Giuliani: Obama Doesn’t Love America (and he doesn’t think much of you either).

An ugly man who tells ugly lies makes for an even uglier drag queen.

Rudy Giuliani chopped up President Obama, threw him in a blender and turned it on to “high.”

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.”

In an interview after the dinner — Walker aides insisted all of the governor’s comments were off the record — Giuliani said he would “eventually” back a Republican presidential candidate. He also elaborated on his criticism of Obama by arguing the president “sees our weaknesses as footnotes to the great things we’ve done.”

“What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land? This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand. I’ve never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don’t feel that from President Obama.”

Following his scorched earth attack on the President of the United States for his lack of love for the United States (and Rudy Giuliani), the former mayor of New York doubled down on his criticism of Obama with a flat-out refusal to apologize during an appearance on The Kelly File.

“Not at all. I want to repeat them,” he said. “The reality is, all I can see from this president, all I have heard from is he apologizes for America, he criticizes America. He talks about the Crusades and how the Christians were barbarians, leaves out the second half of the sentence that the Muslims were barbarians also.”

“He sees Christians slaughtered and doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference, although he holds a press conference for the situation in Ferguson,” he said. “He sees Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons, doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference. This is an American president I’ve never seen before.”

I have to carry this sign with me so people remember who I am.

Rudy Giuliani is a racist. Not the kind of racist who screams “nigger!” at the top of his lungs. That’s the old-fashioned, overt, uncool kind of racism and which makes everyone a bit weirded out. Dude, you’re being kinda racist. Rudy is far too savvy a politician to actually call out Obama that way.

There are other ways. Better ways. Ways that get the point across while leaving yourself wiggle room to plausibly deny you ever said anything offensive at all. Lee Atwater, the late adviser to George H.W. Bush, knew a little something about how to race-bait without actually saying anything that sounds racist. At least to White people who chose to willingly blind themselves to the truth.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Rudy understands the language of the racially abstract. How does one talk about a Black President without calling him a “nigger?” As much as Giuliani might like to, he know he can’t because that puts you in that David Duke camp and that’s too dangerous a place to enter even for the erstwhile “America’s Mayor.” Instead, you talk about Obama’s “otherness” and how he didn’t grow up as the son of a Kenyan Black father and a Kansas White mother the way Rudy did. Which means he must not love America the way Rudy does and is not to be trusted.

Whenever someone attacks the patriotism of another man, that’s bad enough.  The patriotism of Black people has been questioned for centuries, but sneer “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country” that’s a different sort of assault. That is speaking in CODE.

“Obama isn’t like you and me. You know….White and Christian.”

Wake up and smell the bullshit. This isn’t politics as usual. This isn’t any of that “oh, worse things have been said about other presidents” noise.   This is a sniper attack, a cowardly assault and a slander on the character of the President of the United States by a racist scumbag.

Rudy G. was a bully as a mayor, a failure as a presidential candidate and a racist all his miserable life. He was a racist when Patrick Dorismond and Eleanor Bumphers and Amadou Diallo were gunned down by the NYPD and he’s still a racist with his post-Eric Garner/Ferguson “why don’t you Black folks stop committing so many crimes and force the cops to kill you?” ranting.

I AM TOTALLY NUTS AND COMPLETELY RACIST!!!!

The degree to which the White Right is infected with Obama Derangement Syndrome knows no bounds. First, they said he was a Socialist. Then they said he had no birth certificate and wasn’t born in this country. Now they say he’s sympathetic to Islamic terrorists and wants to give your pretty White daughters to Boko Haram to be good Muslim wives.

Why should Obama love Giuliani? Why should anyone love such a repugnant, repulsive, racist? I know what I read, I know what it means and don’t play me stupid by telling me I don’t.

Of all the ugly things said about the president, coming from such a prominent member of the Republican Party is perhaps the ugliest. But then Rudy Giuliani is an ugly man. Ugly on the outside and uglier on the inside.

Selma Will Lose Because It’s Too Damn Uppity To Win

“Psst! Hey, David! You’d better get on your knees and show Hollywood some respect!”

If you’re the type of person who watches The Academy Awards because you think it means something, don’t be surprised when Selma loses out for Best Picture of the Year.  It would be a much bigger surprise if it did.   Hollywood thought it had proved last year it was full of good liberals with 12 Years A Slave.  The attitude this time around is We gave you Solomon Northrup last year and you’re back again for Martin Luther King?

