Don’t Mess With The Narrative

On August 9, just a couple of weeks ago, Michael Brown was shot in the street by a Ferguson police officer.  Because Brown was an 18-year-old black male, naturally, and unarmed, he has become the newest cause in the vein of Trayvon Martin.

We didn’t even have all of the facts, and by the end of the day – the day he was killed – he was being immortalized as a “gentle giant” who had been shot by a racist white cop.  By the next day, protests had turned into riots.  The riots are continuing today, with everyone from the rioters to the governor of Missouri to the President calling for the officer, Darren Wilson, to be immediately and vigorously prosecuted. 

Who gives a damn what the facts are, right?  Michael Brown was a little angel who was innocently walking home and a cop randomly executed him because of his skin color.  Darren Wilson, if you’re buying the media’s story and that of the rioters, was a racist who committed cold-blooded murder and that’s all they need to know.

As is always the case, facts have come out since then that have shed a lot of light on what happened, but to see what’s still going on you’d never know it.  Last night two white protesters trying to defend the officer from the mob were violently chased until police put them in cruisers and physically drove them far from the scene.  Fully 57 rioters were arrested, yet only four of them were even from Ferguson – and of the 53 who were from out-of-town, another 16 were from other states.

Here’s what we have so far between the police and witnesses.

At 1201 local time, officer Darren Wilson was headed to a nearby convenience store that had been robbed when he spotted Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson walking down the middle of the street.  While still in his cruiser, he asked them to move to the sidewalk and out of the street; Brown and Johnson mocked the officer and refused to comply.  Wilson stopped, exited his cruiser, and again asked the pair to move out of the street.  Brown shoved Wilson back into his cruiser and began assaulting him, punching him with his fists and then struggling to take his gun from him.  At some point during the struggle, the gun went off, and Brown began to flee.  Wilson got out and leveled his weapon at Brown, commanding him to “freeze!”  Brown turned and said, “what are you gonna do, shoot me?”  Brown then rushed Wilson and Wilson fired several more shots until Brown finally fell dead in the street.

Some of this information has been disputed.  The original story was that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering, and the officer – out of spite or hatred – just decided to keep shooting.  A video was released, however, proving that to be false – a video of several witnesses in the neighborhood watching the crime scene and talking about what happened.  Then there’s the position of Brown’s body.  He was in the street, his head toward the cruiser, facedown.  Add that to the bullet trajectories, and the evidence shows that Brown was probably running when he was shot.  If he wasn’t running away from Wilson, that means Wilson is likely telling the truth.

Wilson was also badly injured.  We don’t know all of the details, but we know that he was taken to the hospital with severe facial bruising and swelling and it was discovered that he had an orbital socket blowout – meaning that the bone surrounding his eye had been shattered.  That takes a great deal of force to produce and normally requires surgery to repair. 

Then there’s statistics.  Those don’t lie.  According to the FBI, between 2003-2012 a total of 25 officers were killed with their own service pistols.  That means that the perps in these cases struggled with the officers, took their guns from them, and killed them.  That sort of situation is at the forefront of every officer’s mind.  If a man is willing to physically attack a uniformed and armed police officer, that officer is trained to assume that the perp has that very intention – now their life is in danger and they have no other option.  Since he had already struggled with Wilson once, I think we can assume that’s exactly what Brown had in mind.

But what about the robbery video, Mel?  If Wilson didn’t know about the robbery yet, why would they have released that video?  Well, let’s talk about that.  First of all, we don’t know if Wilson knew about the robbery; it is believed from several reports that he had heard about it and was heading toward the store that had been robbed, but we don’t know for sure.  Whether he knew about it or not, that video is evidence of something very important here, something I shouldn’t have to explain to anybody. 

Motive.

Do you think an 18-year-old boy is going to believe that a police officer asking him questions isn’t interested in him because of the crime he had literally just committed minutes before?  I promise that’s exactly what he thought.  Since he thought he was being contacted because of the robbery, I guarantee he felt like he had nothing to lose. 

Being unarmed does not mean he was innocent, nor does it mean that he posed no threat.  The fact that he was 18 doesn’t mean he was a boy; he was 6’5″ and weighed 250 lbs.  The fact that the officer might not have known about the robbery doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a reason to ask Brown and Johnson to move out of the street.  Brown’s parents should have taught him more effectively to respect the authorities in his life.

All of these people who are out in mobs rioting and demanding justice against an officer who is likely innocent are not making things better.  Rather than being violent and insisting on the outcome they want, they should be insisting that the truth come out – and be willing to live with whatever the search for truth comes up with.  If and when officer Wilson is vindicated, nobody currently screaming for his head is going to settle for that truth.  Governor Nixon won’t step forward to apologize.  Al Sharpton certainly won’t apologize.  Nobody is going to learn from this.  This incident isn’t about finding the truth…it’s about getting what they want, and what they want is to continue in their belief that the black community bears no responsibility for their current condition.  They want to believe that everything going on is someone else’s fault.  Until that mindset is challenged from their own leadership, nothing will change.

