Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

I spent much of the week following the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial and the not guilty verdict online trying to reason with Zimmerman supporters.

Now, being a trained journalist and a fairly astute judge of people, particularly based on what I have seen and heard following the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black youth by an armed, shall we say, non-Black adult, many Zimmerman supporters will already take umbrage with what little I have written above. But I tend to choose (at least most of) my words carefully and I chose the words “reason with” on purpose, knowing that they might offend some.

I do not use this terminology to impart some sense of superiority or to be purposely divisive but to point out that if you say something as (what I think is) innocuous as “Trayvon Martin was just a kid walking home minding his own business” before he was killed, you unleash a stream of passion that no amount of argument seems able to penetrate.

Another way of saying this is, although I expressed no opinion one way or another as to the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, people made assumptions about my opinions  as to the outcome of the trial based on that one statement and my race, which, I might point out, was apparent in my postings. One thing is clear in the online “conversations”; if race was not a part of the trial, it is the driving force behind all of the discussions about Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s resultant trial.

What many — not all —White people can’t understand or admit is that it is not just Black people who see all of this as a race issue. They do too. Not only do Black people see this case as having social ramifications beyond one case. White people do too. They are just loath to admit it honestly and openly. They couch their race discussions as presentations of “facts” while accusing Black people of being overcome by “passion”, racial paranoia or worse.

Let me be clear. When I say, “if race was not a part of the trial” I am not saying race did not enter that courtroom or that race did not color that encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin on that February evening in 2012 when Zimmerman followed and ultimately killed the 17-year-old. I am not saying that race did not enter the jury room as deliberations unfolded. I am saying that just because you don’t speak the word doesn’t

Al Sharpton lynching

This Investor’s Business Daily cartoon by Michael Ramirez, leveled at the Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and MSNBC host, after the Zimmerman trial verdict, uses racially charged imagery to make its point. Lynchings were used well into the 1900s to oppress African Americans, a fact that remains close to the consciousness of many Black people.

mean it isn’t there. I am merely acknowledging those who state that race played no part in this case. I hear you, but you’re wrong.

So, on the one hand you have people — White and Black — saying this trial outcome offers an opportunity for an honest conversation about race and on the other hand you have White people saying “What are you talking about? This case wasn’t about race, why should we talk about race?”

This is how you know this case and its aftermath was and is about race for the White people who say it is not about race or those who have charged Black people with making a racial issue where none existed. They dredge up every racial grievance against Black people they can think of even though those grievances have absolutely nothing to do with Trayvon Martin, the Zimmerman case or themselves! They rant about O.J. Simpson, President Obama (he’s not only racially divisive, he’s a socialist), the Duke lacrosse team, Tawana Bradley, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rodney King  and any other story they have ever heard or read that even remotely involves a Black person in a negative light. They cite “facts” promulgated from every White nationalist blog on the Internet by rote as proof that Blacks as a whole are bad people and just don’t want to admit it.

Interestingly, those posting these “facts” about African-Americans are either unaware or uncaring that what they are writing (or in the case of television or radio saying) might be perceived by African Americans as insulting, hurtful or untrue. There seems little recognition that Black people are people. That we are, well, humans, just like White people. We have some unique challenges, yes, but we breathe air, we eat food, we bleed red blood and we have thoughts, feelings and problems just as they do. There seems to be an overwhelming attitude that Black people are not entitled to any kind of feelings — whether it is fear of being stopped by police or of being followed by strangers or of being insulted by those emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet or by those earning the millions of dollars they earn from the racist idiocy they spew about us in print and on the airways.

Trayvon Martin

This photo of 33-year-old Jayceon Terrell Taylor aka rapper, “The Game”, is being circulated as a recent photo of Trayvon Martin, the photo the mainstream media won’t show you. Zimmerman supporters are using the photo to support their argument that Martin was actually 6’2″ and 175 pounds and could easily have crushed George Zimmerman in a fight.

So many White people have taken this tragedy to chastise the President as being racially divisive just for saying “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon” when if we truly lived in the post-racial, color blind society they claim we live in they could envision their own son standing in Trayvon’s shoes. Can you ask yourself, what is it that makes you unable to accept that Trayvon Martin was a child, a human being, who could have been your child, your brother, your nephew, who was confronted by a full-grown adult? In a situation involving a child, a teenager, a young adult, who has the ultimate responsibility to act in an adult manner? Those of you who want to proclaim that the President is not Black because his mother is White, pretend he was speaking of his “White half.” Could you then find some empathy toward a family that has been nothing but classy through this whole ordeal?

