Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Three Most Misused Words For 2017

There are three words in the English language that I would like to see removed from conversation, at least here in the United States. If removal is not possible, people should be required to use them in proper context or not at all. Those three words? Homophobic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic.

People toss the words around when trying to make a point against someone who has issues with homosexuality, Islam and/or immigrants. They don't realize that in nine out of ten instances they are likely using the wrong verbiage. Or perhaps they know and use it anyway.

Webster's Dictionary defines a phobia as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.”

Other dictionaries define it as an irrational fear. So let's put the definitions in context with the words above.

Disagreeing that homosexuality is a “normal lifestyle” or an acceptable practice, in most cases, does not involve fear of homosexuals. Most people who object to it can very clearly state their reasons why they object so it's not inexplicable. Neither is that objection exaggerated unless that person takes extreme action against the LGBT community. I don't really know anyone who has a fear of homosexuals. So the word homophobic is not accurate to describe someone who disagrees with the lifestyle.

Islamophobic is a word that has gained popularity since 9/11. And it is also substantially misused in today's society. Most people who speak out against Islam do not speak out in fear. They speak out in anger at the Islamic terrorists who are wreaking havoc all over the world. And since there is no foolproof way to properly vet Muslims entering the country as tourists and immigrants, to ensure they are not connected with a terrorist organization, they want to limit immigration of Muslims until such time a proper vetting can be accomplished. That's sound immigration management.

Is it fear and, if so, is it inexplicable?

I'd say if it's fear of a growing terrorist threat here in the United States it's certainly not inexplicable. Terrorism carried out by Muslims is real. A look back at Orlando and San Bernardino proves that very easily. So a fear of terrorism by Muslims here I the United States is not irrational – unless you lock yourself in a bunker and refuse to come out because of that fear.

The bottom line is that most people who label someone as Islamophobic are doing so incorrectly.

Xenophobia is defined as “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.”

This word is hurled at people who disapprove of illegal immigration or who support the travel ban issued by President Trump. That's because those who use the word are projecting their own beliefs onto those they label.

In the United States of America we have immigration laws. Within those laws are wording that forbids people from crossing our borders illegally and sneaking into our country. There is nothing irrational about wanting those laws enforced and wanting people to enter our country legally. To believe otherwise is ridiculous.

Many say our immigration policy is broken. I submit that the main thing broken about it is enforcement. If law enforcement and politicians would join together to ensure our immigration laws were enforced we wouldn't have eleven or twelve million (estimated) people in the country illegally.

Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to several million illegal aliens in 1986 with a promise from Congress that they would take action to secure our borders. Congress agreed... but apparently had their fingers crossed behind their backs. Illegal entry into the country has only increased since then with the worst incident happening in 2014, when unaccompanied children from Central and South America flooded over our Southern border.

President Obama pretended that he had “deported more illegal immigrants than any other President.” Except that wasn't quite true. Obama manipulated the numbers by counting those turned around at the border as deported – even though they hadn't actually entered the country.

Being a supporter of legal immigration does not make one xenophobic any more than opposing Islamic terrorism and supporting proper vetting makes one Islamophobic. And disagreeing with the LGBT community based on sound logic and yes, even science, does not make one homophobic.

If you're one of those who likes to use these labels please think about what you're saying and whether or not you're using the word(s) correctly. When anti-Trump fanatics go on a diatribe about him they put all these labels on him, along with misogynist, racist and sexist. It gets old.

Words are important. Misusing them to attack someone doesn't make the attacker look intelligent. The misuse of the words makes them look ignorant.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Don't Have All The Facts But...

The shooting of the Australian woman in Minneapolis last week and the aftermath of hate that has been posted on the internet has me wondering what happened to the Christian America we are supposed to be.

I'm going to irritate some people with my opinion today but that's OK. It won't be the first or the last time.

The police officer in question is a legal immigrant from Somalia. He is also a Muslim. But while there has been no evidence made public that shows Islam was the reason for the shooting, it's all some right-wing web pages and right-wing citizens are talking about. Some have called for him to be executed for the shooting of Justine Damond without knowing all of the facts of the case.

