Monday, July 11, 2016

Whose Lives Matter? An Analysis

This Serious Note Just In…

Whose Lives Matter? An Analysis

By Bathhouse John for Vox Populi |  July 11, 2016 at 12 PM (“High Noon”)

A Facebook friend of mine posted this recently. I admire the person’s courage and, after some deep cognition, came up with this response. Recent police shootings, the Dallas Police ambush, Black Lives Matter, and nationwide protests have created quite a divide. I hope that my friends words and my words promote positive dialogue.

“Everyone who is saying ALL LIVES MATTER Are MISSING THE POINT. Of COURSE ALL LIVES MATTER....The point of BLM is....Black lives matter as MUCH as everyone else's. Treat black people like everyone else. If a situation can be defused non-violently with other races, then it should be tried when dealing with with black people as well, not shoot first, and then cover up the facts. What happened here last night [Dallas Police Shooting] was wrong, but it doesn't negate the point.” Facebook Posting from Friday, July 8, 2016.

Agreed! You are brave to speak out, my friend. SO MUCH CRUD is posted here on Facebook, and seeing your post is actually IMPORTANT, your thoughts should be posted. I do not know what you or any African American (or Hispanic, or other minority groups - including women for that matter) can exactly feel inside, but I try. I listen. Sometimes I do not want to hear. But, I try. I feel that most White Americans would agree with what I’m about to say. It’s stated with the utmost respect and honesty and intend no hard feelings . . . just dialogue.

I'm white and I cannot hold a candle to what African Americans have endured. I do have a “soulful sense” (albeit limited) because my ancestors were Irish and they were treated like crap for a long time. Let me say this: I thought long and hard about what you said, my friend, and I agree with it to a point. “The point of BLM is....Black lives matter as MUCH as everyone else's.” No doubt, but I think the message BLM is sending is wrong, it sounds selfish, and is upsetting to many like myself. I offer the following to wit:

“To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.” (See: Josh Feldman, “Black Lives Matter Releases A Statement On Dallas Shooting”, Mediaite) It just seemed to me, and surely many others “like me,” that BLM missed the point. Only 1 out of 10 sentences in their Twitter press release actually shows remorse for the slain innocent officers who died protecting BLM and their followers. Talk about irony - at many levels. In my humble opinion, this was disrespectful and lost much sympathy in my eyes, and I’m sure in the eyes of fellow whites, for their cause; their tactics can be aggressive, disrespectful, and even hateful at times (See: Khaleda Rahman, “...Black Lives Matter Protesters Scream Epithets At White Students Studying In Dartmouth Library”, . As a side note, I can’t imagine Dr. King, let alone Malcolm X (whom I personally admire, have studied, and hold as a hero, because he was African American, raised in a most difficult time and yet pulled himself out of the mire.), stating something so callused. Consider the currency BLM could have received had they simply said, “We are sickened and horrified by the police shootings in Dallas. BLM doesn’t stand for that. We seek an end to the violence in our country perpetrated upon our people and our public servants.” Honey goes a lot farther than vinegar in convincing someone about your plight. BLM could have handled this situation with respect and love.

So, in my humble granted possibly erroneous opinion, the typical White American feels that the younger generations, which are behind BLM (whatever the race), don’t try to understand the situation for what it is: they have to keep fighting with respect and love, not disrespect and hate. Most Americans would be behind them if they did - Democrats and Republicans and Independents (like me) - but that’s not what we’re seeing for the most part. (Please don’t confuse the supportive politicians in this who only publically care because they want something in return.)

Think about this irony: as good White and Hispanic officers had just been gunned down in downtown Dallas by an African American man committing a hate crime, thousands upon thousands, prodded by BLM, were protesting against police departments all over the U.S. To me, and I’m just being honest, that’s despicable. Again, BLM could have handled this with respect and love.

My friend, who happens to be African American, was a Vietnam fighter pilot who was shot down and became a POW in 1972. I asked him, How did you face racism? and he simply replied, “I never let it become an excuse to succeed.” This man attended the Air Force Academy back in the mid-1960s. He wasn’t the first, but he was one of the first. A true American hero. I think BLM - and all of us for that matter - can learn quite a lesson in this simple tenet for success.

Now, what about Alton Sterling, Philado Castile, or Tamir Rice for that matter? Most White Americans, including myself, find these despicable, unwarranted, and actually evil. Now, I don’t know what transpired between Sterling and the police, but he did not deserve to die like that. Castile, God only knows why he was killed, perhaps executed, again, I wasn’t there. What about little, Tamir Rice? He was in the neighborhood Park, minding his own business, playing with a toy gun. Why did the police have to shoot first, and ask questions later on November 22, 2014? They had a loudspeaker. It didn’t have to turn out that way. But who am I? I do not wear a badge. I would not want to wear a badge. It’s takes a special person to do that job - if they are honest and forthright and not judgmental with their finger on the trigger. What if the police were totally in the wrong in these cases? What if the inverse were true? What’s the answer? Well…

What’s basically wrong then with the policing nationwide?

I tried out for the San Francisco PD back in the early 2000s. I tried really hard to make the “squad.” But, what I learned has bothered me to this day: I realized that the department did not want someone like me and in fact gave preferential treatment to those that had military experience. This is a fact. Military experience - I have none - placed you higher on the list because you received “bonus points” as a result of that experience. I cannot recall exactly the extra points allotted, but I believe it was an additional 100 points on the scale which amounted to about a 20-40% jump in one’s score. Pretty significant. This is not sour grapes, either. I’m glad I did not make the force. I believe in talking first, shooting second. That methodology did not fit what SFPD was seeking in their officers; thus the extra desire to recruit military personnel.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most military recruits in the SFPD and any department are good people. HOWEVER, and here’s my point: I believe that the current nationwide policing policies are based upon using personnel from our current theaters of war . . .  and there is a far cry from a suspect on the street and a combatant in a war zone. But, if trained to see combatants, it’s hard to break those rules of engagement, honed in the firefights of Afghanistan and Iraq and applied to our citizens here at home. Is this what’s wrong with our policing nationwide? I think it has something to do with it; I really do.

This treatise was not easy to write and sure hope it does not offend anyone. It’s just meant to stir the debate. Here’s the most important question: Not all are the same. What can we do together to fix the problem of police shootings. Here’s what I suggest for a standard traffic stop - not one involving exigent circumstances or hot pursuit: 1) all police wear body cameras and treat drivers and occupants with the utmost respect; 2) all drivers nationwide be required to follow basic steps (as determined by police and civilian officials and community activists in a joint communique) when being pulled over . . . e.g. hands on the wheel/dashboard, promptly follow all orders by officer and treat officer with the utmost respect; 3) any deviation from these basic standards makes the violating party responsible for their own actions and must face any consequences including criminal and civil liabilities.
Any thoughts?

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