Paul R. Lehman, The Department of Justice Report on Ferguson and America.

March 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, Darren Wilson, democracy, Department of Justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, Ferguson, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, liberty, Michael Brown, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, state Government, The New York Times, tribalism, whites | 1 Comment
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The Department of Justice just recently published its report on the city of Ferguson, in an effort to get a clear picture of the community relations involving African American citizens. Since before the death of Michael Brown, the African American citizens had been complaining about the unfair and abusive treatment they have received from the police department as well as the municipal court and jail. Many outsiders questioned the complaints made by some of the African American citizens because of the trust and expectation for justice that has always been a part of common belief relative to these entities. The DOJ’s report should give some credence to the African American citizens’ complaints.

A typical example of what the report indicated regarding a community 67% African American and the percentage of African Americans stopped by the police. The report indicated that over the past 2 years, the police conducted traffic stops where 85% were African Americans. From those stops, 90% of the African American citizens were issued tickets. In addition, the record shows that 93% of the total arrests were of African Americans. Finally, 95% of the stops made by the police were for Jaywalking. The report further indicated that African Americans were two times as likely to have their autos searched than European Americans (whites) and if arrested, African Americans represented 95% of citizens kept in jail more than 2 days.

Other aspects of the report serve to underscore the systemic discrimination and abuse perpetrated on the African American citizens of Ferguson by the municipal and police agencies. Because of the amount of monies generated from the citizens’ arrest, fines, and incarcerations the report indicated that it constituted 21% of the city’s budget. The DOJ sees the means for collecting that money as a violation of the citizens’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. In effect, the operation of the city of Ferguson, in part, is dependant on the unfair and unjust treatment of its African American citizens.

To those American citizens who had doubts relative to the reports of African American citizens who raised complaints regarding the treatment they experienced by the police and other public agencies, the report should be sobering, to say the least. However, if the reaction of those Americans who do not feel that this DOJ report reflects only on the people of Ferguson, they are sadly mistaken. If they choose not to realize that ethnic bigotry and discrimination is an American problem, then they are living in an illusion. Some police and local governmental official can no longer use the excuse that only a few “bad apples” create the problems that the entire department or agency must bear. When we look at the numbers in the report, we must conclude the possibility of a number of things: one, the problem of bigotry is part of the system, or two, only the “bad apples” do most of the work.

If the arguments of only the “bad apples” create the community relations problems involving the African Americans, and the police and municipal government know this as a fact, why have they let it continue without recognizing the injustices and moved to correct them? One reason has to do with the community being conditioned to see the police as “never at fault” in making an arrest or using deadly force. The number of African American men killed during police interaction in the past two years is proof that something is not working in the African American’s favor. When one public official from Ferguson was asked about the large percentage of African American arrests, he shifted the responsibility to the people being arrested by saying that they should not have committed an offence or they deserved to be arrested.

While the DOJ report is important and informative, the conditions in Ferguson will not change unless and until some definite action to address and correct the problems are pursued, and soon. To many of the European American officials in Ferguson, the problem is minor and simply involved hiring a few people of color and maybe dismissing a few employees. Unfortunately, they do not realize that they are part of the problem—their mind-set does not encompass the systemic presence of bigotry. They are not exceptions, many European Americans do not understand, accept, or appreciate the presence of ethnic bigotry in America. We must await the reaction from the citizens of Ferguson to the following statements in the article, U.S.|​NYT, “Now Ferguson Police Tainted by Bias, Justice Department Says,” by MATT APUZZO and JOHN ELIGON, MARCH 4, 2015:

“The Justice Department on Wednesday called on Ferguson, Mo., to overhaul its criminal justice system, declaring that the city had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could be corrected only by abandoning its entire approach to policing, retraining its employees and establishing new oversight.”

