Friday, March 30, 2012

Media Lynch Mob

Everybody's so busy wanting to be down

with the gang.

"I'm conservative", "I'm liberal",

"I'm conservative". Bullshit!

Be a fucking person! Lis-ten!

Let it swirl around your head.

Then form your opinion.

No normal, decent person is one thing, okay?

--Chris Rock

The cops reported you as just an another homicide

But I can tell that you were just frustrated

From living with Murder Incorporated

--Murder Incorporated
Bruce Springsteen

one may smile, and smile,

and be a villain

, I. v

Rounding out race week: What it means to be liberal.

One of Ranger's associates once asked me, "So what are you?" after their discussion of their early years in Catholic school. "I'm a human" I said (
thank you John Lennon), so absurd seemed the question, as though he could draw a bead on me via such categorization.

So how do we know who anyone is? We have been discussing the rush to judgement this week on the Trayvon Martin case. In legal matters, we come to know what's relevant based upon the workings of our legal system. If we no longer have faith in the process, we have a problem.

The quick and severe sectarianism even in the legitimate press over this issue has been shocking. Among the commentariat, if one sides for the guilt of Zimmerman, one is
correctly liberal, and if one calls for delegating the matter to the authorities, one must be a bigot. I am confounded by the majority of my supposed fellows who cannot countenance my position of non-outrage over the non-revealed facts.

To be a liberal thinker is to be broad-minded and inclusive, to consider as many angles as possible, and to shut off no option until it becomes a dead-end or fails to jibe with the preponderance of the data one ingathers. Yet -- it seems today, liberal equates with toeing the party line, swallowing an agenda, being either-or. How did thought become so factionalized and such a bully point?

In the Martin case, what does this imply, this imperative to whitewash any possible culpability of the killed member of a confrontation if he is black and his killer is not? I am not making any judgement here, but simply asking the questions. Is this another opportunity for the anti-gun crowd to argue their agenda?

We have a race problem in this country; of this there is no doubt. It is Hobbesian in proportion, as it really is all against all. Of course, this is not admitted in polite company, but if you drive a mile across Division Street in most towns, you'll see it. It is confusing why we cannot seem to get it together. Part of the problem is that we are not brave enough to speak about it; part is that we -- none of us -- do not even understand it.
Magical thinking -- not acknowledging the problem or erasing any culpability is not solving it.

There are some nuts and bolts deficiencies, but there are esoteric and philosophical aspects, too. It may be that people always need a scapegoat. Maybe we are lazy and scared, or angry, or a little of all. What seems clear is that we like to be outraged and like to feel righteous, but still, NIMBY rules the day for most.

I loved the "Portlandia" clip about the principles deep and abiding concern for the provenance and well-being of the chicken they were ordering at a restaurant, but the bottom line? They are going to eat Harold the chicken, providing his upbringing is devoid of enough terror so as not to upset their delicate equilibrium after ingesting him. And this is not to bang Portland (how wonderful to have a microbrew - cafe culture; I wish we had such a thing!)

So you can gussy it up and make eating meat a little more palatable, or you can stop eating it altogether. Your degree of conviction is what is on the chopping block.

All I'm saying is, we have some race problems, and we have people entrenched on both sides of the matter. The problem cannot be solved through outrage over one incident which only got print because of some salacious thinking in the hardcore liberal circles. The problem is not going to be fixed by throwing money at it; it is intransigent, and has thus far resisted the solutions offered.

So, you can get up in arms at the police, or call people pansies for not walking in the Tenderloin or being suspicious of a guy with a hoodie pulled over his head.
But it's all about place and time, concealment and intent: A burqa, niqab or a chadri would arouse similar suspicions in our terror-fearing world, and what to do about that?

I'll stick with my original statement: Martin's death would have been a non-starter, save for some crime reporter picking up up on the novelty of the name of the shooter. By the time it went national, the reporters had only just discovered that Zimmerman was not only not white, that he was, in fact Hispanic and Catholic.