 Selma isn’t going to lose because it wasn’t one of the best movies of 2014.   Selma isn’t going to lose because Ava DuVernay can’t direct and David Oyelowo can’t act.    Selma is going to lose because it was too damn uppity.

That’s not what I think because what I and you think about the movie doesn’t matter to the typical Oscar voter.  They don’t care one bit about what the peons think.   It only matters what they think as The Hollywood Reporter learned from one “brutally honest Oscar ballot” the first film to depict the civil rights struggle from a Black woman’s perspective has “no art to it” and “when a movie about Black people is good, members vote for it.   But it the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it because it has Black people in it?”

The Hollywood Reporter didn’t specify the race of the anonymous Oscar female voter who works in public relations (and presumably does that job better than these remarks would show) but the way she wears her White privilege like a perfume removes any doubt.   What  does matter is here we have an open window into how Academy member thinks about Selma and the director and actors “stirring up shit.”

Hands Up. Don’t Stir Up Shit.

First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?

The p.r. flack isn’t completely wrong.  The Academy isn’t made up by cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies.   It’s worse than that.  The Academy is made up with intelligent, educated professionals who think about Black people exactly the same way as cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies.

This is liberal Hollywood talking here, raw and unfiltered telling you what they really think when they’re talking among themselves, sending emails and text messages back and forth and lying in bed with someone else’s spouse.  They clearly don’t think much about Black people who don’t stay in their lane and don’t act sufficiently grateful for being allowed to work in Hollywood.

Welcome to Post-Racial America. East of Narnia, South of Atlantis, North of Oz and Smack in the Middle of Nowhere.

It’s not only the actors who know how to recite lines when the cameras are on.  You know what I find offensive?  Brutally honest White people who are brutally racist when they tell Black people how they should act.   That offends the shit out of me.

Troubled Child

Behind the smiles, so much pain.  (Photo: UPI/Jim Ruymen)

Behind the smiles, so much pain. (Photo: UPI/Jim Ruymen)

Though chronically an adult, the way Bobbi Kristina Brown grew up in public makes it difficult not to think of her as a child.   She’s a not a child, but barring a medical miracle,  she will be frozen in memory as an young woman who struggled  and largely failed to blaze her own career path while trying to deal with the heartbreak of her mother’s premature death.   This is the story of a child who never had a fair chance to grow up to be an adult.

Last Saturday, while the nation lost in the fog of the Super Bowl hype machine, the only child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was found face down in the bathtub of the Atlanta home she shared with husband Nick Gordon, (or perhaps not her husband depending on who’s telling the story).  As soon as the news broke the speculation began Bobbi had been using drugs and attempted suicide in a grisly attempt to echo her mother’s death three years ago.

If the grim decision is made to remove Brown off the ventilator keeping her alive, there will an assessment of what the world loses by her passing so young.  She was not an iconic singer nor an accomplished actress.  Whether she had the potential to become a star is subject to debate.

What we don’t know about the circumstances that put Bobbi Kristina in that bathtub.   What we do know is she was a sad, tragic young woman suffering  a loss she could not continue to face.  What we will lose when Bobbi Kristina passes is a troubled child, a show biz kid who tried to follow in her the footsteps of her famous parents, missed out on inheriting much of their talent, but seemingly all of their self-destructive habits. Did Bobbi Kristina have what it took to step out of the long shadow cast by Whitney?  She never had a fair chance to find out.

Jezebel documented the harrowing downward spiral of the daughter of a diva into a perfect storm of misery.   There are lots of kids who see mommy and daddy fighting, but not many see mommy telling Oprah about daddy as Houston did in a 2007 interview.

“When we got back to the house,” Houston said, “he spit on me. He spit on me. He actually spit on me. And my daughter was coming down the stairs and she saw it. That was pretty intense. I didn’t grow up with that and I didn’t understand why that occurred – [why] he had such a hate for me because I loved him so much.”

Only the sickest of ghouls would take a swipe at a dying young woman for not approaching the achievements of her celebrity parents in her last, tragic hours and I am not sick or ghoulish. I feel nothing but sympathy for everyone involved and dumping on Bobbi because she set her sights high is for someone a bigger bastard than I am.

