All Lives Matter
By R. D. Flavin


     The advocacy group, Black Lives Matter, seems to have good intentions in mind, though I wonder if 'heckling' is the most effective means of imparting information or bringing about social and/or legal change. Racist, ethnic, religious, and even political bias has spawned hatred, murder, and war for many years and continues to do so. As a white American, I am especially sympathetic to the motivations behind Black Lives Matter, though a glance at any major newspaper or competent television news show would reveal global strife and deadly stress. All lives matter... Except Iceland – one day they'll get what they deserve.

     Last month, at the Netroots Nation Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, so-called 'protesters' from Black Lives Matter began heckling presidential candidate, Martin O'Malley, who attempted a clever response with, "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." O'Malley later, for reasons unknown, apologized for those remarks. After O'Malley left the stage, presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders met with a similar barrage of demands and insults, but left the forum choosing not to get into a yelling match. Shortly afterwards, when Bernie Sanders spoke in Seattle, Washington, he was again heckled and again refused to engage the 'protesters'. Not so with Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was approached by members of Black Lives Matter in New Hampshire, but stood her ground and let it be known she had always supported civil rights and continues to do so. Black Lives Matter claims that it doesn't care about who or who isn't running for president, though it could be macabrely amusing if they'd go after Donald Trump or Jeb Bush.

     While even the life of a single African-American taken unjustly by a police officer is murderous and a public horror, there have been several such incidents in the past couple of months, which would statistically indicate either an un-declared 'war' by the police against African-Americans, or some communicable contagion of racist stupidity which has infected our land. Personally, ever since the “Stand your ground” ruling, there seems to have been a lot of accidental and/or unjustified shootings. Indeed, on the Black Lives Matter home web-page, the group claims it was formed in 2012 as a direct response to the cruel homicide of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.

     Bad news is always junk-food for the masses and the 2013 Navy Yard deaths in Washington D.C. by a whackjob sub-contractor, Aaron Alexis, shined a light on certain weaknesses in security and bravery under fire. America was understandably confused... Such was NOT the case in the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent refusal of a grand jury to indict police officer, Darren Wilson. The community responded with protests and the police went into full riot-mode and the damages and poor decisions were almost too much to keep track of. Even Pres. Obama issued a statement pleading for all sides to calm down. The National Guard helped stoke the fires of unrest. From coast to coast, many protests occurred over this blatant misuse of power and lack of common sense and justice. Later, Chief Judge Catherine D. Perry of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, issued an injunction to try and curtail police misconduct and over-reaction. The scars remain and the folks of Ferguson, as well as many Americans, still wonder how things could escalate so quickly and so wrongly.

     Surprisingly, just a few days ago, after a recent U.S. Department of Justice report critical of the Ferguson police and local court system, Municipal Judge Donald McCullin has ordered approximately 10,000 arrest warrants be changed and allowed for new court dates and payment options. Also, the judge ordered the reinstatement of suspended drivers licenses for those who either failed to appear in court or pay their fines on time.

     Though, in all fairness, there have been a lot of killings of late in which race was not a factor. There are a lot of folks filled with hate and mentally unbalanced people out there. And, of course, we must not forget the terrorists both domestic and foreign.

     The ancient and noble Kurdish people are surrounded by enemies who wish to kill them on sight. Syria has lost hundreds of thousands of its citizens with most being murdered by non-Syrians. West versus East Ukraine? The unbelievable acts of genocide and other crimes committed by the Nigerian-based Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram (aka Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah), which have purportedly killed over 17,000 innocents? The criminal killings in Libya and Bangkok? Indeed, all life matters and we are limited by our response.

     Black Lives Matter activist, Shaun King, accepted an 'Oprah Scholarship' to attend Morehouse College, a historically black institution, though previous documents have listed him as “white” and he's now claiming to be trans-racial, like Rachel Dolezal, the one-time and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter in Spokane, Washington. Yeah, 'words' have different meaning depending on context.

     If one were conversing with a backseat and amateur ethnologist, the terms 'black' and 'red' would likely refer to African-Americans and Native Americans, while if one were using the same terms with an accountant or investment broker, 'black' would be understood as profitable, while 'red' would indicate loss. Sure, such words as 'gay' and 'bad' are understood to mean different things to different people. Though the NAACP may have one definition of the word 'colored', in South Africa, there's black, white, and the 'colored' are those from India or nearby. Here in Beantown, we use 'wicked' in so many different ways, it's almost impossible to explain them all.

     In the '60s there were the Civil Rights and Viet-Nam War marches and protests. I remember dressing up as a priest and handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in 1980. I got maced by the National Guard and when thanked for the p & j sandwiches, had to confess I wasn't really a priest, just a retired priest's housekeeper and studied Contemporary American Religious Movements (cults and radical sects) at the Harvard Divinity School. It was odd because I actually support nuclear power, I just didn't like how the protesters were getting beat up. Oh, and getting even weirder, a year and a half later I joined the National Guard (to help pay for college). Some folks just like to protest, though I'll never understand the Occupy Wall Street movement and what they thought they were going to achieve.

     The minimalist sophism “If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem” is insulting to those who know how to vote. America is a screwed-up country, but at least we retain the power to change things at the ballot box. All life matters and every vote counts. There's lots of work ahead...

peace not pieces,

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