Huckabee says the Dred Scott decision remains in effect despite the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment. Ben Carson says no Muslim should be president, ignoring the Constitution's Article VI prohibition against religious tests for public office. Marco Rubio dubiously claims North Korea has the capacity to hit America with a nuclear weapon. Jeb Bush says, "My brother kept us safe," as if 9/11 never happened. Bobby Jindal (in the "undercard" debate) raises the specter of an influx of terrorists by falsely saying Obama wants to "short-circuit the vetting process" for Syrian refugees. If one lie flops, you move on to the next.
In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Here is the Times editorial condemning the American policy of looking the other way on the child rape occurring on American bases. The Times editors are right: this is unacceptable. It is outrageous beyond words, and it is a crime.
52 years ago today, racist murderers committed an act of domestic terror in Birmingham. (Warning: this powerful recreation by Ava DuVernay from "Selma" is shocking and heartbreaking. It is also a sacred act of remembrance. It begins with MLK's Nobel ceremony 15 months later in Oslo.) Here is to the four little girls.
Former tennis star James Blake was not resisting at all when he was tackled by a plainclothes police officer outside New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel. Why the violent take-down? He has received apologies from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton; this is likely because he spoke out, because he was a well-known person, and because of the above surveillance video.
The officer has been placed on "modified assignment" while the incident is investigated. Naturally, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has complained about the treatment of the officer, despite his having a lengthy civilian complaint record.
These heavily-armed pseudo-patriots now threaten federal marshals. If these fanatics are not domestic terrorists, who is?
On this anniversary, I highlight one of the most decent people in Washington, a civil rights attorney who is the first Muslim elected to Congress. Thank you, Rep. Keith Ellison, for holding our country to its values and standing up to bullies like Peter King.
In April 2013, I had the honor of introducing Rep. Ellison as keynote speaker at the Bill of Rights Dinner of ACLU of the Nation's Capital.
In my Blade column this week: authoritarians and demagogues are trying to win by driving us crazy. Don't let them! Here's a portion:
If you didn't know better, recent news might have you thinking that anyone with a Hispanic accent is an alien; that activists protesting police violence are cop killers; and that a government official's religious freedom entitles her to impose her beliefs on an entire county.
Enough of these brazen falsehoods could drive a person crazy. This is called "gaslighting" after Charles Boyer's efforts in the 1944 movie Gaslight to make Ingrid Bergman think she is losing her mind so he can get her out of the way and steal her aunt's jewels.
When Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos challenged Donald Trump's promise to deport eleven million undocumented workers, he was treated like an undocumented worker himself. Trump has slandered Mexicans and used one murder to support a media narrative about criminal hordes flooding America that is entirely at odds with the facts. Undocumented immigrants in fact have a lower crime rate. Trump subsequently described Ramos as "raving like a madman." This is like describing women who assert themselves as hysterical. When Trump contemptuously ordered Ramos removed, the other reporters should have walked out. If tough questions are off-limits, we have a celebrity media availability, not a press conference.
These crude tactics appeal to the Trumpen Proletariat (a term coined by conservative writer Jonah Goldberg): the sort of people who vehemently opposed Obamacare but now favor single payer just because Trump is for it. Goodbye, coherent politics. Hello, fearless leader defended by a mob.
Ted Cruz blames Obama for a climate of violence against police, saying he "demonized" law enforcement: http://t.co/KaQha9gIzD— The Associated Press (@AP) September 4, 2015
I will have more to say on this lie soon. For now, I offer contrasting tweets from Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop.
Scott Walker is right. This isn't the America he grew up in. In that America, 3x as many cops were murdered per year. http://t.co/fsp7FrKbUo— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 3, 2015
Albuquerque cop mistakenly shot 9 times by fellow cop during botched drug sting sues department, city. http://t.co/JzxvfsQxYQ— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) August 31, 2015
Stop the bigoted double standards: Blaming all black people for any black person's violence, or blaming all gay people for any gay person's violence, raises the question of why all white people are not blamed for any white person's violence. The answer is that it doesn't occur to anyone to do group-blaming except toward minorities. This will not stop unless we work together to make it stop.