That statement did not call for the hiring or firing of a few individuals, but “to overhaul its criminal justice system.”Obviously, simply replacing parts of the present system will not suffice. Chances are the officials in Ferguson do not view the problems in the same context as the Justice Department. The problems as the DOJ see them are systemic, not modular. The next statement is more specific and direct relative to the experiences encountered by the African Americans citizens of Ferguson”

“In one example after another, the report described a city that used its police and courts as moneymaking ventures, a place where officers stopped and handcuffed people without probable cause, hurled racial slurs, used stun guns without provocation, and treated anyone as suspicious merely for questioning police tactics.”

Many European Americans do not see ethnic bigotry as a systemic problem affecting all Americans; rather they see it as separate instances involving individuals with personal problems. That might explain the Ferguson police department and municipal authority’s initial reaction to the report. Ferguson is not an isolated example of the refusal to accept ethnic bigotry as an American problem. However, if Americans do not recognize and accept their responsibility as part of the problem, then little positive change will take place. They need to see bigotry from their inside out, rather than from the outside only. The problems of Ferguson are America’s problems; America needs to address them.

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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, Ferguson, Missouri will represent a positive change in America.

August 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil War, Constitutional rights, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, freedom of speech, justice, liberty, lower class, minority, public education, race, Slavery, socioeconomics, Southern states, state Government, The Oklahoman, upper class | 2 Comments
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We have seen and heard about the treatment of African Americans by the police establishment from the East coast to the West coast and many places in between. Sometimes the question “why does this pattern of aggression by the police against African Americans exist? Whether than trying to answer that question now, we must first take a look at why the attitude and behavior of the police establishment is in question in the first place. Then, we will understand what is going on in our society relative to the African American community and the police today.
When slavery was in its early years in America, race and color were insignificant because the objective was profit. Slavery was always a business and the only value slaves had to their owners was measured in dollars. However, the English brought over to the new world the concept of Africans as a lower order of humans and were not viewed as equal to the Europeans. Most slaves were treated equally bad except with respect to the European (white) slaves. Even as slaves, they were given special treatment as we learn from history:
In 1705, masters were forbidden to ‘whip a Christian white servant naked.’ Nakedness was for brutes, the uncivil, the non-Christian. That same year, all property—horses, cattle, and hogs’—was confiscated from slaves and sold by the church wardens for the benefit of poor whites. By means of such acts, social historian Edmond Morgan argues, the tobacco planters and ruling elite of Virginia raised the legal status of lower-class whites relative to that of Negroes and Indians, whether free, servant, or slave (The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, p.35).
So, from the very beginning, people of color were discriminated against in favor of Europeans. The term “Christian” was used as pertaining to people from Europe who were considered civilized. The importance of this history is to note the lack of social value or respect given to people of color and especially Africans and African Americans.
