Another Example of Liberal Tolerance

One of my readers and frequent comment contributors recently noted the myth behind so-called liberal tolerance. My knee jerk reaction to this is to disagree. I do tend to think of liberals as more tolerant and accepting than conservatives. Then, every once in a while I am reminded of the error in my thinking.

I was watching MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki” (hosted today by Washington Posts’ Jonathan Capehart) and the discussion turned to the anniversary of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin. One of Jonathan’s guests, MSNBC personality Joy Reid observed that the prosecutors in the case lacked passion and that contributed to the acquittal. I confess I’m not a huge fan of Miss Reid in the first place, having seen her twists facts in the past to suit her point. After watching her bemoan the prosecution in this case, the following Twitter exchange ensued:

Before all of Joy’s fans descend upon me, let me make clear my first tweet to her. In our criminal justice system the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. The prosecutors needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon in self defense. Whether we like it or not, Trayvon’s likelihood to be violent — the likelihood that he could beat Zimmerman to within an inch of his life — is entirely relevant. Whether we like it or not, Trayvon was no choir boy. His attorney’s comparison of him to Medgar Evers made me want to vomit. From his Twitter handle “No_Limit_Nigga” on down, Trayvon was clearly embracing the thug culture. Quite honestly, the prosecution had to walk on egg shells to portray him as a wonderful boy who would never beat the crap out of someone. The fact that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had nothing to fear was entirely logical. Trayvon turned out to be one of the worst standard bearers for racial profiling imaginable. The fact that the last person on Earth who should have been carrying a gun was wackjob cop-wanna-be George Zimmerman, was sadly beside the point.

So, let’s look at Joy’s response to my tweet. First, the irony of what she said was thick as London fog. I didn’t KNOW Trayvon so I had no right to speak. I stereotyped him. Now unless Joy has been reading my blog on a regular basis (which I highly doubt), she does not KNOW me and yet she stereotyped me as a “stereotyping” (hint, racist) “jerk”.  The fact is, both Joy Reid and I know more about Trayvon Martin than Joy Reid knows about me. Yet she was quick to stereotype me while ignoring some unpleasant truths about Trayvon.

Joy stayed true to her dismissive “be gone” and ignored my two follow up Tweets. I wasn’t surprised. To answer my first response, she would have had to admit that she is a hypocrite who finds Trayvon an ignorant thug but can’t admit it publicly. Or she would have had to join the throngs of blacks who toss their self respect out the window, defending the indefensible. On that score, all I can do is recommend to Miss Reid some Bill Cosby videos about proper standards of behavior that know no racial boundaries, and violations of this behavior that deserve no excuses.

On a much more serious philosophical level, Joy Reid proved the point of my conservative comment contributor. The minute she saw an opinion that differed from her own, she went on the attack with just as nasty a tone as any “intolerant” conservative. Now I will readily admit that Twitter is hardly the ideal place for an intelligent exchange. I will also admit my Tweet was slightly provocative. Yet I honestly think I might have gotten a more intelligent response from the likes of Sean Hannity. First, her reply was outright stupid. Did she KNOW Trayvon? I don’t think she did. 99% of the folks weighing in on the Zimmerman case did not KNOW any of the participants. Then she follows up by doing to me the very thing she was accusing me of doing to Trayvon. How she could hit “reply” on that Tweet, without seeing her total lack of self-awareness, is dumbfounding.

A few years ago I made the mistake of visiting a liberal blog and suggesting that some women actually wound up pregnant because they CHOSE to have unprotected sex. I made the wild assertion that women could and should in certain situations take responsibility for their (sexual) choices and not make excuses. What bothered me was a person on the blog who said she “found herself pregnant”. It was as though she woke up one morning, got a positive pregnancy test result and said “how did that happen?” It was as though she tripped and fell upon an ejaculating penis. It bothered the hell out of me. So, I objected. The response was vicious attacks by the ladies who frequent the blog and a successful attempt to out my true identity by one of the readers there. I was stunned. While I am not a “Daily Kos liberal”, I am most certainly an “MSNBC liberal” and here I was being torn to shreds by folks whose basic ideology I thought I shared.

The intervening years made me forget how vicious the left could be. My exchange with Joy Reid brought it all back again. The truth folks is that an ideologue of any stripe is likely to be intolerant because no ideology can square completely with reality. Conservative ideology ignores the truth of honest-to-goodness victims who need help. Liberal ideology ignores the truth of folks not making sufficient effort at caring for themselves.  Not only do both ends of the political spectrum refuse to tolerate each other, they don’t tolerate moderates within their own tribe.