I feel both sorry and more than a little sickened.

It’s hard enough for any singer to come close to the pinnacles scaled by a superstar like Whitney and avoid the lows of Bobby, but Bobbi Kristina seemed to plunge headfirst into the trouble without enjoying any of the success.   The burden of expectations for the child who wants to follow in the footsteps of one parent is a high enough hurdle, but Bobbi Kristina hadn’t even cleared the New Edition/”My Prerogative” bar.

English: American singer Whitney Houston perfo...

English: American singer Whitney Houston performing “My Love Is Your Love” with her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown on Good Morning America (Central Park, New York City) on September 1, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Standing on  the outside, the terrible wasting of an unhappy young woman’s life seems a  sad waste which could have been avoided if only someone had said to her, “You don’t need to be the next Whitney Houston.  You do need to be the Bobbi Kristina you can be.”

On the inside, there’s a daughter mourning and missing a mother gone too soon who found herself lost in the same darkness which dragged Whitney down.   Bobbi Kristina couldn’t find her way out and  may have chosen her own exit strategy.

Everybody loses when the young do not grow old.

The Oscars Grew Tired of Us.

Academy Awards to Ava DuVernay: “Love your movie. You, not so much.”

It’s not so much I’m mad about Selma and its directory Ava DuVernay being screwed over by the Academy Awards, because I haven’t seen Selma yet and I thinking I’d get around to it in my own good time but since Selma and DuVernay were snubbed now it’s a holy mission.

There’s a certain irony Martin Luther King fought a strategic battle in Selma, Alabama against racial discrimination and 50 years later along comes a woman who makes a movie about the battle ends up facing racial discrimination all over again.

Columnists, bloggers and social media blew up with a collective Now this is some bullshit when the Academy Awards nominations were announced and Selma was limited to one category it won’t win (Best Picture) and another nobody cares about (Best Song).   New York film critic David Edelstein summed up how Selma got screwed, “I tend to think that the Academy collectively thought it had discharged its duty to the African-American experience with 12 Years a Slave. How else, in a year in which black people confronted inequality with greater urgency than any time in the last 50 years, can you account for the omission? You say it wasn’t a very good movie? You’re wrong. Selma has scale and depth. Ava DuVernay was robbed.”

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Too black, too strong to be honored by the Academy

Here’s a plausible reason for the exclusion and  it’s right there in the title of an 2014 article in The Atlantic:Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old.” Blacks make up only two percent of the Academy Awards voters and to drive the point home of how White the folks are who decide who goes home with the little gold man, if they were a state, Oscar Voters would be the eighth Whitest state in America.

Well. Damn.

How embarrassing it must be for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy of Motion Pictures to be the diversity hire thrust in the spotlight and have to represent, but represent she did.   Or at least she tried as Boone Isaacs looked to score a few brownie points,  “In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories, “

The sad thing is Boone Isaacs knows what she said is a steaming load, but she has to say it anyway.  The old White guys who hired her in the first place exactly for a bit of cover provided by the a Black face in a formerly all-White place.  Let’s cut the crap.  Cultural diversity was the big hit of 2014 with all that 12 Years A Slave stuff.   Throwing an Oscar, if not jobs at Lupita Nyong’o gave all those good liberals a warm, fuzzy feeling especially when Brad Pitt showed up to free the slaves,  but there’s no time to linger on faded glories.  Hollywood is getting back to doing what it does best:  Celebrating White men making movies about White men doing White men stuff.

We gave you people a holiday. You want Oscars too?

Being blown off by withered old bastards of the Academy is nothing new for someone like Spike Lee, no stranger to Oscar snubs for both Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X had some explicit advice for DuVernay about being passed over by the bosses,  “…That doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” said Lee. “There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve [McQueen], Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year [in 2002] with Halle Berry, Denzel [Washington], and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing backflips when it happens.”

You can’t go to awards like the Oscars or the Grammys for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.’”

Absolutely motherfuckin’ right, Spike.

It’s possible Selma marches to a Best Picture victory even with DuVernay denied a shot at Best Director and David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. passed over as Best Actor, but it’s obvious the fix is in. How can a movie be nominated and win as Best Picture of the Year but the director, screenwriter and none of the actors aren’t? Does that mean the movie was great but everybody who made it sucked?