When we move ahead one hundred and fifty years to the Civil War period, we find the same attitude and sentiment regarding the lack of social value and respect withheld from the African Americans by the majority society. The need to keep total control of the African Americans after the Civil War by the majority society can be seen in the laws that were created by the various states; those laws were known throughout the South as the Black Codes. These codes further established and endorsed the devaluing of the African American as we see in the reference to the Mississippi Black Code:
The status of the Negro was the focal problem of Reconstruction. Slavery had been abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment, but the white people of the South were determined to keep the Negro in his place, socially, politically, and economically. This was done by means of the notorious “Black Codes,” passed by several of the state legislatures. Northerners regarded these codes as a revival of slavery in disguise. The first such body of statues, and probably the harshest, was passed in Mississippi in November 1865. (http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/122/recon/code.html)
The perception of respect and social value of the African Americans began to change after the Brown v Topeka Board of Education case in 1954, and continued on through the Civil Rights Acts of 1964-1968. America’s changes were starting to become more inclusive of African Americans regarding Constitutional and Civil Rights, much to the dismay of many did not like or want the changes. Throughout America’s early history the need to recognize and respect the presence and rights of the African American were so low that the phrase “A ‘n’ ain’t worth shit” pretty much summed-up the sense of value society had for the African Americans.
When we look at the relationships the police nation-wide have with communities of color, especially African Americans, we see reflected the same old attitudes and perceptions that have long been a staple of the European American mind-set. Regardless of the visible changes occurring in America today edging more towards an ethnically diverse society, many Americans refuse to accept the change. The police departments generally reflect the attitude of the majority society and therefore, see not a unified community, but two—one European American (white), and those who are not—generally people of color.
What the nation is experiencing in Ferguson, Missouri is not something totally unexpected, but an example of a changing society. As we morn the loss of the many African Americans to the bigotry and biases of the old mind-set expressed through law enforcement agencies, etc…, we can take heart in the fact that they do not die in vain, but in an effort to bring to the fore the problems that must be addressed in society to meet the changes that must take place. Ferguson, as well as the nation, will be a better place for all to live once the problems of representation and cooperation are addressed—problems that would have remained hidden without the tragedy of loss. As a society, we have yet to recognize and debunk the fallacy of race. No problems of equality, fairness, and justice will ever be resolved in America as long as people see themselves as black and white. No such races exist except as part of an illusion.
To underscore the lack of understanding of this problem, we turn to a comment made by Michael Gerson in a recent article, “The paradox of diversity,” where he noted concerning Ferguson, Missouri:
“But events in Ferguson demonstrate the paradox of American diversity: An increasing multicultural nation remains deeply divided by race and class. There are many more friendships and marriages between white and minority Americans (about one in 12 marriages is interracial)—but at the same time racially charged suspicions and anger persists among millions. And a broad perception of our own racial acceptance has created a different form of isolation—a self-satisfaction that obscures or masks deep social divisions. (The Oklahoman, 8/16/2014)
Gerson’s comments represent the problem and the solution in that the nation is divided, but changing to a less racial society. The changes will come as a result of the actions of the people who are adversely affected by the problems that are uncovered when the actions of the society, or a police force, raises their, as well as the rest of society’s consciousness. As a nation, we must continue to tear down the wall of races that separates us unnecessarily. The times are changing, and we cannot stop that.

