Paul R. Lehman, Allen West’s ignorance, arrogance and political folly is no laughing matter

April 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Congress, Disrespect, Ethnicity in America, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President, U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights | 2 Comments
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For people in certain professions an expectation that reflects well on the professions represented is considered normal.  That is, we expect judges, police, doctors, teachers, and others in professions to act in the best interest of their profession. Something happened, however, when Barack Obama was elected President to change the general respectful nature of some American elected officials.  Many became publically disrespectful to the President and therefore, the office of the President. This attitude of disrespect carried over from the president to people in Congress as well as the public. One person who stands out with respect to his comments about President Obama as well as to members in the Congress etc…is Allen West, Republican Rep. from Florida.

A popular adage states that “it is wiser to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” When we examine some of the comments made by West we recognize the value in that statement. Two of the things that characterize West are his attitude and belief in his intellectual superiority over anyone he dislikes or with a philosophy that differs from his. He also acts as though his rights supersede those of his fellow Americans. He often tries to garner attention to himself by making anti-Obama statements and uncomplimentary remarks about democrats in general without regard gender or social standing as recorded in an article by The Daily Beast (4/12/12). For example, in mimicking GOP talking points regarding a plan to privatize Medicare, he states “I am sick and tired of this class warfare, this Marxist demagogic rhetoric that is coming from the president of the United States,” and on Fox News (4/2011) he states “Barack Hussein Obama” is nothing more than a “low-level socialist agitator.”In essence, is he calling the President a “Marxist”? What earthly good would his calling the President names do for the country or West other than show his ignorance and disrespect.

In another example West shows his sense of mental superiority over any Obama supporters with the statement: “I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.” One has to wonder what it is that informs West’s concept of reality and knowledge of self. Evidently, he sees himself as a rational and sensible person; unfortunately, no one else sees him that way. As a matter of fact, he sees himself as a savior of African American people who belong to the democratic party.

The Beast article records West’s self-concept in comparison to President Obama. “Obama is the slave-driving leader of a ’21-century plantation” wherein “the Democrat Party has forever taken the black vote for granted.” So where does West fit into this racial equation? “I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman, to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad, away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.”What sensibilities is he referring to? He shows his ignorance and arrogance seemingly every time he speaks. Why would someone want to follow someone who has no idea of where he is or where he wants to go? His only claim to fame lies in his outrageous statements made for the media to carry forward.

The major irony in the character of West is that he is an African American who dislikes the Democratic Party and its members. He either does not know the part that the Democratic Party under President Lyndon Johnson played in the civil rights movement of the middle and late ‘60s or rejects it as insignificant to social progress regarding ethnic Americans. The philosophy he projects through his rhetoric suggests a gross lack of common sense and a realistic grasp of American history. He is seen at best by the American public as a buffoon, clown, entertainer—not a person to be taken seriously. What makes the topic of West the focus of attention in this blog today is the news that he has endorsed someone for Congress.

A headline from the huffingtonpost.com reads “Allen West Endorses Joe The Plumber For Congress.” Yes, West who has not been in Congress long enough to know where the restrooms are, is endorsing Joe the Plumber [his name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher] for congress. The article states that “In a campaign video posted Thursday by Wurzelbacher, West says, ‘One of the great things about Joe is that he represents the genuineness of the American people. Someone who has served in the military and now is trying to answer the call to serve at a greater level.’ He adds, ‘I look forward to Joe being a colleague of mine in Washington, D.C.’”

The article notes that “Wurzelbacher is running in a heavily Democratic district against longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who beat Rep. Dennis Kucinich after the two were forced to run against each other because of GOP-led redistricting.” Kaptur just happens to be a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus of which West commented “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

One wonders how West was elected to Congress and for what reason. Surely it was not to try and make sense of what was going on in Congress. None-the-less, he has offered to share some of his superior gifts with Joe the Plumber in hopes of maybe serving with him. Would not that be something to behold! West lives in a world where common sense and logic seem out of place. His words and action certainly prove the accuracy of the adage about speaking to remove doubt, but another is also appropriate when trying to find reason with West is impossible—“where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.”

