Here’s the speech the far right calls incendiary

You know, the one that allegedly led to the shooting of two Ferguson cops.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.

I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.

That means working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve.  We know that makes a difference.  It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself in a way that is fair to everybody.  It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime.

And there are good people on all sides of this debate, as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties, that are interested not only in lifting up best practices — because we know that there are communities who have been able to deal with this in an effective way — but also who are interested in working with this administration and local and state officials to start tackling much-needed criminal justice reform.

So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events.  We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.  We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.  I’ve witnessed that in my own life.  And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change. 

But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.  Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.  I don’t think that’s the norm.  I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials.  But these are real issues.  And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.  What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress.  And that can be done.

That won’t be done by throwing bottles.  That won’t be done by smashing car windows.  That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property.  And it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody.  So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively.  Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.  The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.

Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence, particularly when there are a lot of people in goodwill out there who are willing to work on these issues.

On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over.  Whenever we do that, the anger may momentarily subside, but over time, it builds up and America isn’t everything that it could be.

And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively, then we can make progress not just in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities and communities around the country.

Donald Sterling exposed more than his own ignorance

Donald Sterling is a bigot who got what he deserved.

But the over-reaction to his comments reveals how fucking soft, and emotionally trigger-happy, we’ve become.

For instance, an ESPN reporter said that, in first game played after Sterling’s racist musings went public, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was in a “catatonic state.” He scored zero points in the Clips’ Game 4 loss.

I’d hate to see how Jordan would’ve fared marching to Selma, when there were thousands of Donald Sterlings yelling much worse things. And that was the least of what the civil rights demonstrators faced.

Now some are calling for the Clippers to change their nickname. One Yahoo! Sports columnist wrote, “Using the old transitive property we learned in high school math, the link is simple and stark: Clippers = Sterling = Racist.”

Based on that logic, virtually every American sports team older than 50 years should change their nicknames since, odds are, they were once owned by a racist.

For years, the Boston Red Sox were owned by Tom Yawkey, a notorious racist who makes Sterling look like Phil Donahue in comparison.

According to Yawkey’s 1976 obituary in The Boston Globe, future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson tried out at Fenway Park in 1945.

According to the Globe:

The story went that Mr. Yawkey and Eddie Collins were standing in the back of the park and the club owner allegedly said: “all right, get those [expletives] out of the ball park.” Robinson for years branded him a racist.

Let’s all calm down. Donald Sterling is a racist who’s paying the price for his ignorance. Good. Time to move on.

Why cracker is not the ‘C-word’

When I was a kid, white supremacist J.B. Stoner ran for state office in Georgia. His ads, which TV stations were forced to air due to the Fairness Doctrine, included the N-word. It was jarring to hear, even for a kid who had not yet been exposed to politics of race.

I also watched shows like “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons,” where words like “honky” and “cracker” were thrown around liberally. I don’t remember being offended or shocked; instead, I laughed.

If  a kid can decipher context, surely adults can. Some just choose not to, rushing to play the victim after prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel used the phrase “creepy ass cracker” during her testimony in the George Zimmerman trial.

Major league asshole John Rocker is particularly offended:

But, as Jeantel testified, Martin had no problem utilizing a jingoistic, racial pejorative (incorrectly, by the way) in describing a man who turned out to be Zimmerman. The entire media that were so quick to both lynch Deen and convict George Zimmerman before his trial even began were then forced to defend not only the crude racial remarks of Martin (and the even cruder testimony of Jeantel), but explain them away as being innocuous.

As someone who to this day, whenever I’m interviewed, is forced to discuss comments made 14 years ago, I look at the media’s ferocious lynching of George Zimmerman but the casual manner they’ve brushed aside comments of Trayvon Martin as even more infuriating.

Racism is racism.

No, racism is power. If blacks had been the slave owners and segregationists then cracker would be the pejorative with consequences. The N-word, meanwhile, would be something the few white characters on sitcoms said for laughs.

It’s not that hard to understand.

It is required that you love LeBron James

LeBron James is the best player on the best team in basketball. Of course people are going to dislike him. I dislike Bryce Harper because he’s the best player on my favorite team’s biggest rival. (And because he appears to be something of a douche.)

But some are ascribing insidious motives to those who don’t genuflect before LeBron, inferring that racism is at play. That’s as silly as it is insulting.

