Monday, August 2, 2021

My Response to “Friends, Racial Justice, and Policing” by Cherice Bock

https://chericebock.com/2021/07/24/published-friends-racial-justice-policing-western-friend/

https://www.fcnl.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/Friends%2C%20Racial%20Justice%2C%20and%20Policing%20A%20Biblical%20Economy%20of%20Care-%20Annual%20Meeting%202020%20-%20final.pdf

First, let me give a few notes on my past that have to do with Cherice Bock and with Friends Committee on National Legislation.

#1 I’ve been a part of the Quaker movement since my first visit to a meeting in 1967 in Philadelphia, PA. That occurred when I was serving my conscientious objector service in a mental hospital for children and teens, after I was drafted.

#2 My wife and I have read information on racial reconciliation, justice, and peacemaking by FCNL for many years. We always found FCNL to be a voice for justice with a moderate tone, emphasizing compassionate listening and peace-making, unlike many groups which have sometimes been strident, ideological, and inaccurate in their writing.

#3 When Cherice Bock was part of Freedom Friends in Salem, Oregon. I regularly read her informative articles because of her emphasis upon spiritual reflection and her concern for the environment. Even though my wife and I were members of the Sierra Club for years, etc., Cherice Bock’s articles helped me to gain new understandings of ecology.

As I recall, her articles were warm-hearted, fair, and passioned. Kudos for her.

HOWEVER, she seems to have changed. At least her article for FCNL is disheartening, makes false ideological claims, and contradicts the many news sources I followed when studying the protests in Portland last year.

Side note: It is possible that all the news sources and news videos—including ones from the Portland TV station—that I watched are incorrect. Maybe, they were all wrong, and I failed to see news accounts that were more true to the actual crises there in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc. But I doubt it.

Please readers, if you have contrary video evidence of police in Portland or elsewhere attacking peaceful and civil protestors, please send me url and I will watch it.

PART #1: I am thankful that Cherice Bock started out by acknowledging/referencing the historical evils that were done to Indigenous people of Oregon.

Too, often very few Americans now living know anything about the immoral and unjust actions of early Oregonians toward people of color (including Native Americans, Asians, and Blacks).

From libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya: “The Kalapuyans are a Native American ethnic group. Many of their contemporary descendants are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. The Kalapuyan traditional homelands were in the Willamette, Elk Creek, and Calapooya Creek watersheds of Western Oregon. They hunted and gathered as far east and west as the Cascades and Coast ranges and traded with the Chinookans to the north and Coos peoples on the coast. Their major tribes were the Tualatin, Yamhill, and Ahantchuyuk at the north, the Santiam, Luckamiute, Tekopa, Chenapinefu in the central valley and the Chemapho, Chelamela, Chafin, Peyu (Mohawk), and Winefelly in the southern Willamette Valley. The most southern, Yoncalla, had a village on the Row River and villages in the Umpqua Valley and so lived in both valleys. The major tribal territories were divided by the Willamette River and its tributaries.” https://libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya

One needs to keep in mind however, that like ALL of us humans, indigenous natives of the America were immoral and unjust at times. Evil isn’t only lived out by only white Europeans. (Heck, over a million white Europeans were enslaved by North Africans and the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries!)

While the Kalapuyans were stolen from, oppressed, killed, and displaced by whites invading from the east coast of the U.S., the Kalapuyans also engaged in wrong actions before white Europeans ever showed up, including enslaving others:

“As was the case for many tribes of the Pacific Northwest, the Kalapuyans practiced slavery, with slaves generally obtained through trade or as gifts. Northern Kalapuyan groups, such as the Tualatin and Yamhill, would obtain slaves through trade with other tribes. Slaves would be obtained by raids on distant tribes or through servitude related to paying off debts. Slaves were considered a form of wealth and were used for the purchase of desired commodities, including beads, blankets, and canoes.”

https://libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya

#2 Charice Bock: “I think it is incredibly important for white people to tell these stories and do the emotional labor of trying to communicate about police brutality, its links to racism, and the bigger links to economic access and natural resources.”

In this short sentence, Charice Bock combines truth with inaccurate claims. First, I agree that European-Americans, including those who live now (such as myself, of Scottish, Scandinavian, German, and English ancestry*) ought to research history to understand what has been done wrong, (as well as right) and make diligent efforts to correct any evils of the past that still shadow the present.

