Paul R. Lehman,Kaepernick’s protest is a Constitutional exercise in American democracy

August 31, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Amish, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, education, equality, fairness, freedom of speech, justice, liberty, life, lower class, Media and Race, Pledge of Allegiance, poor, social justice system | 2 Comments
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Why are some people getting so bent out of shape over the fact that Colin Kaepernick decided to exercise his 1st Amendment right to protest what he sees as injustice in America? Ignorance of the Constitution? The excuse that Americans fought and died for our flag should not be used to justify complaints because all military takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the flag. The flag is only a symbol of the country and should be respected unless one wants to use it for protest, which is what Kaepernick has decided.

In America, if we have a problem with our government, we are taught to not run and hide, but to bring the problem out in the open so it can be addressed. The way the problem is brought to view is through protest. When the police or teachers reach an impasse in negotiations, they either chose a mediator or go on strike or both. Striking is a form of protest that has been used successfully for many years in America. None of the strikers have been accused of being unpatriotic or anti-American. They just want attention focused on their problem. Kaepernick is being patriotic by protesting in order to call attention to the problems he wants addressing.

Kaepernick is not the first athlete to protest by refusing to stand for the flag ceremony; nor will he be the last. His actions are not arbitrary or capricious, but well thought-out and reasoned. He knows that he will have to pay a price for his actions because too many people do not understand the thoughts that led to this action. In an article from the NFL Notes, Kaepernick is quoted as saying, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. …To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Regardless of how one feels about Kaepernick’s form of protest, it should not be figured into the equation of right or wrong, because he is protesting as an American citizen. He is speaking out about the injustices visited upon African Americans and people of color in America. Other Americans see that same injustice, but choose to remain silent. Why should Kaepernick be criticized for exercising his Constitutional right about injustices that have been going on for years while America looks on in silence? Some people believe that his decision to not stand for the flag is wrong, but that belief is theirs, and that is fine. What they do not have, however, is the right to select or judge Kaepernick’s manner of protest. They might want to offer their opinion relative to what manner or form their protest would take, but no one can say whether their choice is right or wrong; it is theirs to make.

In America, citizens have for years refused to salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and serve in the military. These people never receive complaints about their actions and are never accused of being un-American or unpatriotic; they are left alone to live their lives in a manner that suits them. Two groups of Americans in this category that come to mind are the Jehovah Witness and the Amish. In their defense, some people might call attention to their religious beliefs as reason enough for them to refuse to honor the flag or saying the Pledge and serving in the military. The irony of this defense is that they and Kaepernick use the same Constitutional rights to support their actions.

What some people do not like is for a person of notoriety to use his fame to call attention to his protest. To many people, a person gives up his right to be an individual in order to maintain his fame. With Kaepernick, some people want him to only be a football player, nothing more. If he says something that does not relate to football, he is criticizing for over-stepping his bounds. Many people want athletes to have no opinions outside of their sport. The fact that they are paid large sums of money to use their athletic abilities should be enough to keep them silent about other things. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking robs the individual of his whole being as an intelligent, sensible, and rational person capable of making a decision apart from his professional career. We do not have to guess as to Kaepernick’s motives for his protest, he stated that “No one’s tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quite about…I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have a voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”

Many Americans apparently think that as Americans we should think and act in certain ways that do not offend the ideas or concepts they hold in high esteem. Were that the case, individual freedoms would be a laughing matter because they would not exist. As Americans, we are encouraged to believe that we can exercise our Constitutional rights without fear of anger, hate or some form of retribution for not walking in lock-step with what some people think is the right way.

Kaepernick did not call the media to witness him sitting during the flag ceremony; he did not seek to create a media storm that focused on his protest. The media took the lead in calling attention to the fact of Kaepernick’s actions, and shortly afterward, judgments and criticisms flooded the airways. Whether one agrees with Kaepernick’s form of protest, as Americans we must defend and support his rights to protest because that is what we believe is our responsibility. Let us be reminded of the importance of the right to be our individual selves by recalling the words of Henry David Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however, measured or far away.”

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Paul R. Lehman, Dialogues on race will not unite America, but keep it divided.

July 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Dorothy Roberts, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, law enforcement agencies, Louisiana, Minnesota, minority, police force, poor, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, Texas, University of Penn., upper class, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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Since the recent incidents in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, where the lives of African Americans and European Americans have been lost, many protest marches  across the country, many town hall meetings, and many talk shows have been conducted that focused on America being a divided country because of color—black and white. The objectives of all these activities are to somehow bring the country together harmoniously. Many recommendations and plans will be suggested and some will be implemented in an effort to correct the recent and decades-old injustices committed against African Americans by European Americans. Unfortunately, all the plans, programs, and recommendations will be short-lived because we cannot be united until we learn and fix what keeps us divided. No problem based on race will ever be resolved talking about race—black and white. Every discussion that involves race can only go in a circle; we know circles have no ends.

