The American Media’s Defense Of The Israeli Government

“In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get it’s own children killed in order to build sympathy for it’s cause a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week, I found a quote of many years ago from Golda Meir one of Israel’s early leaders which might have been said yesterday. “We can forgive the Arab’s for killing our children” she said “but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children”


These are the racist musings of someone in the American news media that you wouldn’t expect, CBS News’ Bob Schieffer.


It was Schieffer not Benjamin Netanyahu or Mark Regrev, not Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity who offered the world these extremely misguided thoughts on the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza on CBS’ Face The Nation last Sunday, thoughts that absolve the Israeli Government of any responsibility for the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians and thoughts that typify the kind of coverage those of us in this country are forced fed by corporate news.


Apparently Schiffer has a brother in arms in CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. On Monday Blitzer felt it was important to literally walk the audience of his show, The Situation Room through one of the tunnels that the militant group Hamas has been using to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Blitzer conveniently neglected to mention that those tunnels have also been used to smuggle goods into the strip because Israel’s illegal blockade makes a conventional entrance of those goods virtually impossible. I will be patiently waiting for Blitzer, the former editor of a newspaper that was backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to take his cameras inside the hospitals of Gaza where many children have either died on operating tables, or have been made permanently disabled and–or–orphaned at the hands of Israeli bombs.


The freedom to express these one-sided views on the part of Schieffer and Blitzer pales in comparison to journalists who have been perceived to be pro-Palestinian while covering the conflict. NBC news pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from the region after he reported on witnessing four Palestinian boys being killed by an Israeli strike while they were playing soccer on a beach. After tremendous blowback on social media the organization did an about face and returned Mohyeldin to Gaza. MSNBC parted ways with journalist Rula Jebreal over her criticism of the network’s biased coverage. “Look at how much time Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis, I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues, I’m not saying that everybody is like this but one-tenth is given to the Palestinian voice and 99% to the Israeli voice.” Those were the magic words that made Jebreal persona non grata in the 30 Rock building.


Without social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram you would think the death toll in Gaza were upside down in terms of it figures or that the people who are being forced to inhabitant a dense stretch of land like fenced in cattle are the ones in possession of an iron dome missile defense system that provides protection, or that what the Israeli government is carrying out in the Middle East is anything other than a modern day apartheid system. Corporate media has an agenda and it is having an effect on the way people see the situation.


According to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey many Americans see the issue in the same way that Schiffer, Blitzer, and most of the news media sees it, Palestinians and in particular Hamas are the source for everything that is wrong.


40% of those polled said Hamas is responsible for the current outbreak in violence while only 19% blame Israel. A combined 50% think that Israel’s response has been either just about right or has been too timid. While an overwhelming majority of Republicans support the Netanyahu run Government Democrats are split over the issue.


When those statistics are read one wonders whether or not the American people have a true understanding of this unbalanced and lethal grudge match.


The lack of context in terms of presenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is and has always been reprehensible. The average American knows very little if anything about illegal Israeli settlements, restrictions on the freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza, and the inability of their refugees to return home. Very few times on a nightly newscast have we seen everyday Palestinians in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem become the victims of mob violence or scores of Israelis unapologetically shouting “death to Arabs” or “kill the sand niggers” in front of T.V. cameras. How much do we know about the horrible conditions inside Gaza that have led to an economic collapse, a climate that has made receiving needed resources like food and water next to impossible.


The United States’ ties with Israel run deep and because of that we as nation have become an accessory to a systematic ethnic cleansing and there are no two ways about that. My opinion of Hamas is not a high one but proportionality matters, and Israel can longer use it’s “We don’t target civilians excuse” when the body count continues to rise.


Like in war, proportionality matters in media. As long as the T.V. and print voices in this conflict are dominated by people like Schiffer and Blitzer the disservice that is being done to the innocent Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be lost on people here who believe in everything that is right. For some God awful reason that’s exactly the way the people who fund America’s corporate media want it..  


The NFL Doesn’t Care About Your Ray Rice Anger

This October The National Football League shouldn’t even bother.


Every year the nation’s most popular sports league uses the month of Halloween to promote the importance of Breast Cancer awareness. During this time period players and coaches will adorn themselves in pink ribbons, socks, and cleats, stadiums will get wallpapered with banners of support and survivors will be acknowledged before 60,000 rabid fans at each game before kickoffs.


