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Jun 01 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Butler: Policing in the US is not about enforcing law. It’s about enforcing white supremacy

Police treatment of two CNN reporters at a George Floyd protest shows the US has opposite systems of justice – one for white people, one for people of color

On Friday the CNN journalist Omar Jimenez was arrested on live television as he covered protests of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jimenez identifies as African American and Hispanic, and when the cops confronted him, he did just what minority parents tell their kids to do. Jimenez cooperated; he was respectful, deferential even. He said: “We can move back to where you like … We are getting out of your way … Wherever you want us, we will go.”

It didn’t matter; the police officers put handcuffs on him and led him away, and then came back to arrest his crew. Jimenez narrated his arrest as they led him away. His voice is steady. His eyes, though. Jimenez is masked so his eyes are the only clue to what he’s feeling. His eyes are perplexed and terrified. I get it. When a black or brown person goes into police custody, you never know what is going to happen. You just know that when you leave police custody, if you are lucky enough to leave, you will be diminished. That is the point. [..]

But what’s most interesting is what happened to Josh Campbell, a white CNN journalist who was in the same area as Jimenez and not arrested. Campbell said his experience was the “opposite” of Jimenez’s. The cops asked him “politely to move here and there”. “A couple times I’ve moved closer than they would, like, they asked politely to move back. They didn’t pull out the handcuffs.”

It’s a cliche that the US has two systems of justice, separate and unequal, but I prefer the word Campbell used. The US has “opposite” systems of justice – one for white people and another for racial minorities, especially African Americans, Latinx and Native American people.

White progressives love to focus on class subordination (I see you, Bernie Sanders!) but there is something sticky about race. Jimenez’s professional status and calm demeanor did not stop the police from treating him like a regular black dude – the subject of their vast authority to detain and humiliate. They didn’t have an actual reason and they didn’t need one. Jimenez’s dark skin was the offense.

Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court Broke Police Accountability. Now It Has the Chance to Fix It.

George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers shows the damage the court has wrought.

The video of George Floyd’s death that emerged on Tuesday is both shocking and distressingly familiar. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, is lying on the ground as a white police officer pins him to the ground by the neck. We hear Floyd begging the officer to stop, telling him repeatedly: “I cannot breathe.” But the officer does not let up, and his colleagues taunt Floyd as he dies. “You having fun?” one asks. “You a tough guy,” another says. “Tough guy, huh?” After killing Floyd, the officers falsely claimed he had “physically resisted officers,” necessitating their brutal response.

We’ve seen this before, over and over and over again: police officers, usually white, killing black people who pose no threat to their safety. Although we have only recently begun to witness these executions ourselves thanks to smartphones, they are not a new phenomenon. For as long as law enforcement has existed in the United States, white officers have murdered black people. After the Civil War, Congress sought to address the problem by letting victims and their families sue abusive government officials. But the Supreme Court has butchered that law to prevent countless victims of police brutality from seeking justice through one of the only state-sanctioned avenues available to them. At their conference on Thursday, the justices will have an opportunity to begin unraveling the catastrophic case law that allows so many officers—including, apparently, Floyd’s killers—to murder civilians with impunity. The court has an obligation to fix what it broke.

Robert Reich: Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over

A pandemic unabated, an economy in meltdown, cities in chaos over police killings. All our supposed leader does is tweet

You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States

By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office.

He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV and tweeting. [..]

Since moving into the Oval Office in January 2017, Trump hasn’t shown an ounce of interest in governing. He obsesses only about himself.

But it has taken the present set of crises to reveal the depths of his self-absorbed abdication – his utter contempt for his job, his total repudiation of his office.

Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.

He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.

Charles M. Blow: Destructive Power of Despair

The protests are not necessarily about Floyd’s killing in particular, but about the savagery and carnage that his death represents.

Despair has an incredible power to initiate destruction. It is exceedingly dangerous to assume that oppression and pain can be inflicted without consequence, to believe that the victim will silently absorb the injury and the wound will fade.

No, the injuries compound, particularly when there is no effort to alter the system doing the wounding, no avenue by which the aggrieved can seek justice.

This all breeds despair, simmering below the surface, a building up in need of release, to be let out, to lash out, to explode.

As protests and rioting have swept across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis, it’s evident that America has failed to learn that lesson yet again.

The protests are not necessarily about Floyd’s killing in particular, but about the savagery and carnage that his death represents: The nearly unchecked ability of the state to act with impunity in the oppression of black bodies and the taking of black life.

Jennifer Senior: What Trump and Toxic Cops Have in Common

It’s us versus them.

In his first Inaugural Address, and hopefully his last, Donald Trump talked about American carnage. He got it this week. What we couldn’t have known in January 2017 is that he wasn’t here to save us from this carnage, but to perpetuate it; that incitement wasn’t just a feature of his campaign, but of his governance. When historians look back at the Trump era, they may very well say his presidency was encapsulated by this moment, when a sadistic cop knelt on the neck of an African-American man for almost nine minutes in plain view and the streets exploded in rage.

Derek Chauvin was by no means the first cop to gratuitously brutalize and lynch an African-American. But he embodied something essential about Trumpism: It’s us versus them. That’s the poison ethos at the heart of police brutality, and it’s the septic core of our 45th president’s philosophy. Neither a toxic cop nor Donald Trump sees himself as a servant of all the people they’ve sworn to protect. They are solely servants of their own. Everyone else is the enemy.