Wanted: foreign affairs journalist to cover events in Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.

Sometimes I think journalists don’t even read their own articles — or internalize their own hot air.  In this Sunday’s New York Times, Ellen Barry writes about a murder case in India in which caste affiliation gets in the way of justice.  Early in the piece, she grills the local constable, gets pushback, and examines her navel a bit:

Over the past decade, in Russia and then India, I have been asked versions of this question hundreds of times: Who are you to come here and tell us what is wrong with our system? And it’s true, the whole enterprise of foreign correspondence has a whiff of colonialism. During the years I have worked abroad, Americans’ interest in promoting their values in the world has receded, slowly and then precipitously. I doubted the regional hegemons filling the vacuum would do better, but still, I wasn’t sure it was such a bad thing.

(Emphasis, as the law nerds say, added.)  So, cool, I think, she’s just a little bit self-aware about her privileged position and first-world filter.  But after reporting that the local justice system refused to recognize a murder as a murder — based on caste loyalty — she sheds her self-awareness like a gossamer scarf:*

Sometimes it seemed that the European legal system, with its liberal emphasis on individual rights, had settled only lightly on a country fixated on the rights of groups. Political leaders have driven this deeper into the culture: Equality, in India, is equality among groups. Justice is group justice.

Perhaps her next colonial assignment should be Ferguson.  Or Minneapolis.  Or Baltimore.  Or Cleveland.  Or New York.  I’d be interested in the promotion of American values in those far flung locales.


*I’m picturing a blonde woman — perhaps in a perfume ad — running in slow mo as the scarf of self awareness floats gracefully up and away from her.**

**Note the latest in accessible images:  the image-free image description.


After North Carolina made the brilliant decision to police its citizens’ bathroom habits, a movement arose urging cis folks to be available to accompany trans or genderqueer folks to the restroom or other gendered spaces.  It’s called “I’ll Go With You.”   It has a website … and buttons!

This week, two more Black men were assassinated by the police under circumstances that defy rational understanding, but that share with so many other similar murders this feature:  they would not have happened to a white person.

What can a random middle age white lady do about all this killing?  I can march, shout, post . . . all things that announce my horror, anger, and sadness.  But I can’t force grand juries to indict murderous cops or juries to convict them.  And worst of all, I can’t stop the shooting from happening in the first place.

Or can I?   What if I were there?  Could enough of us be there for our Black friends, allies, and fellow citizens to stop some of the random killing?  If we’re willing to go to the bathroom as a show of solidarity with our trans and genderqueer friends, is there a way we ride along with our Black friends to show solidarity or, y’know, be a human shield?  Call it the White-People Ride-Along program*, placing random white people in the cars of random African-Americans while they drive to work, run errands, go out to dinner, stay up late, joy ride, and other things white people can do in cars without risking death at the hands of law enforcement.  It would work like a sort of reverse Uber. When the Black driver is ready to go somewhere, he or she enters the information in the WPRA app and connects with an available white passenger.  Voila!  Instant, if unfounded, respectability and potential survival.

Wild-ass idea, right?  Or maybe not.  Anyone with the balls & tech skills to get this rolling:  I’m in.


*Yes, I’m intending to copy the police “Ride-Along” label.

One of these is not like the other

White 18-year-old walks up and down city streets with a loaded shotgun.

Result:  is approached and questioned by police, refuses to show ID to prove that he’s carrying legally, lives to make a total dick of himself on the evening news.

Image: snip from local news showing reporter on the left (white; male; salt & pepper hair) talking to white teenager with shot gun.  Caption reads "Teen Records Open-Carry Encounter.  18 year old faces misdemeanor charge."

Black 12-year-old plays with toy gun in a park.

Result:  shot dead by police 2 seconds after they arrive by car on the scene.

Image:  clip from newscast with photo of black boy with caption "Boy with toy gun shot 2 seconds after police arrived.  Police:  cop told boy 3 times to show hands before the shooting."

Arrested in Ferguson in an Act of Repentance | Jim Wallis

Arrested in Ferguson in an Act of Repentance | Jim Wallis.

Repentance is a powerful theme throughout the Bible. But its meaning is often not well understood. Repentance is not about being sorry or just feeling guilty. It is about turning in a new direction. The biblical word for repentance in the original Greek is metanoia, which means you are going in the wrong direction, and it’s time to turn right around.

Jim Wallis never fails to make me think.  It’s easy to express regret; much harder to change direction.


This guy is tasked with public safety?

I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord savior, but I’m also a killer. I’ve killed a lot. And if I need to, I’ll kill a whole bunch more. … If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me, it’s that simple. I have no problem with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.

via Ferguson-Area Police Officer Suspended After ‘Killer’ Rant Surfaces Online.  He apparently rants on along these lines, on the video, for an hour or so, largely missing the point of the whole “Christianity” thing.  And the whole “protect and serve” thing.

This guy is a cop, and a member of the “Oath Keepers, the right-wing law enforcement group that is aligned with the Patriot movement.”   A quick (and slightly toxic) visit to their website reveals that “Oath Keepers” are a collection of police and military types who believe their “oath” to their interpretation of the constitution gives them the right to do things like not do their jobs and shoot random people who do not share their interpretation of the constitution.*

They have a list of orders they will not obey, including executing warrantless  searches (good), disarming Americans (potentially bad, if the armed American is threatening to kill someone), and wildly paranoid:

We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union.

We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

Whew!  Glad we cleared that up.  And good to know that when Texas finally secedes, no one will try to stop them.  Buh byeeeeee!

I do appreciate that this group is a big fan of Edward Snowden.  So they exist in that special place where the extreme right and extreme left of the political spectrum meet up in shared paranoia and megalomania.

I guess we’ve always known that certain subsets of law enforcement view themselves as creating, interpreting, and executing the law; it’s more than a bit frightening to think those cops have a self-aggrandizing club where they can encourage and reward each other for doing so.


* Based on their logo, this may or may not be caused by the emotional trauma of having very long but very thin penises:

Image: silhouette of man holding long gun, which also looks like he has a very long, thin penis protruding from his midsection.

“Valid point, but different conversation, folks.”

There is a lot of overlap between the way cops treat African-Americans and the way they treat people with disabilities.  And in Denver, that conversation blurs into  one about the Denver Sheriff Department’s violence and incompetence.  There are times that call for conversations about overlap and blurring and intersectionality, and there are times we need to FOCUS.  Right now, we need a bit of focus on a specific problem:  the mortal danger of being an African-American — specifically, a young, male African-American — in any action with the cops.

Often discussions of derailing can sound like shutting down.  That’s why I like the way Anita puts it:

Valid point, but different conversation, folks.

Stop Derailing This Conversation! – Musings Of An Angry Black Womyn.