Second, in contrast, her next phrase is an example of inaccuracy and ideological untruths that are contrary to the facts of this last year.

Related to these false statements, is her inaccurate claim that “Police forces emerged in this country as a way to return escaped slaves to their masters.”

Based upon my extensive reading of scholarly books and teaching American literature for many years, I think it is valid to state that some police forces in slave states did at least partially come from slave patrols.

But policing in the U.S. came because of many other reasons as well. It is a distortion of history to make the claim that American police came from slave patrols. Some of it did, but in many cases it didn’t.

Boston allegedly established the first city police force in 1751, in Boston in 1838, and New York in 1845. None of those were established as a slave patrol!

Boston’s police force was established to protect the harbor, etc. from criminals.

“…by the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces. Fears of labor-union organizers and of large waves of Catholic, Irish, Italian, German, and Eastern European immigrants, who looked and acted differently from the people who had dominated cities before, drove the call for the preservation of law and order, or at least the version of it promoted by dominant interests. For example, people who drank at taverns rather than at home were seen as “dangerous” people by others, but they might have pointed out other factors such as how living in a smaller home makes drinking in a tavern more appealing. (The irony of this logic, Potter points out, is that the businessmen who maintained this belief were often the ones who profited off of the commercial sale of alcohol in public places.)
Time.com/4779112/police-history-origins/

As for “police brutality,” some officers do fail their duty and engage in brutalty. All professions have those who do what is immoral and unjust. It happens with medical malpractice, biased court decisions, religious leaders' acts of molestation, unfair teachers, etc.
HOWEVER, it is not the present action of the vast majority of police in the U.S.

On the contrary, when many thousands of BLM demonstrators attacked police last year, including injuring about 50 Chicago police officers, the latter being greatly outnumbered by the violence of the protestors, most police actually were praiseworthy for their limited defensive actions.

In my own educated judgment, law enforcement oficers were way too lenient, letting violent demonstraters get away with assaults, destruction, and even arson!

IF in doubt, for instance, watch the YouTube video by the Black Chicago Police Chief who documents moment by moment the planned intentional violent attacks of the protestors against a few Chicago officers trying to do their duty.

Watch the news videos, again, of the many violent attacks by Portland protesters all last year!

Many of these demonstrators are NOTHING like the peaceful civil rights workers of the early 1960's and late 1950s such as at Birminghan where even when viciously attacked by police and their dogs and fire hoses, those prptesters continued to live by nonviolence.

Have you read the accounts from multiple sources of all the violence by demonstraters in various cities across the U.S., watched the tragic videos of them breaking laws and attacking police, etc.?

In Portland, repeatedly for over 100 days, violent protesters attacked police, committed vandalism, some even arson and did many thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Federal Court House in Portland.

It appears, based upon many news accounts of those horrific days that the violent protesters in Oregon misbehaved like the violent protesters who attacked police and broke into the Capitol on Jaunuary 6th.

The destruction of thousands of businesses in Minneapolis, and other cities, IS violence!

Haven’t you read about the many business owners who have lost everything?

Small stores operate on very thin margin. Vandalism against them by protesters harms the owners, some of whom are Blacks and other people of color.

Even IF, no humans suffered great loss, protesters using violence in the pursuit of justice is a severe violation of moral realism. The “end” never justifies the means.

Furthermore, violence of all sorts is immoral and unjust, like Martin Luther King emphasized.

As for the claim that U.S. police are guilty of racism, it’s partially true. In my own limited life, I’ve met racist cops. Their prejudice is appalling!

HOWEVER, most law enforcement officers aren’t racist. Heck, many of them are Black, Asian, and other minorities, and they are dedicated to fair treatment, equality, and justice.

During my teaching career, I taught at least 2 high schools that were mostly minorities. In our classes we had Black, Mexican-American, Filipino, Arab, Hmong, Vietnamese.

Tragically we also had gangs including at least one white gang.

When over 100 students of 2 different minorites started a horrific fight on the high school field in California, we had 11 squad cars on campus.

Those officers did an amazing job of protecting innocent students and stopping the violence!

And here is one powerful example: When my wife and I were members of a BIC church (part of Mennonite world) in Tulare, California, one of the elders was a Mexican-American police officer. He came from a poor family, his older brothers were in gangs, and when he got to his early teens, he broke the law.

