Monday, May 4, 2009

Saving America's Soul

¡Hola! Everybody...
Most of you know I don’t drink (alcohol). Most of you know why, I am not shy about sharing that:

I am a recovering addict.

Have been for going on 19 years. So, I don’t drink (nor do I take drugs). In fact, if you ever see me with a drink in my hand, you need to drop everything and run away from me as quickly as you can. Do not engage me, do not try to save me, or whatever. If you value what little sanity you can claim, the precarious elasticity of your anal sphincter (if you’re a woman), and everything you hold dear run (don’t walk) away from me as quickly as you can and refuse my calls, or any attempts on my part to suck you into my world. You’ve been warned...

Oh and that anal part? Well, that’s always in danger regardless of whether I’m clean or not. LOL!

My friend Rippa wrote an interesting article on the acquittal of several white youths in the savage murder of a Latino (click here). I had something else prepared today, but I realized I practically wrote today’s blog in his comments section...

* * *

The lynching of Rubin Stacy. Onlookers, including four young girls.

James Weldon Johnson captured the disconcerting tone of this photo when he described the epidemic of whites lynching blacks as a “problem of saving black America's body and white America's soul.”

-=[ Hate Crimes ]=-


Intelligent people can engage intelligently in a constructive dialog on hate crime legislation. As with any social policy issue there are intended and unintended consequences and we must remain vigilant we are to succeed in this experiment we call a democratic society.

However, much of the opposition to hate crime legislation is based on myths and disinformation. The religious right are concerned that under the recently passed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, “they may be prosecuted for their religious beliefs if they believe that homosexuality is a sin, that it could gag ministers who preach that, or even if a church may not want to marry a gay couple. There is concern that they could face lawsuits as well.”

However, the assertion that the legislation would allow individuals or groups to “be prosecuted for their religious beliefs” is false: Section 8 of the bill states that “Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the Constitution,” and the First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. ” Indeed, the House Judiciary Committee’s report on the legislation states that the purpose of Section 8 of the bill is “to lay to rest concerns raised in the 110th Congress mark-up of the legislation, and repeated since then, that religious speech or expression by clergy could form the basis of a prosecution... Nothing in this legislation would prohibit the constitutionally protected expression of one's religious beliefs.”

But let me get to the core of the issue:

Opponents of hate crime legislation will say that every crime should be treated equally. But those that commit crimes out of bias against sexual orientation or race are unusually and especially savage. You rarely, if ever, read about a hate crime resulting from a single bullet or wayward punch. Hate crime victims will be beaten repeatedly with an iron crowbar. They’ll be stabbed over and over or they’ll be stomped to death. Or dragged through the town, hung from a tree... These vicious beatings have more in common with torture and manifest themselves in ways that can only be characterized as evil.

There is also the argument that we shouldn’t punish a hate crime any differently than any other crime. I believe this is bullshit. Hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our society. They seek to intimidate entire groups of Americans, in the process creating division among our people. Hate crimes do more than just harm one victim. They terrorize an entire society. They send a savage and bestial message of hate and intolerance to all Americans. Crimes such these should be punished proportionately.

Finally, allow me to respond to those who claim laws against hate crimes attempt to punish people who hold unpopular opinions. It may be morally wrong to hate entire categories of people, but it should not be illegal. Yet hate crimes laws are aimed at actions, not thoughts -- and our legal system has long recognized the importance of motive in prosecuting some offenses as more serious than others.

::blank stare::

A hate crime does not criminalize thoughts, moral views, or religious beliefs. What it does say is that we cannot go out and enact violence on our fellow human beings simply because we find that their existence offensive to our beliefs. You have to act ...Thought and speech are insufficient to prove a hate crime.

Today, victims of hate crimes are often victimized twice: first by the animals that brutalize them and then by those that are supposed to be the guardians of the law. Make no mistake: what is at stake here, people, is the very body and soul of America.

Paz,

Eddie

About the photo:

According to the New York Times, "The suspect, booked as Rubin Stacy, was hanged to a roadside tree within sight of the home of Mrs. Marion Jones, thirty year old mother of three children, who identified him as her assailant." Six deputies were escorting Stacy to a Dade County jail in Miami for "safekeeping." The six deputies were "overpowered" by approximately one hundred masked men, who ran their car off the road. "As far as we can figure out," Deputy Wright was quoted as saying,"they just picked him up with the rope from the ground-didn't bother to push him from an automobile or anything. He was filled full of bullets, too. I guess they shot him before and after they hanged him."

