I am both saddened and enraged at the cowardice and lack of humanity being shown by too many Americans today, many of them Republican politicians.


So much for being the home of the brave when we are too cowardly to provide shelter and protection to those coming to us for help from horror and abuse.

So much for being the land that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” when we turn away those in need.

And why are we so willing to give up our shared humanity, our ideals, our empathy and what had been considered deep seated beliefs? Two reasons.

First, Paris was attacked by Muslims, and the refugees are Muslim. Never mind that the vast, vast majority of Muslims condemn these terrorists. Never mind that these refugees are also victims of the same people who attacked Paris.

You would think that the victim of our enemies would be considered sympathetically and efforts made to help them. But too many Americans are refusing them, vilifying them and even comparing them to rabid dogs. They want to kick out any Syrian refugees already here and refuse any more. Men, women, and children. No matter that they have nowhere to go and that returning to Syria would result in their deaths.

Second: a Syrian passport found near what remained of a dead terrorist. From that many have made a leap to concluding the terrorists are coming in with the refugees. Never mind that all the other terrorists were French and Belgium, many of them being born and raised in those countries. Never mind that the mastermind was not a refugee and was instead a Belgium, being both born and raised there.

And never mind that the passport was likely faked, and the possible terrorist was not a Syrian refugee, as discussed in this Wall Street Journal article.

And why, one might ask, would a terrorist organization wish to plant a passport to stir up fear and animosity against the refugees. The reason is simple, it is because the vast majority of Muslims are against them and their terrorist tactics. It is because they know that most Muslims do not believe as they do. And so they set it up where we, in our fear and ignorance, will act in such a way so as to push the moderate Muslims into their arms. They want us to do the work of radicalizing the majority of Muslims, and in so doing grow their ranks for them.

And we, cowardly, ignorant, fools that we are, gladly do so. Governors are refusing to house the refugees. Republican Presidential candidates, supposedly bright and moral people of courageous convictions talk of not only not taking more refugees in but sending those we do have away. Others wish to use this as a pretext to take away the rights of some Americans, those who are Muslim. Warrantless searches, making them wear a special ID, refusing to build new mosques or tearing down ones already built. When it comes to Muslims and refugees our fears are turning us into Nazi’s

And in our fear of the terrorist, we wind up helping them recruit new followers. We make their lies about us true.

Religious liberty! Hah! Only for the Jew and Christians. They can live by their laws as they wish. But not the Muslim. The U.S. wants to ban them from doing so.

Religious liberty! Hah! Only for the Jews and Christians. They can build churches and synagogues where they wish. But Muslims trying to build a mosque face protests and refusals. Even the attempt to create a Muslim cemetery resulted in protests and a massive effort to deny them.

A land of hope and opportunity, a haven for those in need. Hah, they turn away hurt and crippled children. Unless they are Christian.

Some talk of the risk that a terrorist may sneak in among the refugees. They say that we need to ensure that the US has a proper vetting process to keep the terrorists out. This includes all manner of politicians and presidential candidates.

Ignorant fools.

Our vetting process already takes 18 to 24 months. As this Atlantic Monthly article discusses, this includes background checks by the UN Commission for Refugees as well as background checks by every intelligence and security agency the U.S. has – Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Defense Department and others. In addition to these background checks these refugees face multiple interviews as well as a physical exam. This is the most secure and thorough vetting process we have.

The result of this vetting? Of the 784,000 refugees that the U.S. has accepted since September 11, 2001 only three people have been arrested for terrorist activities. “None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas.”

So I call bullshit on all of those governors and Republican presidential candidates who say we need to examine and modify our vetting process, that we don’t have one. They are in the position to know better and should. They are using the politics of fear to gain power.

As for those who are buying into that fear and hatred – get informed. Don’t stay so ignorant – it is a disease that can be cured. Do not let your fears and bias keep you blind.

