In Brief—Incidents experienced by the author, people of color and Palestinians reveal problems that haunt the human race and are overdue for correction. [Written in 2014; Revised in September 2017.]
Injustice and Destruction Grow —
In a world where both uplifting and destructive actions occur every moment of every day, violence and injustice undermine mankind’s efforts to make Earth a better place for us all. What follows includes relatively minor instances of injustice but also criminality and major conflicts that are not only destructive but threaten the existence of humankind itself.
A Swedish friend told me that her teenaged son was angered by an unjust ticket he received from an overzealous police officer. On hearing the story, I urged her to encourage her son to appeal the ticket. He did and his complaint was upheld. The ticket was dismissed on the basis that the police action was unjustified. Justice was done…at least this time.
As in America, young people are singled out for discrimination. Like so many young males, the Swedish young man has been stopped for being under the influence of drugs despite his not having taken drugs nor had he committed a traffic violation. By contrast, adults and young females are not usually stopped and tested. As his mother said, “He’s bullheaded and feels he and his young male friends are being discriminated against. He refuses to accept this any longer.”
People of Color and Me—
Now imagine what it is like for people of color, not just those in the news, but throughout the nation. Numerous studies have confirmed that the police target people of color at rates far exceeding their numbers in society. It’s a scandal that corrupts the justice system from top to bottom yet it is addressed only under pressure. It’s well past time for this to end.
Here are two instances that have directly touched me. At about 01:00 on a very windy morning after attending a party at which I neither drank nor used drugs, I slowed the car preparatory to entering a dangerous tunnel. I was stopped by the police, told to get out of the car and was subjected to a field sobriety test which, needless to say, I passed. Despite this, I was ticketed for “going too slow.” Angered by the “quota” ticket (it’s common, folks), I stopped by the judge’s chambers the following day and explained the circumstances. The judge understood and immediately cancelled the “quota” ticket.
On another occasion, I was on the freeway on my way to the hospital to see a friend who was a patient. As I slowed to exit, another car was crowding my rear bumper. Fearing I would be rear-ended, I switched on my lights causing my rear lights to light up. The car behind braked sharply and dropped back. Relieved, I exited and headed for the hospital. Within seconds, the tail-gating car pulled up beside me and the woman driver aimed a pistol at me. Shocked, I had visions of my wife identifying my body in the morgue. Fortunately, she didn’t shoot but had to stop ahead of me at the traffic light.
I began writing down the make and license number of the car. When I looked up, the driver’s large young Hispanic male companion was beside my open window. Without a word, he punched me knocking me into the passenger seat. He jumped back in her car and they raced off. Angry, I shouted that I would see them in court whereupon I drove straight to the police station to file a report while bleeding all over their floor.
The phone rang. According to the by-now skeptical cop who had spoken to the caller, the woman on the phone told the cop that I had tried to “run them off the road!” The cop announced that the woman was a friend and well-known in the area for working with the police in straightening out gang-bangers. He reluctantly took my complaint. I continued to the hospital where I was treated for my injury before visiting my friend.
Friends convinced me that I shouldn’t press the issue because it was my word against the woman’s and, besides, she had a witness who may have been a gang-banger. Not wanting to have gang-bangers shooting my family members, I let discretion overrule valor and didn’t press the matter. Not one of my proudest memories, but I have since asked myself what would have happened if I had been black?
From California to the Middle East—
Now to matters of deadly injustice. What about the Palestinians in their dealings with the occupying power, Israel?
At this point, I suggest reading my pieces explaining the basis for Palestinian anger. As a refresher, Israel was created after World War II on land that the British claimed was “empty land” that just happened to belong to the Palestinians. To add to Palestinian anger, tens of thousands of Palestinians were evicted from their land by the Israeli government.
The Israeli government currently continues to expand its Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Under the heartless rubric of “mowing the grass,” the powerful Israeli military delivers collective punishment that kills hundreds of non-combatant Palestinians as punishment for the few rockets launched by angry Palestinians into Israeli territory. Unjust actions lead to more violence, and the deadly spiral of anger and reprisal continues.
Before illustrating the escalation of Israeli/Palestinian actions, I discussed Swedish police excess that saw the police action suitably nullified. Then I moved to incidents that illustrate the “Them versus Us” police attitudes that exist throughout America. Finally, I wrote of the toxic international situation that shows no sign of resolution.
When will humanity recognize that injustice will only grow more malignant unless it is dealt with rationally?
The Weekly Sampler—
As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.
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