Well I’ve got news for you Joy Reid. Your wish that I “be gone” will not come true. I will continue to write pieces (and tweet Tweets) that mostly piss off conservatives and if I damn well want to, I’ll write stuff that pisses off blind followers of liberal ideology who enable minorities and women to dodge responsibility for their own actions.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The Next Step for the NAACP

Never have I been more embarrassed to be a black man than in the immediate aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  Particularly if you watched liberal news outlets like MSNBC you were treated to a parade of intelligent successful, dare I say articulate, black men and women bemoaning how awful mean old whitey has made things for them and theirs. In my opinion it cheapens all their great successes and the hard work they have put in to get where they are.

Chief among the offended is the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). From the emails I get from them, it appears that the organization is really interested in “Advancement of Colored People by White People”. Most every communication I get involves getting the government to stop mean old whitey from taking advantage of poor black folk  You know what gang? It gets old. What happened to people owning their own destiny? What struck me about the Zimmerman/Martin dust-up was black’s refusal to take any ownership for what happened to Trayvon Martin. If you listened to the black narrative, echoed by well-meaning but badly deluded liberal white journalists, you would think that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon and shot him right off the bat — or worse, shot him in the back as Trayvon was running away. You would think Trayvon was a small child about the age of 13 with a bag of Skittles. To listen to the popular liberal narrative, you would never know that Trayvon was a kid suspended twice from school, a full 17 years of age with a height and weight appropriate for that age, who punched George Zimmerman in the face. The narrative that is not spoken is  that George deserved an ass-whupping for hassling the kid. Trayvon  represented decades of collective  pent-up black  oppression that burst forth on George Zimmerman. George was getting a righteous beat-down and had no right to shoot in self-defense.

I have a suggestion for Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP. Invite Bill Cosby over for lunch and have a nice long talk. You see, Cosby has long advocated blacks cleaning up their own act before crying foul. Instead of inspiring a movement of self-motivation and ownership, Cosby has gotten heat for his comments.  The following is a spliced and diced version of Cosby’s remarks to the NAACP in 2004 on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, that has circulated on the Internet for some time:

They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk…

Why you ain’t

Where you is

What he drive

Where he stay

Where he work

Who you be…

And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.

And then I heard the father talk.

Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.

In fact, you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.

The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.

These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what??

And they won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.

Where were you when he was 2??

Where were you when he was 12??

Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol??

And where is the father?? Or, who is his father?

People putting their clothes on backward, isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong?

People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something?

Or, are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?

Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?

What part of Africa did this come from??

We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a thing about Africa .
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem.

We have got to take the neighborhood back.

People used to be ashamed. Today, a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands’ — or men or whatever you call them now.

We have millionaire football players who cannot read.

We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs.

We, as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal- Mart with seven kids… you are hurting us.

We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.

We cannot blame the white people any longer.

The full text of Cosby’s speech can be found here.

Whenever I’ve taken this tack, I am reminded that it is wrong to single out blacks for this. There are plenty of whites behaving ignorantly as well. But it isn’t a winning strategy to defend one’s ignorance with the excuse “white people do it too”.

So here is the bottom line for Ben Jealous. Start spreading Cosby’s message. Start telling parents that if your kid uses the N word in his Twitter handle there is something wrong. Tell parents that if your kid is caught with jewelry from an unknown source and a screw driver in his backpack, there is something wrong. Tell them that for as long as pot is illegal, getting caught with it at school ain’t cool.

There is a photo hitting the Internet now courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

blacklifematters

The NAACP can help make sure that this child’s life does matter by advocating a good education and proper behavioral role models for the kid. Blacks kill each other in urban centers throughout the country on a daily basis. Do we demonstrate through this behavior that black life matters to us? Everyone from the outraged MSNBC commentator to the President himself has tried to turn Trayvon Martin into a hero. The best way the NAACP can make a hero out of Trayvon Martin is to dedicate itself to creating fewer of him.

The Race Speech Part Deux

Last Friday Barack Obama made an impromptu 17 minute speech on race in America vis-a-vis Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. Two things struck out at me:

Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

Really? Let’s put aside the young Obama’s fondness for pot. Yes he and Trayvon had that in common (oh God — I’m echoing Sean Hannity, there is some nasty karma coming my way). But please tell me — if Twitter had existed 35 years ago would Obama really have been No_Limit_Nigga? Would Obama have been suspended twice from school for serious infractions? Would Obama have been involved in striking a bus driver? To put it another way, do we really think Trayvon was headed for President one day? Not without a serious course correction, that’s for damn sure. So who are we fooling here? Are we really making Trayvon the yardstick by which we judge our outstanding young black men?