It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer's death to a movement seeking to end violence.— deray mckesson (@deray) August 29, 2015
Racism is white people saying any Black violence is caused by BLM, but ignoring racists saying they were inspired by Trump to assault folks— r. (@Are0h) August 29, 2015
The horror of racist violence is never more present than when you look at the posthumous photo of Emmett Till, who was murdered 60 years ago at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The photo is easy to find online, but I will not inflict it on you. Once seen, it can never be unseen. We only have it because his mother Mamie bravely ordered an open casket and said, "I want them to see what they did to my son." Three months later, Rosa Parks was arrested on a municipal bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and the discipline and determination shown by African Americans in resistance to injustice changed the nation. A new generation is stepping up to contend with the fact that hatred and the violence it fosters continues to plague us.
Jindal writes letter to Obama telling him not to talk about climate during Katrina anniversary visit http://t.co/d8tQ0IzJjo— Climate Progress (@climateprogress) August 27, 2015
A friend writes on Facebook:
I would make sure I said "climate change" and pointed out how Republicans are doing absolute zilch to deal with it as many times as I could to spite the ignorant dumbshit.
In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:
Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.
When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.
This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.
After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.
The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."
#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards
My initial reaction to Wednesday's horrific shooting death of a Roanoke television reporter and cameraman during a morning news broadcast, other than shock and sadness, was that we need fewer guns and better mental health care. But I like a friend's comments on Facebook:
There is a really offensive meme going around that says to "like & share if you blame [Vester Flanagan] for the Virginia shooting...not the gun." My response to the people who have posted it and it showed up in my feed:
"I blame every single person who prevents implementation of policies and procedures to keep people like him from having access to guns in the first place. I blame everyone who refuses to recognize the critical need and provide funding and help for people who suffer with mental health issues. Then I blame him. I don't blame the gun."
Mr. Flanagan was sufficiently responsible to know what he was doing...otherwise he would not have had the wherewithal to send a manifesto or liveblog his actions. He could and should have voluntarily walked into any hospital or police station and declared he was in crisis and the tragedy could have been averted.
He plainly was a troubled man. I hope his family tried to get him help. Even so, the system failed everyone in this case...same as it has before...same as it will again. Anyone who claims they are pro-life, pro-family, and a Christian, is anything but if they oppose fixing our laws and our society to prevent tragedies involving guns. It's just that simple. Stop playing along with them and they will lose their power.
Some on the right, I suppose inevitably, are blaming the shooting on #BlackLivesMatter activists, whose advocacy is nonviolent and in protest against state-sanctioned violence against black citizens. The fact that the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, was also gay (according to a manifesto posted in his name, purportedly by him) only gives more red meat to the haters.
A few months ago, around LGBT Pride, I announced a policy of apologizing for every crime or calamity that anyone blames on gay people as a class. This of course is ridiculous, unless you are prepared to blame (say) Ted Bundy's serial murders of women on all straight guys. But reason has little to do with scapegoating of minorities, so I wish to apologize for these horrific killings. I am so sorry. What was I thinking. Please forgive me. And fuck you ignorant motherfuckers. Oh, sorry, I was temporarily channeling Samuel L. Jackson.
Seriously, we need to do something about the proliferation and glorification of guns in this country. Due to a second fatal shooting Wednesday, you couldn't bring up "the shooting" without clarifying which one you meant.
As another friend said last evening, in response to a colleague who snarkily suggested it is "peak assimilation" when a deranged shooter announces he's gay:
The fact he was gay, and his complaints around such, are irrelevant. He was severely mentally ill. If he'd been told they were out of his favorite cone at Dairy Queen, he'd have imagined some slight that was worthy of massacre.
Yes. Let's address the problem, not exploit it to score cheap points on social media.
Vive la France!