The Jewish students who campaigned for and died fighting in the American Civil Rights Movement are forgotten; it is a long-known sociological phenomenon that those who help pull you up are later resented for the inequity of power which they once represented.

In one of the more grotesque examples of the hatred in the Left, the radical's darling rag,
CounterPunch (The Second Killing of Trayvon Martin), describes Zimmerman as "a pathetic, chubby, Chaz-Bono-lookalike" -- boy that really makes you bust a gut, huh?

Writer Eskow goes on to enjoy more schadenfreude at Zimmerman's expense:
"Any man who lived through public high school knows George Zimmerman, and may well have had occasion to kick his ass," because, you know, George is fat and pathetic, and looks like a transgendered individual. Hey, let's laugh at some she-males ... do we feel bigger, yet?

And the final line delivers the knock-out punch: Zimmerman has "a shyster lawyer" -- surprise, surprise. So, dammit, we have missed the bus on finding a Jew perpetrator, but we can surely skewer a Jew sort-of accessory to the fact, right?

I see this media lynch mob as a prime example of racist bullying, and racism is racism. If you want to present as anti-racism Mr. Eskow, et. al, it would be really good if you were not racist.

So the liberals do the weighing act, and I guess up against the shysters and the alternatively-gendered buffoons, Mr. Martin in his hoodie is looking pretty good. Is this the best we can do in our efforts to ferret prejudicial rot out of our society?

You are either all in about civil rights and human rights and trust in the rule of law, or you wallow in a personal miasma in which you are constantly tallying up the score of least-reviled individuals based on your proximity to the perceived threat.

It looks like easy outrage has trumped rationality for the moment.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Comparative Analysis

--Capital City Bank sign:

[my goal is] the creation of a society
without domination

--Adrienne Rich

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

--Maya Angelou

It was the last night before sorrow

touched her life, and no life is ever

quite the same again when once that cold,

sanctifying touch has been laid upon it

--Anne of Green Gables
L. M. Mongomery

Ranger Question of the Day;

My bank has been robbed a few times and
has a sign on the door:
"No hoodies allowed in the lobby"
--Is my bank racist?


[NOTE: The zombie white faces and Anglo features in the "No Hoodie" bank sign. Just 'cause most of the robbers were black, we didn't notice that, you see? So, no racism, right?]

Subtitle: Florida -- the Death Knell State.

The death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old killed by a community watchman, has been called a martyrdom and an assassination by his bereaved mother.

If so, consistency requires that we also call the targeted killing of the U.S citizen and 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki also an assassination and a martyrdom. With martyrdom comes the need for a cause, so what shall we call it -- the death of innocence?

Why is the younger Awlaki's death cheered, while Trayvon's is decried? Are we less discomfited when the kill is called by our president on an erstwhile innocent than by a civilian? If this is truly a racial issue (as so many arguing), then is it simply that a black man can kill a brown man, whereas a brown man may not kill a black man today? Do we only turn the other way when African Americans kill their own (as they do in 91% of gun murders in the U.S.)?

Is it that we just presume that it is a righteous kill, or that we simply don't care -- we don't want to get up in their business? And could that be because we know how entirely and hopelessly estranged we are from a culture that lives under the rubric, "U.S.A."?

But let us forget the dark-skinned little man called al-Awlaki's son, as dark-skinned deaths in the Phony War on Terror are oh-so forgettable; just another brick in the wall. Let's bring it closer to home, back to Florida and assassinations and all the stuff that is beyond the limits of civilized behavior, to another story of young black men involved in murder which you will not hear much about, though it is in the same edition of the paper that fronts Trayvon's saga.

But this story runs several pages back, and under the fold. It is the story of two British tourists murdered in cold blood by a 16-year-old black youth less than three hours Southwest of Trayvon's story. The murderer, Shawn Tyson, called his victims -- James Kouzaris and James Cooper -- "crackers" as they begged for their lives before he shot them to death last April. Tyson was just convicted of two life sentences.

