Archive | July, 2013

Race in This Country and the Aftermath of the Zimmerman Trial

31 Jul

There has been a lot going on these past several weeks.  I mentioned in my last entry about the Trayvon Martin case.  The case and the aftermath of it have sparked debate over race in our country.  The Jury’s verdict outraged many.  I mentioned in my previous post that I have been disappointed on how quickly this became a political issue.  Politics affect almost everything in our lives and while I thought that the case shouldn’t have been about politics, I feel that there should be a discussion about the Stand Your Ground law and this case.  I also think that it is even more important to look at how people reacted to the aftermath of this case.

As I mentioned, many people are outraged with the verdict, but I am happy that most people protested peacefully.  There were demonstrations and boycotts, but not widespread rioting as some people predicted.  Whatever your opinion on this case is, no one should be gloating or be ecstatic because George Zimmerman was found not guilty and if you are; you probably shouldn’t consider yourself pro-life.  What happened was a tragedy any way you look at it and should not be considered a victory or defeat.  Before, during and after this case there has been discussion about race in our country.  I feel that we should be able to discuss this in a civil matter. 

President Obama said after (and before this trial started) that Trayvon Martin could have been him.  He also spoke about what it is like to be an African-American in the United States.  I think it is good that he brought this up because many of us don’t know what it is like to be treated like a suspect without doing anything wrong.  I am a white male and I haven’t been accused of something without doing anything wrong.  I have, however, been picked on because of my religion.  It shouldn’t matter who we are or where we come from because we are all people.  Unfortunately there are still ignorant people who will judge people because of the color of their skin or their religion. 

Conservative radio host Sean Hannity had a racist response to President Obama’s comments (specifically to the point, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon”). Sean Hannity’s response was, “Is that the President admitting that because he’s part of the choom gang and smoked pot and did a little blow, I’m not sure how to interpret that because we know Trayvon Martin had been smoking pot that night.”

Hannity’s response was one of the most racist comments that I have heard in the aftermath of this case.  It shows how narrow-minded he is about race and reality in general.  I think he should apologize, but I’m not that naïve as to expect it.  The election of President Obama didn’t end racism in this country, but it showed progress for tolerance.  I wish there weren’t ignorant people like Sean Hannity or others but there are, and there always will be.  I just hope there  will be fewer racist people in the future than there are at the present time.  We have evolved as a country over the years when it comes to race, I just hope we continue that trend.

Trayvon Martin Case: How is This a Political Issue?

11 Jul

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write an entry on this, but it seems that the United States can’t go more than 5 minutes without making everything about politics.  In my opinion, the Trayvon Martin shooting case shouldn’t be political whatsoever.  It is a case involving a neighborhood watch captain who shot an unarmed teenager.  I honestly don’t see how this case should be political since it doesn’t involve any political issues and neither of the two were known for touting ties to a political party.

There are things in this case that are clear, but there are more things in this case that aren’t.  We know that Trayvon Martin is African-American and that George Zimmerman is part Hispanic.  We also know that George Zimmerman was told by a dispatcher that he didn’t have to follow Trayvon Martin.  (not an order but a suggestion)  I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in law, but by following Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground.  If Trayvon Martin was following him that would be different.

I’m not sure whether or not Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin because of race but what I am sure of is that there are people within Conservative media have done their part to antagonize racists.  Fox News issued a darkened picture of Trayvon Martin.  Michelle Malkin’s website Twitchy released a photo trying to make Trayvon Martin look like a thug.  The photo was of someone else, and not Trayvon Martin.  I doubt that photo was posted by accident given Michelle Malkin’s history of misinformation and vile commentary, but this goes further than I thought even she would ever do.  Her website eventually took the picture down, but not until her website was criticized for releasing a false photo.

I’m not saying that the mainstream media or other people haven’t done stupid things in covering this case.  (or misinformation)  NBC news released an edited version of Zimmerman’s call to police before they released the real version.  Director Spike Lee released an address over twitter that he thought was George Zimmerman’s. 

This case shouldn’t be about politics but now it has become just that.  I don’t think we will ever know the full details on what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed, but that isn’t the point to this blog entry.  The point is that this has now become an issue of Liberal vs. Conservative; with many conservatives saying that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense while many liberals saying that Trayvon Martin was killed in cold blood.  I think the greatest tragedy in this case is that Zimmerman sat free without even going through a trial for several months until this case got national attention.  I still don’t understand how this became a political issue, but it seems that we as a country have to politicize everything and that is just sad. 

NSA, Government Spying and Edward Snowden

3 Jul

There are obviously a lot of things going on right now, but I’m going to focus on the NSA spying ordeal.  I think that we need certain tools to fight terrorism.  I don’t think that spying on Americans without a warrant is one of them.  Our intelligence agencies were able to thwart many attacks without use of the Patriot Act.  We were attacked on 9/11 not because we didn’t have the Patriot Act, but because we didn’t have intelligence organizations communicating with each other.  (The C.I.A. knew the names of some of the hijackers, but wouldn’t share their information with the FBI)

The Patriot Act was passed in 2001 with bipartisan support in the House and Senate.  People in congress were afraid of being labeled, “Anti-American” if they voted against it.  Senator Russ Feingold was the only person in the Senate to vote against it.  There were 65 people in the House of Representatives who voted against it.  (See c-span for the vote numbers)  Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority voted for the Patriot Act, I think it is a bad law.  It was wrong under Bush and it is wrong under Obama.  I am disappointed that President Obama has decided to continue the program.  He was a Constitutional law professor, he should know better.  The Patriot Act started under President Bush and should have ended under President Obama.

I have no problem with anyone who is angry with Obama for continuing these programs, who were against them under Bush.  Many Liberals (including myself) voted for Obama believing and hoping that he would end these programs.  I have an issue with Republicans that are suddenly outraged now that a Democratic president is continuing these programs.  (i.e. Sean Hannity as well as some GOP lawmakers who voted for the original Patriot Act)  I also don’t understand why there are Democrats that have no issue with Domestic Surveillance under Obama.

President Obama has said recently that he is happy that we are having this debate.  I’m honestly not sure what to think about Edward Snowden.  I think he did a courageous thing by risking his future by releasing what was happening at the NSA, but I am not ready to label him a hero if the information he released risks the lives of our intelligence people around the globe.  I am happy that we know what has been going on in the NSA, but I think it is premature to call him a hero, before all of the facts are out.  I hope that Congress does something soon to stop warrantless wire tapping on all Americans guilty or innocent.