Oh, and about Dorian Johnson…he currently has a warrant out for his arrest in St. Louis for giving a false report to a police officer.  Don’t make him out to be innocent.

As for officer Wilson, his life is over.  He will never be allowed to live in peace again, and that is a travesty that cannot be put to words.  I am sorry that the Brown family lost their son.  It appalls me, however, that they are so willing to allow that officer and his family to have everything they know and love taken from them by the rabble.

Sociopath

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were arrested for breaking into a van and stealing several computers during their junior year. They so impressed their probation officers (Harris in particular) with their good manners and apparent willingness to change that they were released from probation several months early. One year later, they took a pile of homemade bombs and three guns into Columbine High School and went on a rampage, killing 13 before committing suicide. Harris wore a plain white t-shirt that read “natural selection.”

After he made himself infamous with his final violent act, his journals were discovered. He wrote about the probation process and the adults involved. He ranted that the owner of the van was to blame for leaving his computers in plain sight, and he (Harris) had every right to take them because the victim was “a dumbass.” Most of his journal entries were along those lines. He railed about being superior; he believed that natural selection gave him every right to assert that superiority.

Elliot Rodger, the UCSB shooter, sounds eerily like Eric Harris.

The Friday before he went on his killing spree, Rodger posted eight different videos to YouTube and sent a nearly 140-page diatribe to several sources, including the media. In one video, he says, “I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am the superior one, the true alpha male.” He expresses frustration bordering on rage that girls have never taken an interest in him. In his final acts, he stabbed three roommates to death in his apartment, then went on a drive-by shooting spree that killed three more. He ran over four people in his expensive black BMW before getting into a shoot-out with police, then shot himself in the head.

There’s something more to this kid, though, that it seems everyone is missing. He was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome and had difficulty making friends when he was in private schools. His parents reportedly sent him to the best schools available; he wanted for nothing, with Gucci and Prada being his favorite styles. An incident he describes himself in one of his videos is very telling, though. He talks about being at a party and being angry with women for not paying attention to him, so he tries to shove several girls off of a ledge. Several men at the party, angry with him for his actions, tossed him over the ledge instead, injuring his ankle. He leaves, discovers that he’s lost his Gucci sunglasses, and goes back to get them – only to find the same angry men waiting to beat the crap out of him. They did so, sending him home a mess.

I don’t give a damn who you are – if you try to shove women over a balcony, yeah, you deserve a first-rate beatdown. Had I been there, I would have done the same thing. I do not care what your motives are or how hurt you are. One does not alleviate their pain by inflicting pain on others. It doesn’t work that way.

Rodger’s own description of some of the things he’s done tells us quite a bit about him. He was an angry boy who always found the most inappropriate methods for expressing his anger. Then he simply couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to be around him. His parents were the liberal anti-gun sort, typical of the Hollywood types who teach their kids the “peace and love” mantra without ever teaching them chivalry, honor, and respect. He was probably never taught that the way to a girl’s heart is to first respect her and show interest in her (NOT of the sexual variety). It doesn’t take much. It had nothing to do with his race (as he angrily claimed). It had everything to do with the fact that he was a sociopath who believed himself superior to everyone else and was never taught to care about other people. All he cared about was himself – his feelings, his desires, his passions. When he discovered that the world was not going to give him what he wanted he pitched a hissy fit.

This had nothing to do with women, his unrequited sexual drive, or his loneliness. It sure as hell wasn’t about the NRA or the gun culture. Rodger used knives and his car along with his guns to kill and maim. This had everything to do with his selfish, sociopathic attitude and outlook on life. To blame it on anything else is shortsighted at best.

If You Train Them…Trust Them

I’ll never forget my tactical training – particularly my live-fire course. For five minutes, I had to wend my way through a mockup of a detention facility, making split-second decisions on which pop-up targets to shoot (and firing with high accuracy). Is it an armed suspect? A civilian? An officer? That five minutes felt like an eternity. It was for a worst-case scenario that was extremely unlikely, but the training was important.

I had a rifle and a pistol and I was sweating bullets the whole time. That five minutes felt like it would never end. I cannot imagine being unarmed and trapped by a maniac with guns who is shooting at everything that moves. That must be a hellish experience, one I pray no other human being ever has to face. After the Ft. Hood shooting, a friend who was much younger than I asked how a psychologist could attack a room full of soldiers and be the only one holding a gun.

My response confused the hell out of her at first:

Bill Clinton.

One of the very first acts that Bill Clinton made after being elected to the Presidency was to declare military installations “gun-free zones”. He immediately issued an order making it illegal for soldiers to carry personal firearms on base. More than that, though, he also made it close to impossible for XO’s (executive officers) to issue firearms to their troops to carry on base for protection. Since March of 1993, our troops – highly trained individuals who spend weeks learning everything about their rifles and pistols – have been disarmed on their own bases. It is because of President Clinton, an outrageously liberal and breathtakingly arrogant man, that our troops were disarmed and vulnerable at Ft. Hood and, tragically, yesterday at NAVSEA.