I have nothing against Boyhood,  The Imitation Game, Birdman or any of the other nominees for the Picture of the Year, but I don’t have anything for them.  Every movie is not for everyone and this movie  tells a story about people who look like me and not the Academy membership.    DuVernay probably pissed off some movers and shakers in Tinseltown when she dismissed  the film’s critics who griped she didn’t give President Lyndon Johnson enough credit by clarifying,  “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie.”

“Oh yeah?  Then we’re not interested in giving you an Oscar, so there!”

King deserves his praise.  A lot of folks believe Selma does too, but the voters of the Academy doesn’t have anything for them either.

A man who knows something about getting spiked.

The NYPD Has A Victim Mentality

The New York Police Department is the nation’s largest and the most pissed off at their boss, Mayor Bill De Blasio.  Following the killing of two cops by an assassin as they sat in their car,  the police and their unions  lashed out against De Blasio blaming him for creating a hostile environment placing their lives at risk.  I get it the cops are angry at the mayor. What I don’t get is how with that anger, how the police can expect respect when they don’t show any?

De Blasio requested the protests to suspend so that the funerals would not be politicized. The police union should have done likewise. All protests aren’t nearly the same thing. Most protests have a point. This was a public tantrum by the cops as much as any sort of “protest.”   There’s a right time and right place for everything.  In this time and this place where contemptuous cops who exploited the funeral of Officer Ramos to turn their backs and show their asses wasn’t it.

This whole “it’s a cop thing and you wouldn’t understand” thing is a crock. Cops have the same rights as anybody else. They can protest to their little hearts content and when they do they can be called out on it.

Same. As. Anyone. Else.

Officer Ramos wasn’t even in the fucking ground before the cops decided to try to show up the mayor. De Blasio showed more respect and class for the slain officers than his supposed brothers in blue did by pulling the kind of stunt had Rev. Sharpton done it he would be roundly condemned for.

It might be relevant to go back to what was actually said by De Blasio that so royally pissed off the police unions. The flash point seems to have been the comments made by the mayor in the wake of the Eric Garner decision about “the talk” and his wife, Chirlane have had with his 17-year-old son, Dante on how to deal with encounters with the police.

 

This is profoundly personal to me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens. And I said to him, I did.

Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him—as families have all over this city for decades—in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.

And that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome, because for so many of our young people, there’s a fear. And for so many of our families, there’s a fear.

So I’ve had to worry over the years. Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities—crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods—but is safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.

That’s the reality.

That’s outrageous!  How dare the mayor suggest even his son’s life is at risk?

The impression Bill de Blasio was trying to make is his son will be seen first as a Black male and that precludes all other considerations.  The impression Dante de Blasio should be aware of is Blacks are stopped, searched, arrested and imprisoned at rates higher than other races.  Dante should know the incarceration rate for Blacks is six times higher than the national average.

English: NYPD Dodge Charger #2909 in midtown M...

Cops under siege or hunkering down into a bunker mentality?

 

However, what Dante should really worry about isn’t so much isn’t simply being stopped and frisked, handcuffed, jailed and sent to prison as it is Black male teens are 21 more times more likely to be shot than a White male teen.  These facts are shrugged off as an unfortunate side effect of Blacks simply committing crimes disproportionate to their numbers in the overall population. Rudy Giuliani on Fox News have referenced this phenomenon and the implication could not be clearer: White cops shoot Black suspects because so many Black suspects are committing crimes.

Where this oversimplification falls apart are the “crimes” committed by Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice or John Crawford were trivial at best or in the case of Akai Gurley, no crime at all was committed

Putting on a badge doesn’t grant any extra rights to the police and pointing it doesn’t make someone a cop hater for doing so. Some defenders of the cops are incapable of distinguishing between criticism and disrespect.

No cop who thinks his authority to kill makes him untouchable, unquestionable and above criticism deserves respect. In fact, they don’t even deserve to be a cop.

The protestors marching in the streets of New York didn’t kill the two officers. Ismaaily Brinsley did that but by latching on Eric Garner’s death as the excuse to commit double-homicide (and nearly triple as he first shot his ex-girlfriend), it provides an opening for anyone looking an opening to discredit the protestors and repudiate the criticism directed at the police to say, “Look what you made happen!”

Such shrill charges are bullshit. The protests aren’t happening in a vacuum. They are in reaction to grotesque acts of police brutality and a justice system which time and again declines to hold officers responsible for it.