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Paul R. Lehman, The use of race-based phrases like “race card,” “race baiting,” “race hustling,” “race profiling,” is absurd

April 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, justice, Prejudice, whites | 1 Comment
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As early as 1942 scientists from around the world agreed that the social use of the word race created too much confusion to continue it use. One scientist, an American named Ashley Montague, recommended that the words ethnic group or ethnicity be used instead of race for social purposes; the group agreed.  Obviously, many people simply ignored the recommendation and continued to use the word race to today in reference to social concerns. And, just as was the case in the 1940s, the use of race relative to social concerns along with its absurdity shows, ignorance, stupidity, and bias.

Let us take, for example, the phrase “race baiting.” Since the word race has not been defined outside of science, how does one interpret the phrase? The word baiting is simple enough to suggest a lure or something used to entrap, tempt, attract and other such words. The point of the baiting is to place someone in a position that must be defended from some claims that tend to cast aspersions on him or her. So, when the phrase “race baiting” is used, it is generally by someone directed at someone for the purpose of challenging that person’s character or reputation. The suggestion accompanying the use of that phrase is that something is wrong, unfair, unjust or illegal about race. In other words, when someone is accused of “race baiting” the suggestion is that the use of race will give that person an unfair advantage over some other person or idea. What is missing from the use of the term is the symbolic history associated with the word race. So, depending on who is using the phrase and the context in which it is being used, no one knows who benefits from it. So using the phrase shows ignorance.

Another phrase that creates confusion is “race hustling.” Again, the word race does not carry a standard definition, so one must assume that the idea in the user’s mind has to do with human beings. The word hustling, however, introduces an element of something illegal, criminal, or shady. One former U.S. Representative, an African American from Oklahoma, J. C. Watts, once referred to some noted civil rights activists as “race-hustling poverty pimps.” The suggestion was that people involved in “race hustling” were using the history and current record of social injustice against some ethnic Americans as a con game in order to reap some unmerited reward. The irony and stupidity in the use of this phrase is that the accuser is more at fault than the accused because the accuser creates shady expectation for something that might be legitimate and honorable. Since Watts is an African American and his comments were directed at African Americans, the term racist does not fit. The words absurd, biased and stupid do apply here but reflect on the user because that is where the image is created.

One of the more popular phrases is the “race card.” The metaphor of a card game is the key to understanding this phrase. The “race card” is thought to serve as a game changer for either the user or the person accused of using it. For example, if someone is arguing a point based on merit and his opponent accuses him of playing the “race card” in order to win the point, the entire argument is thrown into a quandary. As in the case of the other phrases, the benefit can go either way.  The purpose for someone using the “race card” is to gain sympathy for his or her side in that the idea of using race gives the other person and unfair advantage. Generally, if the “race card” is used, history and facts can be used to substantiate claims of injustice and bigotry. So, the phrase is generally used by people who want to use race as an emotional weapon to combat history and facts.

The word race when used as a social term does two things simultaneously, it unites and divides. The idea of multiple biological races underscores the use of the term, so those races that are similar unite and those races that are seen as different, divide. Of course, we know that only one race of human beings exists, so the idea is just that, an idea. The fact that we are all members of the human family makes racism impossible, but not bigotry, prejudice, and biases. So, when the phrase “racial profile” is used the concepts of ignorance, stupidity, and bigotry comes with it. The word racial is an adjective taken from the word race. Used in the context of the phrase “racial profile,” it suggests that multiple biological races exist and that each one is different to the degree that one can be distinguished from the other. Not true. Another suggestion from the use of the phrase is that distinct features relative to each race are so unique that a profile can be created identifying each race. How does that work with Asian Americans or Mexicans and America Indians? This concept is simply ridiculous and illogical.

The fact of the matter is that society wants to view race in America as two-fold, black and white. Unfortunately, America is a diverse society with ethnic groups inter-marrying and procreating blurring the so-called “racial” lines. The fact that diversity will increase in the future makes the need to discontinue the use of race as a social term that much more necessary.  We have come to the point where not only is the word race no longer accurate or useful but also the words black and white used as identity. If we listen carefully the next time we hear any of the so-called “racial” phrases used we will also hear someone who is ignorant, stupid, biased or absurd or any combination thereof. Bank on it.