People such as the Syrian refugees are why we have a refugee program, so that we can live up to the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Words that we have a dismal history of failing to live up to, but one that I hope we will someday.

So despite our ideals, despite our extensive and successful vetting, despite the desperate need we say, “No, never mind all of that. We reject you, we deny our shared common humanity, we deny our own stated ideals and values. We are instead afraid of you, of refugees such as the family whose five year old daughter lost a leg in the violence in Syria and whose 11 year old son lost two fingers. No, we quiver in fear and turn a blind eye to you and with a cold and hardened heart turn you away, reject you. Just as we have done other refugees in the past.”

And in so doing, in so saying, we provide immeasurable help to the enemy, the violent Islamic extremists.


Unlike France which has announced that even after the attacks they are not only still committed to taking in 20,000 refugees but will now take in 30,000 Americans seemingly have no moral courage and empathy for those in need.

Fools. Cowardly fools.

There is a conservative meme going around about Syrian refugees that claims that almost all of them are men and that they are cowards. It is wrong on both counts.


First off, if these conservatives would quit relying on photos of doubtful origin and whose circumstances are unknown and instead spend a few minutes doing the research they would discover that according to the UN Refugee Agency that about half the refugees are women. Also, about half the refugees are also under the age of 17.

Now, where the conservatives are partly right in regards to a predominance of male refugees is in regards to those attempting to cross the Mediterranean by boat in order to get to Europe. Those refugees are about 70% male. However, this includes all refugees whether from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Africa. And even here, there is a good reason why they might be mostly male refugees – such crossings are extremely dangerous. I would think that the picture of the drowned three year old Syrian boy whose body washed ashore earlier this year should be plenty of evidence for why it is mostly men who cross the water in leaking and unseaworthy boats, with the idea of bringing their families over in a safer way once they have established a beginning.

That is not cowardly.

But this only deals with part of the reason why conservatives call these Syrian males cowards. An argument made by the ignorant is that these men should be staying and fighting for their homes and lands and that the fact that they are not shows that they are indeed cowards. To be quite frank – that argument is pure bullshit, and ignores both the reality on the ground in Syria, on human nature, and on the nature of war and violence.

What sparked this blog is an article in the October 26, 2015 issue of the New Yorker. Their reporter at large piece by Nicholas Shmidle, titled “Ten Borders”. It is a story about one refugee, Ghaith, a law student who escaped from Syria and into Sweden. And, appropriately enough, it is about a male who left his wife behind. It nicely tells why this meme is so very, very wrong.

To start, I rather like this quote in regards to illustrating part of the reasons why Ghaith did not stay and fight, and it perfectly illustrates the simplistic nature of the conservative meme and their naïve and simplistic ideas about revolutions and wars.

Ghaith saw the war as “a battle between two losing sides”. He told me, “Each side thinks that you’re either with them or against them. My family was not with any side. We just wanted to get by

The two big sides in Syria are, of course, Assad and ISIS – a brutal dictator and an even more brutal Islamic terrorist group. Neither are likely to inspire trust and loyalty. In addition there are the Free Syrian Army, Jaish al-Fatah, Islamic Front and many others. How do you choose a side when all are bad and all are fighting each other?

Further, most people are not military. Ghaith was a law student studying criminal law. He is a small man, just over five feet. Once conscripted he would become a good candidate for a dead man. Or, even worse in his words, become a”killer” instead of a “victim”.

What made it even more complicated is that he is an Alawite, a religious minority group who some rebel groups target and assassinate. Why? Because Assad’s family are also Alawites. You might think that he would thereby receive some sort of protection or favoritism from Assad’s regime because of that link. However, his family has not been a fan of Assad. One of Ghaith’s nieces posted a comment on Facebook that “condemned a barrel bomb attack by the Syrian Air Force on civilians in Homs. Government agents snatched two of Ghaith’s friends off the streets and took them away”.

A lone man fighting many different well armed mutually antagonistic groups is not going to live long. To believe otherwise is to believe in a delusion.