In order to resolve a problem involving race we must get beyond race, i.e.…we must establish an approach to discussing the nature of the problem without invoking the concept of race because if we do not, then we accomplish nothing but a waste of time. Let us be specific in identifying the problem that keeps America divided. If we say the answer is race, we are partially correct because race is the key word. However, our acceptance of the concept of race is the problem. Ever since the founding fathers invented the concept of a black race and a white race, separate and unequal, we Americans have been living our lives based on a myth, a falsehood, and an invention. The problems we experience as a divided society today are all based on our acceptance of the false concept of race. The reason for the invention of races was control of the people, all the people. For European Americans, the concept of superiority was important and necessary in order to serve as a buffer between the slaves, the poor, and the élite. The invention was/is known as the system of white supremacy and black inferiority.

The system of white supremacy does not exist in isolation, but must have the component of black inferiority to complete its existence. Both terms are different sides of the same coin. The system of supremacy became the focus of social conditioning of the psyches of all Americans. For European Americans, according to Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a European American scholar, “We [European Americans/whites] have set the world up to preserve that internal sense of superiority and also resist challenges to it. All while denying that anything is going on and insisting that race is meaningless to us.” In other words, the system of white supremacy was created to protect and perpetuate itself. She adds:”We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interest and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good.”

The founding fathers based their invention of races on the color of skin which was illogical as well as irrational because skin color is not a constant determinant of race. At the time the invention was instituted the founding fathers had control of society and the power to enforce their laws. The legacy of their invention relative to people of color, and African Americans, in general, was the elements of danger, anger, fear, and hatred. These negative elements relative to people of color were/are processed as natural and normal to the perception and understanding of European Americans. African Americans were forced to view themselves in public to conform to the perception of the biased European American views. The actions of some members of law enforcement today underscore the retention of the beliefs that the system of Supremacy promoted. Our understanding of the system of white supremacy and how it influences our perceptions should tell us that any discussion involving race in society is tainted if the bias concept of white supremacy is not replaced. In essence, too many European Americans view African Americans and people of color as inferior normally. Since that is the case, any idea of fairness and justice by these European Americans will be influenced by their ethnic bias, much of which they never realize or recognize because it has always been natural and normal to them. Unfortunately, when the European American’s biased viewpoint is challenged, they can become offended because they think their sense of objectivity is being challenged.

The most challenging part of bringing together our divided country is replacing the concept of race and its lack of authenticity and reliability. A recent comment by Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania professor, underscores the point. Race has never been defined with any consistency and Professor Roberts adds: “That’s because race is based on cultural, legal, social and political determinations, and those groupings have changed over time. As a social scientist, looking at biologists treating these groupings as if they were determined by innate genetic distinctions, I’m dumbfounded. There’s so much evidence that they’re invented social categories. How you can say this is a biological race is just absurd. It’s absurd. It violates the scientific evidence about human beings.”Unfortunately, many European Americans choose to hold on tightly to the myth.

If we can accept the factual information we know about race and supremacy, then any discussion that speaks to resolving problems concerning the concept of race must begin with a forthright rejection of a black and a white race, and the normal perception of the inferiority of people of color by European Americans . If those changes do not occur, then no reasonable and fair discussion can take place. In essence, race cannot be a part of that discussion if race is assumed to be an acceptable and legal term. We must come to understand that what divides America is the illusion of race and racial differences. If we do not debunk those illusions, we have no basis from which to build a construction together. If we are going to solve the social problems that are the results of ethnic biases, we must do so as social equals.

Paul R. Lehman, Actions speak louder than words.

April 22, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Indian, criminal activity, discrimination, education, equality, European American, justice, law enforcement agencies, lower class, minority, Oklahoma, police force, poor, poverty, public education, Public housing, race, social justice system, socioeconomics | 4 Comments
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What can be frustrating to many people who attend public panel discussions that focus on a particular concern is the lack of resolution to the problem; that is, they leave the event with a few new data, but nothing to build or act on. For example, a recent public panel discussion on the “Mass Incarceration in Oklahoma: When Will It End?”Featured on the panel were representatives from the clergy, the state legislature, and the criminal justice system. The obvious and over-riding question for the panel was “Why are so many people being sent to prison in Oklahoma?”

The first panel member was from the clergy and he spoke to the problems involving the laws that place an unfair hardship on poor people and people of color. He mentioned the laws that treat minor violations as major ones such as small quantities of marijuana or drugs found in the possession of first-time offenders. In Oklahoma the law involving possession of drugs calls for prison time regardless for the person’s criminal record or lack of one. He continued in casting blame on the state and what was referred to as the “Criminal Prison Complex System,” that view prison as economic engines and fosters a climate of greed. References were made to the State’s high ranking nationally for incarceration in general, but also for the disparity of African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the prison population compared to the general population. The number one national ranking of women incarcerated in Oklahoma was underscored. The basic response of the clergy’s representative to the question was simply greed.

The second panel speaker represented the state legislature and non-profit organizations working to decrease the rate of the poor being incarcerated. The audience was greeted with information relative to the number and variety of programs that are meant to help relieve the number of people in poverty who are constantly being incarcerated for lack of funds to pay fees and fines. He focused on the need for attention and treatment of the mentally ill and drug addicts who would benefit greatly from pre-prison programs which would not destroy their efforts to rebuild their lives without a prison record. His response to the question of mass incarceration was a lack of funding for the programs that could help to eliminate the prison over-crowding conditions. He lamented that unfortunately, with the state suffering from a budget deficit of over one billion dollars, the likelihood of any programs receiving relief was slim to none at the present time.

