What I don’t like about America…..

What I don’t like about America…..
This is not meant to be a complete recitation of every grievance I have against my government, my people, and my country. In fact, I love America. I love the ideals upon which this nation is founded. I love the idea of America. 

But in practice, America often misses the mark, and falls well below the ideal. Is this reason enough to abandon the grand experiment of democracy? Heavens no. Though my nation is not perfect, it still remains the best country on Earth. 

Yet, we could do so much better. 

Let’s start with how we treat others. Recently there has been a great focus on racial inconsistencies in how our police treat the citizenry. It is true that people of color, especially black people, and more especially black men, are more likely to attract police attention than any other group. And it is also true that this additional attention is sometimes uncalled for, and can even rise to the level of harassment. And rarely, though this characterization may be debated by some, these unwarranted encounters can turn deadly. 

It is clear that a high level of frustration exists amongst the African American community about this unequal treatment by law enforcement. I refer not to the tragic deaths, but to the initial harassment which has led to many of these encounters in the first place. 

True, no matter who you are, you must respect authority, and comply with police directives. This is especially true when they are the ones with the guns, and are legally authorized to kill you. But — and here is the crux of my issue — the police must maintain a professional, dignified, and respectable manner throughout all their dealings with the public, no matter who they are. 

Bad people exist. The police must deal with those bad people. But, not everyone is bad. Not every black person is bad. Not every black man is bad. Our police should be impeccable in their dealings with people, all people, to remove even the appearance of favoritism, harassment, impropriety, brutality, uncaring. 

Many of our police already conduct themselves accordingly. I want to say most. I wish I could say most. But unfortunately I believe that mistreatment has been tolerated for so long that it is now ingrained into too many officers, too many departments. 

It is the job of the police departments themselves to change the culture. If they cannot do it, then it is up to our political leaders to effect the change. 

Whatever is necessary, do it. That there are bad people in the world is not reason enough to treat everybody of a certain social group with less dignity than we expect for the best of our people. All should be given the same respect. It comes with the territory.

Innocent until proven guilty. All men are created equal. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Is America perfect? No. But we can be better. 

(I will talk later about the mistreatment by police of poor white people. Also about the lack of respect shown to our police, and authority in general. Also, I am against drone strikes of weddings and funerals, and believe such constitute war crimes. But for today, the above is more than enough food for thought.)

Pap (Drivel), Politics

Freedom is an idea…

Freedom is an idea. An idea worth fighting for, worth dying for. Government is a bargain whereby we the people give up little bits of our freedom for other things we find valuable: peace, security, roads, education, a social safety net, etc. Thus, freedom is an illusion, and does not really exist. We bargain away our freedom, until it no longer is ours, and what we once had (or thought we had) is completely in the hands of others. We then begin to bargain away other things: our privacy, our children, our identity, our self respect. The truth? The truth sailed long ago. There is no truth. There is no freedom. There is no privacy. We live in a police state. The next question, once we realize this, is do we care enough to do anything about it? And then, if so, what? Is America a failed experiment? I say no, we are just getting started. Paraphrasing the immortal John Paul Jones, “We have not yet begun to fight.”


Civil War in America? — Is this how it begins? 

Civil War in America? — Is this how it begins? 
It seems surreal. Cops hunting citizens. Citizens retaliating by hunting cops. Two men shot dead in two days, by cops in separate incidents, in two different states. Now at least four officers dead in a sniper attack in a third state. 

We live in a police state. Governmental agencies, many of which have no apparent police force, are making unprecedented ammo purchases. In the billions of rounds. Street cops are regularly caught up in instances of seemingly unprovoked killings of unarmed individuals. 

The prevailing theory is that the police attacks on civilians are primarily racially motivated. Even President Obama said so, just moments before the Dallas killings of police officers tonight. But that may not be the whole story. Police shootings of unarmed (mostly poor) white people are also at unacceptably high levels. 

Worse, we are living in a time where more and more incidents of gun violence are being used to defeat the rights of Americans to arm and defend themselves. 
The politicizing of these tragic events is creating an even greater imbalance between the police state and the people. The government has more and more guns, and enough ammo to kill every American dozens of times over, at the same time as those same forces are working hard to disarm the citizenry. 

Is it pure happenstance that these incidents are taking place in the same news cycle as the Director of the FBI is explaining to Congress why he did not recommend charges against the most powerful woman in our nation? 

This country has never been so ripe for Revolution, at least not in the past 150 years. I know many “NRA-types” as well as many who carry the banner of “Black Lives Matter.” These two groups on the surface may seem diametrically opposed in their political leanings, yet both are fed up. Both want change. Both want a country where cops can be trusted to keep the peace, where good people are left alone to live peaceful lives, without fear of overbearing governmental intrusion. 

People should be able to walk down the street, or drive on the road, or stand in front of a convenience store, without being scared for their lives, especially from the police. All people want that, every age, every color, every creed, all political leanings. 

But the response in Dallas is wrong. And it will only lead to more institutional mistrust of the people within our law enforcement agencies and personnel. A tightening of restrictions will follow, more loss of freedoms. And then more senseless deaths of the populace. And then more retaliations. 

Will the events of this week be remembered as the beginning of a new American Civil War? I hope not. But the die may already be cast.