There have been some positive signs that perhaps this nation as a whole is sick and tired of the white supremacists and their rhetoric, sick and tired of seeing white people with notions of superiority thinking they have more ‘natural rights’ than others. It’s far too little, too late, but still … it’s a start.
And it only took five years …
In 2014, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, to death. It was not the first, nor would it be the last case of a white cop killing an unarmed black man, but it was the case that brought the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the forefront of the public eye. In almost every one of these cases, the police officers have gotten off scot-free, even kept their jobs. On Monday, a New York City Commissioner James P. O’Neill made a decision that will, hopefully, set a new precedent, by firing Officer Pantaleo, and stripping him of his pension benefits.
Garner’s crime five years ago was that he was allegedly selling cigarettes outside a convenience store. For this, he paid with his life. It is my opinion that Officer Panteleo should have been tried and convicted. The department had a rule against using the chokehold he used on Mr. Garner, and Garner said, “I can’t breathe”, but still Panteleo didn’t release his hold. Blatant cruelty. And yet, despite Mr. Garner’s death having been ruled a homicide, Panteleo was never charged.
As I said, this is a case of too little, too late. Pateleo should be in prison, but instead he is in his lawyer’s office trying to force the NYPD to reinstate him, his benefits, and pay him back pay for time lost. And, it took James O’Neill five years to decide to fire him. When they say the “wheels of justice” turn slowly, they aren’t kidding! Still, it is a small step in the right direction.
A slippery slope …
The 1st Amendment right to free speech is a slippery slope and has been the cause of much disagreement throughout time. At what point does free speech cross the line and become punishable? At what point should speech be silenced? Some would answer “never”, but most reasonable people agree that there must be limits, but rarely agree to the terms of said ‘limits’. In this age of social media, the question becomes even more relevant, for there are those who believe that hate speech is protected under the 1st Amendment, and spew their hate all over Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for all the world to see.
Last week, social media outlets Facebook and Instagram suspended the accounts of James Orien Allsup, and Twitter had already suspended his account in late 2017. James Orien Allsup is a white supremacist who marched with the other white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and whose hate speech can still be seen on YouTube. There will be some, no doubt, who will cry “Foul!” at the move by Facebook and Instagram, but frankly, I support the move.
I am a staunch advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, in my book there is a line. When you publicly threaten or incite violence, then you have shirked the responsibility that accompanies those rights. I say the same about media outlets such as Fox and Breitbart that engage in conspiracy theories that have already led to violence and loss of life. I applaud Facebook and Instagram, and would urge YouTube to remove this man from their platform as well.
The New York Times is doing an excellent series titled The 1619 Project:
The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
I will be including some of their works in future posts, but I urge you to check it out for yourselves. Racism, white supremacy, white nationalism … whatever name you give it … is ugly, and in this country, it is increasing at what I consider to be an alarming rate. We need to tackle this subject, to take off the window dressing and show it for what it is … arrogant hate. A friend sent me a meme recently that I think should be made into a poster and mailed to every member of any of the 1,000+ hate groups around the country!