I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
July 10, 2016 - 10:00 a.m.
I never left the Island yesterday. I'm trying to when in Rome do as the Romans do. I know that "the Island" means Long Island but I'm using it to mean City Island. I just realized that sounds like an oxymoron, The City means Manhattan, the ultimate urban center and the Island is Long Island the archetype suburb. Of course City island is a small New England town in New York City.
I did leave the house so I could try City Island Pizza. It was good. City Island is clearly within the bounds of New York City; we have good pizza.
I spent most of the day by myself thinking about the outside world and I found myself planning on writing about Black Lives Matter and what's wrong with responding "all lives matter.". This surprised me as I don't like preaching to the choir. The thing is thanks to Facebook I see that my friends are not all in the choir. There are people, good people, kind people, who don't understand Black Lives Matter and I found myself explaining it to them. I try to not directly confront people, all it does is put people on the defensive and harden their positions. So instead I'll write it here in.
While it's true that all lives matter the problem is America's history of acting as if black lives don't matter. We don't have to go all the way back to slavery. Jim crow and de jure segregation existed in my lifetime and ending them was vigorously fought. But it's not just that. The infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment didn't end till 1972. Syphilis was curable with antibiotics but treatment was deliberately withheld from black men so that the progress of the untreated disease could be studied. They were treated as laboratory animals. The US Public Health Service did this. The subjects, they were not treated as patients, were lied to and told they were getting free health care. This is after the Civil Rights Acts were passed yet black lives did not matter.
To this days problems that disproportionately affect blacks are treated with less urgency, look at what happened in Flint Michigan whose largely black population was poisoned with lead to save money for the state. These kinds of decisions are made routinely. The money can't be found when blacks are the victims but can when whites are. Nobody says that's the reason. I'm sure they don't think of it as the reason, but it is the reason.
Black Lives Matter is focused on the killings of blacks by the police but this is the milieu it happens in. The killings themselves are only one part of the systematic unequal treatment of blacks by the police. Blacks are stopped and harassed by the police far more often than whites. When they are stopped they are treated with less respect. The police are quicker to respond with violence. The governments of towns like Ferguson are financed by the fines of blacks.
Then there are the killings. How many times have we seen the scenario played out, a black person is killed by the police and the police go unpunished? I tend to be sympathetic to the police and often they should not be criminally charged as they had to make life and death decisions as events quickly unfold. But often that's not what happens. Thanks to videos we have seen the police shooting blacks for no reason. And even in the cases where I can't find the police guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, those cases happen more often when the victims are black. What I find most disturbing are the images of the police standing around and acting with no urgency to the death or suffering of the victim. Those black lives did not matter to those cops. It isn't all cops. It isn't most cops. It's a small number, but still too many.
Yes, all lives matter but someone people seem to be reminded when it comes to black lives. Black Lives Matter is about that reminding. When people respond with, "All lives matter," they are ignoring the unequal treatment of black people. When a load needs to be balanced, we don't say, "the load needs to be balanced" we say, "add more weight to that side." Where the imbalance exists must be pointed out if it is to be corrected. Society needs to see where the injustice is if we want it corrected.
It hurts me to see good people not getting this. I know it's not because of a moral failing but one of understanding. Will writing this help? Maybe a tiny bit. If enough people help a tiny bit it adds up to a large amount. It's how change happens. I know the world looks bleak now but it isn't. It's improving. We don't have Jim Crow. We don't have the Tuskegee Experiment. As the world gets better we notice the blights that before were overshadowed. Things never get perfect but they get better.
Wow I finished this before 10 AM. That was my plan as I have to eat and shower and leave here by 11:30.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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