Paul R. Lehman, Opinion writer shows fear and disgust for Jackson and Sharpton’s visit to Tulsa

April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Killings in Tulsa, Media and Race, minority, whites | 4 Comments
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Too often opinions offered on opinion/editorial pages of the newspaper as well as the electronic media cause confusion and misinformation if the writers or speakers are not informed about the subject. We certainly do not stand in judgment of someone’s opinion if it is offered as an opinion. However, when an opinion is offered as fact and it is inaccurate, then we should call it into question. A particular selection published in the Oklahoman (4-13-120) entitled “Media circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings” focused on the visits of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Al  Sharpton to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The language, attitude, and tone of the article promoted the ideas inconsistent with reality and the truth.

The choice of words used by the writer of the article seems to suggest disrespect and disgust with the subjects, Jackson and Sharpton, as well as the situation, the recent killing of three African American men and the wounding of two more by two European American males. The mere suggestion of a circus coming to town in the persons of Jackson and Sharpton creates a sense of entertainment rather than seriousness about the incident. The underlining suggestion is that Jackson and Sharpton are clowns and therefore their appearance in Tulsa is for a show or entertainment. The headline is correct in stating that a “circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings,” so why would it suggest the appearance of these two men would create a circus?

The first paragraph of the article reads:”The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Oklahoma City 17 years ago this month to express solidarity with black victims of the federal building bombing. Fortunately, we were spared the presence of Rev. Al Sharpton.” This statement suggests that Jackson came to Oklahoma City specifically to express solidarity with African American victims of that event only. To suggest that is misleading and untrue. Jackson expressed solidarity for all the victims. As a Christian and a minister he recognized that all people are children of the same God. The article reference to the city being “spared” the presence of Rev. Sharpton suggest that he would have brought something sinister or destructive to the city with him. One wonders what that might have been in order to cause such a negative reaction.

In the next paragraph we get a sample of more uncomplimentary language associated with Jackson and Sharpton: “ Tulsa won’t be so fortunate. Jackson and Sharpton will descend on Tulsa just as (and because) the national media has descended on Tulsa following the Good Friday killings that appear to be racially motivated.” So, the suggestion is that the national media is the real reason for Jackson and Sharpton “descending” on Tulsa, and not the killings. Wrong again. Jackson and Sharpton were both asked and invited to come to Tulsa because the people in Tulsa knew that the national media would follow Jackson and Sharpton. By bringing those two men to Tulsa, national attention would focus on the killings. History and experience underscores the fact that most crimes in America with African Americans as victims receive very little media attention if any at all.

In addition to the denigrating language associated with Jackson and Sharpton, the attitude suggested in the article is one of suspicion and deceit. The article states that “Police, prosecutors and city officials have their hands full trying to tamp down the emotions surrounding this case. The last thing they need is a media circus with Jackson and Sharpton serving as ring masters.” One wonders what evidence, facts and or experiences lead that writer to think that Jackson and Sharpton would start some sort of physical, violent, and unlawful disturbance? The only evidence of any kind of unlawful, unorganized, and disruptive actions comes from the writer’s own words. Jackson and Sharpton have always maintained that their objective in accepting the invitations extended to them by people involved in situations where justice and fairness is concerned is to seek justice and fairness, nothing more, nothing less. So, why would they be characterized as “ring masters” when, in fact, there is no circus in town?

The tone of the article is one of arrogance and stupidity regarding history and present day occurrences. The article’s author makes a reference to the national interest in Tulsa with reference to the 1921 Riot. The statement reads “What’s the connection? None. In the earlier case armed gangs divided along racial lines. It was certainly not a mass murder like the bombing or the Tulsa shootings. It was less a race riot that a race war.” Evidently, this statement shows a gross lack of concrete facts and reliable information regarding the 1921 riot as well as recognizing the difference between a riot and a war. He might want to read Tim Madigan’s The Burning, or Rilla Askew’s Fire in Beulah for an account of that tradegy. His emphasis is unfortunately, on the physical violence and destruction when the real problem is the administration of justice and fair treatment for all people. He certainly cannot say that the African American community in the Greenwood section of Tulsa was treated fairly after the 1921 riot, and to a degree today.

