A Generous Dose of Hate

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you. You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”—Kathy Miller, former coordinator for the Donald Trump campaign in Mahoning County, Ohio, this week. She resigned upon being quoted and called her remarks “inappropriate.” (What aspect of the statement qualified it as “inappropriate,” she left a mystery.)

“Look at what’s happening in the world today. The blacks are getting uppity again. I don’t know why, but it’s scary again.”—a personal acquaintance of mine, explaining why he has started carrying a gun again here in Orange County, New York.

Two decades ago, I worked for a weekly newspaper. Even though it was a small-circulation publication, the fact that we ran a “Letters to the Editor” section meant that we received letters. Lots and lots of letters. Our editorial policy was simple: no profanity or personal abuse.

I, a young assistant editor at the time, did not understand this simple policy, because the letters were often awful, hate-filled documents, even when they were free of profanity and free of personal abuse. My boss, the editor of the newspaper, explained that these individuals wanted their thoughts exposed, after all, and we were helping to expose them. “Let them show the world what it looks like,” was her reply to me concerning one letter’s ugly racism. “It is better when they (racists) are out in the open.” Absent profanity, I was not to edit, “clean up,” or not publish the letters.
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#OpKKK: Anonymous vs. The Klan

(Updated at 4:00 p.m. to add information.)

Last night, various Twitter accounts said to be associated with Anonymous, the famous hacktivist collective, started to publish links to documents listing names of people it says are members of the Ku Klux Klan, including four U.S. senators. Further, it announced that it had shut down several KKK websites and servers.

Several minutes ago, the official Twitter account for the operation, @Operation_KKK, wrote, “This account has NOT YET released any information. We believe in due diligence and will NOT recklessly involve innocent individuals #OpKKK.” (Tweet image below the fold.)
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‘Kids Who Die’

Not many writers compose laments or lamentations in 2015. Perhaps we need some. There is no specific metrical form for a lament, no rhyme scheme; there are no rules. How would one know when one has written one? A lament is meant to be sung or declaimed, and even though we listen to many singers and even though we hear too many speech-makers, the poetry that most of us encounter is read silently, nodded at, and then forgotten after the encounter. Too often, Americans seem to think of poetry as bloodless, intellectual.

A lament is an expression of grief captured in the moment or as close to the moment as it can be caught. Those who were left behind, those who do not want to imagine one more moment continuing to live on as someone left behind, they sing laments. As non-subtle as our culture can often be, “get over it” is just as often a guiding outlook. For most of us, life rarely if ever brings us to experiences so sad we proclaim we will never cease mourning, and when we do, we try to cheer each other up. Lamentations present meaning in mourning. We don’t often linger there long enough for meaning to germinate.
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Defending Abuse Creates Abuse

The officer was acquitted. He had shot and injured the driver of a car. He was acquitted and restored to his police force.

The officer claimed he had been hit by the car and knocked to the ground. He had fired in self-defense, heroically. There was a video of the incident, though, and it showed no such thing. The video showed that he remained standing as the car moved past him, not even at a car-like speed, and he fired point-blank at the driver on the driver’s side. The driver was not badly injured. The officer was arrested for assault, and he was also arrested for fabricating evidence.

The prosecutor said on the record at the time that if officers can get away with shooting people and lying about it, “the system is doomed.” The officer’s own lawyer recently told The New York Times, “There was no way around it—he (the officer) was dead wrong.” The two lead lawyers on both sides agree: The officer had lied about the incident. He was wrong. But he was acquitted by a jury and eventually restored to the force, and he successfully sued the city and won his back pay.
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Sandra Bland’s Final Free Moments

Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old civil rights activist who died in the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, last Monday, might be alive today and her name unknown to all of us if the state trooper who pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change had not become irritated at her refusal to extinguish her cigarette while she sat in her car.
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#SandraBland: #SayHerName

One of my friends is driving cross-country with her son right now as I type this. He turned 18 last week and this trip from New York to Yellowstone Park is a last family hurrah before he ships off to college and the rest of his life in a month or so.

I know deep down that they will arrive out west, have a grand time, and enjoy the long drive home, that the experience will be spoken of fondly for years to come between mother and son. If she happens to be pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, that experience, too, will be merely one more tale in the fun collection of anecdotes: “Man, don’t even THINK about speeding in” (insert state name). And we her friends will enjoy the story.

My friend and her son are white, as am I. If she gets pulled over by a law enforcement official in any part of the country for any reason at all, the anecdote will not lead me to wonder these questions:

Why was she asked to get out of the car? Why was she arrested? Did the arresting officer have a body camera on his uniform? Was it functioning? Was the dash camera on the arresting officer’s vehicle turned on? If not, why not? Why is my friend, or her son, dead today?
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