The third and final panel speaker represented the criminal justice system; he brought with him many years of service in the law enforcement area. He defended the system by first disagreeing with the clergy with respect to the lack of fairness towards the poor and people of color. He maintained that every person in prison was there because he or she committed a crime or was found guilty by a jury. In essence, the people in prison are there because they deserve to be there. In his staunch defense of the system he never made reference to the system of poverty and neglect that the low socio-economic level of society experience or the exploitation they receive because they are easy prey. As far as he was concerned the system of criminal justice was totally impartial towards all citizens and made no difference because of ethnic, social, or economic status. His response to the question of mass incarceration was due to a lack of family values, education, and unemployment.

The responses of each panel member were offered to show how an audience can become frustrated when no one actually addressed the question. Each representative had a response, but not an answer to the question of why the mass incarceration. What they had to say was related directly to the problem of incarceration, but more to the effects of the system in place rather than an alternative to the system to decrease the prison population. If all we had to do in order to solve a problem is to say the words that identified how it could or should be resolved, then no problem would too big to solve.

Unfortunately, the panel never approached the real issue involving mass incarnation because they were talking at each other rather than communicating with one another. An example should underscore the problem. If the three panel members were riding in a car and suddenly to car started to move erratically, one might suggest that the cause is the rough road; another might say the cause was maybe a flax tire, still the third one might suggest in might be a problem with the car. All three individuals might be correct to an extent, but they will never know for certain until they stop the car, get out and look for the cause of the problem. If it turns out to be a flax tire, they must decide if they will changes the flax tire and put on the spare, or call the auto club to come and fix the problem or should they call someone to come and pick them up and deal with the car later. First, the three people must agree that the problem is the flat tire. Once they agree on that, they must also agree on what plan of action to take. Finally, they must put the plan of action into effect or all their efforts will have gone for nothing.

What panel discussion organizers and participants should keep in mind when offering problem solving information are plans that can be put into effect to address solving the problem. Most people know what the problem is and how it manifests itself with them and the community. They want to know how to go about resolving the problem—do they sign petitions, join protest groups, donate money to organizations fight for the cause, start groups, write letters? The people want to be given an avenue of approach for working toward resolving the problem. Words are important, but change comes from action.

Paul R. Lehman, An investigation of the Baltimore police by the DOJ will reflect systemic problems

May 8, 2015 at 12:08 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal activity, democracy, Department of Justice, discrimination, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Freddie Gray, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, lower class, minority, police force, poor, poverty, Prejudice, President Obama, social justice system, socioeconomics | Leave a comment
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The mayor of Baltimore has asked the Department of Justice to look into the practices of the police force in her city. Although the results of such an investigation might help improve the community relations, the real problem that leads to conflicts time and time again is never mentioned—the system invented and managed by the majority society. We have heard the terms system and culture many times when the condition of the police and community relations is discussed. Unfortunately, discussing both the system and the culture of any city and its supporting elements does not focus on the cause of the problem and therefore cannot offer a remedy for the problems. A few observers recognize and understand some aspects of the system. For example, Michael Gerson of the Washington Post Writers Group, wrote in an article, ”The intricate knot of urban poverty,” about the problems facing Baltimore and how different aspects of the system affects its progress.

Gerson commented on an aspect of police attitude in Baltimore:”An element of the police—on the evidence, a relatively small element—became desensitized during its daily application of power. One result can be dehumanization, which may help explain Freddie Gray’s long, last trip.” He continued: “But some of the worst outcomes are not found in abuses of the system but in its design: a cycle of incarceration and return that reinforces criminality.” Actually, Gerson confuses the system with the culture when he references “abuses of the system.” What he does not understand is that the system was invented to dehumanize people of color as well as people of low socio-economic status. The abuse is actually a manifestation of the system expressed through the local culture. The police did not develop a concept of viewing people of color in a denigrating way prior to joining the force; society had already accomplished that part of the training.

To his credit, Gerson does recognize other conditions contributing to the problems of poverty and incarceration, but noted that “So, the imposition of order in impoverished communities through police and prisons is possible but costly, prone to abuse and probably unsustainable at the scale we have seen.” He then asked the question “What can be done to encourage economically and healthy communities where order is self-creating a imposed?” He answered the question by referring to the government’s role in why these poverty-related problems exist: “The reason reflects the complexity of the problem. Large economic trends, particularly globalization and the technological revolution, have pushed the blue-collar economy in many places into a permanent slump. Wages have stagnated or declined and workforce participation has fallen.”

He further noted that “At the same time, the connection between child-bearing and marriage has been broken. Chronically stressed parents—often single parents—have less time and fewer resources to invest in their children. Community institutions, including public schools, are weak.” He next associated these conditions with the police: “When children get into trouble, there is little support structure for addiction treatment and legal help. We cannot expect police power to confront these complex, interrelated difficulties.” For help in these circumstances, Gerson added:” But someone, in addition to local religious and community leaders need to try.”