"Subsequent investigation revealed that Stacy, a homeless tenant farmer, had gone to the house to ask for food; the woman became frightened and screamed when she saw Stacy's face."

16 comments:

  1. The thing that leaps out at me here is that the country is polarized and full of fear.

    I had a discussion not long ago on Multiply with a Fundie, who was convinced that her 'rights' were going to be eliminated by Homeland Security - it turns out that she was unhappy with HSA linking Fundies and militia-movements.

    By the end of the conversation, she understood a few things - and I can certainly understand her fear, especially as she'd been feeding her mind on right-wing websites with narrow foci.

    One example - a whole nation full of fear.

    Excellent post, Eddie!

    --Will

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  2. Yes, fear is the breeding ground hate. In this instance it is obviously the catalyst for much misinformation as always.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Astra: The irony is that no one is TOTALLY conservative or TOTALLY liberal. There's a huge machine at work to keep us polarized and we have stopped seeing one another as HUMANS.

    @Rippa: if we feared no one, we would hate no one. Fear is a primal emotion -- a core emotion -- that short circuits reason and triggers reptilian brain reactions.

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  4. While the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from enacting any law that unduly regulates a person's freedom of expression, the Supreme Court has held that such freedom of expression is NOT unlimited. There are situations in which conduct or other activities, although expressing beliefs or thoughts, are outside the scope of First Amendment protection. I think that hate crimes deal with both the 'expression' of beliefs as well as action. The expression of beliefs reflects their hatred and, when acted upon, their actions then become criminal. While the government cannot punish an individual's abstract beliefs, it CAN punish a vast array of depraved motives for crime, including selecting a crime victim based on their ethnicity or their sexual orientation (among other things.) I think that hate crime legislation is enacting punishment for the "greater good" if you will. And for those who may be offended by hate crime legislation they can rest easy in knowing that their "nonthreatening" bigoted expression is still protected as long as it does not evolve into bias-motivated action!! People are still allowed to hate in their minds with a vengence - they just gotta keep it in check when it comes to lashing out!!

    SJxsn13

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  5. @SJxsn: Good points. Free speech is limited, we cannot, for example, yell "fire" in a crowded theater without suffering the legal consequences. also, motivation -- what many neocons say shouldn't be prosecuted -- is already used widely in our criminal justice system.

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  6. I live in Hawaii, a state where hate crimes are routinely swept under the proverbial rug and few are ever even reported because most of us know that nothing will be done.
    An attack on a young military couple, after accidentally taping a "locals" bumper, resulted in the couple being brutally beaten in front of their 3 year old child, while the local family (father, mother and 16 year old son), yelled "f--- haolie" during the 20 minute beating. The locals hate the "haolie" and will attack verbally and physically at the slightest provocation. "Kill Haolie Day" is a local tradition to beat white kids the last day of school and appears to be condoned by the school system, since there seems to absolutely no education or encouragement to stop this practice.
    Christopher Ruether, a young man from SC, was brutally beaten in 2007 and later died because he was white. It was his first day on Oahu and he was ignorant to the fact that there are certain beaches that whites should not go to.
    Local and federal government prefer not to label these as hate crimes because of the fear that it will hurt the tourism trade which is the basis for the local economy.
    As a white lesbian woman I am much more afraid that I will be targeted because of the color of my skin here.
    The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will pass the Senate, God willing.
    If we increase sanctions against these crimes it might make these criminals think twice. If the local "moke" who killed Christopher Ruether had gotten 30 years to life with no possibility of parole in a federal prison instead of 20 years in a local state prison, with the strong possibly of an early release by the local parole board (I will bet he does way less than 10 years) maybe these types of crimes will stop in this state.
    This is the writing of a professor. Huanani-Kay Trask, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, title "Rascist White Women", I could kick your face, puncture both eyes. You deserve this kind of violence. No more vicious tongues, obscene lies. Just a knife slitting your tight little heart. For all my people under your feet, for all those years lived smug and wealthy off our land. Parasite arrogant. A fist in you painted mouth, thick with money and piety.
    This is the kind of hate that exists here and is condoned at every level. Hate crimes are alive and well in America, and it is time for a change.

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  7. @Anonymous: Frankly, I'm surprised they have allowed an epidemic of beatings of whites by Hawaiian locals, since I believe that would be even more harmful to the tourism industry.

    Also, I have yet to hear of an instance where a sustained brown/ black on white crime epidemic has been allowed to go on without any action taken.

    I am not doubting your assertions, just expressing surprise.