In light of the tap on the knuckles punishment Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received from the league for knocking out his now wife back in February the bigwigs in the Manhattan offices should scrap this fall’s usual activities because they don’t really care about women.


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has in the past had no problem punishing players for far less handed down the suspension to Rice on Thursday, a suspension that will cost the star $58,000 in missed game checks, pocket change compared to the $25 million he has made over the last two years. The money is beside the point however. The NFL has had a long standing problem with it’s player’s running afoul of the law when it comes to domestic violence. The happiest player in the league right now maybe Carolina Panthers Defensive End Greg Hardy who has now been dethroned from the front pages by Rice. Two weeks ago Hardy was found guilty in a North Carolina courtroom on domestic violence charges. Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder says that he threatened to kill her and threw her on a futon that was covered in guns. From Christian Peter and Lawrence Phillips twenty years ago to Jovan Belcher and Ahmad Brooks more recently, certain players just can’t resist the urge of putting their hands on women.


The sight of Rice dragging his then girlfriend’s unconscious body out of the elevator that two had just been fighting in is as chilling as anything you will ever see. The image of him dropping her in the middle of the floor, standing over her like a safety over a wide receiver he just took out is as blood boiling an image as anything you could ever witness. The only thing that Rice was missing that night was the club that cavemen used centuries ago when they wanted to drag a woman back to their particular lair, yet the NFL says that missing less than a quarter of it’s precious season is enough of a warning to the scores of other impressionable young men it has in it’s stable.


In fairness the legal system failed just as miserably as the league did if not more. Rice was indicted on one count of aggravated assault, but because of a pretrial deal that was struck with prosecutors he was blessed with the reality of serving no jail time and all he and his wife Janay had to do was attend counseling. Who wouldn’t take that deal? The better question is who else would be offered that deal? Not everybody has the credentials of a Pro Bowl making, Super Bowl winning running back and if you think that the people in charge of prosecuting our laws don’t get star struck you’re surprisingly naive. Far more importantly though America’s court systems do a terrible job of taking crimes against women seriously. The names of women and girls who have been stalked, assaulted, and even killed by men who were free from jail when they shouldn’t have been or under an order of protection that wasn’t strong enough is embarrassingly too long.


Rice issued a long winded statement of apology on Thursday which read like the usual “I’m sorry I got caught” response. It covered the familiar phrases of “It’s my fault,” “I failed in many ways.” and “I let the children down with this incident.” If Rice were serious about any of that he would have acknowledged that both the court of law and The National Football League screwed up big time. He would have went to Commissioner Goodell and said “I ask that you suspend me for the entire 2014 season, that time away from the game would give me an opportunity to truthfully reflect on what I did away from the white hot spotlight that comes with being an NFL superstar.” Sadly none of that is going to happen and quite frankly anything positive coming from this entire situation is unlikely.


The NFL has proven time and time again that it is teflon, nothing and I mean absolutely nothing sticks to it. The hint of illegal gambling that comes with the popularity of public point spreads and fantasy football, not a problem. The broken bodies and beat up brains of retired players that is a result of a negligible group of owners, team doctors, and league officials, not important. The arms length list of players who have treated women as disposable entities through nonconsensual sex and indefensible violence, not relevant.


If we were all serious about our anger towards the league we wouldn’t shell out another penny for a cap or jersey or season tickets, and we would find something else to entertain us on Sunday afternoons in the fall until they make good on this issue, but The National Football League knows that our addiction to it’s product is a hard habit to break which gives them no desire to break their addiction to the Ray Rice’s of the world.


Follow Me on Twitter @ebrew79


Why Won’t U.S. Demand A Lift To The Blockade In Gaza

Forgive me for being a pessimist, but I have little faith in Secretary of State John Kerry and his mission to broker a cease-fire in Gaza between the Israeli Government and the Sunni Islamic organization Hamas.


That lack of faith has very little to do with Kerry himself, the former U.S. Senator has shown an empathy for the Palestinian people that many of his colleagues in American Government haven’t been able to muster. It was Kerry, who referred to the possibility of Israel becoming an “apartheid state.” It was also Kerry who had a now infamous hot mic moment when he was caught on one of the Sunday news shows saying “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation” which was his criticism of Israel’s military operation in Gaza that had left hundreds of Palestinian civilians dead.