Finally, Gerson pointed to individuals on the “right,” Rep. Paul Ryan, and Sen. Marco Rubio who offered suggestions relative to the problems of urban poverty. On the “left,” he listed President Obama and Hillary Clinton and their suggestions to deal with the problems as well. He noted that all of the suggestion offered by both the right and left were “insufficient to the scale of the problem. Much about the justice and unity of our country will depend on the increased ambition of their next iteration.” What next iteration? The system converts any and all new ideas into feeding itself. Apparently, Gerson does not understand that all suggestions regarding urban poverty, the police, incarceration, employment, education, and justice are all part of the system—a system that has always viewed people of color and others as having little or no social value, and that viewpoint has served to justify the treatment they have experienced over the years.

Regarding the system and the police, if education and instructions focusing on systemic changes are not required for the police force to treat everyone justly and fairly with clear and definitive repercussion for failure to do so, the officers will exhibit the lack of value society has told them to exert towards people they regard as have little or not social value. The system provides the concepts and attitudes toward the people; the culture of each department determines how those concepts and attitudes will be manifested.

If some people were surprised to see three African Americans pictured along with the three European American officers arrested from Baltimore and wondered how that was possible, the answer has to do with the culture in the department and the importance of group identity and solidarity. In most local departments the culture is usually established by the majority before the minority members are employed. If the minority members buck the culture, they are ousted.

If the Department of Justice decides to investigate the Baltimore Police Department, chances are it will discover what has been discovered in most police departments—a pattern of discrimination against African Americans and other people of color over and beyond their percentage of the total population. That discrimination results in arrests, fines, and finally, incarcerations. Gerson suggested that the reason has to do with poverty, and that certainly has some impact on the problem, but to get at the primary cause one has to examine the nature of the system that created the problems. We do not have to look far to recognize bigotry as the main ingredient that continues to engage in a system of control over people of color as well as people of low socio-economic status.

If progress is to be made with respect to the plethora of social injustices that are presently represented in the lives of many American citizens, then the cause of these injustices must be discovered and addressed. Unfortunately, when one discovers the cause of the injustices, another problem is added to the ones already at hand. No one seemingly wants to be made uncomfortable if it means relief and benefits for another for whom one apparently holds little social value.

Paul R. Lehman, Group identity, not Party, the key to Republican victory

November 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Posted in American history, American Racism, Civil War, Congress, democracy, Democrats, entitlements, equality, European American, lower class, minority, political tactic, politicians, poor, President, President Obama, Race in America, Republican Party, socioeconomics, the Republican Party, upper class, whites | 1 Comment
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The results of the recent election came as a surprise to many people because they thought that many of the issues touched the lives of enough people until they would go to the poles and cast their votes in support of the people who would look out for their best interest. Unfortunately, in many instances, that was not the case and many people were disappointed. Had they given serious thought to what has been taking place recently in politics relative to history and group dynamics, they would have not been surprised.
What were at stake in this election were not so much the issues, but the survival of the group—the conservative European Americans (whites) against change. With the creation of a white race, the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons also made manifest certain beliefs, attitudes and conditions that would represent aspects of the race (group). Regardless of the numerous aspects of group membership, loyalty, dedication, and unity were required under any condition, even loss of personal goods, property and religious practices. So, the importance and protection of group membership was understood to be the top priorities from the beginning. For European Americans, loosing their white identity would be like excommunication from the church or being shunned from the family. For some European Americans, having a white identity was/is the only thing of social value they have.
Since the election of Barack Obama as President, the wheels were set in motion to eliminate and discredit him. We all can recall the words of Sen. Mitch O’Connell before Obama had taken office to prevent him another term. We can also recall the affect that attitude had on the Congress that led to it being referred to as the “Congress of No.” What was not made clear to the public was why this negative attitude and disrespect towards the new President was necessary. The answer is change; Obama’s election as an African American signaled a change in the group dynamics of America’s social structure. The social value of African Americans had never been a real concern for European Americans since they created, represented, promoted and controlled the “white race” and its standards of normalcy. That normalcy included only European Americans in the group. Obama represented a threat to the group’s unity.
The plan set in motion for the recent election followed the plan in effect since Obama’s election—blame him for everything, and praise him for nothing. In essence, Obama was made the target and represented evil, doom, destruction, despair, and of course, change. His name was to become synonymous with everything that can and does go wrong in society and the world. When anything occurred in society, Obama critics found a way to place the blame on him: problems with immigration, border security, foreign policy, the national debt, climate changes, Ebola, and a host of other things. So, when the recent election ads began to show up, no one was surprised that Obama was who the candidates were running against. The office the candidates were running for were not really of consequence, the party identity was the most important concern, and the code word for unity was Obama.
To underscore the point that group unity was the most important concern of the Republican Party we have only to look at the campaign advertisements of the candidates. Regardless of the office the candidate was running for, the important code word—Obama was found in it. The reference to Obama in the ads was not necessarily directed to Obama but the candidate’s affiliation with Obama and/or his policies or actions. This plan of making Obama the target was not only used on the national level, but also in state and local elections.
The importance of group unity took precedence over common sense issues as in the case of a number of states including Kansas, Arkansas, and Nebraska where the minimum wage issue was on the ballet and passed. However, the candidates who were against this issue were voted into office. The irony in these cases cannot be avoided—why would a citizen vote against his or her own best interest on one hand and for it on the other? The answer seems to be that group loyalty takes priority over personal interest.
In addition to the republicans holding to their group unity plan, even a number of Democratic candidates chose group loyalty over political party membership. In a number of races on both national and state level some democratic candidates distanced themselves from President Obama; they did not want their constituents to think that they supported Obama. They wanted to show their group members that they were still part of the group although they represented a different political party. They knew that the battle for their group was not so much the election victory, but the group victory to hold off social change.
What many of the voters never realize is the fact that they have been and continue to be exploited by the ruling class or “Titans” of their group. According to Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race, this group of poor and working class European American people who vote against their own best interest are used as:
“the Great Safety Valve, the system of racial privileges conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, poor and exploited though they themselves were. That has been the main historical guarantee of the rule of the ‘Titans,’ damping down anti-capitalist pressures by making ‘race, and not class, the distinction in social life.’ This more than any other factor, has shaped the ‘contours of American history.”
For Allen, the plan of the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons has always been to keep an actual gap between themselves and the lesser member of the group while exploiting them, but making them believe that their membership in the group offered them a feeling of superiority over other non-European groups—that is their reward in exchange for their votes.
Another irony of American politics occur when African Americans are accused of using the so-called race card to gain somewhat of an advantage over an opponent; the fact of the matter is that whenever the race card is brought into play, the European Americans benefit because race is a code word used to marshal their safety valve—group members.