I had a conversation with one such person on Friday. He said the officer, Mohamed Noor, should be shot for his actions. I asked him what evidence he had that would support Noor's execution. He said “I have all the evidence I need.”

Article after article since the shooting describes the “Somali Muslim police officer shooting the white woman in her pajamas.” For me that description, while accurate, is prejudicial against the officer whose statement has not even been released yet.

Did his nationality have anything to do with the shooting? How about his skin color? Were his Islamic beliefs the cause of it?

See, that's the problem. We don't know. He is exercising his 5th Amendment right to silence (thanks to our Constitution) and apparently hasn't made any statements to authorities about why he shot Ms. Damond. Should we deny his 5th Amendment rights? After all, he's from Somalia...

The hatred I've seen spewed on the internet in the last week for this man is appalling. If Mohamed Noor was a white, native born American people on the right would be saying “Let's wait for the evidence. The shooting could have been justified.” Yet because he's a Muslim who immigrated from Somalia he has been pronounced guilty without a trial; even without evidence.

I remember in July of 2009, just a day after Professor Henry Gates was arrested by the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police, President Obama went on national television and said “I don't have all the facts but the police acted stupidly.” Republicans and conservatives across the nation went crazy, saying (accurately) that it was inappropriate for the President to form an opinion of the Cambridge police without “all the facts.”

But that's exactly what is going on in the Noor/Damond case. People are jumping to conclusions about Noor's guilt, motive, even his feelings about living in the United States without having all of the facts.

The only thing we know for sure is that Ms. Damond was unarmed, Noor pulled the trigger, and Ms. Damond died. So far there is no official explanation of why the trigger was pulled – only the rants of hate filled people who believe that Noor's nationality and/or religious beliefs are the reason and that's all they need to convict.

What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? That's the scary part about all of this. Because Noor is a Somali immigrant and a Muslim people are over anxious to dismiss his constitutional rights and the legal process we so greatly cherish in this nation and pronounce him guilty.

Before someone gets the wrong idea – I'm not saying in any way that Noor's actions were justified. I'm not saying they were not justified. I'm saying we simply don't know yet and the hatred being professed by some of my fellow Americans for this man is astounding given the fact that they have no idea why the shooting took place. It's scary and sad at the same time.

Everyone has the right and deserves due process in this country. Yet so many are willing to simply deny it so Mohamed Noor because of who he is.

So who do I blame for the reaction to this shooting? Islam. The worldwide terrorism carried out in the name of Islam combined with the great lack of denouncement of said terrorism by the majority of Muslims who do not take part in it but remain silent about it are the reasons that many Americans are hostile when it comes to Islam. Right or wrong it is understandable to a point.

I don't know if Noor's Muslim beliefs had anything to do with the shooting of Ms. Damond. I know many people believe that to be the case. And if it turns out to be true then Noor should face several charges, including murder and a hate crime. But please people... wait for the evidence.

I've been told that I need to shut up and allow people to have their own opinion on this issue. I'm not sure why because I haven't told anyone they can't have their own opinion. All I've said is that we don't have any evidence to prove anything right now. And that's a fact. So if that's taken as me telling someone not to have an opinion on it perhaps that person should re-evaluate their opinion based on the facts they actually have.

This is only my opinion. I could be wrong.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Di Blasio Pulls An Obama... Pays For It At Home

New York City mayor, Bill Di Blasio, pulled off his own version of a controversial Obama move that gave the world its impression that Obama didn't really care about American citizens.

Remember when James Foley was beheaded by ISIS a few years ago? Then President, Barack Obama, made a brief remark then hit the first tee at the golf course. The gruesome beheading of an American citizen wasn't enough to interfere with the President's golf game.

Fast forward to last week when an officer in the New York City police department was executed while sitting in her squad car. New York Mayor Bill Di Blasio made a couple of brief remarks before heading to the airport to fly to Germany to be the key note speaker at a rally held by the anarchist protesters.