The unwillingness to demand that Israel stop it’s targeted killings of those civilians and lift the blockade of the Gaza strip that it instituted eight years ago is where Kerry and the rest of the Obama Administration fall short.


On Wednesday Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said about a possible cease-fire “We reject today….we will reject in the future.” While saying that Hamas “welcomes all efforts to end the aggression.” Meshaal also insisted that “we will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and does not respect their sacrifices.” thus the impasse.


Israel has long maintained that the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attempts from Gaza on it’s cities, while that statement may be partly true proportionality is a factor and one side in this conflict has the hammer while the other side doesn’t. Hamas and other people in Gaza who are anti-Israel don’t have the weapons or more importantly the financial backing from super powers–most notably the United States–to match Israel from a military standpoint. Even if the blockade were lifted you would still have the boxing equivalent of a middleweight fighting a super heavy weight, i.e. Sugar Ray Leonard fighting Muhammad Ali.


In addition to possibly bringing Hamas to the negotiating table we know that if the blockade is lifted and people are given the opportunity to come and go as they please rather than being treated like prisoners on the yard or black township citizens in the Soweto of the past a huge blow would be dealt to the mass unemployment, extreme poverty, and hikes in food prices that Palestinians in Gaza experience daily. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency the number of refugees living in abject poverty in the Gaza Strip has tripled since the blockade began.


Israel can’t get around the fact that what it has to done in Gaza to its Palestinian citizens is collective punishment and you don’t have to be a defender of Hamas–and I am not–to know that when oppressed people are pushed to the wall they resort to desperate measures most notably violence.


In the past two and a half weeks Gazans have endured ruthless Israeli air raids that have left over 700 people dead and another 4200 hundred severely injured, an overwhelming majority of those being civilians. These air raids haven’t just gone after individual members of Hamas and their hideouts, they have been aimed at mosques, hospitals, and family residencies. What is even more infuriating is the countless opportunities to appear television that Benjamin Netanyahu and Mark Regrev get just to justify their lawlessness.


The head honchos in the Israeli Government now have the standard “Israel doesn’t target civilians” line down pat, but anyone observing the carnage left behind in Gaza will come away thinking anything but. They would also come away thinking that maybe Netanyahu and company don’t want peace, maybe the opportunity to forever cleanse Gaza of anyone who is not like them is here and it is too good to pass up, maybe the enabling of Israel by the world’s most powerful country through financial aid is a nod to proceed, I mean after all how many times has Barack Obama and politicians like him stated publicly that “Israel has a right to defend itself.”


John Kerry’s peaceful intentions may be genuine, but a half hearted effort on this most important issue is just as useless as no effort at all. Until he or any of the other bigwigs in the foreign policy world stand up to Netanyahu and the IDF by demanding a lift to the blockade nothing will change and that’s the worst possible outcome for the people of Gaza.


Eric Garner Isn’t New York’s First

Eric Garner joined a list of people that is way too long.


With his death at the hands of New York City Police Officers Garner unfortunately takes his place alongside Gotham residents from the past like Eleanor Bumpurs. Bumpurs was 66 year old mentally ill black woman who in the fall of 1984 was fatally shot to death by the NYPD after refusing to comply with a city enforced eviction of her from the apartment she was renting.


Despite knowing that Bumpurs had been diagnosed  four days earlier by a psychiatrist as being “psychotic with a need to be hospitalized,” a SWAT Team–yes, a SWAT Team–broke down her door and found her stark naked waving a butcher knife. Despite being trained in subduing emotionally disturbed people, New York’s finest felt that a 12 gauge shotgun blast to Miss Bumpurs’ chest was what was called for. You don’t have to be genius to figure out the aftermath of the Bumpurs case, no one was ever held accountable in a court of law for her death, the city shelled out a measly $200,000 to her family in a civil suit, and everyone moved on to new business.


In the almost thirty years since Eleanor Bumpurs the New York City Police Department and their bosses have made household names out of Patrick Dorismond, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, and countless others now including Eric Garner. If you take a broader view and examine high profile cases in the last thirty years that didn’t involve NYPD you would throw in the names Michael Griffith, and Yusef Hawkins, two cases were black people died violently at the hands of others, and two cases where the families that they left behind didn’t exactly receive an all out effort from the “Protect and Serve” crowd whose job it was to bring them justice.


