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Fourth of July without freedom.

written by Kenneth Brooks on 07-03-2014 | In Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Race, Ethics, Government,

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Hypocrisy about the principles of human equality and freedom is a trait of American society. In a few days, Americans will celebrate the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain. It set out self-evident truths of human equality and creator endowment of certain human rights including life and liberty. However, American society celebrates a model of republican government of free people it never achieved. It cannot achieve this model while denying an opposite history of inequality and oppression. 

The Articles of Confederation (1777) set out the perpetual union of States and founded the United States of America. U.S. Constitution (1787) supposedly converted the United States of America to a constitutional republic. It did not achieve this goal. Each individual is autonomous in a republic, but the U.S. Constitution approved government authority to enslave. Despite this history, Americans celebrate Fourth of July as if America's founders faultlessly installed the government modeled in the Declaration or that society eventually achieved them.

Americans have a bias for rationalizing or arbitrarily dismissing history they dislike. Apologists assert "They were men of their time" in defense of the founders' immoral conduct of enslaving kidnapped Africans to satisfy goals of greed. What does the excuse "men of their time" mean? It cannot mean they did not understand the principles of human equality, because they claimed them in the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps "men of their time" means they embraced the race, gender, and class bigotry of the time believing property-owning "white" males were intellectually superior to all others. If so, this bigotry does not absolve them of deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong. They affirmed in the Declaration of Independence unalienable rights of humans endowed by a creator. Unalienable rights are rights incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another. The Declaration's self-evident truths did not include the qualification of exceptional humans with authority to deny human equality and human rights of other people. Otherwise, it would assert self-evident contradictions and not self-evident truths.

Most Americans praise the American model of cultural diversity, respect for difference, as society achieving the Declaration's model of human equality. History refutes this conclusion made from inverted morality and logic. America used the same skin-color standard of deciding human difference and human worth to justify enslavement, racial segregation, and cultural diversity. In other words, American society's idea of cultural diversity is respect for the presumptions of human difference decided by racism with racial stereotypes as culture.

The Declaration refers to the human equality and rights of individuals. It does no mention racial or ethnic groups. Individual autonomy and control over self-image are essentials of a union of free people with shared interests. However, individuals sacrifice autonomy by adopting a racial or ethnic-group image because stereotyping necessarily subordinates individual identity to group identity.

America's founders created a role for government authority over human rights in a Constitution that supported enslavement. Americans increase the domain of government authority over human rights each time one group uses it successfully to deny another group's human equality and endowed human rights. This is true if the grouping is by race, gender, class, or other classification. Ironically, oppressed groups use of government authority to restore human rights often increases government authority over human rights too.

Americans must refuse government authority over human rights if they want to create United States of America as a Republic of free autonomous individuals. Government authority should extend only to protecting the human rights (rights to life, liberty, property, etc...) of one person from another person's abuses, but it should never have authority to decide entitlement of rights on an individual or group basis. Americans have the choice of bigotry or freedom.

 

 

Vallejo Calif police assault eleven-year-old boy

written by Kenneth Brooks on 05-12-2014 | In Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Race, Vallejo, Government,

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Vallejo Calif. police assaulted a boy of eleven then dropped him at school. Police spokespersons deny the mother's charge her son was the victim of police racial profiling. However, the news report of police conduct, not disputed by them, supports this conclusion.

Usually, I support police actions during crime emergencies especially when my only information is a news report. However, neither side disputes the facts of this incident. Police conduct during and after this incident is troubling. It victimized a child innocent of any misconduct. It shows an attitude by police officers and their superiors oblivious to the racial bias that may have influenced their decisions that day. If not racial profiling, police rationalization of their conduct reveals their opinion of Vallejo residents mainly as a criminal threat and only secondarily as a citizenry, they serve and protect.

Ktvu.com reports, "Vallejo Police Lt. Kevin Bartlett explained the 11-year-old was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He said police received a call from the homeowner saying shots had been fired and that a woman in a hoodie was waving a gun." 

True, the child was at the right place at the wrong time of a reported crime in the area. Nevertheless, the concern of responding police officers should have been to remove him from danger. After all, they had the duty besides identifying and arresting the perpetrator to protect the safety of innocent people at the scene of a crime. Instead, they surrounded Mims with guns drawn, ordered him to put his hands in the air, get on the ground, and threatened to shoot him if he moved.

Romie Mims was a boy in the sixth grade whose gender did not match the female suspect described in the police call. Clearly, he was not waving a gun. Therefore, what about Mims' appearance prompted police to treat him as a criminal and not as an innocent party? Even if they mistook him for a female, they had the same duty to treat a woman on the scene as an innocent bystander unless her actions or evidence suggested a different role. Instead, their hasty actions placed this child at unnecessary risk. This discussion would be about police shooting an unarmed child if Mims' body had reacted involuntarily with jerky spasms of fear instead of with tears.

Police dismissive attitude of Mims' basic rights of human dignity continued after they decided he was not their suspect. After assaulting Mims emotionally and physically, one of them patronizingly placed him in a police car and drove him to school. Anybody, adult or child, not a habitual criminal would suffer shock having faced abrupt threat of death by police officers or by criminals. Mims must have experienced extreme stress hearing police officers, his asserted protectors, threatening to shoot him for reasons unknown to him. I empathize with what must have been Mims' frightened, conflicted feeling entering the police car and continuing under authority of someone that recently threatened to shoot him. The police driving Mims to school rather than contacting his parents or other agency to provide comfort and counseling from his harrowing experience is more evidence of their disregard for his feelings. It did not occur to them that someone like him, young black-labeled male, would experience distress above feelings of inconvenience from the police assault that they addressed by driving him to school.

Lt. Bartlett's remark was self-serving and untrue, "It's part of stuff we have to deal with in Vallejo and unfortunately he got caught in the middle of it."  The police do not deal with Mims' experience in Vallejo of being racial profiled by police as a criminal while reporting a crime. According to Bartlett's rationalization, any black-labeled American near a reported crime is at the wrong place at the wrong time and rightfully presumed an armed criminal whom police can assault and threaten with death.

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