One of the witnesses testified that Tyson told her the day after the killings that
he said to the victims, "Well since you ain't got no money I got something for your ass." Calling someone one a cracker when you single them out for death because of their skin color would seem to be a hate crime, but no such charges were filed.

The AP reported, "Authorities say it was initially difficult to get people in this case to reveal details about the shootings (as) many of the witnesses were friends of Tyson's" -- how's that for civic responsibility? Nobody "saw or heard nothin'," a familiar refrain. (If you've ever dealt with the criminal justice system, you know every con was framed; no one really did anything. A culture of responsibility it is not.)

Tyson had been improperly released to his mother's custody from juvenile detention via administrative error the day before the killings for shooting into a car with an illegal firearm the week before. The silence continued when "savage" Tyson was observed tracking his intended cracker victims, enabling the two murders. While the witnesses were complicit in their silence, maybe in their neighborhood that is what is called "neighborhood watch."

Friends of the victims expressed their disappointment with the lack of parity in President Obama's non-response to their plight:

Davies said:"We would like to publicly express our dissatisfaction at the lack of any public or private message of support or condolence from any American governing body or indeed, President Obama himself.

"Mr Kouzaris has written to President Obama on three separate occasions and is yet to even receive the courtesy of a reply.

"It would perhaps appear that Mr Obama sees no political value in facilitating such a request or that the lives of two British tourists are not worthy of ten minutes of his time" (Parents of Murdered British Students Criticise Barack Obama.)

The same scenario was played out in 1993 at a rest stop in Monticello, about 30 miles from Tallahassee: four black youths executed another British tourist, wounding his companion; five days before that, a German tourist was murdered in Miami. After these events, the British and German tourist authorities issued travel advisories to their citizens heading to sunny Florida
(the Governer Chiles also wisely suspended the "One Florida, Many Faces" tourist campaign.)

When one of the assailants, John Crumitie, was sentenced to first degree murder two years later, his mother blamed the change of venue -- and REDNECKS -- for the decision:

"It's horrible. It's horrible," said Crumitie's mother, Susie Mae Johnson, blaming the conviction on a change of venue to Pensacola. "The town ain't nothing but a damn redneck town, and Monticello is just the damn same."

Seems like everything boils down to blacks and crackers.

--He didn't like me taking his photo today

Today, our rest stops have security guards -- or post warning signs indicating their absence. Many have simply shut down anyway due to funding strictures.

Alas, there is no outrage in our communities for these murders. Everyone knows you don't roll down your window for a group of young black men . . . and they were foreigners, anyway.

Maybe it was that the victims were not wearing hoodies.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doing the Wrong Thing

Y'all take a chill!
Ya need to cool that shit out!

And that's the double truth, Ruth!

--Do the Right Thing

You live in the land of the free, with a great body of jurisprudence, don't you think this is just a little bit -- mad?
From Slate:

Spike Lee's Retweet Causes Couple To Flee

A Twitter user spread the wrong address for the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Spike Lee retweeted the wrong address for Trayvon Martin's killer last week, forcing a Florida couple to flee their home

Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images.

An elderly couple has fled their Sanford-area home after a tweet—disseminated by Spike Lee—mistakenly gave their address as that of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida last month.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that David (72) and Elaine McClain (70) received hate mail, threats, and visits from reporters looking for Zimmerman after their address was incorrectly pegged as that of the man who killed Martin last month in what he says was self-defense.

Elaine McClain has a son named William George Zimmerman, no relation to the Zimmerman in question. The couple is currently living in a hotel.

The Smoking Gun traced the original tweet back to a California man, who apparently sent a tweet containing the incorrect address to Lee and other celebrities with a request for a retweet. Lee obliged, retweeting it to his 240,000 followers last Friday. He's since removed the post, but it continues to bounce around Twitter.