Ghaith initially resisted fleeing Syria due to concerns about his mother and his wife. However, as the pressure mounted for him to join the military both his wife and his mother strongly urged him to flee as he was the one greatest at risk. The idea was that if he could get out and settle someplace he could send for them.

“She’s coming, too” he said after reaching Sweden, though he acknowledged that it would take time. Sweden provides a family reunification program but only for asylum seekers with residency status.

I had already mentioned that Ghaith managed to reach Sweden. Looking at this deceitful meme you would think such journeys are easy to do. However, it took Ghaith several tries, tries which often ended in failure and difficulties.
At the international terminal in Beirut his forged passport failed to pass inspection. As a result:

He and about fifty other foreigners shared a dark cell, sleeping on the floor. They had to defecate in buckets…. Naim Houry, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said that some refugees had been kept there for “weeks, months, and even years” while awaiting deportation. One day, Ghaith watched, horrified, as a pregnant prisoner fell to the floor, blood pooling around her.

A friend who had also been caught and detained had teeth jerked out with pliers and his back was covered in cigarette burns. Another friend died while in detention.

I won’t go into the details of Ghaith’s efforts, but each step provided its own challenge and dangers. Smugglers are expensive and often untrustworthy. Refugees are subject to beatings and rape. And, of course, dying. “The smugglers behaved like jail wardens, Bahaa added, “throwing us around left and right””.

One trip by boat was cancelled due to the Turkish Cost guard seizing the first two boats that had set out.

Another boat did set out. But it was overloaded and small, and the seas rough and turned back. When it reached shore the captain jumped and ran while the craft sped into the shallow water and its “propellers jamming on rocks”.

Escape is not safe. That seems to be something the promulgators of the above meme and others like it ignore. Is it cowardly to leave your family in a place that is relatively safer while you go to find and create a better place?  I don’t think so.

What also struck me is that despite the dangers as well as the rejection and anger the refugees encountered they also encountered many people along the way who provided food and shelter, directions and helpful advice to the refugees – Turks, Greeks, Hungarians. People recognizing fellow humans in desperate need.

As for now, Ghaith is intent on becoming Swedish. Other than friends from Syria who had also made it out, Ghaith “cared little for Syria anymore. Once his wife arrived, they would have children and he would raise them as Swedes. He didn’t care if his kids spoke Arabic. He added in broken English, “I worship Sweden.””

In short, the Syrian refugees are not predominantly male. They are not cowards. They are human beings fleeing an impossible situation with the same hopes, desires, and dreams as ourselves. The human dream.

Around the same time, Austrian authorities found an abandoned poultry truck with seventy-one dead refugees inside. Ghaith said that he couldn’t help but feel lucky: “I made it, while thousands of others didn’t. Some died on the way, some died in Syria. Every day, you hear about people drowning. Just think about how much every Syrian is suffering inside Syria to endure the suffering of this trip.” He paused. “In Greece, someone asked me, ‘Why take the chance?’ I said ‘In Syria, there’s a hundred-per-cent chance you’re going to die. If the chance of making it to Europe is even one percent, then that means there is a one-percent chance of your leading an actual life.’”


To those Christians who are persecuted by Starbuck’s Christmas Coffee Cup, Pastor Saeed Abedini sends his support and prayers as you battle this egregious defamation of the Christian faith. Or he would were he not in prison in Iran for being a Christian.

To those Christians who are persecuted by Starbuck’s Christmas Coffee Cup, Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz, priests of the Armenian and Greek Orthodox Church respectively, send their support and prayers as you battle this egregious defamation of the Christian faith. Or they would had they not been kidnapped by ISIS and executed.

To those Christians who are persecuted by Starbuck’s Christmas Coffee Cup, the Christian Churches of North Korea and China send their support and prayers as you battle this egregious defamation of the Christian faith. Or they would were they not in jail or concentration camps.