HOWEVER, unlike so many tragic cases like this where teens have bad families including gang members, who themselves then go down that crooked path, a police officer, rather than only do his duty and arrest the teen, took a personal interest in him for himself. By that police officer’s interest, the teen left crime and gangs, and eventually became an officer himself. (It’s a wonderful testimony he shared one Sunday to the congregation.)

Of course, there are plenty of true stories of police officers being prejudiced.

But most police aren’t racist nor are they unfair.

That doesn’t take away from the facts that there are some racist officers who harm innocent individuals. Those officers need to be arrested and strongly opposed.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Becoming Mindful--listen to Thich Nhat Hanh's words of wisdom

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Engaged Buddhist monk. During his difficult life in Vietnam, he endured all sorts of hardships, including the killings of family members and friends by the French, American, and Vietnamese military.

An orphanage that he started was bombed!

And yet, he is a walking example of joy and gratitude, despite the horrors and tragedies.

During the long conflict, he led many thousands of Vietnamese young people in reconciling work among civilians harmed by the fighting.
Martin Luther King nominated Nhat Hanh for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize for his work of nonviolence and peacemaking.

In the mid-70’s, he helped rescue Vietnamese escaping from Vietnam.

Even in the worst events, Nhat Hanh would ask himself what he could be thankful for even if it was only the blue sky and brown earth, and that he was still breathing.

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural—you need to smile at your suffering because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, July 31, 2021

WHAT IS REALITY?

2 Divergent, Contradictory Ways of Human Perceiving

Poetry versus prose, fact versus story, symbolic versus technologic, intuitive versus rational, emotion versus logic, experience versus learning, reason versus tradition,

religion versus science, transcendent versus temporal, sacred versus secular, spiritual versus material, supernatural versus natural, personal versus impersonal—

What bipolar opposites!

Yet they both exist within every one of us, the human species.

HOWEVER some modern thinkers claim they are irreconcilable.

Yet from a different angle, these 2 ways of perceiving, “seeing,” so often divergent and opposite, do sometimes interrelate.

They aren’t always extreme clashers/antithetical/ contradictory/mutually incompatible/ not always (as in never shall the twain meet) like “fundamentalists” of religion and “scientilists” of science adamantly claim--incompatible.

But they do, indeed, offer 2 very different ways of perceiving reality.

The HUGE question is whether those perceptions are mutally exclusive or complimentary, even married as in the old saw--opposites attract:-).

The issue of these 2 divergent ways of perceiving is like the old joke about sex: Is the word, sex, an acronym for “sensitive experiential ecstasy”?

OR

the short term for biological interaction between a primate with XY chromosomes with one with XX chromosomes?

Or like the joke pun about the elephant versus the mouse in the room?

It’s ‘irrelevant’;- like these last few lines.)

-- #1 Our first contrast:

POETRY/STORY:

From the Jewish, Christian, Islamic religions, the ancient text of Genesis (written 500 B.C.E. in Babylon by Jewish scribes as a poem to honor the 7th day of Shabbat)

Genesis 1 In the beginning of G-d’s preparing the heavens and the earth — 2 the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Wind of G-d fluttering on the face of the waters, And G-d said, "Let light be; and light is."

On the 4th day of Creation: 14 And G-d said, "Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens...and the stars..." And there is an evening and there is a morning, day 4.

VERSUS

PROSE/FACT:

From the Lecture 113--8. Early Universe by astronomer Chris Impey, University of Arizona, Tucson

"...the frontier of knowledge is...the Planck Era. An amazing ten to the minus 43 seconds after the big bang.

“Conceptually, this is a time in the infinite universe when space itself was as curved as a particle. When the distinction between space and time did not exist. Or the objects in space and the space that contain them. This was when the universe was smaller than the smallest subatomic particle.

“Just thinking about the Big Bang, it's an extraordinary event. A 100 billion galaxies and a 100,000 billion, billion stars they contained were all compressed into a space smaller than a sub atomic particle. What the big bang theory really says is that... The universe itself was created in a quantum event...

“...a theory of black holes, of galaxies, and a theory of, of atoms, of light, of force. So, we have two great theories of physics, the theory of the very big, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and the theory of the very small, the Quantum Theory...

“The exponential expansion of inflation essentially blew up quantum fluctuations to macroscopic size, where they would subsequently become the seeds for galaxy formation. That same expansion of course, is responsible for the flatness and smoothness of space. Whatever the initial curvature, and it must have been extreme, space has now inflated to an enormous size, or space curvature in any large region is negligible.