There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.

Time to queue Maya Wiley on an MSNBC special:

i have had the woman clutch their purses. and i do want to say that what he didn’t say, white women clutch their purses. i mean, we’re not talking about black women getting in an elevator. that’s what’s so racialized about it.

Maya is President and Founder of the ironically named Center for Social Inclusion. I have seen Maya on several different shows in the past week and I get the distinct impression she has a certain dislike for white people. So what kind of inclusion is she interested in? Maya wants to make clear that Obama is referring to white women in his “elevator” comment.  Allow me to let Maya in on a little secret.

Obama’s car locks clicking reference resonated with me. You know why? It was not because it has ever happened to me while walking across the street. Granted I am light enough to pass for white and physically disabled so that might be unlikely. It resonated with me because as a boy, when my Dad was driving through Harlem, my Mom — my very black Mom — would urge my father to roll up the windows and make sure the car doors were locked. It resonated with me because my Dad — my very black Dad — would arrive to work in a ghetto school extra early so he could park close to the building to avoid being mugged — again — by a black hoodlum. It resonated with me because in high school when I was sitting next to a girl I wanted to impress, I became mortified when some jive talking fool swaggered into the room and I was afraid of guilt by racial association.

This is the little dirty secret that Maya doesn’t want you to know. Black women clutch their purse a bit tighter and hold their breath when a brother enters the elevator, unless of course the dude is dressed professionally and doesn’t appear threatening. Black people with the capacity and the will, get the hell out of all black neighborhoods for fear of crime like my grandparents did in the 1970’s. Many black people are mortified by the behavior of some of their brothers and sisters. Not many of us have the guts to say it publicly because our honesty gives fodder to virulent bigots who use our comments to come to the wrong conclusions.

They say that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Blacks have a public relations problem in large part due to our own behavior and what we tolerate from our own people. We white-wash Trayvon Martin instead of admitting what a terribly flawed young man he was. We get defensive about “star witness” Rachel Jeantel instead of mourning the fact that the young woman cannot write or read cursive handwriting and is at least one year behind in school.

Barack’s second speech on race since he became a public figure puts his first speech (defending Reverend Jeremiah Wright) into a new perspective. Liberals loved both speeches. But both speeches basically come down to “white people, you just don’t understand”. Both speeches either defend or ignore ignorant and inflammatory behavior.

What saddens me most about the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and President Obama’s speech is that it didn’t inspire the “conversation about race” that really needs to occur, the conversation among black people to take control of our reputation, clean up our act, and be a shining beacon of victory over oppression — not because white folks changed but because WE changed and made our lives better.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

My Mind’s a Muddle on Immigration

On most matters political I come down pretty firmly on one side or the other. One exception is abortion where I am a man without a country. Liberals hate me because I abhor abortion on demand and conservatives hate me because I can’t condone the government violating the sovereignty of a woman over her body.

Now another entry in my straddle list. The immigration debate has me in a muddle. On the one hand I understand the offensive nature of the phrase “illegal immigrant”. People are themselves not illegal. Their acts are. “Illegal immigrant” objectifies these people.

I also understand that many of the 11 million here illegally have raised families here and love this country for its opportunities. I hesitate to engage in any dialog that demonizes them.

I also get that the GOP has created a bit of a straw man by trying to solve at great expense a problem we really don’t have right now. Because of our economy net illegal immigration is about zero. Obama has deported a record number of undocumented folks.

But there are still two things that bother me about this debate:

Why Do Minorities Defend Their Criminal Element?

Republicans believe that promoting comprehensive immigration reform will win them Hispanic votes, essentially a shameless pander. My question is why would law-abiding Hispanics who have paid their dues be offended by a crackdown on illegal immigration? Why would law-abiding Hispanics be seduced by a party “sympathetic” to undocumented workers who are by definitions criminals? Why are Hispanics not the most outraged at their brethren taking shortcuts to get the rewards that non-criminal Hispanics have worked hard for? It reminds me of blacks turning Trayvon Martin into a civil rights hero when he was at best a very foolish child and at worst a thug-in-training (more on that later). It reminds me of moderate Muslims who stand by silent while their nutjob radical brethren wreak havoc all over the world. I know from experience that when we condemn our own we open the door to bigots who will take our condemnation one step too far. That still shouldn’t keep us silent. That still should not make us accept the lowest common denominator. Law abiding Hispanics should be as interested in secure borders and fair labor practices as everyone else.