Paul R. Lehman, Our changing society demands a new sense of value for each of us

September 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Civil War, Congress, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, identity, immigration, integregation, Prejudice, President, President Obama, Race in America, segregation, Slavery, Southern states, state Government, The Thirteenth Amendment, The U.S. Constitution, whites | Leave a comment
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We read or hear on almost a daily basis, accounts of the shooting death of a young African American. We have experienced this sort of news so frequently that it almost seems routine. Of course, we know that death of young people is never routine. The public, in general, seem to accept the news as something of little importance. Why? Maybe the reason for a seemingly lack of interest by the public is based on learning and past experiences. What seems to be the case relative to the shooting and deaths of young African Americans is a public that does not see value in African American lives; this lack of value for African American lives is part of the legacy of American history beginning with Reconstruction after the Civil War.
Once the Civil War was over, the former slave masters and people in the slave business were no longer concerned with the value of former slaves; they were now free. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution stated that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” So, once freed, the African American did not carry the same value to society that the slave carried. Under the laws of the states, especially in the South, the concern and focus was not on the value of the African Americans, but on the avenues of approach needed to recapture their labor as cheaply as possible. In essence, laws were created to exploit the newly freed African Americans for whatever purpose the European American society felt necessary.
The laws created by many of the Southern states to control the African Americans came to be known as “The Black Codes.” These laws tried to recapture the powers of the slave masters that were loss as a result of the Civil War. The first set of these laws came from the state of Mississippi. History tells us that “the first such law was enacted on November 22, 1865. It directed civil officers to hire orphaned African Americans and forbade the orphans to leave their place of employment for any reason. Orphans were typically compensated with a free place to live, free meals, and some type of nominal wage.” In addition, we learn that “other white employers were prohibited from offering any enticement to blacks “employed” by someone else.”
Mississippi passed other laws that restricted the movement of African Americans; some laws even required them to carry papers to provide information of their employment. The objective was to recreate the master-slave relationship, but with the protection of the state laws. History shows that “Within a few months after Mississippi passed its first such law, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina followed suit by enacting similar laws of their own.” The Congress recognized what these Southern states were doing and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This Act did little to change the attitude of the European Americans and the social value of the African Americans until the first half of the twentieth century.
In America, the laws passed by the Federal government did not change the mind-set of many Americans concerning the value of the African American. As late as 1970, Peter Loewenberg, in an article, “The Psychology of Racism,” made the comment that “In the unconscious of the bigot the black represents his own repressed instincts which he fears and hates and which are forbidden by his conscience as it struggles to conform to the values professed by society.” Loewenberg continued by stating that “This is why the black man becomes the personification of sexuality’ lewdness, laziness, dirtiness, and unbridled hostility. He is the symbol of voluptuousness and the immediate gratification of pleasure.” Loewenberg referred to the experience encountered by biased European Americans as a form of projection. He added that “These feelings are easily associated with low status or tabooed groups such as Negroes. Blacks are pictured in the unconscious imagery of the white majority as dark and odorous, aggressive, libidinal, and threatening.”
Many of the changes that have occurred in American society towards valuing all human beings since 1964 have been on the shoulders of the African Americans. One of the major changes by African Americans to see themselves differently from how European Americans viewed them was to change the connotation of black from negative to positive. The cultural references of the late 60s and 70s reinforced the positive value of being a black in America with phrases like “Black and Proud, or “Black and Beautiful,” as well as a host of others. Nevertheless, the changes that affected the African American population did not place any stress or feelings of commitment of change with the European American community.
We have a tendency to forget that the public schools were desegregated, not integrated. So, the curriculum did not change to include the many positive contributions of African Americans in building our great society. The history taught was the same as before Brown v. Topeka, the only difference was African Americans were allowed in the classrooms. The norm for the European Americans did not change simply because the laws did. If nothing happens to change the way Americans look at each other, then the same old negative stereotype that has been associated with ethnic Americans will still be in place. Education has done little to change the way European Americans view African Americans as well as other ethic Americans. That has to change if we are ever to value one another.
When Barack Obama became President of the United States, many Americans seemed to have lost their sense of respect for the office of the president because it was occupied by an African American. The negative attitude of not valuing non-European ethnic Americans continues today because we as a society have not worked hard enough to eliminate the ignorance associated with race, ethnicity, and diversity. Through ignorance and bigotry many Americans have failed to recognize the truth of who we are as human beings and to value each other. Laws cannot change attitudes, but people working together can effect change. Chances are that when we start viewing each person as a valued member of society, we will start treating them differently. Whether we like it or not, America is changing into a more ethnically diverse society, and the sooner we realize that we cannot go back to the 1800s, and accept the reality of our diversity, the sooner the madness of hatred and bigotry can start to decrease. We, as a society cannot afford the luxury of sitting back waiting for others to make the first move towards creating a better society where young Africans Americans are not shot everyday; its time we act.

Paul R. Lehman, Justice Scalia comments on Voting Right Act show bias

March 5, 2013 at 12:27 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Prejudice, state Government, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 2 Comments
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When Supreme Court justice Athoni Scalia made a comment concerning voting rights last week, he readily got the attention of many people, including a number of his colleagues. He got their attention when he used a certain phrase that created cause for concern in how he looks at the right to vote. Part of his comments were:”I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