“This idea puts the microwave sky in a whole new light. What is says is that when we look at the microwave background radiation through a radio telescope, we're look at quantum fluctuations writ large on the sky, the seeds for galaxy formation.

“So hypothetically, about a microsecond after the Big Bang, the universe would have had a temperature of about a trillion degrees. That's the energy from which neutrons and protons can have their anti-particle pairs created spontaneously out of pure energy. Below that temperature, or after that time, such creation is not possible. The speculation is that there was a very slight imbalance in the amount of matter versus anti-matter.

“From the time a few minutes after the Big Bang until just under 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was simply an expanding and cooling plasma, cooling from a temperature of 10 million Kelvin down to about 3,000 Kelvin. When the universe reached this size, density and temperature, it reached the point where electrons could combine with protons to form stable hydrogen and also helium atoms.

“It takes perhaps 100 or 200 million years after the Big Bang for the first objects to switch on as light bulbs in the sky. Stars and galaxies." https://www.coursera.org/learn/astro/lecture/RFkHq/8-early-universe

-- The first account is poetic story, from us finite primates looking up and creating, telling a narrative of meaning.

The second account is factual prose, from us observing, discerning objective facts in the cosmos.

Are these two perspectives totally contradictory?

Is a complete divorce necessary as well as the killing of the former, like some secular scientists such as biologists Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins and astrophysicist Brian Greene think?

For instance, Greene, states: “The ancient declaration that "nothing exists but atoms and the void," is not far from the truth.” Though Greene does add, “But what's wondrous is all that atoms in the void, when arranged in organized configurations, can accomplish.”

Of course, then the question is HOW and WHY?

IF there is no story, no creator, no transcendence, no worth, no meaning, no moral realism, no human rights, etc.—“nothing except atoms and the void” HOW/WHY did those multi-trillions of “organized configurations” in Reality come about?!

What is the “void”?

I suppose many famous atheists could be correct when they posit CHANCE brought forth “organized configurations.” Given enough to infinity, possibly laws of physics, galaxies, solar systems, Life, consciousness, reason, math, stories, morals, etc. could have luckily appeared into existence over deep time, though I don’t see how.

Or why.

OR is the very contrary opposite account of what is REAL, actually the truth?

Reality is a sharing couple of both meaningful story and atoms-matter-energy facts, committed to interaction like geneticist Francis Collins, astrophysicist George Ellis, and astronomer Chris Impey think?

According to Chris Impey, the two contrary views are interrelated:

"We're made of tiny subatomic particles and are part of a vast space-time arena, yet we hold both extremes in our heads...the powerful narrative that science has created to help us organize and understand the world.

“We have a story of how the universe grew from a jot of space-time to the splendor of 50 billion galaxies. We have a story of how a broth of molecules on the primeval Earth turned into flesh and blood.

“And we have a story of how one of the millions of species evolved to hold those 50 billion galaxies inside its head." How It Began page xii, How It Ends, page 11 By Chris Impey

-- At this aged point in my long life of seeking and searching, BOTH the storied poetic and the factual matter-energy intrigue me and guide me.

I love both ways of perceiving.

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, July 18, 2021

All mass movements such as BLM, ANTIFA, EVANGELICAL TRUMPISM, CANCEL CULTURE, etc. "BREED FANATICISM...INTOLERANCE..." from the True Believer

"...some peculiarities common to all mass movements...all of them irrespective of the doctrines they preach and the program they project, BREED FANATICISM...HATRED and INTOLERANCE..."

from The True Believer
by Eric Hoffer


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

I Was a Nonviolent S.D.S. Radical: A Beginning Memoir of My Life in the 1960's

Late in 1964, I experienced a spiritual transformation, went from being a gung-ho rightwing individual (like my parents and work boss) who supported the bombing of Vietnam to realizing that such a war stance is contrary to the Way of Jesus as presented in the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

So, instead of joining the Navy Reserves after high school and going to Vietnam to kill communists for Christ, I chose a third way. At the time all of my relatives, friends, everyone I knew in Nebraska supported the war.

But there was a former missionary and a Mennonite family who also opposed war. Thus, I became a conscientious objector.

I applied for that status with my draft board. Even after those 2 witnesses vouched that I was opposed to war including the Vietnam War, our Draft Board in Lincoln, Nebraska still interviewed me, grilled me personally on various specific violent situations, such as what if your family is attacked by killers, etc.