Without going over the entire article paragraph by paragraph to point out the various areas of ignorance and stupidity let us look at two comments to make our point. Again, referencing the 1921 riot, the article states: “What happened in Tulsa in 1921 was an outbreak of violence exposing widespread racial division that’s not evident in Tulsa today.”If that is true, then no bigotry exists in Tulsa, and the two European Americans arrested cannot be charged with a hate crime (they have been charged  with committing a hate crime). If bigotry is no longer a reality in Tulsa why have not the city moved to make amends for the destruction it participated in back in 1921? The article suggests that no so-called racial division exists in Tulsa today. How true is that? If that is so, why were three African Americans killed by the two European Americans and charged with hate crimes?

Finally, the article’s author asks the question why Jackson and Sharpton are in Tulsa: “So what’s the point of the Jackson-Sharpton visit and the lamentations of members of the Legislative Black Caucus? What will these things accomplish that excellent police work, vigorous prosecution and swift sure punishment of the guilty won’t do by themselves”? That is precisely the point! Jackson and Sharpton want exactly that to happen now, because it has not happened with any regularity in the past. By their presence, the need for equal justice and fairness for all American citizens will be closely scrutinized by the national media brought there by Jackson and Sharpton.

If the writer of the article would stop and think for a moment, what should become apparent is the fact that Jackson and Sharpton are not the enemy as they are portrayed. They simply want for African Americans and all Americans fair and equal justice under the law. Why would anyone object to that? The language, attitude, and tone of this article indicated a fear and expectation of evil, violence, and unlawfulness that is purely unwarranted.

 

April 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

America's Race Problem

The picture below is the front cover of my latest book which is now available from amazon.com, barnes andnoble.com or your local bookstore. Why would you want to read this book? One good reason for reading it is because it is enlightening in a variety of ways. Several specific element set this book apart from others that address the subject of race.

First, this book questions the beliefs of race, and discusses the conflicts and confusion resulting from an unclear definition of race. Most people try to define race by using the word race which results in a circular discussion with no progress being made regarding the definition.

A reason for some people not liking to discuss race is because they know very little about it. Once they understand what is at work with the use of the word race in American society, they will be able to move forward…

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Paul R. Lehman, New Book: AMERICA’S RACE MATTERS: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color

April 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Posted in American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Media and Race, minority, President Obama, public education, Race in America, U. S. Census, whites | 1 Comment
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The picture below is the front cover of my latest book which is now available from amazon.com, barnes andnoble.com or your local bookstore. Why would you want to read this book? One good reason for reading it is because it is enlightening in a variety of ways. Several specific element set this book apart from others that address the subject of race.

First, this book questions the beliefs of race, and discusses the conflicts and confusion resulting from an unclear definition of race. Most people try to define race by using the word race which results in a circular discussion with no progress being made regarding the definition.

A reason for some people not liking to discuss race is because they know very little about it. Once they understand what is at work with the use of the word race in American society, they will be able to move forward in their appreciation in the vision this book provides.

Second, this book discusses the concepts of race today and in the future, if no changes are made in the way we view it. The discussion makes a clear distinction between the words race and ethnicity.

Third, this book suggests the discontinued use of the words race, black and white, because they are no longer accurate, valid, rational, or specific in today’s society. Many examples of the uselessness of the word race are provided.

Fourth, this work uses examples from society, current U.S. Government information as well as popular fictional and non-fictional works by American writers that address race matters.

Fifth, this book offers a vision for America that addresses the problems created by race in a sensible, rational, realistic fashion.

Most books on race deal with race as it exists in the American past and present. While the information those works provide is valuable, it cannot go beyond the present-day concepts of race because that concept is not challenged. This book takes the discussion of race to higher level and shows the possibilities for the future. Change cannot come without an interruption of the present; a seed cannot become what is destined to be without first breaking through the ground. The same thing must happen to our way of thinking regarding race. This book provides an avenue of approach to that end.

One of the book’s reviewers, Kerri Shadid, wrote in the Oklahoman (5-11-12) that “The book follows the history of race in America from its creation during the time of slavery, to its role in literature, to the confusion perpetuated today by the U.S. Census Bureau using “race” rather than “ethnicity” on the census.” She adds that Lehman believes society’s rejecting the idea of race will not come easy; she continues “However, the reward of discarding the outdated and dehumanizing concept of race is more valuable than the benefits of continuing to grasp onto it.”

