A Bully Goes To Auschwitz …

Freshman Representative Clay Higgins may not have known any better.

Higgins-1From early 1942 until late 1945, some 1.1 million people were exterminated, killed, at Auschwitz, one of the most infamous concentration/extermination camps of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  Perhaps Higgins, only 56 years old and a freshman member of the House of Representatives, did not realize the significance of Auschwitz.  Auschwitz was ‘liberated’ some 16 years and 8 months before Mr. Higgins was even born, so he can be forgiven for his faux pas, right?   WRONG!  Higgins, like the rest of us, no doubt had parents who remembered WWII and the Holocaust.  Higgins went to school where he learned of the atrocities committed against Jews at places like Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau.  Higgins either has a moral compass or he does not.  I think he does not.

Representative Higgins was shooting an advertisement inside the hallowed walls of Auschwitz.  An advertisement for a stronger U.S. military.  An advertisement for Donald Trump’s ignorant policies.  Inside a hallowed, sacred, burial ground. To politicize the Holocaust, to politicize the most relevant symbol of the 6 million Jews who died under Hitler … it is wrong.  Most of us understand it is wrong.  Clay Higgins does not understand the lessons of history.

Higgins is not new to controversy.  On 04 June, he made the following statement:

“The free world… all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” – Captain Clay Higgins

Higgins recorded five minutes of video, including some from areas of the site where Jews were gassed and their bodies burned. Higgins, an Army veteran and former police officer, briefly explains in the video how the victims were killed. “This is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible,” Higgins says, with some of the ovens in the background. I, for one, am sickened.

Mr. Higgins, you have crossed a line of respectability and you do not deserve to represent the people of your state in Congress.  To the people of Louisiana:  I sincerely hope your morals, your values, and your conscience will not allow you to return this abomination of a ‘man’ to Congress in the next elections, November 6th, 2018.  If you do, then you will get exactly what you deserve.

Officials at the official memorial and museum called out Mr. Higgins: “Everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.”

Amid the outrage, Mr. Higgins did apologize, saying, “My intent was to offer a reverent homage to those who were murdered in Auschwitz and to remind the world that evil exists, that free nations must remember, and stand strong. However, my message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect. For that, my own heart feels sorrow. Out of respect to any who may feel that my video posting was wrong or caused pain, I have retracted my video.”

Again, Mr. Higgins is not a stranger to controversy.  Prior to running for the House seat, Higgins served as a reserve officer for the Opelousas Police Department for four years until being forced to resign or accept disciplinary action for his striking of a handcuffed suspect. In 2014 he became the Public Information Officer for St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office.  As public information officer, Higgins made videos for Crime Stoppers. His videos went viral, and he was referred to as the “Cajun John Wayne”. One of his videos was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2015 He resigned from the St. Landry Parish Sherriff’s Office in February 2016 because of the public outcry against one of his videos. I think by now it is obvious that this ‘man’ has no respect for his fellow human beings.

Mr. Higgins, We The People of the United States of America do NOT accept your apology.  What you did, your poor taste and judgement, are not erased with a simple, “I’m sorry”.  It is obvious to me that you have no humanity, no compassion, and no sincere empathy.  You do not belong in Congress.  Like the supposed leader of this sinking ship we call America, you are a bully, and you are not the man of honesty and integrity that we would expect to see on Capitol Hill.

The Republicans may applaud the Donald Trumps and the Clay Higgins’ of the world, for they are like-minded souls who have no compunction, no compassion, and no concern for their fellow man.  I will shine a spotlight on these bullies wherever and whenever their path crosses mine.

Put It Where It Belongs …

Gavin Eugene Long did not represent the African-American community.  He did not represent the BlackLivesMatter movement.  He was a frustrated man with mental problems who chose a path that led to his ultimate demise.  He represented no group of people, only his own confused mind.

Gavin Long opened fire on police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday morning, 17 July, killing three and wounding three others.  A look at his commentary on social media over the past two weeks gives one to believe that in his mind, he was seeking retribution for the deaths at the hands of rogue police officers of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier this month.  But the reality is that this man was not right in the head, that he had problems and was delusional.

One can no more blame the African-American community nor the BlackLivesMatter movement for the actions of this delusional young man than one can call all Mexicans ‘rapists’ or all Muslims ‘terrorists’.  When we stop trying to assign labels to all, then we can move forward in our goal of equality for all and a humanitarian society, but not before then.

Gavin Long was also a former Marine, though he did not see combat. Nonetheless, he seemed delusional, calling himself one of the ‘targeted individuals’, people who believe they are being harassed with mind-control weapons and by armies of stalkers.  His life was a web of paranoid ideas, a professed allegiance to an antigovernment.  I am not making excuses for Gavin Long.  He murdered three police officers in cold blood and thus he is a murderer.  There are no excuses.  He died at age 29, and there is no question that he brought about his own death.

However, we must be very careful about placing blame.  I have heard President Obama and Hillary Clinton both blamed.  I have heard some blame black people as a whole.  And I have heard the BlackLivesMatter movement blamed.  None of these are to blame, none knew about Mr. Long or had even heard of him prior to last Sunday.  The blame is squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Gavin Long, no other.

We are living today in an environment of toxic hate, racism, bigotry and xenophobia that has been assisted, at the very least, by the rhetoric of none other than the GOP candidate for the office of president, Donald Trump.  That toxicity is thick, green, ugly and slimy. There is a very real danger of that toxicity spreading and our nation becoming one big battleground.  We cannot let that happen, for if it does, we will be at war with ourselves for decades to come. We will see a resurgence of groups like the KKK and a return to open hostilities between races.

The correlation between the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the murders of the police officers in Baton Rouge existed only in the mind of Mr. Long.  None of the rest of us see even a thin thread of connection.  The African-American community mourns the deaths of these police officers, as do those of us who ascribe to the BlackLivesMatter movement.  As do all people in this nation with good hearts and consciences.  Do not be so quick to call up blame, do not jump to misbegotten conclusions that make you look like the racist, the bigot.  Place the blame where it belongs.  Squarely on the shoulders of a deranged and misguided man named Gavin Long.