Finally, they gave me the I.O. status, which meant that when drafted, I would be performing nonviolent alternative service, working with poor people in Latin America or with mental patients, etc. instead of killing.

A couple of years later, when I was drafted and taking my physical with many other young men, the friendly Black medical sergeant who was testing me, after seeing my conscientious objector status, started calling me “Brother Love.”

Then in the summer of 1965, after my graduation from Lincoln Southeast High School, a week later, I started attending the University of Nebraska. With in a few weeks, I became involved with the student protestors, those opposed to the War and opposed to segregation and racism.

The first protest I attended was for the latter. It was one against Apartheid in South Africa.

With in a few weeks, I also joined a new social action-civil rights-anti-war organization called Students for a Democratic Society.

Of course, this was long before when S.D.S. turned to hate and violence, arson, attacks on police, etc. like it did with its splinter group, the WeatherUnderground and its bombings, arson, and violence at various universities including Kent State University in 1970.

To make a long complex story brief, by the spring of 1967, I was living as a spiritual hippie in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, but got drafted that summer. BELOW is a picture of me in the spring of 1967.

I was sent to serve my service time at a mental hospital for emotionally disturbed children and teens in Trevose, Pennsyvania, got evicted from my apartment for an anti-war sign on the back of my Greenbriar van, “the Mystical Hippopotamus”:-), etc.

As the nonviolent protests of the 60’s turned to hate and violence, even arson, bombings, and killings, I despaired. Where had the wondrous nonviolent altrusim of Martin Luther King, John Lewis and others gone?

I very strongly rejected the new hatred and violence of the extremists. IInstead, I emphasized more and more the Quaker and MLK way of reconciliation.

Standing in silent Quaker-like vigils against the War, we tried in many conversations to reason with others (both violent and nonviolent), including a soldier who had just come back from Vietnam, where he had been seriously injured in his left leg.

That whole tragic absurd period of history was “the Best of Times, the Worst of Times.”

Still radical after all these years*

Dan Wilcox

*an obvious paraphrase of a famous Paul Simon song title:-)

Sunday, July 4, 2021

WHY I USED TO FLY THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER, but no longer do so.

Here’s an incredible irony: BLMer’s, Democrats, and others are up in arms demanding the banning of the Confederate battle flag. I’m certainly not a fan of that flag that glorified killing and that represented a nation whose leaders believed in the institution of slavery.


HOWEVER, HERE’S THE IRONY: NONE of these BLMer’s, Democrats, and most Americans plan to ban Old Glory, the U.S. flag even though it flew over the U.S. in defense of slavery, invasive wars, huge land thefts, etc. from 1776 to 1865, a total of 89 years!

Even after 1865, though slavery had become illegal, actual slavery, racism, and legal discrimination continued in many states until the 1960's and 70's!

In 1877, President Hayes made a deal with the racist Redeemers and removed all Federal troops from the South.
The Redeemers brought in Jim Crow, Negro Codes, and Segregation. There were "Sundown" towns in the north. President Woodrow Wilson segregated the U.S. government offices! All of these horrors lasted until the 1970's!

-- Even after the Emancipation Proclamation of Lincoln in 1863, slave owners in the Union were allowed to keep their slaves. The Union slaves weren’t freed until the end of the war in 1865.

Lincoln had meant the E.P. only for slaves not under his control in a separate nation, the Confederacy. So, he freed slaves he couldn’t, and kept slaves that he could have freed in the U.S., enslaved!

And Lincoln was still trying to convince all Negros to move from the U.S. back to Africa or go to Latin America in 1863. Lincoln didn’t think that Blacks could live with Whites because he believed Blacks were inferior. While he opposed slavery, he didn’t think Blacks were equal, nor that they should be allowed to vote or serve on juries, etc.

During the Revolutionary War, and especially the War of 1812 the British offered freedom to American slaves, BUT the Americans, supposedly for freedom and liberty, continued to support slavery!

And in the invasion of Mexico and the annexation of Texas, the U.S. supported slavery, while Mexico had banned slavery.

Over the years, in some cases, Old Glory has stood for freedom and genrosity, but in the last 247-years most of the time it has stood for invasions and the rejection of refugees such as when we rejected escaping Jews from Nazi Germany in the late 1930's!

And now in the last 4 years, we've again supported a harsh rejection of the "huddled" refugees, a denial of the Statue of Liberty.


STATUE of LIBERTY on the 4TH of July: "Give me your huddled masses, longing to be free..."


Dan Wilcox