Paul R. Lehman, We are not coming back, says Rabbi Pruzansky, because of Obama.

October 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, Congress, democracy, Democrats, discrimination, employment, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, identity, integregation, liberty, life, lower class, Medicare, minority, politicians, poor, President Obama, Respect for President, state Government, upper class | 1 Comment
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In a recent article entitled “We Are Not Coming Back,” by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a Jewish Rabbi from Teaneck, New Jersey, he laments the state of affairs in America and places the blame on President Barack Obama, totally disregarding facts, history, Congress, and common logic. His article appeared in The Israel National News. We will take a look at this article in an effort to enlighten the Rabbi.
The claim the Rabbi makes via Obama’s election is that “We are not coming back.” What specifically does he mean? Where would we come back to? Times when we had dirt roads, when women could not vote, when we had outdoor toilets, back when Jews and other lesser Americans were being discriminated against? Because the article begins with an illogical statement, we can safely assume that the remainder will be opinions and conjecture regarding the state of affairs. We are not disappointed in that respect when the Rabbi noted that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because he did not get enough votes, but then added:” That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.” He does not include justice, fairness, charity, compassion, care for the poor and helpless in his virtues—things that America is known for around the world and at home.
The reason he gave for Romney’s loss to Obama “was because it is impossible to compete against “free stuff.”Under ordinary circumstances we might give him the benefit of the doubt, but he began to employ code words of the right-wing conservatives that point an accusing finger to people of color as well as poor people as villains rather than victims:
Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.
What the Rabbi fails to point out is that long before Obama, President Reagan attacked the unions in an effort to destroy them—he fired 11,000 Air Traffic controllers. In addition, he made it easy for businesses to file reorganization bankruptcy which caused workers to loose their salaries, employment benefits, retirements, and health benefits, along with other perks. Add to these conditions in the workforce, the introduction of NAFTA. In addition to the jobs that were lost through union busting and bankruptcy, many employers started to move their businesses outside of America, thereby displacing thousands of working Americans.
We certainly recognize that some people will play any system that is created to help people in need, but to characterize all the people needing food stamps and unemployment insurance as recipients of “free stuff” are un-American. A worker cannot receive unemployment insurance unless he or she has worked and contributed to the insurance fund through the employer. So, what is society to do with the American citizens who are in need? Ignore them? That is not who we are as a society.
We also noted that the Rabbi did not mention the “free stuff” the government gave to the banks, corporations, and industries, while the Congress failed to pass a minimum wage. Even one of the world’s riches men, Warren Buffet, complained that his secretary paid more income tax than he.
So, according to the Rabbi, the “giveaways” and “free stuff” represent the first reason for Romney’s defeat. He added that Obama’s actions also helped to point out the second reason: “That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism.”Although this comment was meant for liberals and democrats, it also represents the people who continue to vote against their own best interest, especially in the red states.
A known fact in America today is that the majority of the wealth is owned by one percent of the population. We also know that the average wage has not gone up along with inflation. Because of the wide gap in income, we know that the middleclass is disappearing. So, people are working more and making less. Still the Rabbi noted:
Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending.
What are people to think when Congress wants to not raise minimum wages, cut health insurance, not fund workers compensation, but continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy? What the Rabbi did not mention, however, was that today, the economy has recovered from the 2008 fall, banks and businesses are making large profits, the unemployment rate is down to 2008 level, and the deficit has been cut in half. So, why preach doom and gloom?
None-the-less, the Rabbi sadly predicts a win in 2016 of Hillary Clinton because she will follow Obama’s lead. He closes with the statement: If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back. The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”How illogical and irrational can one be? America and the world are constantly changing.
The Rabbi places all the responsibility for all the ills, as he sees them in society, on President Obama. Any person with knowledge of history and government knows that in a democracy we have three divisions of government, not a dictator. No, we are not coming back, and indeed, we should not even think of going backwards to whatever he had in mind. The Rabbi should gather his facts and history then provide for his audience with positive information that can be used to build on, not tear down and despair over. The Rabbi should be ashamed of himself.