To those Christians who are think that they are persecuted here in the United States, is your need to feel persecuted so strong that you have to generate fantasies? Is your faith so weak and in need of justification that you search and dig to generate stories of dark oppression so you can congratulate yourself on how strong your faith is and on how steadfastly you defend your faith?

Such fantasies that are so out of touch with reality damage the image of the Christian and Christian church that you say you love.

It damages the image of the United States, a country in which freedom of religion is cherished and which has given you so much freedom that you apparently wish there were less of it.

It damages the plight of those Christians and Christian churches that really are persecuted around the world. Your narcissistic need, by generating a false persecution, takes the focus and attention off of their real suffering and tribulations

It damages you and your reputation. Why should anyone take you seriously now? Aside from Donald Trump that is.

desktop5Addendum:  I know that I am an atheist and to some this might seem a strange way to blog about this issue.  However, I  strongly support religious freedom for all, believing in its necessity for a peaceful and just society, and so am against any government or society that does not allow this freedom.  Contrasting what those Christians face with the fantasy of these American Christians seemed an effective way to show the ridiculous nature of the American’s supposed persecution.  Now, I wish that all of those groups who are doing such an admirable job of reporting and working to keep in our minds those Christians who are being persecuted would extend their reach to cover all religions and religious beliefs that are persecuted whoever and wherever they may be.  Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, all.  Including that of the atheist.

In regards to School Resource Officer Fields and his throwing a 16 year old female student out of her chair, I have seen several responses defending Officer Field and saying that those that condemn his actions are promoting the dissolution of our society. Their basic reasoning is that by allowing this teenage girl to get away with disobeying authority figures we are promoting disrespect.

If you are applauding the termination of Officer Fields and defending that brat, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. It’s this mindset that’s breeding disrespectful punks and causing them to get shot. Stop making kids think they are above the law and authority. You’re not doing them or society any favors.

But my question to them would be how is respect best earned? Is it through violence and brute strength? That seems to be the message from those defending the officer. Somehow I doubt that most of the students in that class respect that officer or the authorities due to this. Instead, they learned fear and caution. And possibly anger towards police and authority.

I note that in the CNN link I provided above several of the students refer to Officer Fields as Officer Slam. And that they had their cellphones out because they knew when he came in that it was going to go bad. From the above linked CNN article:

Kenny said she and other classmates had their cell phones recording because of the officer’s reputation.
“When he came in the classroom, I immediately told my classmates, ‘Get your phones out, get your phones out. I think this is going to go downhill.’ And it did.”
Her attorney, Simone Martin, said she’s been told “by a number of the students that he is referred to as Officer Slam as opposed to Officer Fields.

This does not sound like respect. The unnecessary use of force does not generate respect. It generates the opposite, disrespect. It generates rebellion. It generates fear. Officer’s Field’s actions as well as that of the teacher and principle are the actions which are generating the disrespect for authority and distrust of it.

Or perhaps we should say instead, more accurately,  that there are variants of respect.

There is a type of respect generated by brute force and power. This has a legitimate place in any and all societies. However, its use in a democracy, especially one recognizing individual rights, should be limited. This is particularly true since such a basis for respect generates its own counter-forces. Power plays generate resentment and fear. That in turn tends to generate behaviors counter to it; rebellion. To me this is a negative way to generate respect, and one thing my experience as well as my education teaches me is that negative ways of generating anything tend to be less effective and have more unwanted side effects than more positive ways.

Which brings up to other ways to generate respect. Things such as showing good judgement, listening, showing compassion. This way of generating respect, this type of respect, is usually more effective, longer lasting, and has less unwanted side effects than that of the brute force variety.

As I said earlier there are times for the use of force to generate respect. But this classroom and this student was not one of those. Keep in mind here that this is a classroom, these are teenagers and not drug lords, not convicted hardened criminals.