Then there’s the LeBron sycophants, a sad byproduct of our celebrity-worshipping culture. We’re a nation of front-runners, conditioned to love the best and forgetting the rest.

Case in point: When the Heat played in Atlanta this year the crowd was split 80-20 in favor of the ROAD team.

Yet LeBron is a victim? He should welcome the detractors — it means he’s still relevant.

And if being loved is so important to him, maybe he shouldn’t have gotten that “Chosen One” tattoo.

Why test the victim for drugs but not his shooter?

Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs and alcohol, post-mortem. The man who shot him, Robert Zimmerman, was not.

[P]olice seemed to accept Zimmerman’s account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations.

That should you tell you all you need to know about how Sanford, Fla. police mishandled this case from the beginning.

‘How can you claim self-defense and you are the aggressor?’

That question begets another: How do police fail to file charges when an unarmed teen is shot for apparently no other reason than his appearance?

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Calls made to police show that a black teenager was terrified as he tried to get away from the white neighborhood watch volunteer who shot him, and that the volunteer was not defending himself as he has claimed, the teen’s family told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Sanford police released eight 911 calls late Friday. The neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, tells a dispatcher in the first call that he is following 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. He says Martin is running, but the dispatcher tells him not to follow the teen. …

The teen had gone to a convenience store to buy candy and was walking back to his family’s home in the neighborhood.

(via Andisheh)

This post may require counseling

Fresh Loaf’s Gwynedd Stuart expresses some sympathy for Luis Rivera, the obviously contrite Gwinnett County math teacher forced to resign for crafting some rather ignorant word problems.

Rivera’s 20-question homework assignment used slave beatings and picking cotton to link lessons about ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass to math computation. One of the problems read: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

Reprehensible, no doubt, and the punishment, though severe, is not unreasonable. That doesn’t excuse the grandstanding by the perpetually indignant, especially when you consider there’s nothing to indicate the teacher, while clearly overmatched, is some Klansman. Last I checked the Triple K wasn’t too fond of guys named Luis Rivera.

Stuart:

A guy named Henry White — who, the AJC pointed out, doesn’t even have kids — called the incident an “egregious act of assault on the minds of a kid by an adult” at a Gwinnett County School Board meeting. And several parents said they wanted the school to make counseling available to their children. I don’t want to say they’re overreacting … but maybe they’re overreacting.

A commenter counters:

Would you feel the same if the homework questions were about the holocaust? I thought so.

It won’t be long before someone demands Stuart attend sensitivity training for her egregious assault on the minds of readers.

The counseling bill is in the mail, Gwynedd.

Is Rick Perry a racist?

So now Rick Perry is to blame for the “unconscionable, racially stereotypical attack” launched against Herman Cain? Rush Limbaugh’s words, not mine.

Apparently the Texas governor can’t handle an “independent, self-reliant conservative black.”

Professional race baiter decries ‘unconscionable racially charged attack’

Rush Limbaugh has become the Bizarro Farrakhan, seeing racism at every turn. The only victims, of course, are whites and Herman Cain.

“Politico and the mainstream media has launched an unconscionable, racially stereotypical attack on an independent, self-reliant conservative black because for him that behavior is not allowed,” Limbaugh said today on his radio show.

It’s a familiar refrain from Minister Limbaugh. Let’s review:

“Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,’ and, of course, everybody says thewhite kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he’s white.”

“Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.”

“The days of them not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution. That’s what Obama’s about, gang. He’s angry, he’s gonna cut this country down to size, he’s gonna make it pay for all the multicultural mistakes that it has made, its mistreatment of minorities.”

Obama? “[T]he greatest living example of a reverse racist.” Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates? “[A]n angry racist.” Sonia Sotomayor? “She’s a bigot. She’s a racist.”

Colin Powell will vote for Obama again because “melanin is thicker than water.”

Herman Cain and the ‘conservative anti-anti-racism’

Herman Cain, asked Sunday about Rick Perry’s lease of a piece of land that features a rock marking it as “N*****head,” said “I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place.”

On Monday, Cain changed his tune. “I really don’t care about that story! They painted over it. End of story.”

So what accounts for the reversal? I think Adam Serwer nails it.

Cain just ran head first into the brick wall of conservative anti-anti-racism, the attitude on the right that accusations of racism directed at white people are of far greater consequence than any lingering vestiges of institutional racism nonwhites might face.