I can certainly appreciate the desire to make people safer. For many who have never been victims and have never had anything resembling law enforcement or tactical training, it seems to be logical to want to make all guns illegal. The problem comes in when they refuse to let go of that belief even in the face of overwhelming evidence that proves banning guns only makes things worse.

One of the biggest factors that determines how many deaths there are during a mass shooting is the amount of time it takes for an armed good guy to show up. In almost all of the recent mass shootings, the longer it took for police to arrive and return fire, the more deaths and injuries resulted. The only exception is the Tucson shooting – Loughner’s extended clip (as many of them are wont to do) failed to load a round properly, causing a jam that he hadn’t trained to clear quickly. Folks who want to ban extended clips ignore this fact; the springs in those clips have to do more work and they’re no more sturdy than the springs in standard clips, causing loading issues after the first few rounds.

That’s beside the point, though. All anyone who wants to ban certain cosmetic features can see is that it “looks more dangerous”. Never mind the fact that the term “assault weapon” is nauseatingly redundant.

At NAVSEA yesterday, it took seven minutes for the first armed police officers to arrive and begin an actual response. Seven minutes of terror for those innocent people. Seven minutes where any of the military members in the building could have pulled a weapon and taken Alexis out before he could kill twelve people. For those that were hiding, it was actually closer to an hour or two before police were able to locate them and lead them out of the building. In all of that time, not one of the highly-trained sailors or Marines in that facility was able to do what they were trained to do: take the fight to the bad guy.

It is a sin and a shame that we train these men and women and then tell them we don’t trust them with the very tools we trained them on. It is unforgivable that they are almost safer in a war zone than they are on their own soil. The history of mass shootings the statistics that come out of them tell us that they always target gun-free zones and they are deadlier with every second that ticks by without a good guy with a gun responding.

Aaron Alexis should have been prosecuted on felony charges in 2004, when he first walked out of his grandmother’s home and deliberately fired several rounds at a car. We don’t even need to have a discussion about his obvious mental illness – his actions nine years ago should have been enough to make him a prohibited person. The whole point of current gun laws is to identify those who will be dangerous with guns, prosecute them, and shut down their ability to legally purchase a gun. The system failed twice. He was able to carry out this shooting for two reasons: because police and prosecutors failed to do their jobs and because innocent people were disarmed and unable to defend themselves.

Side note: it’s hilarious to me that with all of the problems going on in The District, lawmakers there are focusing on the evils of body art. They’re trying to pass a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for getting tattoos or piercings.

GUN CONTROL NOW!!! (Updated)

I knew it was going to happen, and it did. As soon as the news hit that there was a shooting going on at a DC Navy shipyard, liberal commentators the world over began renewing their calls for gun control.

There’s some reality that we need to look at here, though.

The shooter was identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis. According to news reports throughout the day, we’ve discovered that on May 6, 2004, Alexis flew into a rage and shot out the back tires of a Honda Accord parked in a driveway next to the house he was living in. He was about 25 years old at the time. According to police reports, there had been some kind of dispute with a nearby construction site about parking in the area – but the Accord wasn’t even parked in HIS driveway. Witnesses say that for several days, he stared and glared at workers passing by his house. He was later arrested and Seattle PD pressed charges.

Shortly before his 28th birthday, Alexis joined the US Navy Reserves. How he was able to do this with a violent felony on his record I don’t know. He was not active duty – he served in Ft. Worth and worked at a Thai restaurant while he was there. In September 2010, Ft. Worth police responded to a 911 call of shots fired from Alexis’ apartment. He was 28 by this time. When police first arrived, he didn’t answer the door. As they prepared to make a forcible entry, he finally did answer – he claimed that he hadn’t answered because he “thought it was his neighbor.” He reported having a “contentious” relationship with the woman. He then claimed that the gun had discharged accidentally; he said he’d been cooking, his hands were slippery, and as he cleaned the handgun it discharged by accident. The neighbor, however, says she was terrified of him because he frequently got angry over the noise he said she made.

It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it is believed that he was not accepted for re-enlistment because of the second shooting incident. At least one senior defense official has commented that he had a history of misconduct.

Here’s my problem with this picture. In the 2004 incident, he gave police some song and dance about having been involved in rescue efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11 and said that he was “disturbed” by what he experienced. I’ve been disturbed by a lot of things I’ve seen – I’ve never used that as an excuse to fly into a rage and shoot at a person’s car. In light of that, I cannot believe his cockamamie excuse that his weapon “accidentally discharged” while he cleaned it. I grew up with guns. The way I’ve been trained, the first thing you do when you clean your steel is unload it. You don’t do it while you’re cooking and your hands are slippery – you pay careful attention, make sure your hands are clean (I actually wear gloves now), and use extreme caution. Add to that his own admission that he didn’t get along with his upstairs neighbor (whose floor the bullet traveled through) AND the previous incident, and I am convinced that he did it on purpose.