What would have generated a great deal more respect was if the teacher had not called the officer at all. Instead, she should have taken the rest of the class elsewhere and had the principle talk with the girl.  Possibly a counselor too since this girl’s mother had very recently died and she was now living in foster care. This would have put the onus on the girl and how her actions affected the rest of the class, ie they had to move. It would have put the focus on providing help for the girl. It would have generated respect for resolving the issue without resort to brute force and violence. It would have shown concern for both the class as a whole and for the individual student.  It would display of showing the good judgment of knowing when to confront and push and when not to.

“Sounds nice” I hear the brute force approach people say, but it will not work. However, it does. My wife during the years when she was teaching was a master at doing this and was recognized by both the school, her students, and their parents as being an outstanding teacher. The action I outlined above, removing the class and dealing with the individual student by herself, was something I heard first from her. Then I noted that Officer Field’s boss said essentially he same thing.

For an excellent example of a police officer commanding respect not through brute force but by finding ways to deescalate the situation and providing a positive example. Here is an example of how officers should handle issues like this that do deserve and get respect.

The situation, police had been called in to break up two groups of teens who were fighting. When told to leave one of the teens instead went up to the officer and started playing Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) on her phone.

Faced with an unruly and defiant teen this officer decided that instead of direct confrontation a la Officer Fields something else was called for. She understood she was dealing with a teenager.

“The police officer, rather than taking her down like a drug kingpin caught in a sting, laughed at Aaliyah’s challenge to her authority, warned her that she had better moves and started dancing, clunky cop shoes, turtle-shell body armor and all.”

The reaction? According to the hard ass crowd, nothing good could result in such molly coddling tactics. After all, this officer had allowed this teen to flout authority and ignore her orders. Good gads, that teen must have lost all respect for officers and authority then. However, the reality is far different.

““I never expected cops to be that cool,” Aaliyah said. “There are some good cops.””
This represents a change from her views of cops before this, a view that cops were cruel. A view that is only reinforced by the actions of such officers as Officer Field, who is definitely of the hard ass brute force approach.

Had the teacher realized this and handled the situation on her own or with the principle instead of escalating it by calling in the officer respect could have been earned. Had Officer Fields realized this when he first came in and instead of escalating worked to de-escalate the situation he too would have earned respect. Instead, he earned his termination of employment.

I just saw the news that 100 students of Spring Valley High School staged a walk out in support of Officer Fields. To those who would bring this up as evidence against my thoughts here let me just say – that’s nice.

First off, I would point out that Spring Valley High School is a large school. There are 479 students in the 2015 graduating class alone. Its total student population is well over 1,000 students.

I would further point out that some students engage in protests just because they think it cool or a way to get out of school for a while; not because they actually agree.

Finally, opinions and ideas are not universally shared. Never have been and never will be. The fact that you can point to some students supporting Fields only proves this truism, nothing more.

What would impress me would be a scientific poll of the students and teachers on their reaction to this incident. Further, I would love to see something that provided a third choice between doing nothing and Officer Field’s actions. An option such as I outlined above. I have no doubt that when presented with that real and viable option, the great majority of people would have more respect for those who took that option – an option that respected both the other students in the class and the individual needs of a student.

We are the only advanced country in the world that sees these shootings every few months.
President Obama, October 1, 2015


Another month, another mass shooting. Another day, another 88 deaths from the use of guns (based on 2011 CDC data). President Obama’s speech should make every American pause and think seriously about this and about what makes our country so heartbreakingly different than the other advanced countries?

I am not going to take a look at the details here. I am not interested in discussing different gun control options whether it be universal background checks, outlawing certain types of firearms and ammunition, buy back programs or any of a host of other ideas and proposals. Instead, this is a look at the broad picture, similar to what the President did. Its purpose is to get those who blindly believe that guns are not a problem in the United States and/or that more guns would result in a safer society and less gun deaths to at least momentarily question their position. I realize most of those who believe this will continue to remain willfully blinded by their dogma and love of guns. But, hopefully, a few will stop and think, and in that moment of Huh perhaps realize that our current system and love affair with guns is a problem and not a solution.