William Zimmerman told the Sentinel that he lived at his mother and step-father's house briefly after college. He registered to vote, got a driver's license, and registered a car at that address.

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Reverse Lynch Mob

Let me tell you a story to chill the bones
About a thing that I saw

One night wondering in the everglades

I had one drink but no more

--Dance of Death
, Iron Maiden

They’ve promised that dreams can come true,

but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too

Oscar Wilde

That becomes the revolution,

to be idealistic enough that you think

you can change the world, and what you find

is you can't change anything but yourself

Marilyn Manson

An open letter to Charles Blow, New York Times columnist:

Dear Mr. Blow,

Not you, too.

I've always been your most ardent fan, even writing you personally twice in support of your columns. But I believe you have flubbed it up this time with your presentation of the Trayvon Martin case. Mama and grandma gave you the high points, but what else would we expect?

First, your use of the word "slain" implies premeditation, and is word usually reserved for warriors; neither is the case here.

The bunnies and the cookies and the brownies with lots of nuts -- this is glurge, Mr. Blow. We all know that families usually rally 'round their even wayward members, saying what a good guy he was, and maybe to them, he was. But that is not the whole of anyone.

You write, "This hardly fits the profile of a menacing teen who would attack a grown man unprovoked . . .", but Mr. Blow, you are not speaking from the facts of the case. The BTK ("Bondage-Torture-Kill") serial killer was liked roundly; our own Ted Bundy was intelligent and quite the charmer . . . when he wasn't killing people.
You lose credibility when you enter a case for one side -- a case which has not even begun.

I am not sure the press's need to pillory the other player in this totentanz, but I get the media's message:
If a black person is shot not by another black person in 2012, the shooter is de facto guilty. In the old days, this was called a lynch mob mentality.

I guess today we should call it "the reverse lynch mob".

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My Son Would've Looked like Abdulrahman

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki,
U.S. citizen killed by U.S. airstrikes in Yemen

weeks after his father was also killed by

targeted U.S. airstrike


President Obama recently rode the outrage wave (and made a savvy campaigning move) when commenting on 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's shooting, "If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon."
It was Obama's "Ich bin ein Berliner" moment, almost.

I must have missed it when he said the same thing about Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American citizen he popped a cap on (via proxy) last October in Yemen, who also could have looked his non-extant son. What's that? Oh, Obama DIDN'T say that about Abdulrahman? Funny, I wonder why.

Several other NPR commenters have hopped on Obama's meme, too, as though having a biracial child gives them street cred to comment on what happened the night of 26 Feb in Sanford, Florida. "That could have been MY child!" they cry. Well ... you're on NPR, where even Tavis Smiley is extremely polite (hey, I like Tavis); your kids know how to comport themselves, and probably haven't been expelled from school a few times. If these people are really interested in the mulatto concept, why not also affiliate with Zimmerman, as well?

What is equally odd is the fact that Trayvon was the offspring of two African American parents.

However, we live in a post-factual world, and our technology has helped us zip outrage around the world many times over before truth is revealed. No need for verifiable data which might take some time to collect. We haven't the time: Our world is now hyperreal, which is to say not real at all.

Thank you, Baudrillard -- it is the simulacra and the repetition that we crave. Non-nutritious empty calories, but all the flavor.

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The Armed Citizen II

I ain't asking you to keep no secrets
My reputation already shot

I ain't asking you to commit treason

Just tell me if you like it or not

--Skin Deep
, Melissa Etheridge

I'm watching the news …

Tupac Shakur was assassinated,

Biggie Smalls assassinated,

struck down by assassin's bullets …

no, they wasn't.
Martin Luther King was assassinated,

Malcolm X was assassinated,

John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Them two niggas got shot!

--Chris Rock


We are not sure why Trayvon Martin's sad case has become a national hullabaloo -- it is one more senseless black death. It is NOT an assassination, as Trayvon's mother claims, and her son is no martyr.

