In another time, a distant time – maybe even last year – this would have been more of a ‘weekly news review with opinions’ kind of piece. Sadly, I’ve realized that, although that’s precisely what it is, it’s not that simple anymore. I’m no longer sure it’s even possible for me to write one without an explainer for some of my friends/family. So, after replacing the original working title, we move on…
I’m going to start with a stunningly offensive bit of “where’s the outrage” that keeps finding its way into my social media feeds in one form or another. Several confused souls I know have shared similar images on FB that compare the outrage over the death of George Floyd (the “drug overdose of a violent felon”) with the purported lack over outrage (or coverage) over the horrifying murder of 5 year-old Cannon Hinnant by his dad’s next door neighbor (“innocent child executed by a black man”). First of all – please stop sharing this shit. Just stop. Second, every child’s death is a tragedy – and murders, more so. Every murder, at any age, is a tragedy. While sharing a meme that emphasizes race, as this one very much does, you say far more about yourselves than you do about BLM, the media, or anyone else’s priorities. And what you’re saying depresses me. I could remind you that most murders, including of children, are committed by people known to, and trusted by, the victim – most often by family. If we’re playing “what about”, then where’s your outrage when people, any people, are murdered by a white nationalist/homophobic/whatever in a workplace/church/school/wherever shooting? But, I’m not playing the “what about” game (I really, really dislike it) – I’m practically begging you to understand that you are perpetuating the exploitation of the horrible death of a young child to continue to spread a falsehood about the victim of a brutal action by police officers in an attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement. Besides the lie about George Floyd’s cause of death – neither autopsy claimed drug overdose and for a better explanation of the results of the autopsies, this one is very good – this meme also implies he somehow “deserved what he got” – except that his background, while containing numerous arrests for theft and for drugs, was not what the meme implies. And the fact is, he was picked up after being reported for a completely nonviolent offense. Connor Hinnant was shot by someone who was clearly mentally unstable, and likely was on drugs at the time. The critical thing here is that George Floyd died at the hands of the police. This is where BLM comes into it – and it is also why the devastating death of a 5 year old in a random act of violence does not. I don’t know how to help you to understand the difference – I’ve tried before. Crime is never endorsed by anyone, including BLM, and if we were to express outrage over every death at the hands of someone else, we’d literally have no time to do anything else – according to the FBI 16,214 people were victims of homicide in the US in 2018 (the most recent year with published stats). The worst thing, though, is that I’m increasingly seeing a side to people I thought I knew, and who I respected, both family and friends, that I never saw before – and this new light they’ve chosen to shine on themselves isn’t a flattering one. There is no word for these particular memes other than ‘racist’, and it worries me that those sharing it either don’t see that, or don’t care.
Of course one of the biggest stories this past week – and deservedly so, – was Joe Biden, Democratic nominee for President, choosing California senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. I’m not the first to note that her addition to the ticket, not a surprise pick by any stretch, seems to have left the GOP flummoxed. The attacks are conflicted largely because, other than her Indian-Jamaican lineage, there’s little for the GOP to attack. She was a prosecutor in a previous life. Progressive Democrats were unhappy with the pick for all of the reasons that make her electable in the eyes of moderates and conservatives (except Trumpists – who lost the conservative thread a long time ago). Of course, some in Trumpland don’t see a problem with a racist approach. I’ve seen friends sharing cheery things like “how can Kamala Harris call herself African American when her mother was from India and he father from Jamaica”, or she is a direct line ancestor to a slave trader, so how can she support BLM (hint – many, many, blacks in this country have slave owners or slave traders in their background – this is kind of obvious given the nature of slavery). I’d like to suggest that my very white family & my white friends stick to questions that sound less like desperate attempts at disqualifying her based on things we have no experience of. Of course, my personal favorite was Trump retweeting out nonsense that she’s disqualified from running because here parents weren’t citizens when she was born in Oakland, California. That trope is getting old. And honestly, it’s both racist and xenophobic. I’ve posted about this in the past, but the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states, very clearly, that what is sometimes referred as “birthright citizenship”, is in fact, a right : “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” The argument used to try to limit the right to citizenship, hinges on ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof“, interpreting that phrase exclude those with noncitizen parents because they are subject to the jurisdiction of the country of their parents citizenship. That argument is absurd on its face – are non-citizens living in the US not subject to jurisdiction of the US – are they not subject to our laws, our tax system? In fact, in 1898, the United States Supreme Court determined, in Unites States vs. Wong Kim Ark, that being born in the United States does, in fact, bestow the child with citizenship. In part, the decision stated:
” The Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States. Every citizen or subject of another country, while domiciled here, is within the allegiance and the protection, and consequently subject to the jurisdiction, of the United States.”
