Friday, February 13, 2015

The Naming Of Bad Places

Wish fulfillment map of US
with Alabama sunk as deep as Lake Michigan
When I was perhaps three or four years old, some of my mother's elderly relatives, farmers like my grandparents, living in a tiny country town in Texas, hard-shell Baptists who thumped their Bibles as hard as anyone I've known before or since, used to tell me that if I misbehaved, I'd be sent to the Bad Place. Even at that age, I considered that threat unlikely to be realized. But they were sure I was headed straight for the Bad Place.

They never told me its name is Alabama...

(Be sure to watch the video. I know the news and the D-leaning websites have been heavy on police violence lately, but you need to see this one for the full effect.)

In this case, the police have regressed from their usual beatings of African Americans after "questioning" them to decking a 57‑year‑old man visiting from India, a man walking down the street in front of his American family's home, a man whose primary crime was that he spoke no English. The cops decked him, paralyzing him (possibly only temporarily) in the process. They apparently decked him because he did not understand commands they had been shouting at him (we don't have details there; the confrontation, if that's what it was, happened before the apparent cell phone video starts).

I don't have much patience with the police terrorizing people from India. It's hard to generalize about a nation with that many people, but I think it's fair to say that most Indians from families well-off enough to move to or visit the United States are likely to be well-educated, hardworking, very family-oriented, and civilized to a degree not often found in Americans. If I were to be assigned a roommate for the duration of a trip, or a coworker for a technological project, I'd rather he (or she, in the case of the IT coworker) be Indian than Alabaman, 9 times out of 10. (The 10th one is too addicted to tobacco to be able to put it aside as a courtesy or smoke outside even for the duration of a trip. Been there; choked on that.)

In short... for partaking of a culture dramatically different from white-bread America's, the people of India who come here have on average a lot of Americans' classic virtues, for which we can only admire them. Could we please restrain the worst of our police from beating them to a paralyzed pulp when they come to visit?


  1. Alabama police throw grandfather from India to the ground (3:27)

    1. Yes, Enfant, that's the same video I saw originally in the post on Kos. Some recent videos of police violence in the US are shocking for their sheer raw bloody violence; this is not... but the moment at which the two policemen snap the suspect's neck as they throw him to the ground literally took my breath away the first time... the first several times... I watched it.

      There was no evident need to apply violence sufficient to paralyze the man; he wasn't really even resisting. And when I see the cops trying to force the suspect to stand up after he's evidently been paralyzed, and he cannot stand, and the cops obviously don't believe him, I find myself shaking my head that anyone in a position of real authority can be both that stupid and that cruel.

      America needs a new kind of police officer, one with better judgment and less fundamental cruelty in the application of force. Otherwise, the credibility of the police as the stabilizing element preventing tragic violent encounters is just about nil, and the cops may as well go home if their goal is to keep the public safe... any part of the public... rather than seeking new people to beat up and new ways to beat them and cause greater injuries. I hate to say it, but right now, policing in America is a sorry business practiced by cruel, under-trained officers. We deserve better, and older Americans like me know that's possible.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "He just won't stop not speak'un English ya'll" Good god, what cretin thugs!--- Makes me even more ashamed to be an America, if that is even possible these days. Sad and disgusting.



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