WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE

We are imagining two people representative of the opposite ends of the spectrum of the issues rendering our republic. 
Person one is an African American woman in her late 20's. Let's call her Sharon. Person two is a White male police officer of the same age. Let's call him Hank. 

 No stereotyping here, so maybe  Sharon is single, or married. Maybe she has children or doesn't. But Sharon has seen a lot growing up.  She has seen or heard of the prior generation of Black men wiped out by the pandemic of draconian sentencing laws that aimed to warehouse and not rehabilitate and resulted in her country having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Maybe Sharon comes from a middle class or upper class family and had an easier time obtaining an education, or maybe she is from a poor home where her options were limited to a series of minimum wage service jobs. In either event she has experienced the pain and tragedy of the stigma of her race, or she knows people who have. She has never had a good experience with someone like Hank. . 

Hank  comes from a lower middle class blue collar family. There was always food on the table, but no European tours in his teen years. He has a two year associates degree from a community college.  If he is not a racist and ignorant, the people Hank knows and spends his time with are. They have taught him to blame his troubles and lack of opportunities on immigrants and people of color. Learning and higher education was never part of the values Hank was taught. As an officer on patrol, Hank just wants to do his job with no problems, but he is more likely to put his hand on his holster when making a traffic stop of Black men then White men. Most of  Hank's experiences with Sharon have  been negative. Some people like Sharon have cursed at him for no reason when he was doing his job. At some point, rather than ignore the hostility Hank  decided he wasn't going to take it anymore. Hank now uses his discretion to arrest people like Sharon and her friends and family and that in turn generates more hostility by Sharon towards Hank. This  causes Hank to arrest even more people like Sharon.  This is a circle that has not been broken in decades. 

There was one man who as a poet, had the ability to write words that could touch the soul of his country. It turns out that he was also the 16th President of the United States and led our country in times even tougher than these. We have not seen his likes since an assassin's bullet cut Abraham Lincoln's life short, but the conclusion to his first inaugural address contains words of poetry, healing, reconciliation, and genius. Now is the time for such words: 

I am loathe to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Please read those words out loud, over and over, until the genius of his prose touches your soul and you say "Aha! Now I understand what he meant."
Only when enough people have done that, will the better angels of our nature heal our wounds. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

He wrote this to implore the south to abandon its secession. Didn't work.

Stop clinging to this notion of Lincoln the Poet, Lincoln the Emancipator, Lincoln the Conciliator whose words are supposed to sooth a troubled nation. Eventually he will be denounced and disgraced with the rest.

Anonymous said...

Lovely, thank you!

Rumpole said...

I am not sure I have ever done this before But 6:54, you are so dumb and incorrigible that I am officially banning you from the blog. You can be the first to wear the "Banned By Rumpole" sticker. You're out. And it's not business. It's personal. You have such a limited horn-book understanding of history, and you are influenced by the "Lincoln just wanted to keep the Union together and didn't really want to ban slavery" simpleton analysis of history that we want nothing more to do with you. You're out. Finished. Done. You cannot contribute anymore. Be gone with you evil sprit. The power of Christ compels you. The Power of Christ compels you. Out Satan. OUT!

Anonymous said...

Rump I would like to mention an additional influence to your thoughtful narrative which is the police department where Hank works. Hank will definitely bring his experiences, both good and bad, into his police officer career. Nothing, however, will prepare him for the repugnant and hateful behavior he will be taught to emulate. From his first day to his last, he will be trained, evaluated and mentored by racist fellow officers. He will be "enlightened" that not only Blacks, but Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQs, homeless people, drug addicts, individuals with mental disorders and those who have intellectual deficiencies (to name a few) are the enemy. He will be indoctrinated to the "it's us against them" mantra. Unfortunately for Hank the cycle of these repugnant officers will always ensure that a core of similar thinkers will carry on their philosophies. In the worst case, Hank becomes one of them. Like another reader suggested, spend some time on the LEO Affairs web page. You can look up police agencies throughout the US and what you read is appalling. When the Black communities seek police reforms such as stronger background investigations; a national Use of Force data base; training in community relations to include the above mentioned groups; and most importantly, a ZERO tolerance by the departmental police command for any officer who exhibits racist behavior, I wholeheartedly agree. My comments are not meant to excuse racist behavior but only to point out that the problem is so much more complex and requires a holistic correction before the bad apples are terminated. To that end, I believe that the "new" practice of charging officers with criminal charges when determined to be legally justified is a step in the right direction.

Not Jack T said...

He won’t be the first. Did you forget Jack T.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say I agreed with the dim view of Lincoln, only that it was there and probably going to gain currency, what with the rapid reconsideration of other legacies. So he's probably not going to remain the revered sage and savior. They already want to remove one statute of him.

https://www.wcvb.com/article/boston-controversial-abraham-lincoln-statue-calls-for-removal/32860548#

I don't believe Lincoln "didn't really want to ban slavery." He probably did become an authentic and committed abolitionist at some point in his tenure. Though the fact that he was previously willing to countenance the continuation of slavery will probably be another revisionist charge against him. Whether a historical figure is going to be considered racist or decent in the present day is ultimately a philosophical/ideological question rather than a historical one. Even if he emerges unscathed for his evolving attitudes about slavery and black people, the native / indigenous issue has long had bones to pick with his legacy.

https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/janfeb-2013/lincoln-no-hero-to-native-americans/

If they can vilify fictional Atticus Finch (even before the unwanted sequel), they can do the same to non-fictional Abraham Lincoln.

And as for pointing out the context of Lincoln's words, it was a plea for reconciliation that failed and went unheeded. Something to consider when it's invoked melodramatically to pacify another escalating conflict.

Anonymous said...

Rump, I have to admit that the Exorcist was a good movie, but I like the following:

You're out! Finished at Faber! EXPELLED!!! I want you off this campus at 9:00 Monday morning! And I'm sure you'll be happy to know that I have notified your local draft boards and told them that you are now all, all eligible for military.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, are you sure? 6:54 was so astonishingly stupid that I assumed it had to be a bad attempt at satire. Nobody could be that dumb.

Rumpole said...

8:02 you sir or madam are exactly the reader we seek. Erudite. Knowledgeable. Able to quote great historical works and debate us on the analogies we use. Please keep reading.