In fact, I don’t consider the protests to be “anti-cop.” That’s generalizing. The protests are anti-BAD cop. Citizens unhappy with how they are being served and protected are well within their rights to air their grievances and demand bad cops be held accountable.

Any cop who doesn’t think they should be held accountable has an option: quit! There’s always work for security guards.

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…And Justice For All?

cop car on fire

These are my last words for the foreseeable future on the series of shooting by the police of Black men and it’s not because I don’t have more to say.   Actually it’s more that this is a topic that first fills me with blind, irrational anger, followed by nauseated disgust and finally fatalistic pessimism.    It’s unhealthy to allow any one subject become so pervasive it becomes all-encompassing, so I have to let this go and move on.

This is going to be long, but I hope it makes sense.

There’s a degree of certain cognitive dissonance associated with the killings of Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford II among the other recent examples of cop-vs-civilian citizens.

Only the most angry of anarchists could boldly state there is no need for the police. Time and again it has been demonstrated the police are the only organization between order and chaos. Whether it’s some thoughtless neighbors blasting their music too loud in the wee hours or an old woman who’s fallen down and can’t get up or a child doesn’t arrive home after school or some guy has just rear-ended your brand new Chevy, there needs to be the person who comes along and makes a crazy world sane again for a while.

Most of us were brought up to respect police as figures of authority worthy of respect equal to that of doctors, lawyers, clergy and politicians. They were the Good Guys protecting us all from the Bad Guys.

Of course, the reality is never that black and white and the cracks in the facade become even more acute when the reality is Black and White.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

I don’t know if Akai Gurley was a good man who didn’t deserve to die in a darkened staircase or a bad man who would have likely met with a bad end sooner or later. But what I do know is when something happens and keeps happening and it’s always reasoned away and waved off as merely “an accident” that isn’t an explanation as much as it is denial.

It didn’t surprise me when Darren Wilson walked. Mike Brown was viewed as a threat. It didn’t surprise me when Daniel Pantaleo walked. Eric Garner was a physically unhealthy man who refused to be taken into custody without resisting. It didn’t surprise me when the cops who blew away John Crawford II in a Wal-Mart walked because he had no business walking around with a realistic looking BB gun.

Neither did Tamir Rice so it won’t surprise me if Officer Timothy Loehmann walks despite being judged unfit for duty by a small town police force but apparently OK for the Cleveland cop shop.

That same dysfunctional Cleveland cop shop following a U.S. Justice Department investigation into acts of excessive force recently agreed to a consent decree which will doubtlessly lead to possibly hundreds of officers fired and forced into retirement. Getting bad cops off the street is a help to good cops, but you’ll rarely hear them say it out loud.

I have communicated with several ex-cops and those who aspired to be cops and they comment regularly on  a discussion board I patronize on several officer related shooting threads as well as high-profile non-police involved deaths such as the Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride cases. They offer insights and perspectives on police procedure, protocol and perspectives civilians are on the outside of peering in. They offer a valuable contribution in the ongoing process of building bridges and not walls between the police and the community.

However, when it comes to matters of police misconduct, corruption and brutality, their default setting seems to be to close ranks with their brethren in blue and fall back to the now familiar stance of “us vs them” and if you aren’t one of us, you must be one of them.

Frank Serpico was one of “us” until he broke the cop code of silence and testified about corruption in the NYPD. Hollywood made Serpico the flawed hero in a movie starring Al Pacino, but the NYPD still regards him as a snitch, a rat, and a villain.

Want to see a hero cop? Frank Serpico qualifies.

Serpico says police brutality now is as bad as police corruption was back in his day and for many of the same reasons: a permissive culture that looks the other way, closes ranks, protects bad cops and persecutes good cops trying to do their jobs the right way.

And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.

Things might have improved in some areas. The days when I served and you could get away with anything, when cops were better at accounting than at law enforcement — keeping meticulous records of the people they were shaking down, stealing drugs and money from dealers on a regular basis — all that no longer exists as systematically as it once did, though it certainly does in some places. Times have changed. It’s harder to be a venal cop these days.