The phrase that caused concern is “perpetuation of racial entitlement” because it opened the door to a number of interpretations. Depending on how one interprets the word “entitlement” the fact that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of every citizen to vote would not make voting an entitlement. On the other hand, if one interprets the word “entitlement” as a “right,” then the question of his use of the word “racial” comes into play; that is, he would be suggesting that a racial right exists. If, however, someone interprets the words “racial entitlement,” as a reference to a group of people receiving special privilege, then the third word “perpetuation,” becomes more significant in that the entire phrase can be interpreted as a continuation of giving special privilege to a certain group of people based on their ethnicity.
The problems involving voter registration before and during the last election brought to public scrutiny how some states were attempting to prevent some citizens from voting. Scalia’s use of the phrase “racial entitlement” does not have a place in the discussion on voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear on who can vote and where they can vote: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The wording of the Amendment note specifically that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nowhere in this Amendment is there a reference to race or entitlement. So, why would he use such a phrase?
On a number of occasions, Justice Scalia has made statements that could be interpreted as having an ethnic bias. With that in mind, we learned that Rep. Jim Clyburn reacted “on the latest Supreme Court’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act and he had some harsh words for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia saying that his criticism of the landmark civil rights legislation is rooted in the fact that he is ‘white and proud.’”(Fox Nation) In essence, Clyburn sees Scalia as having a bias towards non European Americans.
One wonders why Justice Scalia would possess any inkling of bias against minority Americans seeing that his father was an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife’s parents were immigrants from Italy as well. The fact that most Italians prior to 1952 were viewed along with other ethnic minorities as non-white, led to the immigration of people from Italy, Poland, Russia and Greece being drastically cut. One must assume that Scalia as a youth was not subjected to the ethnic discrimination that would have created for him some memorable experiences that might serve as a base for dealing with prejudice.
If Jim Clyburn’s statement has any creditability regarding Scalia being “white and proud,” then we have an idea of why he might view ethnic Americans in a different light from the way he views so-called whites. The self-conception of European Americans after World War II as being the only true Americans must have been the philosophy adopted by Scalia, since he see himself as white. The idea for “white” being the true Americans and superior to all other Americans must have been a comforting through to Scalia. Unfortunately, those concepts were false along with the concept of multiple, biological races. Nonetheless, bigots still hold on to their beliefs and display them at opportune times.
Rachel Maddow on the Jon Stewart show (3-1-13) talked about the fact that the Rosa Parks statue was being unveiled during the time the Supreme Court was meeting on the Voting Right Act. She noted that Scalia used that time to make his suggestive statement. She said:
“He’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows its offensive and he knows he’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, which he got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread who is using the n-word. ‘Oh, it made you mad? How about if I say this? Does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?’ He’s that guy! He’s that kind of guy! When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive while talking about the cornerstone of the federal Civil Rights Act, he’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah!'”
In his language and behavior, Scalia seems to be saying that he is not only white but also a Supreme Court Justice, so he can say anything he want to say without fear of reprisal. To not be aware of our country’s history on race is not good for a Judge. For a justice to display a biased character from the bench is worse.
According to Maddow, Scalia loves to make people angry by making these uncalled for remarks, but they get him the attention he wants. Let us hope he does not influence any of the other judges. That would be a disaster for the country.

Paul R. Lehman, Letter writer fails to understand MLK’s words and actions for America