In the conclusion of her review, Shadid writes that “America’s Race Matters” is an important book in raising awareness of race in America, which many of us prefer to push under the rug to our own detriment as members of humanity.”

Paul R. Lehman, The media fails its responsibility in the Trayvon Martin case.

April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Disrespect, equality, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, Race in America | 5 Comments
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Who is Joe Oliver? If you have been following the Trayvon Martin case, then you know that for a few days Oliver was on all the major news shows telling the audiences what a good friend he is to George Zimmerman, the killer of Martin. Why was Oliver on all the news shows? The answer is because the media did not do their jobs. They took the word of some unknown person and let him have an audience with the program viewers. The media is at fault for creating much of the confusion surrounding this case.

Without first checking his credibility before allowing him air time, the media did the public a disservice because what Oliver had to say contributed absolutely nothing to our understanding of this case. One reporter, however, Jonathan Capehart, a writer for the Post, realized that Oliver was seeking publicity and had nothing concrete to share because it was not based on facts. Oliver convinced the media that he was “A man who knew the man who shot Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. A man who could vouch for Zimmerman’s personal growth and character. A man who knew the gunman so well that he was certain that the voice screaming for help on one of the 911 calls was Zimmerman’s.” According to Capehart, while Oliver might have believed all this, the facts proved otherwise.

The game Oliver had been playing with the media came to a head on the MSNBC show The Last Word, with Lawrence O’Donnell. Capehart was also a guest on this show and took part in asking questions of Oliver. Any number of responses from Oliver to the questions put to him by O’Donnell could have proved  Oliver’s lack of credibility, but one response to a question sealed the deal. Oliver said that “I wouldn’t put myself out here on the line like this if I didn’t know in my heart that George Zimmerman was in a life-or-death struggle.”All the guests realized simultaneously that they had been had. What does knowing something in “your” heart have to do with hard facts? Nothing.

Finally, Joe Oliver was no longer invited to talk on any of the news shows simply because he had nothing to contribute. Why did not the media know this before hand? We might assume that part of the reason is the desire to be first in presenting what has been called “breaking news.” The problem with this concept is that the line defining news has been blurred to the point that one questions what really is defined as news today. Reporters and journalists used to verify their information before offering it to the public. However, since the advent of “breaking news” it seems that speed is more important the accuracy. Oliver is not the only person seeking “air time” regarding this case and the media has in a number of instances accommodated them.

Another problem that the media seems to create in a subtle way involves the subject of race. When a question about race is raised by a reported or journalist, then race inters the story. From the introduction of race comes the question of racism. Once racism has been introduced the charges of being or not being a racist become the center of attention. For some people, simply knowing someone of a different ethnicity is proof enough that the accused is not racists. Unfortunately, once the bridge to race, racism, and racist has been crossed the water beneath the bridge becomes too tainted to be of use. Using race as a decoy has become a popular ploy to try and defuse an issue. With respect to the killing of Trayvon Martin, we do not know for certain that it played a part. We do know that Trayvon is dead. As a society we need to stop using the words race and racist as catch-all words. In reality bigotry might have played a larger part in the activities surrounding Trayvon’s death than did racism. A person can have prejudices and not be a racist.

One thing the media can help the public to understand is that racism and prejudice is not the same thing. If they want to be accurate in reporting, they should try and ascertain the difference before assuming that race was involved. By not making a clear distinction between racism and bigotry the media is complicit is promoting the confusion. If they do not know the difference, then they should avoid using the words because their use creates a definite impression with the public. After all is said and done, if the public is not made aware of the misuse of the words race, racism, and racist chances are we will be back at the same place as before the news story of Trayvon broke—uninformed.

We have been led to believe that he media has a responsibility to the public, and part of that responsibility involves reporting facts. If we cannot depend on the media to provide us with the facts then they have outlived their usefulness to us and the public good. Unfortunately, what passes for news today is little more than entertainment, and not good entertainment at that. So, who is Joe Oliver and why do we want to hear what he has to say? Mr. Capehart was right when he said “Don’t trust Joe Oliver’s ‘gut feeling about his ‘friend’ George Zimmerman.” My response to that statement is why did I have to listen to Joe Oliver in the first place?

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