I don’t care if he played violent video games. I play Assassin’s Creed all the time, it doesn’t make me want to go out and shoot people. I don’t buy that he was so deeply disturbed by what he saw on 9/11 that he was that prone to “blank rage”. Especially considering what happened today, I think it’s likely that he was prone to outbursts of anger long before the 2004 shooting. That incident alone should have made him ineligible to possess a firearm. Legally, anyone who commits a violent act with a firearm is supposed to be considered a prohibited person.

What raises questions here is not whether we should all have to give up our guns. It’s not even whether we should have to go through more stringent requirements to get guns. It’s why he had guns after what he did in Seattle when he was 25. I can’t find whether he was convicted, but considering what happened I’m sure he worked out a deal. After the 2010 shooting, he was not charged, which tells me that whatever deal he worked out in Seattle included not being convicted of a felony and not being stripped of his civil liberties. THAT is what we should be questioning. The very instant someone deliberately walks out, pulls a gun, and shoots at anything in a populated area, whether they argue that they flew into some kind of rage should be irrelevant.

I’d be willing to bet we’re not going to find that Alexis was some kind of right-wing nut. I know the liberals are hoping he will be. Today was a tragedy that we should mourn, but it makes me nauseous that the political claws have already been bared.

I wish more than anything that we lived in a more peaceful world. I have said many times before that I wish we didn’t have to carry guns. I long for the day when we can “fashion our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.” I love being a caretaker and wish I didn’t have to protect anyone, but the world we live in is full of fallible human beings who are capable of not caring about doing the right thing. If we lived in a perfect world we would not need armed police or military and we would not need prisons. The sooner everyone grasps that concept, the safer we’ll be.

***UPDATE***

According to another news source, Alexis arrived with only a shotgun. He collected the AR-15 and the handgun after storming the NAVSEA shipyard.

Shame

This morning as I was getting ready for work, a horror was beginning to play out in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut. 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School where she taught and murdered 26 innocent people – including 20 children.

I have seen no shortage of hurt, sick and dying children in my profession. The one thing I have thankfully never had to see is a child dying of a gunshot wound. Contrary to what gun control advocates would tell you, small children don’t die of GSW’s very often. I run on child drownings several times a year, but in six years I have yet to run on a single child killed by a gun.

Unfortunately the statistics mattered none today. It almost seems as if Lanza was bent on killing mostly children. Unsurprisingly we don’t know the motive. In less than 24 hours, though, what innocence we had left has been shattered by a terrifying monstrosity that we never would have imagined in our worst nightmares. Tonight, the parents of 20 young children are sitting in shock. They know their children aren’t coming home, but they have not yet been officially told. The investigation has barely begun.

I had resolved this morning that I would not write about this so soon, but it cannot be helped. News was still fresh when some in the media began going after those who have been affected by mass shootings in the past. Some urged caution in how we react, but the media was really after statements from those who now advocate gun control. Several have angrily said that it’s the availability of guns in America that makes these tragedies possible.

Has anyone ever wondered why all of the mass shootings that happen here in the US always take place in so-called “gun-free” zones, places like schools that have strict zero-tolerance policies? Shooters go to those areas because they can inflict maximum casualties and nobody will fight back – because they can’t. Paducah. Jonesboro. Littleton. Aurora. The Oregon mall shooting just a couple of days ago – and now, Newtown. Malls and movie theaters in states where open carry is allowed almost always post signs telling patrons not to bring their legally-owned weapons inside, which is their right; the only problem is that the bad guys do not care about the rules any more than they care about the law. Murder is illegal, but they still commit it. We’ve made heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines illegal (among many drugs) but people still abuse those substances at rates that are unbelievable. I fail to understand how anyone believes that making guns illegal is going to solve the problem.

I’m not a parent, but I am an aunt. When I see things like this my mind goes into overdrive. I can’t even comprehend what my reaction would be if I were this powerless. I’ll tell you this, if some thug threatened any child (especially one in my family) in my presence, he would not survive the experience. If I’m watching those kids and someone breaks into the house, there will be no question nor any hesitation – I will make sure that person can never harm them again. We should be absolutely furious with anyone who dares to try to do harm to our kids. We should not be begging or pleading. We should be ready to do fatal damage to anyone who tries to harm or kill a child in our care.

Instead, we have gun-free zones. We want everyone to FEEL safe. I almost never go to the movies and avoid malls like the zombie apocalypse because I would be a sitting duck in those places. While I can understand some victims wanting to have a “discussion” about guns in America, I would rather they look hard at how we treat criminals and those who would become criminals. We’re so willing to become violent over politics, but we’re not willing to defend ourselves? How did we become a nation of people who would rather leave the most defenseless among us completely helpless in the face of evil?