    As for your take on the professor, a quick search brought me to a critical analysis of her writings. Here's a different take on the portion you seemed to have taken out of context:

    "In fiery reaction to this notion of white supremacy, Trask pens “Racist White Woman,” which speaks to the deep emotions that dominate the hearts of WOMEN EVERYWHERE.[emphasis added] The promise of everlasting hatred: “I could kick/your face, puncture/both eyes./You deserve this kind/of violence…a knife/slitting your tight/little heart/for all my people/under your feet/for all those years/lived smug and wealthy/off our land/parasite arrogant.” Having been victim to the blamelessness which society irrevocably requires of ALL women, having developed a sense of self-empowerment, having devised a means of enticement, and, finally, having aroused the feeling of extreme detestation for her captors, Hawaii has come full circle as a female. The fiftieth state to join the United States, this beautiful woman stands alone—isolated by virtue and vice, sustained by potency and determination."

    From my reading, it would seem to me that Trask's poetry could also speak for you, an admittedly lesbian white woman who has also similarly suffered at the hands of patriarchy. Let's be honest here and posit that most Gay hate crimes are commited by homophobic (mostly white) MEN.

    I fear if hate crimes legislation would be used to censor people like Trask because that is EXACTLY what we don't need.

    As for the incident you mention, I do believe the Feds are/ were pursuing this as a hate crime:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1797213/posts

    Finally, my own research into the topic shows that hate crime legislation WILL NOT prevent such crimes. These crimes are highly emotional in content and people who commit such crimes really don't stop to think about consequences before acting out on their baser impulses. The best we can hope for from such legislation is that those who commit crimes against marginalized people will have to face justice.

    The vast majority of hate crimes (close to 70%) are committed by whites on people of color.
    I will say that hate crime of any type, visited on any individual or group is abominable and shouldn't be allowed in a free society.

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  8. @Nuyorican I don't know what would be considered an epidemic, but there is no doubt in my mind after living here for four years that local Hawaiins beat and kill whites.
    I personally have had a knife and a gun shoved in my face when I would not loan a local youth money while being called a "f---- haolie". I have been run off the road four times, yet never once had that happen to me on the mainland.
    I friend of mine, who walks with a cane, was beaten by young locals at a beach near my home, after giving them the contents of his wallet when they confronted him saying, "give us your money, you f---- haolie".
    The feds initially were involved in the beating of the young military couple, but pulled out after a few months saying that the crime was not racially motivated but just an incident of road rage. Believe me if it had been a local that had tapped their bumper, this would have never happened.
    Tourism in Hawaii was declining before the increase of the cost of fossil fuel and before the world economy tanked. I relate this to these types of crimes and know that many tourists who come here witness and experience this same hatred that we who live here experience on a regular basis.
    Trask may be a feminist, but not a feminist that I identify with because of her racially polarizing rhetoric. She advocates for Hawaii's independence from the US and deportation of all non-ethnic Hawaiins. She believes that the colonial people of Hawaii are entitled to economic supremacy over all non-indigenous Hawaiins. In my opinion she is rascist who proposes that she hates rascism.
    I believe that the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Prevention Act will force Hawaii to address these crimes for what they really are
    Yes, all we can hope for is justice.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @anonymous: thanks again for your feedback, and I looked a little into the issues in Hawaii and while I don't doubt at all that there racial tensions there, I don't think it's a hate crime hotbed as you seem to want to portray it. I get a sense that there are people that feel as you do, while other whites don't.

    there are economic issues as well as historical issues involved in the tensions between whites and native Hawaiians.

    I actually identify with Trask A LOT because she's not fomenting hate or merely spouting polarizing rhetoric, as you're trying to say. Rather, she's identifying an oppressor and attempting to find self-empowerment -- something that was taken away from the people of the island. I am of Puerto rican descent and share some identification on that part. How would you feel if you felt someone had taken something from you? I mean, you're expressing what you feel is justifiable anger at what YOU consider an injustice. Aren't native hawaaians entitle to the same? haven't native Hawaiians been given the short end of the stick through colonization?

    In any case, I don't think that what you're describing equals hate crimes per se. I do not agree nor do I condone any kind of hate, but I don't see the instances you describe as hate crimes. the instances you mentioned were properly investigated as far as i can tell, and if there's a conspiracy to sweep away this behavior, then the new legislation will make it easier for the feds to step in.

    I doubt very much that there is an epidemic, or even a pattern of hate crimes against whites in Hawaii.