The reality is Black and Brown people have always been seen as less than by certain segments of New York City’s law enforcement. In the wake of the now infamous Central Park Five case–a case where five teenagers, four black and one hispanic were convicted of the assault and rape of a female jogger in 1989.–it was then New York City Mayor Ed Koch who was out front leading the calls for a modern day lynch mob, despite the fact that the boys were forced into confessions during interrogations by the detectives who caught the case, interrogations that took place without their parents being present. Even though the Central Park Five’s convictions were overturned long before Koch passed away they never received so much as a public apology from him and had to endure years of legal battles with the Michael Bloomberg administration before finally receiving a financial settlement from the city, a settlement that didn’t come anywhere close to healing the emotional scars they endured over a 25 year span.


The most callous most reprehensible character on this entire issue is without question Koch’s successor, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani had long been displaying his personal disdain for black and brown people on a micro level, but it was with the cases of Patrick Dorismond and Amadou Diallo that he simply put those feelings on display for the entire world to see. Whether it was unsealing Dorismond’s juvenile record to prove his was “no altar boy” in the wake of him–Dorismond–being shot and killed by a cop while being unarmed, or figuratively giving the finger to the family of Diallo and New York’s black and brown citizens by staunchly defending his officers who killed Diallo by firing 41 bullets at him while he was reaching for his wallet, good old Rudy was defiant until the end.


Bloomberg gave us “Stop and Frisk” which is a microcosm of the entire problem, the assumption that you are guilty until proven innocent because of who you are and what you like look. The inability of black and brown men of New York to walk down the street without being stopped was an everyday reality when Mike was using his significant wealth to trick up the law and buy himself a third term.


While Bloomberg should be raked over the coals the man who replaced him shouldn’t be let off the hook. Bill De Blasio may be the city’s most progressive mayor in twenty years but he hired William Bratton to be his police commissioner. That’s “Zero Tolerance” William Bratton. The same William Bratton who along with New York County District Attorney Cy Vance has been leading massive police raids on Harlem housing projects that are supposedly in place to cleanup gang activity but could easily lead to a situation that produces another Eric Garner.


In a press conference held a day after Garner’s death De Blasio stated “It was very troubling, I watched it the same way a family member would watch it and it was very sad to watch.” He was referring to the cell phone video that captured Garner being placed in an illegal chokehold by officers, despite that he was still able to yell out to those same officers that he couldn’t breathe multiple times. Like Patrick Dorismond and Rodney King in L.A. detractors and police apologists will bring up Garner’s lengthy criminal record to justify what happened to him, they will play up this notion that it was karma finally catching up.


I don’t believe that because I believe due process and civil rights are important, and that all human life is valuable, I would also like to believe that Eric Garner’s death won’t go unanswered despite New York City’s terrible track record of doing right by certain members of it’s community.


Solving Chicago Isn’t As Simple As It’s Made Out To Be.

The extremely bloody 4th of July weekend that Chicago experienced two weeks ago may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to the amount of gun violence the city has been experiencing.


On Thursday city officials announced that the total amount of agents in the Chicago office of The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will balloon to 52. This is coupled with a decision made by The Federal Bureau of Investigation that will increase the number of agents it has in The Windy City crime unit to 120.


Reasonable people can go back and forth on what the right amount of law enforcement should be. While it would be irresponsible to leave the entire burden solely on the city’s police force it would be just as irresponsible and even more dangerous for martial law to be enacted, especially in the way that it was called for last week by political commentator and Daily Beast columnist Roland Martin, no one knows this better than the people who are making a difference in Chicago on a daily basis.


“Yes, If they move out into those neighborhoods and be aggressive, confiscate weapons, and interrupt traffic (the new agents) could have an impact, but what we are still not doing is viewing gun violence in the right frame….as a public health issue. In the end you are going to have to change the trajectories of the lives of young men.” said Arthur Lurigio, a Loyola University criminologists.


As complex as Chicago’s issues with gun violence are and as much as they prove that there is no quick fix there is still a large segment of the political class that begs to differ. Fox News’ Cal Thomas recently wrote a column for the network’s website that features the usual conservative talking points about absentee parents and derelict black clergyman. Invoking Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights icons of the past, Thomas asked if their tireless work and numerous sacrifices were worth it considering the condition of present day Chicago.


“What would the great civil rights leaders of the past think of their youth today? Did they sacrifice their time, liberty, and in some cases their lives so that those who came after them could murder each other in the streets.” Thomas even went out of his way to offer up a Dr. King quote. “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power, We have guided missiles and misguided men.”