Stop trying to make sense of this. There is no sanity involved. There is nothing even remotely normal about a 20-year-old gunning down a room full of kindergarteners, and trying to normalize it is just as insane as the act itself. One or two armed teachers could have stopped this before it happened. A gun could have saved lives today. Instead, the bright lights of 26 pure souls were extinguished.

It’s a sin and a shame that we weren’t willing to do more.

Twist And Shout

There’s nothing like a little bit of media bias surrounding a tragedy. We’ve been dealing with it for so long at this point that I’m pretty sure I’d miss it if they weren’t doing it anymore. Such has been the case since August 12, when an off-duty Chicago cop was attacked and had to shoot one of his attackers in self-defense.

The officer has not been named publicly, but there have been vigils held for the 26-year-old father who was killed that night. The officer was riding his motorcycle when a small child darted out into the road; he intentionally laid the bike down (biker parlance for deliberately wrecking it to avoid hurting someone while moving at a high rate of speed) to avoid hitting her, but the bike clipped her anyway. Her father, Christopher Middleton, came tearing out of the restaurant they were visiting in a rage and, along with his cousin, 18-year-old John Passley, began viciously beating him.

If it were me, I would be more concerned about my daughter than angry at the person who hit her. As soon as I made sure that she wasn’t bleeding profusely and was still conscious, THEN I would want to find out what happened. I sure as hell wouldn’t run outside, right past my injured child and immediately start beating someone. It would only make a bigger mess of things.

It resulted in a bigger mess when the off-duty cop had to pull his handgun and shoot Middleton. According to the victim and witness testimony, the beating was very brutal. The victim felt himself beginning to lose consciousness and believed that his life was in imminent danger. He pulled his sidearm and fired a single round right into Middleton’s upper thigh/groin area, clipping his femoral artery. He died at the hospital.

What’s more incredible than the story itself is that Middleton’s family is claiming that he was a great father and didn’t deserve to die – that he was just “going crazy” over his child. A great parent will be more worried about their child after an accident than they are about getting back at the other person involved. Middleton had no idea what happened. He didn’t stop to ask whether his daughter had run out into the street. Hell, it sounds as though he didn’t even stop to look at her. He barged out and attacked someone without knowing what happened, and he had no intention of stopping his rampage until his target was either maimed or dead.

The family claims that the officer never identified himself as a police officer. Actually, multiple witnesses say he did tell Middleton that he was a cop – Middleton reportedly said, “I don’t give a f***” and smashed him in the face. Even if he hadn’t, why should it have mattered? Would he have done worse to someone he knew wasn’t a cop? Does it excuse the fact that he attacked a man who appeared to be unarmed without knowing what happened? Is it supposed to somehow absolve him of his role in the tragedy?

The family is also demanding justice. For what? A man sees a kid jump out into the street in front of him, pulls off a very dangerous maneuver to avoid hitting her and unfortunately ends up clipping her anyway. He did what he could. After that, two men he doesn’t know attack him, knock him to the ground and beat him until he starts to pass out. What was he supposed to do? Would it have been better if the cop had fought back and killed him with his bare hands? What would you have expected him to do in that situation? It’s clear that the family was not only not trying to stop him, they were actively helping him.

The whole situation could have been avoided. Rather than admitting that he was an idiot, they’re claiming he didn’t overreact and the cop he attacked should be the one going to jail. Middleton’s mother has even sworn to get a lawyer and do whatever she can to get back at her son’s victim.

The press hasn’t addressed this ridiculous story except to turn everything back around on the man who could have died trying to avoid hitting a child. British publication The Daily Mail worded their entire article in an accusatory fashion. Other articles linked here talk about the vigils for Middleton, but no mention is made of the mental state of the off-duty cop who had to kill another human being. I promise you, he’s not taking it lightly. I’ve known cops who had to kill and not one of them ever slept well afterwards.

It’s always sad when a child is hurt. I hate those calls; even when the child is crying and responsive (which tells me that the child is breathing and conscious, not in shock), it breaks my heart. I cannot, for any reason, excuse the actions of Christopher Middleton. If his family has an ounce of intelligence, they will stop blaming the victim and set a better example for the children in the family. Keep close track of small children. Teach them to NEVER enter the street without looking carefully.

More than anything, however, don’t ever attack someone blindly. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. If you do attack someone in a blind rage, you deserve the negative outcome – no matter how tragic the public may think it is.

Tragedy at the Sikh Temple

I have yet to offer my thoughts on the Aurora shooting, mostly because I know cops and firefighters who were there and I’d be walking a fine line when I do say something about it.

Today, though, I’m stunned at the news that a gunman walked into a Sikh temple near Milwaukee and opened fire with a single handgun, killing six and wounding three (including a police officer) before he was taken down by police. What we’ve heard so far that the attacker was a former military member in his 40’s and he had a 9/11 memorial tattoo on one arm. There are rumors the he mistook the Sikh temple for a Mosque.

