Monthly Archives: May 2010
Duh…anyone remember Harriet Miers?
Duh…anyone remember Harriet Miers?
Late this past week Seattle police searching for suspects in an armed robbery took two Hispanics into their custody. They threatened one Mexican man, already on the ground and in their custody, saying “You got me? I’m going to beat the (expletive) Mexican (expletive) out of you homey. You feel me?” The second expletive was “piss” and I can only assume the first was “fucking”. They punched him and, as one radio announcer so gingerly put it, one cop contacted the Mexican’s head with his boot. Read: he kicked the guy in the head while he was in custody on the ground.
According to later articles, the police officer with the bigoted mouth was abjectly sorry for his behavior. It’s hard to even conceive of forgiving him on that ground. When he had the power he unleashed a torrent of abuse on what turned out to be the wrong guy. And he felt no compunction on using physical force on someone already under control and not giving any fight.
As someone who has worked in the area of police oversight for over 14 years, the saddest thing is that such behavior is not surprising. Policing tends to attract more than its fair share of bullies and thugs. The work provides opportunities for unleashing such behavior unacceptable in normal society. Had the suspect been the actual armed robber, the officer would have gotten away with little to no reactions from the police administration or public.
But this man who took the brunt of this officer’s thug-ness was innocent. The cop obviously held if not a deep seated hatred of Hispanics, at least a huge degree of disdain. It was discriminatory behavior in its most raw form.
The question now is, is an apology a sufficient get-out-of-jail card for being such a bigot? I say no. It’s simply not good enough. But neither is the normal punishment meted out by the police department. It’s not good enough to punish him by making him lose vacation time (a long-standing method of upbraiding police who go wrong.) It’s not enough to change his detail or station house. What’s needed is to make him work with the people he apparently despises. Put him in an Hispanic neighborhood and make him walk the beat. Or make him responsible for wayward Mexican juveniles. This cop has to learn about the culture he so obviously thinks is worthless. Let the people he works with determine when he’s ready to rejoin the regular force.
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Last week President Obama seemed to suggest that both he and Congress lacked the willpower to overhaul this nation’s immigration laws. He’s now backtracked on that thought, saying he wants Congress to start working on the reform of our immigration system this year.
It’s hard to have the same faith in his latest insistence because he raised hopes so high before his election. Oh, I know, politicians promise the world and come through with plates of crumbs. When I was in high school this guy running for student council president promised that he would get us a portable amphitheater for the playing field. We actually believed him! (I wonder where he is now, or if he’s doing time somewhere.) So I learned early that political promises are like snowflakes, melted and gone before you get home.
But I so wanted to believe him because he made so much sense. It’s crazy to think we’re going to send 11 million people home, and even crazier to think they’re going to stay there. Why do you think they came here in the first place? Because even with the lousy treatment and pittance of a salary, it’s still better here than what they have in their country of origin.
We don’t remember why our original ancestors came to these shores, but I would bet it’s for the same reason. And those original ancestors suffered the same type of discrimination that Hispanic immigrants (and let’s not kid ourselves with that general phrase because the animus is directed toward Mexicans today) are suffering today. There used to be signs saying “No Irish Need Apply.” People used to be up in arms that German families continued to speak their native language at home. Italians were horribly stereotyped as thieves and worse. As for the Jews, well, they’ve been persecuted for thousands of years.
I’d like to believe Obama means what he says. But it’s difficult when his administration is cracking down on immigrants and deporting them in large numbers. How can the president care about immigration reform when his deputies are breaking up families by deporting fathers and mothers every day? You can’t have it both ways. If the president wants to overhaul the Rube Goldberg immigration system, then he should ease off the raids and deportations.