The whitewashing of MLK’s legacy has become more than common practice by people who set on the right side of the political aisle, Cal Thomas’ employers have made it an artform. If Thomas and the people he works for were honest they wouldn’t avoid mentioning the numerous calls that Dr. King made for economic justice in particular wealth redistribution. Any notion that Dr. King wouldn’t be out front leading the charge for government investment, jobs with higher wages, and top notch public schools in Chicago is absurd in addition to not fitting the Roger Ailes’ narrative.


Thomas’ column had only a few mentions of mass incarcerations being the medicine to cure Chicago’s sickness, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk wasn’t as subtle a couple of months ago when he called for the arrests of every member of the city’s most notorious street gang The Gangster Disciples “My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people I would like…..a mass pickup of them and put them all in Thomson Correctional Facility,” the Junior Senator told Chicago’s Fox 32.


What’s troubling about Kirk’s way of thinking is that it is right out of RIchard Nixon’s old “Law and Order” playbook, It was Nixon who got the ball rolling on America’s addiction to locking people up, and it’s an addiction we still haven’t kicked. It’s unreasonable to think that all of those 18,000 Disciple members are violent offenders, I’m willing to bet that a tremendously high number are wayward kids seeking some sort of direction. Kirk’s unwillingness to comb the barrell and separate the rotten apples from the ones that haven’t been tainted will only continue the misery that comes with an overcrowded prison population and the process of wasting government dollars by the millions.


Until the people in charge in Chicago adopt a true “all of the above” approach in dealing with gun violence we will unfortunately be having this conversation over next year’s 4th of July weekend. Until the city’s mayor does something other than calling parents to the carpet, until he stops closing public schools and stops berrating it’s teachers, people who can possibly reach these at risk kids we will be talking about another 82 people being shot, 14 them tragically dying. Until he gets the city’s unemployment rate down from 8.2% and stops squandering precious city currency on the construction of billion dollar basketball arenas, people will continue to be paralyzed by the frustration and fear that consumes their daily lives now.


The moniker Chiraq should not have to be carried by one of the world’s truly great metropolises, but unless politicians and talking heads get serious and stop looking for short term fixes to long standing problems, Chicago will have to sadly wear the shoe.


Follow Me On Twitter @ebrew79  


Israel’s Silencing of Dwight Howard

The power of the almighty dollar coupled with the desire to be beloved in every social circle on the planet appears to be as strong as it ever was. Just ask Dwight Howard.


On Saturday The Houston Rocket’s All-Star Center clumsily waded into the matter of what’s going on in The Gaza Strip, a matter that involves the slaughter of innocent Palestinians at the hands of The Israeli Government through airstrikes. After being directed to a photo on Twitter that

captured the death and destruction in great detail Howard put out a tweet that innocently said #FreePalestine, the minute his finger left the send button the floodgates of public backlash opened up.


Less than an hour after his initial tweet that expressed support for an oppressed people, Howard suddenly felt the need to issue a couple of retractions. “Previous tweet was a mistake I have never commented on international politics and I never will.” and “I apologize if I offended anyone with my previous tweet, it was a mistake!” Unfortunately Dwight didn’t post a pic of his agent, his team owner, and the NBA Commissioner leaning over his shoulder as he tweeted those apologies. Howard’s mea culpa is extremely disappointing because it’s a blown chance at a major opportunity, the opportunity to enlighten that coveted 18-34 year old demographic that makes the National Basketball Association a global economic powerhouse.


Certain factions of the American media have gone to great lengths in disguising the atrocities being committed by those in charge in Israel–take a bow ABC News, Fox News, and The New York Times–,but a little extra effort would uncover the horrifying details of this latest conflict. Since last Tuesday 167 Palestinians have been killed in seven days of bombardment, and that total is rising by the hour. Of the 1,200 airstrikes that have taken place some have targeted civilian dwellings like homes and mosques, There was even the bombing of a center that specializes in the care of people with special needs. That particular bombing killed two patients and seriously injured four others. As if things couldn’t get any worse the Israeli Government has called up 20,000 ground troops for a possible invasion of Gaza, which would only add to the horror.