Who Needs Immigrants Right Now?

While watching “Face the Nation” last week, I saw Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) discuss the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. If you get past his gripes about special interests and his skepticism about increased border security there remains one resonating point. Why do we want to increase job competition in a country with almost 8% unemployment (not including those who have dropped out of the workforce out of despair and those working part-time who want full-time jobs)? Just today I heard an argument about folks coming here to get an education and then taking their skills back home. Our solution? Encourage then to stay here! No, no, no.

We need to be training OUR citizens for the jobs available in this country right now. We need to be employing our citizens. We don’t need to be bringing more folks on board to compete for jobs. We have plenty of Americans for the jobs available. We don’t necessarily have the skills and that is what needs fixing. And once again — I’m a broken record on this subject and I don’t care — we need corporations and even small employers to start treating workers with dignity. That means not only hiring but paying them a decent living wage. We can beat unemployment in this country by training people and then making the jobs worth having. Many of the folks currently on food stamps are gainfully employed and can’t make enough money to pay for food. That’s a disgrace in the richest country in the world.

If anything, we should be restricting immigration right now across the board and getting our house in order with the folks who are already here.

A Final Few Words on Trayvon Martin

Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman trial declared Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. A few observations come to mind:

Amazing What Happens When You Ignore Race

Despite a lead up to the trial that was extremely racially polarized, the prosecution chose not to focus on racism. Yes, profiling was mentioned but there was very little focus on the notion that Trayvon ended up dead because he was a black man.The predominant focus of both the defense and the prosecution was the scuffle itself and not much on what lead up to it. When you just focus on one man beating the crap out of another and whether the dude getting beaten up might be afraid of great bodily injury it becomes a bit easier to say “yeah I would have shot him too.” For those, mostly conservatives, who were angry at the race baiters, the prosecution was pretty restrained it its use of race as an emotional tactic. When you take racial motivation out of the equation, it’s just a matter of a man wanting the beating to stop.

The Worst Prosecution Evah

I admittedly watched more trial analysis than the trial itself but damn that was one sad prosecution. Nearly every prosecution witness was transformed into a witness for the defense. The coroner, Dr. Bao, was so slick and shifty I wouldn’t trust him with the dead much less the living. The expert on use of force, Dennis Root was allowed to testify on state of mind, outside his area of expertise,  without any objection from the prosecution. And most damning of all, the prosecution never made an issue of the position of Zimmerman’s gun (behind him out of view of Martin) until closing arguments. I had to wonder as I watched analysis of the trial whether the state really wanted to win this case or not.

The Sickening Canonization of Trayvon Martin

I actually heard Travyon Martin compared to Medgar Evers last night. I threw up in my mouth a little. Are we serious? Medgar Evers devoted his life to racial equality and was killed by a white supremacist. Trayvon Martin devoted his last months to smoking dope, possibly stealing jewelry, calling himself No-Limit-Nigga on Twitter, being suspended twice from school and was killed by a half white half Hispanic Barney Fife. Trayvon Martin is no hero. He is a cautionary tale of what a child should do when confronted by a crazy stranger. You don’t respond with gangsta attitude. You run the hell away and tell your parents.

Last night MSNBC’s Joy Reid implied Trayvon was accosted by a gun wielding George Zimmerman. The facts as revealed in the case do not support that. Trayvon didn’t know George had a gun until after a scuffle had already ensued. She should be ashamed of herself for making up facts. Melissa Harris-Perry said all black families are holding their kids a bit closer after the verdict. Well damn right Melissa. Maybe if Trayvon was held a bit closer, as in properly counseled on his life choices, he might be alive today. I am reading folks on Facebook say they fear for their black children’s safety because big bad whitey may kill them and not go to jail. Have we lost our minds? The lesson in this verdict is not that a white (or half white) man can shoot you in the back and get away with it. The lesson is that a white man can shoot you if you punch him in the face and jump on top of him and try to beat the crap out of him. Was giving an ass whupping to George Zimmerman the only choice Trayvon had that night?

Look, I am not happy that George Zimmerman brought a gun to a fist fight. I also don’t doubt the terrible loss felt by Trayvon’s family. But despite the media’s insistence on showing photos of a 13-year-old angelic child (they’re still showing those photos today), if we are honest we know better. Trayvon was developing into an ignorant punk who was headed for trouble. He needed intervention, just not in the form that he got from George Zimmerman. Trayvon is no hero, civil rights or otherwise. He is another sad statistic in a culture that favors confrontation and bravado over common sense. It’s a damn shame.

Respectfully,
Rutherford