Paul R. Lehman, Real changes in the community must come from the top down

September 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, discrimination, equality, European American, fairness, liberty, lower class, poor, Prejudice, race, racism, socioeconomics, The Huffington Post, whites | 1 Comment
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When the Michael Brown tragedy occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, many people were dismayed that such a thing could happen. Sometime, it takes a tragedy to bring to the surface other equally discomforting things as well. We hear about people organizing to make things better for the community and especially better police and community relations. Usually, the focus of attention is on the event that just occurred and what caused it. In Ferguson we learned that out of a total of fifty-three policemen, only three or four were African American, when the population percentage of African Americans is around sixty-seven percent. The answer to resolving the police-community relations problem, according to some, is to hire more African Americans on the police force. Unfortunately, that would not solve the problem.
If we want to get to the heart of the problem that contributed to the death of Michael Brown, then hiring more police will not accomplish that objective. The real problem has to do with the treatment of African Americans with respect to fairness and justice. The problems of fairness and justice for African Americans will not be addressed or resolved by adding more African Americans to the police force if the perception, attitude, and behavior of the people in charge of the police do not change.
What incidents like the one in Ferguson shows is that the problem of community relations does not rest with the police force; the problem is systemic. The police behavior is simply one manifestation of the mind-set of the community leaders. The various elected officials from the mayor to the dog-catcher play a part in forming the attitude of the community relative to its citizens. Therefore, when searching for a cause of the problem relative to police behavior towards the African American community, one has to look at who controls the police.
One journalist looking into the community relations in areas near Ferguson discovered a pattern of unjust actions that places undue stress on the African American communities in the St. Louis area. For example, the greatest police-related instances taken from police reports occur in African American communities. The greatest percentage of traffic violations reported occurred in African American communities. The greatest percentage of arrest reported by the police occurred in African American communities. Why? We can not simply look at the police force for an answer.
Taken individually, the statistics seem to suggest that the African Americans are the worst drivers in the area, and they give the police more cause for arrest. However, when looked at collectively, we recognize that the majority of the African Americans stopped for traffic violations are poor, low-wage workers. When stopped by the police, whether they committed a violation or not, they do not usually complain. They do not complain because of the history of negative consequences associated with being African American and uncooperative with the police. The police not only know that African Americans understand this situation, but also depend on it working successfully in issuing tickets. The entire process is part of the system for general income for the community.
Many police departments depend on the poor, powerless communities of people of color to generate money to operate their local government. Usually, the poor do not have the extra money available to pay a large traffic fine. So, in some communities, if one cannot pay, they go to jail. If they go to jail, the family, friends, and often the employers of the jailed person will come up with the money. If not, the person jailed will usually lose his or her job, incur bills that cannot be paid, leave children to the mercy of available family or foster care, and in some instances lose their home and transportation. Why? They get caught in the system because they are powerless and defenseless and therefore, easy prey. The cause of their problems is not the police force; they just follow the instructions of the administrators.
Part of the problems comes from ignorance and prejudice of European Americans towards the African American and people of color in the community. The ignorance and prejudice comes from perception. Sean McElwee, in an article for Huffington.com, “Five Signs We’re Not a ‘Post-Racial’ Society” noted that
“In the wake of the Ferguson shooting, a recent Pew poll finds that 47 percent of whites believe that “race is getting more attention than it deserves,” with regards to the death of Michael Brown, while only 18 percent of African-Americans feel the same. Meanwhile, a similar Pew study found that whites are far less likely to see discrimination in the treatment blacks receive by the education system, the courts and hospitals. Such views are held by many Americans, who believe that “blacks are mostly responsible for their own condition.” Police killings of unarmed blacks are certainly the most visible manifestation of systemic racism, but data show that racism still manifests itself frequently in everyday life.”
The shooting of Michael Brown created an opportunity for all the citizens to see the actual conditions of the community and not rely on rumor and opinions. Armed with the facts of just how much African Americans are treated unjustly and unfairly, the citizens can began to organize themselves into groups that will act to address many of these problems. When concerned people in the community realize the degree to which the poor and people of color are exploited, they should be moved to some level of action.
Change will come to the community, not just Ferguson, when the leaders from the top on down adjust their attitudes and become better informed relative to the people they serve, all the people they serve. Likewise, the poor, and people of color need to realize that they have power through the vote and public protest to make positive changes. However, as McElwee stated: “In America, race determines not just where someone lives and what school he or she attends, it affects the very air we breathe. Although many whites wish to believe we live in a “post-racial” society, race appears not just in overt discrimination but in subtle structural factors.
So, the problems relative to the police and the African American communities are not simply police problems, but problems that involve the entire system of government that devalues and under represents many of its citizens of color. Problem solving, however, must began at the top.