This post will offer further observations on race in America. We'll tell you what we see, and to answer those who feel our view is myopic: Lisa is from Washington, D.C., Ranger, Cleveland. We may live in Hickville, U.S.A. now (otherwise known as Florida's capital city), but we can offer perspective; if not exactly 360 °, certainly more than 270 °.

When the local historically black college, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical (FAMU) has its homecoming, there are always black-on-black shootings. This fact has closed down the local Governor's Square Mall in the past. It is well known that it is wise to avoid getting channelized on the major streets the night of the game, not only to avoid the violence, but also the risk of accidents due to drivers under the influence -- the lane markers are ignored, and cars swan out across Tennessee Street.

Citizens have the right and responsibility to be smart and avoid threat environments. I personally would not travel to South Tallahassee during these weekends if The Pope were standing on the street corner handing out Life Savers.

Jonathan Capehart has been leading the Trayvon charge for The Washington Post, and bemoans "the rules he was taught as a teenager: 'Don’t run in public,' 'Don’t run while carrying anything in your hands,' 'Don’t talk back to the police',” but those are not rules singled out for blacks. News flash: If you're a human being, don't talk back to the cops. Period.

We know Zimmerman was not a cop, but what might have happened had Martin openly approached him and said, "Good evening", or "Is something wrong?" or anything that might have shown him to be a Good Guy?

We know Chris Rock is a comedian, but in his skit, "How not to get your ass kicked by the police", he addresses the problem by taking it to the utmost:
"You probably won’t get your ass kicked if you just use common sense; Be polite ..." His satire applies to anyone, and should we be surprised? There is a reason some neighborhoods are gated and have neighborhood watches. Hint: the people do not feel like they live in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

Ranger frequently attends gun shows for mixed crowds of collectors, hunters and everything in between, and he has never seen a young black man view or purchase any weapon other than a hi-capacity 9 m/m pistol, an AK-47 or an assault-type shotgun. These are politely known in the gun world as "kill your neighbor" guns. In addition, he has never seen a National Rifle Association (NRA) membership drive or hunter or shooter safety course held in a predominantly black neighborhood.

Every white man he knows owns and carries a weapon in his car and for home protection. This observation is not restricted to the South. This applies to his buddies in Cleveland, all of whom served in Vietnam and some of whom returned to enter law enforcement. Many of us have been threatened or beaten at some point in our lives by a group of blacks. (Many of Lisa's male friends have had the same experience.) You realize we are not saying this is everyone's experience -- this is our experience.

Every day one sees young black men with pants down to their knees, buckled (if buckled) under their rumps, underwear exposed in broad daylight. Slabs with stereos blasting hateful rap lyrics tell me these folks don't exactly share the values of white bread America. Then there are the locals who advocate arming all blacks so that they can annihilate each other, such is their feeling of alienation and antagonism. For a culture in which getting shot earns one street cred, this idea is not far-fetched.

Again -- and obviously -- we are not talking about all African-Americans, by any means. However, the above-described is a large enough contingent to cause a rupture in our society.
And for the rest of us to stand back and to deny this is hypocrisy of the finest grade -- a willing blindness which allows the sorry plight of all involved to continue, and do we dare to imagine that by bemoaning one death we are setting things aright?

What are the life choices for young black men? Be a Clarence Thomas, a LeBron James . . . what? That is what we need to resolve if we are to survive as a nation.

Meaningless though Martin's death is, there will soon be another in my neighborhood when the next drug deal goes bad, and it will never go beyond page three of the Gadsden County Times. On game day, the locals will continue to bet on whether "our nig**** will beat your nig****." And so it goes.

I will maintain my outrage for a war and a government that in my lifetime has killed Gooks, Hadjis and other dark people, invaded Grenada and Panama, and supports Egypt, Colombia and Turkey, where they repress their middle-shaded citizens.