But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
I tried to be an honest cop in a force full of bribe-takers. But as I found out the hard way, police departments are useless at investigating themselves—and that’s exactly the problem facing ordinary people across the country —including perhaps, Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a lightning rod for discontent even though the circumstances under which an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot remain unclear.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

At 77, Frank Serpico is an old man and old men are susceptible to being scoffed at as behind the times and out of the loop. Even the film was made over four decades ago. Yet, Serpico says he loved being a cop. He just wishes he could have been allowed to be the honest cop he wanted to be and not the threat he became because he refused to be a dishonest one.

I honestly do not believe most cops are racist, but in all honesty, there are racists who are cops.  Their default setting is to side with the cops because they were cops that is no less understandable than mine is to side with a Brown, Garner, Gurley, Rice, Martin, Ferrell, Grant, Bell or Diallo because I look like them.

I’ve said before nobody needs the protection of the police more than the Black community. If Black people are disproportionately killed by the police, and more specifically, by White police officers that is in no small part due to the disproportionate numbers of Blacks committing crimes and incarcerated for those crimes. But that’s a much more complicated problem than finger-pointing idiots like Rudy Giuliani or Charles Barkley can resolve with their simplistic solutions.

Serpico doesn’t have all the answers to society’s ills either, but he does have some suggestions deserving of being included in any discussion of the bloody schism between cops and communities of color.

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;
2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;
3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;
4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;
5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;
6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

If Number One of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in Cleveland, Timothy Loehmann might have remained a washed-out small-town cop and never moved on to become a big-city cop and Tamir Rice might still be alive instead of shot down in less than three seconds when Loehmann encountered him.

police-brutality

If Number Two of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York, Peter Liang might have been paired off with a more experienced veteran officer instead of another rookie like himself.

If Number Six of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, the grand jury decisions not to indict Pantaleno and Wilson might be less subject to suspicions of prosecutors manipulating the results.

There will never be a solution to the problem of police brutality and community hostility until all sides involved own up to their own vested interests, sacred cows and protected turf. Any meaningful progress means giving up, compromising, hammering out and forging a new deal between polarized enemies.

I don’t want to view the police as an occupying force. I need them to tell my noisy neighbors to turn that racket down as much as anyone else does. At the current state of things, I’m far less concerned about ISIS or Ebola taking me out than I am Officer Friendly doing me in because he didn’t like a gesture I made during a traffic stop.

Don’t tell me being a cop is a tough, thankless gig. Who doesn’t know that? Any cop who was expecting applause should have never cut their hair, formed a rock band and learned how to play Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Most cops never pull their guns to shoot anybody. When they do most times they’re justified and every time they have to kill someone they don’t have to be probed like a visit to the proctologist.

That doesn’t give cops a license to kill and a badge does not bestow extra rights the rest of us don’t get.

It is not playing the Race Card to wonder why there are so many encounters between unarmed Black men and armed White cops end up fatal for the Black men. If the shoe were on the other foot and White cops were being mowed down by Black assailants would there any puzzlement of what the hell is going on?

The agitation of a New Black Panthers plotting acts of murder and revenge against persons and property deserves condemnation by any responsible citizen, but so does Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association when he calls Pantaleo “a model police officer.”

The demagoguery has to end. The distrust has to end. The polarization and politicking has to end. I want to say it can end if all sides resolve to find a way to come together and force it to end. Yet while I try to be hopeful because it doesn’t make much sense to be anything else or you might as well not get up out of bed, I can’t say I’m optimistic.

Reconciliation is possible but not if our differences remain irreconcilable. We can wait for the next Akai Gurley or Eric Garner or Mike Brown or Tamir Rice to come along and do this now familiar dance over again; five steps back and no steps forward, but if police reform is impossible a  revolution against the police is inevitable.

The odds are excellent we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

oscar wilde

Ijeoma Oluo’s 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops.

Sometimes it isn’t so much that I’m at a loss for words than it is the words of somebody else says it so much better.

Not everyone reads New York magazine, but then not many people read magazines at all anymore.  I’m one of the holdouts.   I still subscribe, buy and read magazines and probably will as long as they keep featuring excellent writing such as this.

Following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner the reaction of many Americans has run the gamut from shock, confusion, anger, apathy and resignation.   Ijeoma Oluo, a marketing manager, writer and mother of two boys added another emotion:  righteous rage.

Here are a series of Tweets published in New  York (along with links) by Ms. Oluo of the 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops:

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddies and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her. Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you. I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.