I have never met a Sikh whom I did not deeply respect. Sikhism is the polar opposite of jihadist Islam; they believe in peace and genuine equality, that men and women of all races are completely equal in God’s eyes. Sikhs are supposed to be saint/soldiers who live to help others and defend those who have suffered injustice. Like the Shaolin monks who have taught me, Sikhs have good hearts and are very giving people.

My heart goes out to the victims, their families and their friends. Today is a very sad moment. I will not condemn the shooter just yet, as we don’t know what his actual motivations were. Like the Sikhs, however, I pray for peace and justice, and I hope the public can gain greater understanding of who the Sikhs are through this.

We Are All George Zimmerman

On August 19, 1991, a Jewish man driving a station wagon in a motorcade fell behind and eventually got into an accident. The driver knew he was going to end up on the sidewalk, so he steered his vehicle away from all of the people he could see – yet ended up hitting a wall. The wall collapsed, killing 7-year-old Gavin Cato and seriously injuring his cousin, Angela. The two children were black, their parents immigrants from Guyana. City EMS and Hatzalah (an all-volunteer private Jewish EMS service) both arrived. City EMS directed one of the two Hatzalah units to take the driver to the hospital for his own safety; another Hatzalah unit stayed to help extricate the children from the rubble and transport the children to the hospital.

Crown Heights has very high numbers of blacks and Jews, and the two had long kept an uneasy relationship. When 22-year-old driver Yosef Lifsh averted one tragedy only to unleash another that day, long-dormant tensions almost immediately hit the ignition point and the neighborhood was overtaken in a racial flashover of epic proportions.

When city EMS workers arrived, Lifsh was being pulled from his vehicle and beaten by black witnesses – some the very people he had desperately tried to avoid hitting. A large crowd gathered. Lifsh tried to help the children but was eventually beaten back, and when the ambulance services arrived, Lifsh was taken away to the rising fury of the crowd – which had begun to chant, “Jews! Jews! Jews!” The resulting uproar sparked a pogrom which, to this day, has never really been answered for.

Ari Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Times, was openly angry with his bosses for not reporting the truth about the riots. Jews, who had not shown violence, were brutally attacked by their black neighbors. A few hours after the riots began, some 20 black youths set upon Yankel Rosenbaum, an Australian Jew in the US to study for his doctorate. Yankel was beaten and stabbed. As he lay dying, he was able to identify the 16-year-old who stabbed him for police. The next day, black demonstrators chanted, “death to the Jews!” Jewish homes and businesses were looted and set on fire; bricks and bottles were thrown through windows and at Jews. At Gavin Cato’s funeral, race-baiting charlatan Al Sharpton made crude remarks referring to Jews as “diamond merchants” and said, “it’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of crown heights!”

Sharpton has since had the unmitigated gall to claim that he went to Crown Heights at the start of the riots to see “brick-throwing on all sides.” He’s talked about “extremists in the Jewish community” and how those supposed extremists called him out wrongly for referring to them as diamond merchants. He claimed that he should have talked about how precious Yankel Rosenbaum was as he eulogized Gavin Cato, but failed to mention that he was too busy challenging Jews to “pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!” Even more astonishing, he has the temerity to say that we shouldn’t be too concerned with who is the “greater victim”.

Lemrick Nelson, Jr. was acquitted of murder charges in the death of Rosenbaum despite video evidence showing his involvement. He was later found guilty on federal charges of depriving Rosenbaum of his civil rights. Only one other rioter faced any charges; nobody else was arrested or brought to justice, and not one acceptable apology has ever been offered to the Jewish community in Crown Heights for the outrageous crimes committed against them in August of 1991. Yet we have never seen Jewish protests or outrage; we haven’t seen Jewish youths go on rampages down black streets. Instead, they have maintained their dignity and used their intelligence to call out the flagrant anti-Semitic acts during the riots and the lack of concern on the part of the press or the authorities.

Fast forward to February 26, just one month ago. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has just gone to stay with his father in Sanford, Florida and on a rainy day walks to a convenience store for iced tea and candy. He has his hood pulled low over his face. As he walks back to his father’s house, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman spots him and calls police to tell them he’s following a young black man who is acting suspiciously. After a long spate of break-ins and violent crimes in the gated community, Zimmerman hears a dispatcher tell him not to follow Trayvon and goes back to his SUV.

The story gets hairy from there. The only eyewitnesses say they heard someone scream for help and came to see Trayvon standing over Zimmerman, banging his head against the sidewalk. Several 911 calls are placed. A gunshot is heard. The voices go silent. When police arrive, they find Zimmerman bleeding from his nose and the back of his head, a single round discharged; Trayvon is lying face-down, a bullet wound to his chest, dead. Other witnesses made claims that couldn’t be corroborated. Zimmerman tells the police that Trayvon attacked him from behind, knocked him down and beat him, eventually leaving him with no option but to shoot him in self-defense.

