And Now We Have The Black Panthers Story
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Like most of us who did not vote for Barack Obama for president, the day of his election was not as wholly electrifying for me as it was for, what I will fully concede at the time was the vast majority of Americans, who did. Still, I really did have a sense that perhaps one good that would come out of his election was that race relations in this country could finally be improved. In getting elected, a good lot of white people had to have cast their vote for him. There's no way he could have won the election any other way.
I thought, well, perhaps I can't say I necessarily agree with most of his policy ideas. But apparently America was ready to have a black president. So, wouldn't that be the beginning of the end for racism? Or at least, wouldn't it be the beginning of the end for the imbalances which tend to result from racist viewpoints? By God, black and white Americans might finally be able to get along.
I realize now that that thought may well have been a bit naive at best. After all, race relations have always been strained in our country. There's a lot of reasons for that, I suppose. The history of slavery isn't something that we can be wholly proud of as a nation. I'm sure not. Before the historical Civil Rights movement in the 1960's, there was a serious issue of racism in America, particularly in the southern states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, to name a few. The idea that a black man could not drink out of the same water fountain as I could does seem a bit extreme to me, if not totally ridiculous.
We have come quite a long way from that, and while racism may not be dead, the laws we have today clearly outlines what it is, and what acts in its interests are unlawful. If you are racist, you cannot be so open about it anymore. You can't be openly discriminatory about it.
For that reason, the recent case of the Black Panthers who were filmed standing outside a Philadelphia polling station, in which Minister King Samir Shabazz is shown brandishing a billy club, that was thrown out by the justice department, is something I would never imagine in a million years could happen. Not the act. But the dismissal of the case. I would think racism from either side would simply not have a place in today's American society. Especially this kind.
However strong an analogy it may well be, you have to wonder what the reaction would have been if members of the Ku Klux Klan would have been standing outside that polling station instead of the Black Panthers. You'd have pandemonium by the black community. It actually amazes me exactly how much silence there seems to be on this issue by the black community. No one is standing against the thing, really. But think about it. It would be the perfect injustice wouldn't it be? It would quite literally be the straw that busted the camel's racist back—the first black man on the presidential ballot and the Ku Klux Klan shows up at the polls to pursuade black voters they may be better off rethinking whether or not they want to cast their vote?
Can you imagine?
I'm almost inclined to believe that, had that been the case, you'd have had every single black leader screaming bloody murder at whatever administration took office that a terrible crime had been committed against the black people in America, and heads would have to roll. Every single Ku Klux Klan member involved would have been right square in the hot seat. There would be no question whatsoever as to exactly what the intent of the KKK members would have been at the polls, or what clear message they were trying to get across.
Weapons in hand.
This simply would never fly in a million years, and if heads did not roll in a case like this, and had the Ku Klux Klan members been given a pass by the justice department as exactly has been the case by Eric Holder with regard to these two New Black Panther party members Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, I'm inclined to believe that the riots we saw after the Rodney King verdict would pale in comparison by leaps and bounds.
Set aside the comments, that everyone has cited Minister King Samir Shabazz apparently had been making, shown on the National Geographic channel which would make any sane person's skin crawl. While they are absolutely hateful and disturbing, it is not in violation of the law. It's not a great thing, and the comments do give us a bit more insight into the mind of Samir Shabazz. But the comments he made that were depicted on National Geographic do not break any laws.
The polling station incident is clearly a whole other argument.
Take into account as well the fact that J. Christian Adams, a former justice department employee who recently quit regarding the outcome of the case, has come out and stated that the reasons for the case having been dropped had to do with race. Where's President Obama on an accusation like that? It took him minutes to come out and address the American people over the incident where that black professor had been mistaken by police for a burglar. It took him minutes to fire up the presses and tell the American public he would fire General McChrystal over comments he made that were inflammatory toward the president and his administration. Never mind that on that particular issue I happen to agree with the president that the General had to go—the point is that the president reacted swiftly.
No immediate order to have Attorney General Holder in his office immediately over such an issue as voter intimidation, racism, and accusations of race based decisions by the justice department? All we get instead is a shoulder shrug from White House press secretary Gibbs, "I haven't been paying much attention to this."
Naiveté is certainly what I had on that historical election day. But even that word is probably a word that isn't quite able to really define what I thought would happen with regard to race relations after the election.
And what of race relations? Besides this case being definitely racially charged, I'm certain I've heard the words "racism" and "racist" uttered more times in the past two years than I think I've ever heard either word uttered in my lifetime. Where does it end? Racism. And how do we plan to end racism once and for all if we are not willing to hold all racists accountable?
Even the black ones. Maybe especially the black ones. We can start with these two, if you don't mind.
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