White people seem extremely comfortable telling African Americans how we should think, feel and act when they would never accept the same from us. Many of them have taken this as an opportunity to do so. Can you imagine the backlash were Black commentators to fill the airwaves every night lamenting the 38.8 % of White people on welfare as obviously only wanting to suck on the government teat rather than work or if they lamented the disintegration of the White family because of those 9.5 million White kids living in single-parent households, and that all of those children (under age 18 who live with their own single parent either in a family or subfamily) were certain to grow up to be thugs? And what about that staggering 84 percent White on White murder rate? Pretty horrifying. Why aren’t White people doing something about that?

To be sure, many White people are aware of their Whiteness and the privilege that attaches to it. Unfortunately these people are often dismissed by other White people as victims of “political correctness” gone amok, as blinded by White guilt or attacked as what used to be called “race traitors”. People like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and many of their viewers and listeners would do well to listen and learn from them. Here’s a newsflash: not all of those who see a problem are President Obama supporters or left-wing radicals. Even if they were, that would not disqualify them from understanding what it means to be a White person in America today or from exhibiting compassion or empathy toward people who do not look like them (as far as color goes), traits the exhibition of which have been severely lacking in the aftermath of the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman.

Those who are seeking a conversation about race are not trying to take your Whiteness away from you. You are welcome to keep it. You are welcome to talk about it with us. That is not a bad thing to do. We are not willing to accept it as a badge of superiority where you get to use it as your birthright to tell us how we should feel or live. The last thing we need is White people lecturing to us about race and racial issues when they themselves have not come to grips with them. African Americans are forced to live with the consequences every day.

So, my White sisters and brothers, if you’re still not convinced, let me try one more line of argument to try to persuade you that we should talk about race. We should have this talk because you are angry, you’re hurting and you’re afraid. We should talk about it because you have some legitimate grievances but you’re taking out your hurt, anger, fear and grievances on the wrong people. Despite the fact a lot of people are trying to convince you otherwise, Black people are not your enemies. We should talk about race because there are some very important people who don’t want us to talk because they are afraid that if we do we might discover that we like each other and then we will focus our anger in the right places. We should talk about race because we have more in common than you might recognize because we don’t talk. We should talk about race because you don’t seem to know that it is okay to notice or even talk about your own or another person’s race. To notice that a Black person is Black is not in and of itself racist. It is what one does with this knowledge that determines whether one is “racist,” a term which is really of limited value in a conversation about race.

This case could provide an opportunity, but it won’t unless something drastic happens — and it hasn’t yet. At least it hasn’t for a lot of White people. You can’t have a telephone conversation if the person on the other end won’t pick up the phone. And too many White people aren’t ready to accept the call for an honest racial conversation. They believe the call for such a conversation all by itself is racially divisive. They fear that to accept the call is to accept the label “racist.” Once again, they would be wrong and that is precisely why we need to talk.

So as I see it, we are at a crossroads, one of many we will approach. White people can stick their fingers in their ears and say, “Lalalalalala, I can’t hear you,” or you can be willing to listen before you talk, and learn.

Please read “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have: A Guide to Being A White Person or Understanding the White Persons In Your Life” by Janet E. Helms, Phd

Righteous indignation is an interesting thing. Almost every liberal, progressive, Democrat politician, journalist, citizen, whatever, is expressing outrage over the reports that the Federal government collects telephone usage data without the specific prior knowledge or permission of the American people. That the government is possibly peering into our every email or website visit.

We become righteously indignant when we feel we have the moral high ground on an issue. Once we reach the moral high ground we will not cede it lightly. We may look down from our perch atop the mountain at the feckless peons below but the one thing we won’t do is look into any mirrors.

Believe me there has been a lot of shock and anger expressed by progressives toward the Obama Administration over the National Security Administration (NSA) data mining program “revealed” by fugitive Edward Snowden.

How dare the Government steal our information? We’ve got to do something about this! Thank goodness that whistleblower fellow told us what was going on so we can start have an open discussion about Privacy and our rights!

Image

While we’re having that national conversation can we have another one about all of the data progressives are obviously sharing with each other about me? I am on so many progressive email lists I want to scream, “Stop sending me emails! I don’t have any money!”