Much of this is just noise and distraction, though.. Keep them angry and distracted and they miss the bigger picture(s). To whit: the president, who intends to vote-by-mail in Florida in November, and has requested his mail-in ballot, has continued his attacks on the fraud risks of mail-in voting, and capabilities of the postal service, and whether or not they are deserving of funding. His hand-picked Postmaster General, who fired, or reassigned, approximately 24 postal service executives last Friday, proceeded with actual equipment removal – sorting machines, and other facility equipment, as well as street corner mailboxes. Some of this is normal, the scale was not. It’s almost as if someone were trying to ensure a failure on the part of the post office during the election cycle. As I’ve noted previously, mail-in voting has a long history, and very little fraud. The US military has been using it for a very, very long time, and several states use it extensively with no issues. Fraud is not a problem with mail-in ballots, and the process is more secure than electronic voting, which can be hacked. Of course the bigger news was that during an interview earlier in the week, the president said that mail-in voting would help the democrats, and he wasn’t going to give funding to the postal service. Oops.
In reality, not funding the postal services carries far greater consequences than disrupting an election. The recent cuts have already led to issues with people not getting medications delivered on time (including one prescription coming into my home), and is creating backups in other deliveries because the major carriers, UPS and Fedex, often use the postal service for the final delivery leg. The president is not the first to complain that the postal service doesn’t make money, but it’s not meant to be a profit center – it is, and always has, been providing a critical service. The agency itself is independent, partially self-funding, and unlike most other federal agencies, it was explicitly authorized in the US Constitution.
The backlash, particularly after Trump’s interview last week, and revelations about the Postmaster General’s financial investments in transportation, has led to the House oversight committee that has responsibility for the postal service to announce hearings. Originally not for another month (Congress is on vacation, after all), but today they announced that they were coming back from their recess early in order to take up the issues. Progress, but possibly subject to more obstruction in the Senate.
Apropos of nothing, a line from Leonard Cohen’s 1988 song, Everybody Knows is stuck in my head:
“Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied”
Perhaps not so irrelevant, after all.
Sunset, June 7, 2019.
Explainer/disclaimer: I’m an equal opportunity offender, and a member of no political party (no primaries for me to vote in, alas). I grew up in an environment (and time), at home and at school, where reasoned debate and logic were respected, and expected. Objective facts still held meaning. Even in my Catholic elementary schools, logic won points over emotion, and sometimes, even faith, in debates (at a time before Roe v Wade, I took a pro legalized abortion stance in an 8th-grade debate – and won). Not that I would ever claim to be free of emotional appeals (that’s sometimes the only way to decide between equally valid views, and sometimes things just are – or should be – viewed compassionately rather than coldly). At times over the years, my moderate, socially-liberal-yet still-in-touch-with-my-conservative-upbringing, opinions and ideals have annoyed, and actually angered, friends and family on both sides of the spectrum – particularly those on the extremes. I don’t enjoy the hostile reactions – or family tensions, so I often looked for ways to state my case without causing those that disagreed too much offense. A tactic that failed an unsurprising amount of the time because we all tend toward defensiveness when our belief systems are challenged. I enjoy the dialogue, though, so I put my thoughts out there, regardless, with mixed results. After (still) dealing with cancer and its long-term repercussions, as a senior – a time when our perspectives and priorities often change, I find that I am no longer inclined to always be quite so constrained.