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  10. @Nyurican Should I, being a minute percentage of Seminole indian, advocate that all non-indigenous people be deported from Florida.
    The Hawaiin people unanimously (95%) voted for statehood in 1959.
    I suggest you also research the Akaka Bill which is attempting to negate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which makes it illegal for any state to "deny" to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    I accept you don't agree that there is an epidemic or even a pattern of hate crimes against whites in Hawaii. All I know that as a 60 year old white woman I have never experienced such hatred directed towards me. I was raised in Miami, and as a child in the 50's and 60's, I was aware of the hate directed towards blacks and feel that considering that it is the year 2009, the rascism here is comparable.
    My bias that hate crimes happen here in Hawaii, and that the beating of the military couple and the murder of Christoper Ruether might make me prone to finding information that agrees with my opinion. My blogging on sites such as "Killed for Being Hoale" or "The Beating Goes On" might be coloring my opinions, beyond what I have personally experienced.
    You have a right to your opinion that Trask is just another down trodden Hawaiin who has a right to lash back with racially motivated and violent writing because of the unfair colonization of Hawaii. But I know that many of the ignorant locals take her writing as a call to arms to attack whites.
    Being of Puerto Rican descent you probably would not be targeted if you ever come to visit as long as you keep your mouth shut and don't let anyone know you are from the mainland or another country.
    Come walk in my shoes here as a woman with white hair and white skin.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @anonymous: You wrote:

    "I accept you don't agree that there is an epidemic or even a pattern of hate crimes against whites in Hawaii. All I know that as a 60 year old white woman I have never experienced such hatred directed towards me. I was raised in Miami, and as a child in the 50's and 60's, I was aware of the hate directed towards blacks and feel that considering that it is the year 2009, the racism here is comparable."

    I hardly believe that what was happening towards the end of the Jim Crow era in the deep south begins to even compare to what is happening in Hawaii today.

    I do know that, form an empirical standpoint, it's not happening to a level commensurate to your rage. I can understand your pain, even identify with it, having been targeted much of my life, but i don't see it.

    You also wrote:

    "You have a right to your opinion that Trask is just another down trodden Hawaiin who has a right to lash back with racially motivated and violent writing because of the unfair colonization of Hawaii. But I know that many of the ignorant locals take her writing as a call to arms to attack whites."

    I would vehemently disagree with your characterization of Trask's work. It's not at all what you're attempting to make her out be. Her work is powerful and I would think that being a person who feels discriminated against, you could see past your bias and actually realize you have more in common with her than not. She's not advocating "killing whitey," as you're trying to paint her, she's using literary techniques to speak truth to power. In the poem you cited, which you took COMPLETELY out of context, she's using imagery not to incite hatred, but show Hawaii as a defiled woman. You don't have to like her poetry, but you shouldn't mischaracterize it.

    Finally, FYI, I have light skin and blue eyes. I might even be considered "more white" than you, so you shouldn't presume that I can't understand where you're coming from. I'm taking exception to your characterizing Hawaii as a hotbed of brown on white crime. i would even submit that you, being a white woman, are welcomed in places in Hawaii that natives aren't welcome and perhaps we ALL need to look at that.

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  12. @Nuyorican Back in the sixties I saw a debate between Stokely Carmichael and Allan Ginsberg. The debate also included a panel of top psychiatrists who analzed the feelings, ideas, and theories of both men. Obviously, Carmichael, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, was full of anger and rage, espousing he would kill any white man who tried to kill him. Ginsberg took the stance of turn the other check. The panel determined that Carmichael's feeling were "most normal".
    I agree that I have rage.
    Hawaii IS a hotbed of brown against white hate crimes for me. My son will not surf certain parts of the beach for fear of getting beaten, my friends 8 year old daughter was brutally beaten the last day of school her first year here, and my elderly friend being beaten severely at the beach certainly makes it feel like and epidemic to me. These islands are small and I wonder if, per capita, these kinds of attacks of one race against another wouldn't be considered above the national average. I will agree that there are incidents of white military either defending themselves against attack by locals or instigating because they are tired of the abuse.
    More than 90% of the white (and black for that matter) mainlanders move back before 5 years. By the way, blacks are not much better off here than caucausians. Some of this can be attributed to culture shock, some can be job discrimination, but I know some is parents wanting to protect their children and themselves from brutality and rascism.
    I pray there will not be another murder or beating that would gain national attention but somehow my gut instinct is that there will be, especially during this economic crisis.
    I appreciate your calling attention to my rage and I do attempt to control it through creative outlets like this. I am a semi-retired social worker and hope that my work can convince some that "haolies" are good people. On the other hand it is difficult when a paranoid schizophrenic who was raised to hate "haolies" gives me the "stink eye", and I wonder how long I can continue my work.

