The foundational American testament, that all men are created equal, was a radical expression of the Founders’ intent in the elimination of the age-old institution of privileged classes. It has been eternally understood by most Americans, however, to amount to a Constitutional assurance of equity to all citizens; any and all relevant doubts resolved by recent U.S. Supreme Court cases and by Statutes, including, the Civil Rights Act.
There has been considerable difference, unfortunately, between societally imposed law and human behavior. Three, very recent, illustrative, shocking and shameful incidents, of illegal, bigoted, police brutality involving black citizens, were those concerning, unarmed and peaceful black Americans, George Floyd, Armand Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor (the latter was shot dead, merely sitting indoors on her couch). These are the most recent demonstrations of illegal and hateful, known, police brutality against black citizens. Many examples of the same have come to public notice, only by virtue of new regulations concerning, digital cameras, brought about by the pandemic of innumerable, unreported, murders of innocent and unarmed black people by the police.
The most egregious expression of hatred and despicable bigotry, are those of the police, whose immoral acts are seen by many as indicative of a nation, which, if not composed of bigots, tolerates, perhaps, even encourages, such felonious inhumanity. Police, as such, for better and for worse, are functionally seen as representative of municipal governmental policy. We are truly ashamed, on behalf of our Nation and its municipalities for this consistent and regrettable history, and will have a few policy recommendations, to suggest, at the conclusion of this mini-essay.
There is no effective detergent, to wash this Nation’s hands clean (like Lady Macbeth’s) from its past, shameful, and immoral institution of black slavery. The larceny of human life, breaking up of families for convenience of sale, the hangings, beatings, and mistreatment, of black people, by self -designated, religious, Bible loving people can never be erased from the American blackboard of history. The shame and inhumanity of the Nation are emblematically demonstrated by the famous decision of its highest and most revered, Court, The Supreme Court of the United States, when its panel of the Nation’s most prominent Justices, in the 19th Century case, (Dred Scott) decided, that a runaway black slave should be returned to “its owner,” because he (a Negro) was merely, proprietary agricultural equipment. (J. Taney)
For Centuries, black people, (and many decent white people, in their behalf) have sacrificed and striven, in the aspiration for racial equality, and have made good progress in obtaining laws, at long last, protecting the right of equality of black citizens. Much progress has been made since the era of theatrical, public hangings of men, whose apparent guilt consisted in their having, with premeditation and deliberation, been born black; however, there is a long way for our Nation to go, in the equalization of opportunity and social status, before it can assert itself as a Nation of equality of rights and opportunity.
We will always need effective and energetically enforced laws, to protect minorities, for as long as there are people, who believe that the percentage of melanin in the human outer tissue determines worth and character. But even Statutes cannot alter private thoughts and opinions. We need to examine the root of the problem. In earlier posts, we have determined that the seeds of discord are planted very early in life, and, accordingly (shamefully) are part of our individual perception.
We are followers of John Locke and accordingly, believe that all of man’s knowledge is acquired by learned experience (rather than inspired). We are thus, of the opinion (and have so written) that the errant perception of others (prejudice) is taught to children at a young age, by a parent, or guardian who, for possibly, well-intended, reasons of encouragement of security and identity, invests the child with the concept of “we” and “they.” We believe that this (eventually, dangerous) lesson, eventuates in the mind of the child, to a demonizing of the “other.” We urgently need to construe an alternate lesson, consisting in the encouragement of identity, as one, among other identities; instead of a “we” as distinguished from a “they.” Until that time, we must, patiently and sincerely, pursue our challenging work, towards the goal of universal equity in educational opportunities, employment, housing, and social acceptance.
The public image of the policeman has demonstrably changed since we were young. The stereotype, then, in reality, and therefore in movies, was a usually middle aged, paternal personality, who knew the people, especially their children, on his beat. He was dutiful, familiar and certainly, trusted. He represented the idealized qualities of our free country and the significance of family. We saw him as a positive symbol of rectitude and prideful duty. This symbol of just and loving paternity was available to help old ladies with their heavy shopping bags, and young mothers, in an emergency, to deliver a baby.
We saw the character and stereotype of the policeman markedly change, in the era when the very profitable, sale, and distribution of drugs become a significant wholesale and retail enterprise. There appeared to be an unlimited amount of money, now floating around, and the title of “dirty cop” became a media and cinema regular. The image of the friendly neighborhood policeman seemed to completely, disappear, and after a while, people felt only a little less safe, talking to a policeman, than taking to a criminal. If we were fortunate enough to have police who emulate the stereotype of the neighborhood patrolman of old, the justice system, undoubtedly, would be less busy, and more admirable.
The image and stereotype of the policeman, having altered for the worse, it follows that the applicants for the job would also have a different anticipation regarding their duties and loyalties. The altered image of the cop accounts for much of the negative change. But this note is on a somewhat different subject, the unjustified violence practiced by police against unarmed black Americans.
The problem is four-fold, the change in the image of the police, the unpredictable inclination of the individual policeman, toward objectivity or bias, his mental health, and above all, the issuance of guns. The State must not condone the delivery of death-dealing weapons to individuals who are not certified as mentally healthy, and objective. As known, there has been, among the photographed events, far too many instances of unarmed black people, murdered by these State empowered criminals, under the false shield of police authority. There are accounts of white supremacists who have, for their own, un-American and immoral designs, infiltrated the police department.
The only solution we can offer is the professional administration of mental tests by competent, non-police, non -civil service or political agencies, on a regular basis to all police department hires, who will be authorized to carry a weapon, prior to initially entering into constabulary employment, as well, on a regular basis to all gun-toting police thereafter. [It would be societally appropriate, and prudent, additionally, to undertake such programs for all citizens, licensed to bear arms.]
It would also be of great utility and academically appropriate, to eliminate the word, “race” from the lexicon, since it is scientifically, undefinable, and only used to create mischief. (see our early plinyblog: “The Dirtiest Word.”)