Since the incident, tensions have reached the boiling point yet again, with members of the black community spewing vile hatred for Zimmerman, claiming he’s a white racist (in fact, he’s Hispanic). Trayvon’s family has claimed he was just a good boy. Pictures of Trayvon as a 12- and 13-year-old, smiling in his football uniform, have been widely circulated. A picture of Zimmerman after an arrest in which charges were dropped has been widely circulated. Strange facts have begun to emerge: Trayvon was with his father because he’d been suspended from school after getting caught with marijuana. Zimmerman was actually well-liked by his neighbors and had thwarted at least one known break-in attempt.

Just like they did during the Crown Heights riots, the press has made a mess of the story. They’ve provided extremely biased coverage. They haven’t challenged a single aspect of their own story. They’re not reporting on Spike Lee tweeting Zimmerman’s address or the death threats Zimmerman has received; they haven’t called out the New Black Panther Party for openly putting a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head. Instead, they report only on the emotionally charged family demanding justice without questioning whether their son may have actually attacked a man. Yes, it is tragic that Trayvon died. It is unthinkable that we would allow mob justice to take over in America and a travesty that nobody is asking questions before taking action. We should have learned after Crown Heights.

The title of this post is meant to get your attention. I hope it has. We could all end up being George Zimmerman someday – accused of a hate crime you didn’t commit, the people in your corner being ignored by the public when they say you’re not a hatemonger or a thug, with extremist groups so ready to take your life that they’d offer a large sum of money to anyone willing to deliver you to them. If for no other reason than the fact that the truth is often distorted and we could one day be the targets of unfounded rage, we should defend Zimmerman’s rights and shout down the mob. If warranted, we should be willing to do violence to be sure the mob is stopped.

We all know the images being circulated of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. We’ve become well-acquainted with them. What if someone showed you different images of the two? What would you think then? Well, here you go…

NOTE: it would appear, according to a commenter, that Twitchy did, in fact, acknowledge that the photo previously posted here was NOT of Trayvon. While I didn’t get the photo from Twitchy, I feel it necessary to remove the photo and put another one up – this one actually of Trayvon. I maintain that the more recent photos of Trayvon have been deliberately hidden from the public.

NYC Mayor Harasses AZ Over Gun Laws Despite Layoffs

On January 23, the Crossroads of the West gun show in Phoenix, Arizona became the target of an investigation. Neither Arizona authorities nor federal authorities carried it out. It wasn’t a journalist, either. Private investigators, hired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg at a price tag just over six figures, entered the popular gun show with the intent of trying to buy guns and making it appear illegal. Hidden cameras caught the PI’s telling gun sellers point-blank that they couldn’t pass a background check. We don’t know if any sellers told the hired hands to take a hike, but we do know that at least two guns were sold to them.

All of this is going down in the face of the biggest layoffs in the city’s history.

600 NYC firefighters are about to get their walking papers and 21,000 teachers are slated for the same fate thanks to the city’s budget shortfalls, yet Bloomberg is paying top dollar for what amounts to little more than political posturing. Bloomberg already runs a city that bans handgun ownership, but he’s been pushing for more stringent gun laws in the state for some time. The Tucson shooting provided the backdrop he had hoped for and, like any good liberal refusing to let a good crisis go to waste, Bloomberg joined the rest of the harpies in doing the gun control rain dance. The stunt he pulled right here in my city was his swan song.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ORGlpb_HfE&feature=player_embedded]

Here’s the kicker: in Arizona, private sellers can be prosecuted for knowingly selling guns to those who cannot pass background checks. In this case, however, they can NEVER be prosecuted. Bloomberg didn’t notify Arizona officials that the investigation would be going down. So, because he has no jurisdiction, none of the illegal sellers will be held accountable. They can keep selling just as they did on January 23. The law is in place for a reason – breaking the law is supposed to result in penalties designed to deter people from selling guns illegally. Bloomberg wasn’t interested in bringing those sellers to justice. He wanted to accent his point, and in political terms, it is perfectly acceptable to ignore the law if it helps you win an argument.

I’m curious…how many teacher or firefighter jobs could have been spared by the money blown on this peacockery? Since we know that more layoffs will come because of governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget cuts, how many police jobs could have been spared the chopping block before those layoffs were even considered? How many officers need equipment that money could have purchased? How many bait cars could have been bought? How many investigations, rape kits, overtime hours could have been paid for with the money he flushed on this excursion?

What amazes me is that Bloomberg’s spokesman said, “The background check system failed in Arizona, it failed in Virginia and it fails in states around the country. If we don’t fix it now, the question is not whether another massacre will occur, but when.” In the video above, Bloomberg makes much of the fact that the gun purchased – a Glock 17 with two high-capacity clips – is the same weapon used in Tucson. The myth is busted, however. Most people have been led to believe by Bloomberg and most of the press that Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, was only stopped when he ran out of ammunition in one high-capacity clip. That is a patent lie. His weapon actually jammed precisely because of the clip he was using. All clips feed rounds into a gun chamber with a simple spring-loaded mechanism; the shorter the clip, the better the spring works. With a little practice and several smaller clips, Loughner could have held off every unarmed person for some time. The larger clip had a spring that was longer and had less loading power, resulting in a mis-chambered round and an opportunity for two unarmed people to wrestle him to the ground. The loading problem is an issue I have experienced when testing larger clips, so I have never bought one.