Consider the following facts – of all the developed nations and those considered advanced we are the country with the highest number of gun deaths per capita and with the highest number of mass shootings. With the exceptions of Brazil, Russia, Estonia and Mexico we have the highest number of murders through any means of these developed countries.

How can you not look at this fact and not believe that we have a problem in how we view and handle gun ownership?

For those who tout looser gun control laws and more guns – how can you advocate this when the United States has a higher civilian gun ownership rate than any other country (with only 5% of the world’s population our citizens own 35 – 50% of the world’s civilian owned guns)? How can you believe that more of the same will somehow result in a different outcome? In a quote that is generally attributed to Einstein, he defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” .

Yes, I know that many factors play a role in our high number of gun deaths and mass shootings. Factors such as our income inequality, poverty, lack of universal medical care, lack of support for education for all, how we deal with the mentally ill, institutional racism, and our own almost unique American culture that tends to glorify violence and violent solutions to problems and with guns being the means of choice for such solutions.

I read comments from those who almost rabidly support guns and argue against almost all gun control or even research into gun violence proudly claiming how they take guns to theaters, to public venues, to even answer their door. And I wonder that they do not question why they feel the need for this? Why they feel so proud of this, for they are indeed proud of it? Why do they not see this as reflecting a societal failure and feel ashamed of it instead? Why do they continue to promote the aspects of our culture that feed into that perception felt as a need?  Why do they not see that feeling the need to carry a gun is a trait more of those countries where laws and society have broken down, where governments are dysfunctional, or where civil war rages than of those with functioning institutions and an advanced economy.

Many things need to change in order to deal with our national problem of gun violence. Better and more effective gun control on its own will not be enough. However, any changes made that do not include more effective gun control laws and a change in our gun worshiping culture will be ineffective. Even worse, such a failure to pass such laws will be like a canary in a coal mine, a signal that our culture with its predilection for violent solutions and love of all things gun has not changed in the way it must.

The first step towards making these changes though lies in first acknowledging that there is a problem and that changes need to happen.

I thought I would try something a bit different in my blog today. Usually I pronounce my words of wisdom for all who have the wit to understand to receive and be enlightened. Today though I am going to post an observation of mine in regards to religion and various social issues. And then, instead of expounding on the reasons why this observation is true – since I have only the vaguest of ideas on why – I am hoping those who read it will provide some of their own thoughts.

Atheists have a strong tendency to point out all the problems and flaws with different religions and argue that they have held up needed social change. As a result, they usually only see the obstructionist role religion has played in needed social change and overlook the other side.

Religious people though often go the other way and emphasize the positive while downplaying the negative.

My own personal view is that religion has been both positive and negative, has fought against social progress and needed cultural change (not surprising since one of the roles of a religion is to foster and support the current society as a sort of glue) but has also often been the sharp end of the stick in regards to creating and promoting social progress and needed cultural change. For example:

  • – Much is made of how religion controlled the state in times past (although often it was the other way around, and even more often both controlling the other in a partnership). However, religion also had a leading role in the development and promotion of the idea and reality of separation of church and state and is a vital component of our current secular government and societies. I detailed a part of this history in my blog “The Religious Root Leading to the Separation of Church and State”.
  • – The church and religion have a long history of providing aide to the poor and sick. The development of hospitals came from our religious history, for example. This link and this one provide some information on this.
  • – The abolition of slavery was led by Christians and churches. As was the Civil Rights movement. And Christian beliefs morphed in such a way that they provided not only comfort to the slaves in the years before the Civil War, but also caused them to fight back in various ways against their oppressors. For example, whenever a religious revival swept through an area there would be more slave unrest and uprisings.

There are other areas where religions also led the way in providing much needed progress and change – including science.