Paul R. Lehman, LBJ’S Great Society assessed by Geo. Will as a failure

May 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Posted in African American, American history, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, discrimination, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, European American, George Will, politicians, poor, poverty, President Lyndon B. Johnson, socioeconomics | Leave a comment
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In a recent article entitled, “50 years later, LBJ’s mixed legacy,”(05/18/2014) George Will expressed his reasons for thinking that all of Johnson’s efforts regarding his concept of the Great Society while seemingly a good government effort, created the problems our society is experiencing today. He stated:”In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing ‘just about always or most of the time’; today, 19 percent do. The former number is one reason Johnson did so much; the latter is one consequence of his doing so.”
In other words, according to Will, Johnson and his Great Society programs are the cause of the problems our society is experiencing today. Will referenced Nicholas Eberstadt and his work at the American Enterprise Institute for much of the statistics regarding this situation. For example, Will provide the following numbers: “Between 1959 and 1966—before the War on Poverty was implemented—the percentage of Americans living in poverty plunged by about one-third, from 22.4 to 14.7, slightly lower than in 2012.” Then he added: “But Eberstadt cautions, the poverty rate is ‘incorrigibly misleading’ because government transfer payments have made income levels and consumption levels significantly different.” More specifically, Will noted that :”’Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, disability payments, heating assistance and other entitlements have, Eberstadt says, made income ‘a poor predictor of spending power for lower-income groups.’”
What Will and Eberstadt did was to look at the statistics relative to what they call entitlements that were created as part of Johnson’s Great Society programs and made assessments as to the success or failure of those programs in achieving their objectives. We are told that anti-poverty policy has become institutionalized and created “a’ tangle of pathologies.’ Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined that phrase in his 1965 report calling attention to family disintegration among African Americans. The tangle, which now ensnares all races and ethnicities, includes welfare dependency and ‘flight from work.’”
Continuing his presentation of information regarding the problems created by Johnson’s Great Society programs, Will stated that “Twenty-nine percent of Americans live in households receiving means-tested benefits. And ‘the proportion of men 20 and older who are employed has dramatically and almost steadily dropped since the start of the War on Poverty, falling from 80.6 percent in January 1964 to 67.6 percent 50 years later.’” Will and Eberstadt presented this information as if this social phenomenon happened within a vacuum. No mention was made regarding the many government handouts made to the oil industry, banking industry, automobile industry and agricultural industry, to name a few. Nor did they mention the fact that the government provided opportunities for banking, corporations, and companies to reorganize and rid themselves of employees along with their retirement, healthcare and pensions. Also not mentioned was the disproportionate rate of incarceration of young African American men.
Will and Eberstadt took a very narrow view of Johnson’s Great Society programs with an emphasis on the negative aspects of them. The article continued with “For every adult man ages 20 to 64 who is between jobs and looking for work, more than three are neither working nor seeking work, a trend that began with the Great Society.” What Will and Eberstadt did not provide here were rational reasons for these adult men not being employed or finding employment. Their statement suggests that these men were not concerned with working or looking for work when other condition might have influenced their actions. For example, if some of these men were working for companies and the companies closed or relocated to another area or country, what were these men supposed to do? If the jobs were lost and replacement jobs were not available, the men and their communities found themselves in a quandary.
What appeared to be a direct attack on African Americans and a negative aspect of the Great Society programs was the following comment in the article:”And what Eberstadt calls ‘the earthquake that shook family structure in the era of expansive anti-poverty policies’ has seen out-of-wedlock births increase from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies.” Why the reference to “black babies”? Will and Eberstadt, evidently, wanted to point their fingers at African Americans as the villains who created this problem. But, not to divert too much attention away from the real cause of our social conditions, they returned their focus in the last portion of the article to LBJ.
After fifty years Will resolved that “LBJ’s starkly bifurcated [two-part] legacy includes the triumphant Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965—and the tragic aftermath of much of his other works.” So, rather than looking at the successful works, Will and Eberstadt take the other view:”Is It ‘simply a coincidence’ that male flight from work and family breakdown have coincided with Great Society policies, and that dependence on government is more widespread and perhaps more habitual than ever? Barry Goldwater’s insistent 1964 question is increasingly pertinent: ‘What’s happening to this country of ours?’”
The question is a very legitimate and valid one that deserves an answer. Will concentrated his attention of the policies from Johnson’s Great Society program and the people who relied on those programs now for support. What Will failed to focus on or even mention are the people and policies that created the need for the Great Society programs. We went to the book by Hedrick Smith, Who Stole The American Dream, (2013) for one explanation. He stated that:
In our New Economy, America’s super-rich have accumulated trillions in new wealth, far beyond anything in other nations, while the American middle-class has stagnated. What separates the Two Americans is far more than a wealth gap. It is a wealth chasm—“mind-boggling’ in its magnitude, says Princeton economist Alan Krueger. Wealth has flowed so massively to the top that during the nation’s growth spurt from 2002-2007, America’s super-rich, the top 1 percent (3 million people), reaped two-thirds of the nation’s entire economic gains. The other 99 percent were left with only one-third of the gains to divide among 310 million people. In 2010, the first full year of the economic recovery, the top 1 percent captured 93 percent of the nation’s gains.
Will never attempted to include the part that wealth and politics have played in bringing our society to the place it is today. He would rather blame it on Johnson’s policies meant to help the Americans in need. Regarding that matter, Smith continued:
Americans, more than people in other countries, accept some inequality as part of our life, as inevitable and even desirable—a reward for talent and hard work, an incentive to produce and excel. But wealth begets wealth, especially when reinforced through the influence of money in politics. Then the hyperconcentration of wealth aggravates the political cleavages in our society.
If LBJ’s policies and programs had been given an opportunity to work unencumbered and without other negative influences, our society would be a step closer to what he envisioned as a Great Society.