Ijeoma Oluo writings can be found as a contributor to xojane and her personal blog.

The System Didn’t Fail. It Was Supposed to Work This Way.

Great White Hunter.

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson and the return of violent unrest in Ferguson, I’ve read and heard a lot about how Blacks and Whites need to stay calm and have a rational discussion.

Okay. Let’s calmly talk rationally about the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer last Friday, why don’t we?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving his moving patrol car while his partner stayed at the wheel, surveillance video shows.

The video showed Wednesday by police captures the Saturday afternoon shooting at a West Side recreation center in which 12-year-old Rice was shot.

The video contains no audio.

A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.

Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a “guy with a gun pointing it at people.”

The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was “probably fake,” but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.

Over the past few days I’ve read so much amateur analysis, part-time forensic experts and ex-cop war stories and “woulda/shoulda/coulda” scenarios made up of skewing some facts and misinterpreting and excluding others of what happened and all the while with fawning deference for Support Your Local Police Officer no matter what because gee they do a tough damn job and they are they only thing that stands between the nice people and the jungle predators.

Frankly, it makes me want to vomit.

I see no point in holding a rational discussion with anyone who can rationalize the actions of a murderer. A rational discussion serves no purpose when the intent to shame and embarrass one member of a racial minority into apologizing for the actions of a few while assuaging the fears of the majority that “we’re all not like that.”

I have no interest in having a rational discussion with anyone more upset by broken windows and the looting of cheap stores and shoddy merchandise and are untroubled by a young man losing first his life and then his humanity.  They shrug it off with a blase “Well, I wasn’t there but he must have done something to deserve it.”

Something like boosting some smokes, jaywalking and maybe smarting off to a cop? Yeah, that’s some serious flaunting of the law there. Better pump 12 in him since he’s such a big target.

a System cannot fail

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”W.E.B. Du Bois

A rational discussion is a pointless waste of time when the same “rational discussions” have followed after the cops killed Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Patrick Dorismond, Darrien Hunt, Joseph Ferrell,

Now add Tamir Rice to the roll call of the dead. What happened to him wasn’t a shooting. It was an execution. The trail of Michael Brown’s blood has flowed all the way from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland Ohio.

Some say the problem is the BB gun Rice was carrying looked too realistic.   Okay,  I see how that come lead to complications but how about training rookie cops better so they don’t zoom up to a 12-year-old suspect and fucking immediately blow him out of his shoes? Would that work?  Shoot first, shoot last and keep shooting and asking no questions later is a prime example of piss-poor policing. You could paint the toy guns in all the colors of the rainbow and it still wouldn’t stop some of these trigger-happy cretins.

This is a problem situation which has to be resolved by addressing the issue of the realism of the toy and the overkill response of the cops. You have to start demilitarizing the warrior cop mindset when they zip around in their cars, never know anything about the people in the neighborhoods they patrol and start trying to change the adversarial relationship between cops and communities of color. Until both sides meet each other halfway nothing will ever change.

Changing the “I am a hammer and everything is a nail” philosophy of the warrior cop would help.  Community policing isn’t a new idea and has had both its unqualified successes and dismal failures, but an adversarial relationship between cops and the communities they patrol is poisonous. Nothing positive can come from cops calling civilians as “fucking animals” while the civvies serenade the cops with a chorus of “Fuck the Police.”

The cops have the bullets and the weaponry to fight the community, but the community has bullets and weaponry too. Neither side can win so where does that get us to but M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction)?

 

ferguson

White critics think violence and destruction are indefensible. They need to ask what brings people to react this way. Tweet by Steve Chapman

Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police department and possibly with a million dollars raised from supporters for a trial he was never going to face.  Like George Zimmerman before him, Wilson has become the recipient of  charity from supporters who hate the idea just because you shoot and kill and unarmed teenager that’s no reason you should be punished for it.

A million dollars. Imagine that. Who would have thought one dead Black kid was worth that kind of money?  For Darren and George, despite being the ones with the guns its okay to take Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s lives a long as they claim were frightened for theirs.  Not only will you go free, you’ll get paid too!

Get rich or kill trying.

While rioting is terrible a riot is not the most terrible thing.   People never really understand something until it happens to them and sometimes not even then.

Peace will never be present where justice is absent.

It's settled down for the moment, but at any moment Ferguson could go up in flames again.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.