February 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, blacks, Congress, desegregation, Equal Opportunity, equality, European American, fairness, minority, President Obama, state Government, The Oklahoman, whites | 2 Comments
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A letter writer by Georgia Sparks, published in The Oklahoman on the “opinion” page, “Follow King’s Example,”(1/26/13) was surely meant to be well-meaning and kind in addressing King’s words and actions. What becomes apparent in the letter, however, is the lack of understanding the writer had of King’s objective. Most people upon hearing King’s name immediately think of his “I had a dream” speech and all the things he wanted for his children in America. When they think those thoughts, they miss the essence of King’s words and actions. If people would take the time to read the entire speech, they would recognize it for what it is—a protest speech. King was angry at America for not living up to its promise of a fair opportunity to all its citizens, especially to African Americans and other Americans.
The Sparks’ letter stated that “Most people in America are glad that Martin Luther King Jr. was able to help push back the bars keeping minorities from achieving success. He would be glad to see the progress that’s been made toward equality of opportunity.” On the contrary, most people aware of King’s challenge for the nation would be very upset and angry of the little progress that has taken place over the last fifty years. Since Sparks mentioned specifically “minorities,” we might take a look at the progress made by African Americans since King’s death. What we discover is that in many cases they have experienced a lack of progress—more African American young men are in prison than in college, the unemployment rate for African Americans is twice that of European Americans, the death rate is higher, the home ownership is lower. So, what would King be glade about? Of course, not only African Americans have experienced set-backs but also many Americans in general for a variety of reasons.
The bars referred to by Sparks that King tried to bring down or push back are still in place, for the most part. They are represented in the bigotry and prejudice still very much a part of the American fabric and manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Many of those ways were apparent during the last presidential election when some state governmental officials tried to prevent many minority citizens from voting. They are present in the laws that many Congressmen want to pass that would place a hardship of many needy Americans. King would be very up-set at the negative attitude of many Americans for wanting to deprive some citizens of much needed help.
The letter continued , “He [King] would not be happy to see how many people who could have succeeded but instead failed because they abused drugs, failed to secure a good education, chose to go into gangs and drug cartels or chose to go into crime and didn’t marry before having children.” These comments reflect a conception that has not kept pace with reality, but rather remains in a somewhat naive, but warm and secure cocoon. One of King’s primary complaints relative to government’s lack of concern focused specifically on the needs of poor people. Sparks seem to suggest that people want to be poor, ignorant, drug abusers, unemployed and work towards those ends. We know that despite the best laid plans made by people, circumstances occur that disrupt and destroy those plans, and people find themselves in predicaments not of their choosing. Once people find themselves in dire straights, extricating themselves usually prove extremely difficult; some people find it impossible to regain their once enjoyed level of life.
King believed that it was incumbent on society to lend a helping hand as well as a hand up to the people who were in need. We have a perfect example of how King imagined the government could benefit people in need by looking at many of the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The people from that experience who were displaced were not displaced because they wanted to be. Most of them are ordinary, decent, hard-working people who had no say in what Mother Nature did to them. Part of our responsibility as citizens of this great country is to help our fellow citizens when they are in need. Sometime the needs are not as obvious as helping victims of natural occurrences or as immediate. Sometimes the needs include job training and education as well as health care and housing. These are the things King saw as necessary concerns and responsibilities of our society.
Sparks’ letter stated that “People who choose to succeed make good decisions. They work hard to prepare themselves for success. They delay having children until they can marry and take care of them inside a family.” Really? Someone not choosing to be successful might be a possibility, but most people must define success according to the reality of their situation. If all it took to be successful was to choose it and work hard to accept it, certainly more people would be successful. What seems to be missing from Sparks’ comments is an understanding of the various levels of the social-economical conditions in America. She has an idea of what the American dream is and it belongs to everyone—the same dream. One way people can be successful according to Sparks would for them to “…work before they play.”
Although ethnicity is never mentioned in the letter, one cannot avoid the obvious references that suggest and stereotype groups of ethnic Americans. The mere reference to Martin Luther King Jr. usually brings to mind African Americans even though King spoke for all Americans. Sparks again seemed to misplace her focus when she closed her letter with the words about King: “He valued the family structure and took care of his own family. Instead of marching to honor King, I’d like to see people follow his example in their own lives.” What a wonderful thought. King certainly would want people to have families if they desired, but more importantly, he would have wanted society to treat all people fairly so they could choose what they defined as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To follow King’s example in light of conditions today would mean people marching in protest everyday.

Paul R. Lehman,Opinion misguided on Affirmative Action and State Question 759

October 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, college admission, desegregation, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, integregation, justice, Oklahoma, Oklahoma education, public education, segregation, state Government, whites | 3 Comments
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The “Opinion” writer for The Oklahoman has again brought up the topic of State Question 759 which to ban Affirmative Action in state government. This time, however, his comments are misguided and illogical. The title of the article is “Merit must trump race in state government,” shows just how confusing his thoughts are on Affirmative Action. Until Affirmative Action was put in place, race was always used to keep African Americans and women out of state government. Before Affirmative Action, merit was not even a consideration for office in state government. However, since opponents of the state question have voiced their opposition to it, those for its banning are offering their views.