What is extremely frustrating is the inability of concerned people all over the world to call this matter exactly what it is… a genocide. The proper labeling of the situation would surely lead to calls of bigotry and anti-semitism, which is exactly what happened to Secretary of State John Kerry back in April when he properly stated that without a peace deal with Palestine Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state.” Those labels being casually thrown around is also what led to Dwight Howard’s disappearing act. Apparently making two free throws with Game 7 on the line is a hell of a lot easier than speaking truth to power and taking the punches that come with it.


Imagine the flipside of the equation, imagine the NBA’s best center sticking to his initial thoughts while backing up said thoughts with the indisputable facts. With over five million twitter followers Howard could be the type of pied piper that we haven’t seen in pro sports in almost fifty years, and his stance alongside the one Lebron James and his former Miami Heat teammates took in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing would harken back to a time when standouts like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russell risked a hell of a lot more by listening to their consciences and using their voices in the midst of a much more dangerous atmosphere.


The National Basketball Association has always had an uneasiness with it’s workforce mixing hoops and politics. In 1996 Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the league for refusing to stand during the playing of the National Anthem before games. Abdul Rauf, who converted to Islam during his playing days said that he objected to standing at attention during the anthem for religious reasons, eventually a compromise was reached between himself and the league and he was reinstated. In 2006 former Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas said he received verbal blowback from then commissioner David Stern for a blistering speech he gave at a rally that was in stark opposition to the Iraq War. This led Thomas to write an unapologetic op-ed in SLAM Magazine that ripped Stern on a myriad of issues, most notably the league’s unfair practices when it came to collective bargaining. Abdul-Rauf and Thomas are long retired, and guaranteed contracts and lucrative endorsement deals have only gotten bigger which makes the odds of guys like them reappearing extremely long.


In a pro-Palestine rally this past week in New York City participants held up picket signs with the image of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on one side and Emmitt Till on the other. Think about Dwight Howard or one of his peers being willing to go in front of a bank of microphones and television cameras and explaining why that comparison is as valid as any that can be made. Explain how Khdeir’s charred body that was forced to drink gasoline before being set on fire is no different than Till’s grotesquely swollen face which was missing an eye after it was beaten to a bloody pulp. Explain how extremists who believe in the extinction of a people whose land they are occupying are no different than extremists who believed that white supremacy was justified along with the intimidation, rape, and murder that came with it.


Two things are clear about the “mistake” Dwight Howard thinks he made. One of those things is that he has no clue about what is going on in Gaza right now, if he did he would have foresaw the onslaught of criticism that was heading his way and maybe he would have also had the conviction to not waver from the comment that invited that criticism. The other thing is the amount of power that is wielded by people on the opposite side of the issue, a power that is strong is enough to make Howard and other high profile people like him think that voicing their  legitimate concern is the first step in career suicide. Clearly Dwight doesn’t know what Ali, Brown, and Russell knew, and because of that Palestinians in Gaza have fewer champions then what they should have.


Follow Me on Twitter @ebrew79


The Right’s Obsession With So Called Black Pathology

One of the best things about admiring great critical thinkers is the ability that they have to introduce you to other great critical thinkers. I’ve long expressed my respect for Ta-Nehisi Coates. Whenever his work appears on the website of The Atlantic or in the pages of The New York Times I am in front of my computer or my phone to take in every word. It was through a column that Coates wrote on the idea of “black pathology” that I came across the existence of Yoni Applebaum.

Applebaum, a social and cultural historian wrote a column–quoted by Coates–that called into question the intellectual laziness of individuals when it comes to how they see issues of poverty, crime, and incarceration rates within black America. Applebaum writes “I bristle when I see people discuss the culture of poverty as a pathology. That’s too self-congratulatory, and too cramped a view. The reality is that, like all cultures, it has aspects that translates well to other circumstances, those that translate poorly, and those that are just plain different. And that’s no different than the culture of affluence.