Let that sink in. The mayor of the largest and most influential city in America flew to Germany to participate in the protest against the G20 Summit. An American elected official joining the anarchists against the government.

He did end up paying for it, albeit in a small way. Yesterday, during the funeral of the fallen officer, the majority of the police officers present turned their backs on him as he spoke at the funeral. It's not the first time it has happened.

Two years ago, at the funeral of Officer Wenjian Liu, officers turned their backs on him because of his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and comments he made prior to the funeral. The officers felt that Di Blasio had let them down. Yesterday they showed him that he had done it again.

Of course, Comrade Di Blasio probably didn't even notice. His lack of concern for the safety and well being of his police officers likely extends to their disrespect of him. I'm sure he simply doesn't care – even though his security detail is made up of some of those same officers. I wonder what would happen to him if they turned their backs on him as well....?

Bill Di Blasio is a disgrace. His participation in anarchy is a slap in the face to every law abiding citizen of the United States and I, for one, will be more than pleased to see him eventually voted out of office so he can disappear. Maybe he'll join Obama on his “I Wish I Was Still In Office” tour....

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Travesty Of Justice...

In February of 2013, Jessie Con-Ui murdered a federal correctional officer in cold blood by stabbing him at least 200 times. Officer Eric Williams never had a chance. It is reported that Con-Ui broke his homemade knife in the middle of the attack, retrieved another one and continued stabbing Officer Williams.

Last week Con-Ui was convicted in federal court of First Degree Murder. The jury was tasked with deciding whether Con-Ui's sentence would be the death penalty or life in prison. Con-Ui was already serving a life sentence for murder. Any sensible person should understand that sentencing a murderer to prison for life does not automatically prevent that person from killing again.

Inmates cannot be routinely isolated and/or prevented from being in general population with other inmates. Weapons can be made from nearly anything, including plastic wrap, paper, a plastic spoon handle, even a pencil or ball point pen.

After deliberating for 5 hours the jury returned and recommended a sentence of life in prison for Con-Ui. He will serve at least the first three years in isolation at the Administrative Maximum Security prison in Florence, Colorado. But after three years of good behavior he will automatically be reviewed for return to general population. Only severe and documented circumstances will allow him to be kept there indefinitely. Killing a staff member may be enough – or it may not.

After the sentencing was completed one juror spoke out about the decision. He said that eleven of the jurors voted for the death penalty while one, the jury foreman, was against it. For the death penalty to be imposed the jury must vote unanimously for it. The lone juror held out and the jury had to recommend a life sentence.

Federal law allows for the death penalty for the murder of a federal law enforcement officer. It has been applied in the past and has been carried out. If anyone deserved the death penalty it was Con-Ui, a double murderer who will one day have the chance to kill again. Yet one juror could not allow herself to approve it.

As it turns out, that lone juror has a son who is serving time behind bars. She could not vote for the death penalty because she would not want that to happen to her son. But what if her son was the correctional officer? Of what if her son was murdered by another inmate while serving time? Would she feel the same way?

This woman essentially gave Con-Ui a slap on the hand for murdering Eric Williams. He lost nothing, with the exception of his period of isolation that may or may not be permanent.

Officer Williams' family and friends are devastated. Correctional workers around the country are dismayed and angry, saying that this sentence opens up the field for more violence against correctional staff. If an inmate is confident he won't receive the death penalty for murdering a staff member (or another inmate) that increases the possibilities of it happening.

If Jessie Con-Ui ever kills again while in prison it will fall directly on that one juror who just couldn't make herself vote the right way.

It will also fall on the Assistant U.S. Attorney who either failed to discover that the woman had a son doing time or discounted it as unimportant. Inmate families as a rule feel differently about things like this than people who are not acquainted with the correctional system.

There was no justice for Eric Williams this week. His murderer went without punishment and his legacy will be that of being denied just punishment for his killer. At least his fellow staff members will remember him always. That's how it works. We remember and mourn him as our brother in arms. Because that's what he was.