A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is the Constitution for African-Americans, too?

Bill Knight column for Thurs., Fri., or Sat., Sept. 25, 26 or 27

Teenager Steve Lohner on July 27 was stopped by local police in Aurora, Colo. (yes, THAT Aurora, Colo.), where they’d been called to the scene because Lohner was walking around carrying a loaded Stoeger P-350 12-gauge shotgun.

Lohner, who’s white, was ticketed – for misdemeanor obstruction for refusing to show identification.

About a week later, 22-year-old John Crawford was browsing in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart when shoppers called police when they saw him carrying what looked like a gun. That was identified as a MK-177 BB gun – after police shouted at him, Crawford said “It’s not real!” and they shot him.

He died at a nearby hospital.

A white guy is a Second-Amendment patriot, but a black man is shot first, before questioned?

The hypocrisy is real, deep and not new.

Now: Picture not one young African-American in a store, but hundreds of black demonstrators, protesting across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and armed with AK-47s hanging from their shoulders and pistols in holsters, calling for armed struggle if Congress passed legislation they opposed. Would police – or the National Rifle Association! – see them as peaceful, if dramatic, dissenters expressing their First Amendment right to voice a grievance and Second Amendment right to bear arms?

White Tea Party demonstrators did that in April, 2010.

Better: In the 1960s, the Black Panther Party started patrolling the streets of Oakland, Calif., to follow police officers who they said were harassing and hurting members of the black community. The Panthers were armed, legally. That is, until then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, the conservative Republican, in 1967 signed the Mulford Act, a California measure outlawing carrying loaded firearms in public.

See a pattern?

How about the 2009 Belleville, Ill., incident in which an African-American youth got into a fist-fight with a white boy on a school bus, causing the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh to blame the President?

Mainstream conservative Andrew Sullivan in Atlantic Monthly wrote, “The story was a classic school-bus bully incident; it could happen anywhere any time and has happened everywhere at all times with kids of all races, backgrounds and religions. To infer both that it was racially motivated and that this is somehow connected to having a black president is repulsive. Limbaugh … is spewing incendiary racial hatred.”

Indeed, if a black kid was beaten by a white tough on a bus during the Bush presidency, would that somehow have been laid at the door of the White House?

If Tavis Smiley, Cornell West or another prominent African-American voice labeled Jenna or Barbara Pierce, George W. Bush’s twin daughters, a “hillbilly whore” or “trailer trash,” what do you think the outcry would have been? Yet what was the reaction when a conservative web site’s comments about a photo of President Obama’s daughter Malia talking with First Lady Michelle Obama included "Ghetto street trash,” “street whore" and "a bunch of ghetto thugs”?

From the Oval Office to Ferguson, Mo., from the Bill of Rights to the presumption of innocence, different rules apply to different races, classes, genders, and so on. Whether 1%-ers or white southerners persuaded to vote against their own economic interests by prejudice, it’s “white privilege,” says white anti-racist writer Tim Wise, who describes it as “The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the [stuff] we do.”

If Americans in the 21st century seriously expect individuals to respect laws, they must be part of the solution: ensuring disparities disappear and law enforcement and criminal justice systems apply equally.

Otherwise, troubles and tragedies, dissolution and death could continue.

[PICTURED: Graaphic from]

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