However, in one very recent movement, and one relatively recent movement, instead of seeing this dichotomy in the role of religion, I have seen much more uniformity in religion opposing both movements. These movements are the feminist movement and the gay rights movements. The church and religion have not played as prominent a role in the promotion of either of these two human rights movements as they have in past ones. Yes, some individual religious people and churches have supported these causes, but they are even more of an exception (until recently) than were the churches that supported past progressive movements.

And I don’t fully know why this difference exists between these causes and those of the past.

So, rather than speculate and research further, I will instead let those readers who wish to comment on this. Consider it my lazy way to do research on this topic.

Now, there is no pressure to respond. After all, even if no one responds what am I going to do? Send hit men out? Refuse to let ungrateful and lazy readers read this blob by sending it only to myself from henceforth?

Instead, I will probably whine to my wife and sulk a bit. Perhaps have a good cry at the realization that I am not as popular and thought provoking as I had believed myself to be.

Now, respond!


In this blog I will focus on what should be done to strengthen the bonds between our law enforcement agencies and the community, especially the black community.

First – All Lives Matter is not helpful.

Too many people take offense at the slogan “Black Lives Matter”. They view it as saying that only black lives matter, but that is not the truth. Instead, it is saying that black lives matter TOO.


Blacks are very well aware that they are jailed more often than whites, that their sentences for the same exact offense is longer than a whites, that a black person who kills a white person is much more likely to get the death penalty than is a white person who kills a black. In short, they are aware of the inequities of the system. Black Lives Matter is a cry for equal treatment. Their lives matter too.

Which makes the All Lives Matter meme nothing more than a way to ignore the fact that blacks are not treated equally. By trying to treat Black Lives Matter as a cry for blacks wanting special treatment instead of being the cry for equal treatment that it is, people can ignore the racism and bias that contributes to the problems within the black community, and to the injustices still being perpetuated on so many blacks. This link provides further explanation of this.

Bottom line, the first step is to recognize how our society with its institutionalized and unconscious biases has helped to create this mistrust and problem. Without that, nothing changes.

Another part of the solution is the black community working to improve their own culture and community. What gets ignored though by most whites, especially those who are conservative, is that blacks already are working on this. My blog “On the Irritating Wrongness of the Black on Black Violence Counter-argument” goes over some of this.

Along with this is the white community, especially conservatives, recognizing their efforts instead of ignoring them and saying that the blacks should be working to improve their community. Not recognizing this and pretending or being ignorant of it is an insult to those blacks who are improving their culture.

A bigger problem than mobilizing blacks to improve their own community (since that is already happening) is the white conservatives’ almost purposeful lack of awareness of the role that institutional racism and unconscious bias plays in these problems. Without that sort of awareness, the mistrust that exists will not disappear and the inequalities and injustices committed by our justice system will continue.

The Police and Justice system overall needs to become more aware of their institutional racism and work on ways to change their organization, procedures, and policies in order to overcome them. Body cameras for police are a good start. However, it is not enough. Communicating quickly, openly, and honestly with the community when bad things happen is essential. Creating an outside panel to review shootings, especially of unarmed civilians would be a good move. Creating, reviewing and improving upon policies on when to use deadly force and on how to best to de-escalate tense situations.

Also, allowing the black community and others to drive with and spend time with on duty police so that they can better understand the pressures and challenges faced by police.

Finally, becoming aware and working to overcome the unconscious biases that still plague our society – from jobs to education to our judicial system. There are several ideas for how to accomplish this that are possible, some of which have been shown to be effective. For example, within our judicial system it has been shown that bringing up and going over how unconscious biases work and can influence decisions with jurors helps to offset such biases’ effects.

Building trust between a community and the police is a necessity for a safe and peaceful society. I believe we had one large movement in the 1950s and 60s, the civil rights movement, which overcame the more obvious forms of racism such as Jim Crow laws. It was a time of great unrest, as most such large advances are. It is now time to take on the less obvious but still destructive forms of institutional and unconscious racism and bias. I hope that the unrest that we are experiencing now is the sign that we are finally doing so.


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