The background check system would not have stopped Loughner from getting a gun, even in New York. He had no criminal past and had not been determined legally mentally unfit. The only thing that would have stopped him before he killed five people would have been a law-abiding citizen carrying a gun and shooting him. In a day and age where people freak out at the sight of a person carrying a gun on their hip, though, why should anybody in a liberal bastion like Tucson actually have the balls to fight back and defend themselves?

God knows we don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable.

I Promise to Do Violence

As I pointed out in the column I wrote yesterday, Keith Olbermann took to the airwaves to launch into a long rant about yesterday’s shooting. He laid the blame on conservatives, even going so far as to name several he sees as being somehow responsible for the tragedy (including Bill O’Reilly, who actually supports gun control laws). Primarily, however, it was a rant on “stopping the violent speech” so to speak. He said, “we need to put the guns down. More importantly, we need to put the gun metaphors away and permanently – left, right, middle, politicians and citizens, sane and insane [that one made me laugh] – this morning, in Arizona, this age in which this country could accept the quote ‘targeting’ of political opponents, and putting bulls-eyes over their faces, and of the dangerous blurring between political rallies and gun shows has ended. This morning in Arizona, this time of the ever-escalating, borderline ecstatic invocation of violence – in fact or in fantasy – in our political discourse has closed. It is essential tonight not to demand revenge, but to demand justice, to insist not upon payback against those politicians and commentators who have so irresponsibly brought us to this time of domestic terrorism…but to work to change the minds of them and their supporters. Or, if those minds tonight are too closed, or if those minds tonight are unmoved, or if those minds tonight are too triumphant, to make sure by peaceful means that those politicians and commentators and supporters have no further place in our system of government…he fired today into our liberty, and our rights to live and to agree or disagree in safety and in freedom from fear that our support or opposition will cost us our lives or our health or our sense of safety…it is a simple pledge, it is to the point, and it is essential that every American politician, and commentator, and activist, and partisan, take it and take it now. I say it first and freely: ‘violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our democracy, and I apologize for and repudiate any act or anything in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence.’ ”

First of all, this isn’t a democracy…America is actually a republic. Second, I have a huge problem with every single person being held accountable for somehow encouraging violence, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

For some time now, violent criminals have attempted to explain their crimes away by blaming them on anything or anyone but themselves. Today we see criminals committing all manner of violent crimes blaming their parents, their childhood playmates, the bullies that picked on them, the teachers that didn’t pay attention and the system for their actions. Mommy and daddy didn’t care, I was laughed at, I didn’t have the same opportunities to succeed that everyone else had, nobody cared about me – so because of all of that, I’m not responsible for what I did. You can’t send me to prison or put me to death!

We have already drifted dangerously toward a society that gives a free pass to people who use such self-pitying excuses for violent behavior. Nobody takes responsibility for their actions anymore. Guess what? I was bullied. When I was a kid, I was bullied mercilessly. Long before I knew what “gay” and “lesbian” meant, kids at school were throwing food at me and calling me those things. Dyke. Queer. Faggot. Butch. Gross. I still take responsibility for the things I do and say. I’m not out there killing people and blaming it on how I was treated in high school. In like manner, I am not out there committing violent acts and blaming it on someone else’s words. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the hate-speech rabbit hole, otherwise we’ll end up giving up every single one of our freedoms in the process.

I cannot, and refuse to, promise not to do violence. What happens if my country is attacked? What if I join the military to defend this country? I would need to be able to do violence in that case. What if someone threatens me or my family or my friends? Should I then stand by and watch helplessly while a thug strips them, rapes them, and takes everything they have? Should I beg for my life from someone who will enjoy hearing such pleas?

No, I should not – and I WILL NOT. What I will promise, as I have promised before, is that I will try my best not to need violence. I am not a violent person and I would not condone its use against anything that isn’t immediately putting my life or the life of another in peril.

However, should I see one of those I care for in harm’s way, I promise, I will do violence on their behalf. Should I see any innocent person being threatened by one of those animals who cannot accept responsibility, I promise I will fight until my last breath to protect them. If I am not armed and have only my bare hands, I will use them as the tools they are and beat that animal until they stop moving. If I am armed, I will aim with a steady hand and make every shot count. I pray I never need to, but should another Jared Lee Loughner ever dare to threaten innocent lives within arm’s reach of me, I promise to do violence until he stops – and I promise I will not fail.

There’s your pledge, Mr. Olbermann. Take it or leave it. I am an American, dammit, and I will not be a victim. Nor will I expect any innocent soul to make themselves such.