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  13. @Nuyorican Just for a point of reference, I am wondering if you consider the brutal murder of Luis Rameriz in Shenodoah, PA a hate crime. The young white youths that attacked and killed him were convicted of simple assault. Some even continue to debate that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not a hate crime.
    If you consider white on brown as hate, I wonder if your guilt as a light skinned blue eyed man prevents you from accepting brown on white as hate. There is no place else in the states where the majority of a state's population is not white. It will never be okay when the majority brutalizes either by fear or physical harm, no matter the number of incidents.
    I, for one, will not bear the burden of what my American Indian and Polish forefathers might have done to the blacks or for that matter the Hawaiins. We need to get past what Trask preaches, learn to heal the wounds, and move on as a civilized society.

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  14. @Anonymous: you have A PENCHANT for omitting important context when attempting to make your points. It takes away from your reason.

    To compare modern-day whites in Hawaii to what blacks were subjected to in the 50s and 60s is beyond simple.

    You also conveniently ignore that I have ALREADY stated -- in my post and in my comments here -- that I abhor hate crimes -- of any type.

    I am QUESTIONING you're admittedly biased assertions that what you cite are hate crimes.

    Sheppard was specifically targeted for being gay and was tortured for an extended period then left to die on a fence post. That's a clear-cut case of a hate crime.

    THAT'S a lot different than the one or two incidents you offered here as examples. I have also looked at crime statistics in Hawaii and it seems to me your allegations of a Hawaii where whites are treated to something even coming close to what people of color have endured for centuries is ridiculous.

    as for Trask, it's very magnanimous of you to demand "we get over the past" since institutional racism is alive and well and YOU benefit from the reverberations of that past. but you want to forget the past. How convenient. Well, if you're REALLY a social worker, then you know that before the past can be put to rest, one must first acknowledge and process its wrongs. to forget the past, to paraphrase Santayana, is to condemn yourself to it.

    I will say this: I'm glad you're so passionate about this issue because the vast majority of hate crimes are committed by whites and we need all the white people front and center on this issue.

    THAT'S A FACT. I know you're stuck on one group, but it's obvious where you're agenda lies.

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  15. For whatever its woorth, the wrongs of the past still impact people of color tremendously.

    Before we move past that, before healing can begin. we must first ADMIT to the wrongs and then rectify them. Trask makes you uncomfortable because she speaks the truth and all you care about is your side of the equation. Otherwise you wouldn't blind yourself and demonize someone who has been victimized as much, or MORE, than you.

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  16. @Nuyorican How can you know how much I have been victimized? I grew up as a only child in a very poor part of Miami, had alcholic parents, and never had any familial support. I put myself through college, subsisting on cabbage (5 cents a head then) and chicken wings (19 cents a lb.) Not to take light of the victimization I have experienced over my life because of my sexual orientation.
    Trask (heterosexual) on the other hand was raised by affluent parents (born and raised on the mainland), received her degree (on the mainland), and is paid by the federal government, which by the way she proposes to hate. Trask is 50% caucausian, but openly proposes that she hates haoles, so I guess she hates one of her parents. She states the concept of academic freedom as a "bourgeoisise white intellectual concept", some sort of racist notion she is apparently by no means bound to, despite being a member of a major department at a tax payer funded state university. She is a hypocrite, and I will always wonder why her books were never published in Hawaiin. When a young student wrote a editorial in the student newspaper centered around the fact that the word haole was becoming increasingly derogatory Trask's response was, "You are a haole and always will be" and that if he did not like enduring racial slurs that he should "return to Louisiana". Read her biography and the (unbaised) reviews of her writings.
    Trask threatens anyone who opposes her with violence and verbal aggression. A class at the university had to be canceled because of threats of violence. The class would have been taught by a Professor (Ken Conklin) who openly opposes the hawaiin sovereignty movement. Trask's response, "It's great that somebody came back at Professor Conklin and threatened him".

    My focus on one group is because I know that if the Hawaii sovereignty movement succeeds it will set the groundwork for increased racial violence in Hawaii and across the US.

    Since the majority of hate crimes are based on race, I am afraid we will see a perpetuation of what you say you are against (in theory). And since hate crimes against "latinos" have been dramatically increasing over the last few years, I would think that anything that could have even the smallest effect of increasing racial tensions would be of great concern to us all.

    We won't reach back. Together we will achieve equality for all.

    E PLURIBUS UNUM

    ReplyDelete

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