One of the primary problems involved with banning Affirmative Action is the lack of understanding about what it concerns. Many of the opponents of Affirmative Action focus simply of college and/or university admission programs that supposedly favor African Americans applicants over European American applicants. Therefore, since these programs single out race as the criteria for acceptance, the programs must be discarded. What is missing from this action is the reason for Affirmative Action in the first place. Nowhere in this legislation are mentioned the words African Americans, blacks, Negroes, Colored or any other noun describing or identifying an ethnic group. But, because of the efforts of African Americans and other Americans citizens, the measure sought to make unconstitutional discrimination of people for reasons of race, color, sex, creed, or national origin.

If we were to stop and look at the record of American society in the areas of school admissions for women and other ethnic Americans prior to Affirmative Action, we would see a marked change for the betterment of those applicants. Also, if we checked the record for women and ethnic Americans in fields and professions like, firefighters, law enforcement, postal workers, medicine, law, and construction, we would hopefully understand just what Affirmative Action has done and continues to do for society.

However, since the “Opinion” writer focused on African Americans specifically, let us look at what President Lyndon B. Johnson said about this measure he signed: “Nothing is more freighted with meaning for our won destiny than the revolution of the Negro American…[we were called Negroes then]. In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope…But freedom is not enough.” He explains what he means by that last statement: “You do not wipe away the cards of centuries by saying; Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair….”

The article states that “Affirmative action’s harsh reality is to harm those it is supposed to benefit. In their book, ‘Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students Its Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit it,’ authors Stuart Taylor and Richard Sander outline affirmative actions destructive consequences.” Indeed, the authors document cases where institutions admitted students who were not academically prepared for the rigors they faced. Although the focus was on African Americans, this situation applies to students of all ethnic groups. The problems in Affirmative Action are the results of institutions attempting to put it in force. Contrary to the “Opinion” writer’s support of banning the program, the authors made recommendations to make the program more effective.

Unlike President Johnson’s comment about unfairly expecting people having been deprived of freedoms to go right into competition with others who have had more experiences and opportunities, some Americans expect African American students to do just that—compete in an unfair arena. They think to do otherwise is to discriminate against the European Americans. To be sure, the problems created by institutions attempting to impliment Affirmative Action are real and serious, but not unsolvable. What seems strange regarding Affirmative Action is the fact that it was created to address the years of discrimination and unfair, unjust, and unequal treatment of African Americans in general, but women and other ethnic Americans as well, but when the program is implemented, arguments by European Americans charging discrimination are brought to the fore. Evidently, some people believe the problems of the past can be addressed by not disrupting a thing in the present. Go figure.

Regardless of the many problems associated with institutions implementing Affirmative Action programs, the fact that doors of opportunity have been opened to African Americans, women, and other ethnic Americans is a positive change for society. The idea that merit alone should be the key to admission leaves much to be addressed. Since we know that many African Americans represent the lowest level on the economic and unemployment ladder, we also know that the level of education received by African Americans living at that level will also be influenced. So, why would the expectations for students coming from underserved institutions be placed at the same level with those coming from middle-class and affluent communities? Who decides what merit is? How is merit acquired? Where is merit acquired? Who decides who get merit? What good is merit if having it does not address the primary problem of diversity? As the title of the “Opinion” suggests, “that merit must trump race,” what’s to prevent the status quo from remaining the status quo if only the same people qualify for merit?

Yes, we agree that implementing Affirmative Action has and will continue to create challenges for society, but we also know that going forward allowing more Americans to participate in and contribute to society is better than going backwards. Banning Affirmative Action as State Question 759 wants to do is a step backwards. We need to stop looking at this program thinking it applies to educational institutions, but consider its over-all contribution to society.

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