Whenever this subject is discussed the focus tends to fall on unwed black parents, which leads to a schism that has people like Coates and Applebaum on one side battling a host of voices on the other. Libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul offered his two cents on single black moms recently by saying that “Maybe we have to say enough is enough, You shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.” In the wake of a violent 4th of July weekend that saw 60 people get shot, 11 of which died, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked aloud the questions “Where are the parents, Where is the community,” in addition to calling for tougher gun laws. Even sportscaster Bob Costas inched up to the line during an interview with MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki when he said “Some of the issues that are afflicting black America are not the result of white racism,” he even got in a dig at the network that Rachel Maddow built saying that “It’s a politically incorrect thing to say that somebody in this building needs to say.” In fairness to Costas he didn’t go into detail the way that Paul and Emanuel did but one doesn’t have to go too far to find out his feelings on the subject. In a 2013 interview about the dwindling numbers of African-American baseball players in the major leagues the longtime NBC Sports stalwart offered up this “Baseball tends to be a father son game-at least when a kid is first introduced to it., As we know in certain portions of the black community fatherlessness is a problem that goes well beyond baseball but probably is a factor when it comes to declining participation with black youth.”

Conservative politicians like Paul present the right’s favorite talking point–72% of black children are born out of wedlock–not only as a huge problem but one that has a silver bullet for a cure. Liberal politicians like Emanuel and non-partisans like Costas use it to fall back on the comfort of false equivalency, the easiness of being able to figuratively flex one’s muscles for calling out his or her own. None of them are willing to bring up the nuances that make each individual’s situation within the community different.

I’m the product of a single mother, I met my father for the first time in my life when I was twelve years old, three years later we had our second and sadly our last encounter, he passed away five years ago from a heart attack at the age of fifty one. My mother has said on numerous occasions that if she could have done it all over she would have raised my sister’s and I in a nuclear family which would have made her life so much easier, that wasn’t the case though and being that it wasn’t she consciously said to herself that she would not waver in her duties as mother and father. Her decision to work two jobs including one on the graveyard shift at a garment factory to keep my sisters and I with a roof over our head, clothes on our back, and food in our stomachs was to her a no brainer. We had a support system around us that included Grandparents who loved us like we were their biological kids and an uncle who taught me what it truly means to be responsible.

Not only is black America made up of women like my mother who are in the same situation she was in and handling responsibility the way that she did it is also made up of father’s who find themselves in the same exact situation for a myriad of reasons, or couples who happen to be of the same sex but live in a state that won’t legally recognize their union, or couples who happen to be of the opposite sex, men and women who together are attentive, loving, caring, parents while at the same time believing that the idea of marriage is antiquated or unnecessary.

The conservative theory that marriage is the answer that will save black folks has holes poked in it everyday by Republican politicians who champion certain policies. What good is marriage to a child if his parents are sending him to a public school that is in desperate need of economic resources, or a child who is living in poverty because neither of his married parents have received a wage increase in five years, or a child who is placed in the criminal justice system because he was stopped and frisked by law enforcement and happened to have a small amount of marijuana on him, something white kids in the suburbs don’t have to worry about.

Another thing that conservative media types ignore and middle of the road personalities are naive about is the progress that has been made on the issue. Between 1991 and 2010 the percentage of teen births in the African-American community was cut in half, Since 1990 the rate of out of wedlock children for black women fell by 28%. (
Also check out this data at The Atlantic’s Website on the percentage of married black women with children vs. unmarried black women with children.

There is also never any mention of or more importantly condemnation of the rise of out of wedlock births to white mothers which is now right around 30%.

With that said are there children who fall through the cracks, are there children who have unfortunately been born to bad parents, children who have no support system? Absolutely. The comedian Chris Rock has a great line where he says “If someone says you don’t need a man to raise a kid, You should say you don’t need a helmet to ride a motorcycle, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.”

Children, no matter their ethnic background need all of the help they can get in order to navigate themselves through a cruel world, here again however you have the Right saying one thing and doing another, at least legislatively.

Rand Paul, the same Rand Paul who set out to shame black single mothers, is unabashed in his opposition to a woman’s right to choose and the Affordable Care Act which mandates that employers provide birth control for it’s female employees. Paul is just one member of a political party and half of the American electorate that harbors these feelings. What’s strange is that these people don’t understand the contradictions, these people aren’t aware of how illogical it is to say “our tax dollars shouldn’t have to subsidise other people’s kids” and in the same breath say “we think abstinence only courses in America’s schools is what should be taught.” These are people who try to intimidate single women– all women– when they seek to terminate pregnancies but try everything to embarrass them publicly when they don’t

This once again brings me back to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yoni Applebaum, and the schism that exists in this great nation of ours. While one side is working overtime to debunk myths and come up with solutions for serious questions, the other side is practicing negative stereotyping and public shaming in the guise of sincere concern because it is good economic and political business. It’s not that difficult to tell which is which.

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