Life can be a jungle out there, and this shooting death may be emblematic of our downfall not as blacks or white or Latinos, bit rather as a nation.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Armed Citizen

Can you hear and do you care and
Can't you see we must be free to

Teach your children what you believe in

Make a world that we can live in

--Teach Your Children

Since we are in Florida and guns and police are occasional topics, Ranger will address the furore surrounding the 26 Feb 12 death of a 17-year-old black youth in the central Florida town of Sanford.

First to the hagiography of Trayvon Martin and concomitant vilification of his killer, Zimmerman. [Anything that follows is not to justify murder, if that needs be said.]

An associate of Ranger's in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) commented this morning to him that Trayvon Martin's police file has been sealed. We know that Martin was in Sanford because he was expelled from his South Florida school for as-yet unverified offense(s). So what we do know is, both participants in this engagement had rap sheets. Neither were lily white when it comes to their experience with the law.

Another fact is that thousands of black / white /brown /yellow people shoot and kill thousands of other black / white / brown and yellow people every year in the U.S. Can they all be hate crimes?

The exact statistics are hard to come by; a rough estimate is 30,000 firearm deaths in the U.S. per year, with almost half of those being suicides.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC),the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all release their own stats; the FBI also tabulates justifiable homicides separate from murders. For instance, in 2005, there were 337 justifiable, fatal shoots by the LEOs and 143 by private citizens.

Since this is a criminal investigation, the general public can have no idea into which category this killing falls. It doesn't make anyone smarter or more liberal to side with the black youth over the late 20's Hispanic in the absence of all the data. However, it does appear to make some people feel better to slot themselves with one over the other. Why would that be? Do liberals suffer a higher collective guilt over past treatment of black people than we do over the treatment of Hispanics? If so, why is that?

We suggest if you really sympathize with the plight of blacks, you back it up with equal concern over every blight facing the black community in America, namely:

  • What are you doing about the disproportionate rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD's) -- especially AIDs -- in the black community? According to Zack Burgess of the Philidelphia Tribune:
"African Americans represent one-half of the new HIV infections, those living with HIV and those who succumb to it each year in the United States. We also have higher rates for other STDs. Not to mention that Blacks represent 50% of the 2.8 million new Chlamydia infections and our infection rates for Gonorrhea and Syphilis are 16 and 23 times those of whites respectively."

"Nowhere is this impact greatest than in young people, especially young women. A recent CDC study estimated that 48% of black adolescent girls in the United States had at least one STD. Moreover, many are unaware of it."
  • As of 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Justice estimated there were over 846,000 Black men in prison, making up 40.2% of all inmates in the system at large. More black men are now in prison than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.
  • African Americans have 2.4 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites. They are four times as likely to die as infants due to complications related to low birth weight as compared to non-Hispanic white infants.
  • While African Americans comprise 13.5% of the U.S. Population, 43% of all murder victims in 2007 were African American, 93.1% of whom were killed were African Americans (Black on Black Crime Coalition.)

Do you know these statistics? Do you care? If you think Trayvon is some kind of aberration, than you do not, and your wailing and gnashing of teeth is fallow and will flame out once the next new outrage is fed to you. If you do not care about the reality girding this discrete episode of violence, you can save your bile.

Maybe it is just like those adverts for the World Health Organizations that solicit funds for children with bloated bellies. Kids are cute and we feel sorry for them. We would turn away if the ads featured adults with festering sores and vermin surrounding them. It feeds our egos to have the little picture in our wallet of "our" Third World kid"

Ditto the way the press is marketing the Martin-Zimmerman fight: We see the latter's mug shot, but the former's smiling, pre-17-year-old face. We envision laughter and Skittle-eating Trayvon, and the lurking vigilante, Zimmerman. We do not see the scowling, hooded Trayvon or the one sporting his gold rack, because that would plant a seed of doubt in our minds, and the press and your ego trafficks in simple black and white.

Outrage can feel cathartic, but to what end?

Next: The Armed Citizen II: Race in America

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