Paul R. Lehman, Rep. Paul Ryan’s comments about poverty shows he know not what it is.

March 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Posted in equality, fairness, justice, poor, Salon.com | 1 Comment
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Rep. Paul Ryan spoke to Bill Bennett recently about poverty in America and he cited Charles Murray, the author of the book, Coming Apart. Referring to Murray’s work, Ryan argued that poverty is, for the most part, the product of culture. More specifically, Ryan said that poverty is a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”Many people picked-up on the code phrases “inner cities,” “generations of men not working,” and “the culture of work,” as pertaining to African Americans. While those phrases might point to African Americans, the fact that Ryan chose to cite Murray expands the issue. Murray says in his book that African Americans were not brought into the mix regarding low IQ and race. He was writing primarily about people of European ancestry.
What is reflected in Ryan’s comments is the reality of what Murray wrote about, namely, the lack of communications and understanding of certain classes of Americans with other classes. In effect, Ryan speaks about something he knows very little of since he has never experienced it. Murray stated that: “a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship.” So, unless Ryan has closer ties with the new lower class than generally known, he is represented in the new upper class. Murray cleared up the cause of the gap between the two classes when he stated that: “divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.”
Ryan spoke about poverty as though he was very familiar with it. But his comments seem to belie the ignorance that does not understands poverty. For example, logistics has much to do with people living in poverty. For the poor living in an inner city where no jobs are available, to travel to the suburbs where some low-paying jobs are available represents a big challenge—transportation. But transportation is just the beginning of the problems. If things like uniforms, special shoes, and equipment are involved, from where will the money come to address those needs? In essence, although some jobs are available, the people wanting and needing those jobs may not have a way to get to them.
Even is jobs are available and in easy access to the poor, they have other important elements to consider before taking a job. For example, if a person is receiving public assistance each month, what will taking a job mean as far as income is concerned? Concerns like child care, food, clothes, transportation etc… must be considered. Sometimes, the person and his or her family is better off not taking the job if it will result in a lower level of living. The problem presented here is not whether the person wants to work or not, it is whether he or she can afford to take the job.
For Ryan to assume that people placed themselves in poverty because they did not want to work is a disconnect from the reality of the situation. Ryan, evidently, has forgotten or is ignorant of the part that our government played in creating poverty, and underlining it with ethnic prejudice and discrimination. But aside from the ethnic biases underscored by history, Ryan seems to be out of touch with reality relative to poverty. Again, Murray gives us some insight into why Ryan does not fully understand poverty or the poor: “The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures.” What created this difference is the way the two segments of society separate themselves. According to Murray, the gap is caused by “the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness.”
So, whether Ryan’s code phrases were meant to focus on African Americans or not, the fact remains that he, according to Murray, the author he cited, is “ignorant about life in mainstream America.” One question we might want to consider is how can Ryan represent the poor and working class people of his state when he is ignorant of their real-life situation? Another question is how can the poor and working-class people think that Ryan has their best interest at heart when he has no knowledge of what their best interest is? None-the-less, Ryan maintains that: “So there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
Since Ryan is, in effect, ignorant of the real problems of poverty, one wonders how he can realistically address them. Elias Isquith, a writer on Salon.com stated concerning Ryan’s interview that Ryan was on the Bennett show “in part to promote his recent “survey” of the government’s many anti-poverty initiatives, nearly all of which Ryan believes do more to perpetuate poverty than reduce or eliminate it…” He adds, “a conclusion that’s been strongly criticized by others, including some of the academics Ryan references in the study itself.”
So, included in Ryan’s plan to deal with the culture of poverty problem is to cut many of the government services and let charities and sports fans get involved. Ryan needs to go back to school and re-read American history; especially the period starting with the late 1970’s when the poor, working-class, and middle class came under attack by business. He needs to learn how the culture of poverty was really created by people loosing jobs, pensions, salaries, and other benefits that have yet to be recovered and possibly never will be. He needs to learn how to relate and communicate with the majority of the people he presumably represents.

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