I didn’t sign up for this. I’m not even a Democrat; I’m Independent-ish. (It’s hard to be independent when you don’t have any parties to choose between).

So from my viewpoint, righteous indignation isn’t the place progressives should be. They should be checking out that mirror. From my perspective I’m more afraid of them because they know how to find me and they’re after my wallet.

The day I’m writing this I received two emails from Progressives United asking for money donations. Former Senator Russ Feingold, its founder, is from Wisconsin. I’m not and as far as I know, I’ve not ever given Feingold or his organization any indication I had any interest in them. Yet here they are begging me for money.

Now the fact that these unsolicited emails from Feingold’s organization keep showing up in my inbox is interesting in that Feingold was one of the early progressive critics of the NSA program obtaining unauthorized information from Americans. Earlier this month, the former senator who was the only one to vote against the Patriot Act, called the NSA “revelations” “deeply troubling”, according to news reports.

I got plenty of emails from the Ed Markey for Massachusetts Senate campaign although I no longer live in Massachusetts and have never expressed any kind of interest in his campaign.

Al Franken and I have become close acquaintances although I don’t live in Minnesota or wherever it is he represents and I’ve never given him any money no matter how hard he’s begged. I don’t know how I got on his email list but I’ve resisted unsubscribing because last November Franni Franken sent a great recipe for Aunt Carla’s Pumpkin Cornbread that was a huge hit with my housemate and I don’t want to risk missing another gourmet delight.

I’ve received donation requests from Tom Harkin. I’ve heard of him but I couldn’t tell you a thing about him. So, when I see at the bottom of the email:

We’ve contacted you because you signed up at TomHarkin.com or provided us with your email address which is listed as jmindell@sbcglobal.net. Click here to unsubscribe.

Paid for by To Organize a Majority PAC and authorized by Citizens for Tom Harkin

I’m pretty sure someone’s lying.

Then there was the Sierra Club, which I’ve never shown any interest in, as I’m not much into hugging trees. At least they had the decency not to claim that I was receiving the emails because I had requested them.

Another progressive organization I am very certain I didn’t invite into my email inbox is, ahem, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). While I was brought up in an uber-liberal tradition which held that the ACLU was the ultimate defender of freedom, I have never forgiven them for defending the American Nazi’s right to march through the heavily Jewish Skokie , Ill. So, once again I know they didn’t get my information from me.

Now, I love Sherrod Brown, politically speaking, and I actually think he’s kind of cute, but I didn’t sign up for the Friends of Sherrod Brown email list, at least I don’t remember doing so. There wouldn’t have been any reason for me to do so because I don’t have any money!

Perhaps the Federal government collecting information about Americans – which by the way I contend they’ve always done to the best of their ability – is a part of the “national conversation” we need to be having right now. I think we needed to have it before we passed the Patriot Act in the first place. But given that the American public acquiesced to being stripped of both their common sense and their civil rights in exchange for an elusive fight on terrorism this NSA policy is not a surprise to me nor should it be to anyone else. Neither does it scare me.

To me as it is currently purported to operate it seems little more than a giant telephone book which the Government can access under certain strict legal guidelines. Can that program be abused? Of course. Did Edward Snowden provide us any evidence that it has been? Not that I’ve seen. Do we need to know more about what keeps it from being abused? Perhaps. I screamed about every aspect of the Patriot Act from before its inception but I lived in Texas so no one heard me. But I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying, we let this happen with our silence. We let this happen with our fear that those radical Islamists were going to come after us again. We cannot claim now, Rachel Maddow, that we didn’t know what the government was doing. We might not have known the exact methods but we provided the means.

That said, let’s have this conversation, belated though it may be.

Sen. Alan Grayson, has been quoted as saying the NSA data mining program:

“It is completely wrong and utterly unconstitutional. It’s the Big Brother state come to life. The government has no right to get our email records.”

The NSA isn’t the only organization spying on you.

Well, Sen. Grayson that is how I feel about you and your friends. It is wrong for political organizations to get a hold of whatever records you have gotten that gives you the right to keep emailing me asking for money. While we’re having conversations, looking at privacy laws and thinking about changing laws can we take a look at all of the myriad ways the political system is invading our electronic privacy, please?

Oh, and if anybody’s looking for a great recipe for pumpkin cornbread but doesn’t want to end up on anybody’s mailing list, drop me a note.