I rarely agree with right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck but recently it’s happened twice! A month ago, Beck said about the Iraq War, “You liberals were right and we were wrong.” However, he didn’t bother mentioning the consequences of being so wrong. It was more like he had gotten an answer wrong on “Jeopardy.”
There was no mention of the thousands of grieving American families who lost GIs, nor the tens of thousands wounded, many for life, or the hundred thousand dead Iraqi civilians. He blithely went on to the next subject with a complete lack of contrition as if he were saying, “Potpourri for $40, Alex.”
And three days ago, Beck commented on the Grand Jury regarding Eric Garner the 350 pound black man who, at 43, died apparently from a choke hold applied by a white Police Officer on a Staten Island sidewalk last July.
“To anybody who watched the video tape to imagine no one was indicted is beyond belief.” Unfortunately, with how often unarmed black men, and even children age 12, are being killed by white police officers, it’s not beyond belief, it’s becoming almost commonplace.
Shockingly Officer Daniel Pantaleo who applied the fatal choke hold, a technique banned by NYC Police for over 20 years, was completely exonerated, Not surprisingly, Pantaleo has a somewhat checkered past. In 2012 he wrongly strip-searched a group of men and allegedly touched their genitals, the result being NYC y paid $30,000 to the victims. Now the Garner family plans to sue for $75,000,000 for wrongful death. There are so many disturbing questions about Pantaleo.
When he and other officers had Garner pinned on the ground, why didn’t Pantaleo let go of his choke hold? But he clearly didn’t, even though a highly-distressed Garner complained over and over, “I can’t breathe!” (A total of 11 times.) Completely tone-deaf, in defending Pantaleo, Patrick Lynch, President of the Police Union said, “Just his saying he couldn’t breathe proves Garner was breathing.”
Lynch also inferred that because Garner was so overweight he was complicit in his own death. Forget “Houston we have a problem,” “America we have a problem.” And what was Garner’s menacing crime for which he died? He was allegedly selling untaxed individual cigarettes, something that might deserve a citation but certainly not a reason to die.
Let’s move to the Grand Jury in Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson where Police Officer Darren Wilson was also not indicted. Let’s assume for the moment that it was Brown who instigated the altercation in the police car that resulted in his initially being shot in the hand. Everyone agrees that Brown then ran from the car to get away. And yet, if we are to believe Officer Wilson, Brown suddenly turned and charged causing Wilson to fear for his life.
Really? Brown, unarmed, already shot and from 35 feet away (Wilson’s testimony) he’s mindlessly bull-rushing the very man with the gun? Others put the distance at 130 feet. Either way, couldn’t Wilson have shot his legs? Of course other witnesses said Brown wasn’t charging at all but was slumping to the ground thus explaining how the fatal bullet struck him in the top of his head.
The tragic 2012 death of Trayvon Martin in Florida resulted in an indictment but also a not-guilty verdict. I just have one question for George Zimmerman. When he approached Trayvon that night why didn’t he identify himself? “Are you lost? I’m with Neighborhood Watch.” That might have immediately de-escalated the entire situation. But I think Zimmerman’s mind was made up. This hoodie-wearing black punk was trouble and Zimmerman was just the macho man to save the neighborhood.
This epidemic of white cops killing unarmed blacks is beyond horrifying. I naively thought when Obama was elected in 2008 that after 400 years of slavery, and 150 years after the Civil War, that perhaps with an African-American president we could finally get beyond race. In 2000, if Colin Powell had run for president I had planned on voting for him for that very reason. If anything, I think the racial divide now may be even greater than ever.
If you think about it, the practice of slavery is mind-boggling. To think one group of humans literally owns another group of humans. But in 1865 the slave owners were forced, only by the bloodiest of wars, to allow the slaves their freedom. After nearly four centuries of where if a slave could read he was likely to be killed, we say, “You’re free now, good luck!”
All of this madness can’t end if we don’t get past prejudice and ignorance. Ignorance such as in 2011 Congress member Michelle Bachman praised the founding fathers for “working tirelessly to end slavery.” (Many actually owned slaves.) Clearly we’ve got slavery, the Iraq War and white cops killing unarmed blacks, all unforgivably wrong. And yet for many it’s “Potpourri for $40, Alex.”
Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or firstname.lastname@example.org.