Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lazy Sunday #338: Shake It Off

The theme of last week’s world news seemed to be Genocide, both real and perceived.

In the Middle East the slaughter of innocents reached inconceivable proportions, with people in no manner capable of influencing events being beheaded, crucified and buried alive by those who can only be described as deluded, deranged fanatics.

In the United States, riots and protests erupted over the death of a young Black man, although no one yet fully knows the circumstances that led to his death.

Perhaps he was, as some claimed, executed by a Racist cop. Perhaps not. However, to many in the social media sphere his death was proof of everything from white privilege to over-militarized police forces or a “war on young Black males”.

At times there seemed, among some of the media and more than a few self-appointed pundits, a desire to ignite the powder keg and start some kind of race war.

I don’t like dealing with Racial issues in America. Mostly because I’m White and don’t live there. So I don’t have a lot of first hand, daily experience.

And yet, unlike most of the loudest talkers, I do.

I spent several years writing and producing a TV series about cops. And in the process I spent countless hours working alongside American cops in dozens of Major cities. White cops. Black Cops. Hispanic Cops. Asian Cops. Women cops.

They worked in communities that both reflected or were the polar opposite of their own social or racial status. Yet, not once did I encounter a single officer who based arrests or conducted encounters with the public in a manner that suggested he or she would be just as happy to take one of those different somebodies out.

I spent a couple of hours one night with a young black cop who had just shot a man, a man his own age and of the same ethnic background. He was completely justified in discharging his weapon. And yet he was utterly inconsolable.

Those who choose law enforcement as a career are rarely those who can easily take another life. And most take it as a mark of professional pride that they never had to draw their weapon on duty, let alone open fire.

Yet when they do their training requires two things. When their finger touches the trigger, they must have exhausted all other options and they keep firing until the threat no longer exists.

At the time I was shadowing cops in the US, something like 83% of violent crimes were being committed by young Black men. And the reasons for that were easy to see on the streets but far more complicated to solve. They included poverty, drugs, unemployment, lack of education, broken homes and lack of hope.

Last week while so many were screaming that White cops (or even all cops) were conducting a war of Genocide, FBI Homicide stats showed that 91% of all the young Black men murdered in the United States were killed by other Black men.

But solving the problems that led to those deaths still took a backseat to widening the racial divide, for slights real and imagined.

The low point for me was the online magazine Salon, of which I was in its earliest incarnation a paid subscriber, calling Pop singer Taylor Swift a racist because of her latest video “Shake It Off”.

What became clear almost immediately is that those pillorying Ms. Swift hadn’t even seen the video. They had become just that caught up in their own need to get something going or be part of the story that the facts didn’t matter.

But facts and being honest do matter. It’s myths and conspiracies and outright falsehoods that those who conduct Genocide depend on to justify their crimes.

You can’t let your life and emotions be directed by those who are so without purpose in their own lives, they just gotta find somebody else to blame for their situation.

The Cheerleaders of Doom had a banner week spilling their venom. It’s time we all start  to “Shake It Off”.

Taylor Swift is as good a place as any to start.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

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