Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

There is a psychosis that is truly American.

I often wonder if there are any studies being done about this. Those in other countries see it in the mass murders here. They see it in the shocking win of Trump in 2016, and have been horrified that Americans let these things happen. They still have a love affair -or fascination - with the fables that are America via films and the possibility of a better life if moving there.

The other evening some of us in Democrats Abroad Spain met via Zoom to discuss the ´state of affairs´. I had thought that we were going to be sharing ideas for what we can do, but it was really a discussion of hopelessness. I encouraged them to join this group, Heather's group, and, as an afterthought for the people in charge to share Chop Wood Carry Water.

For decades, all of us thought we were living in an amazing country. If your white, you´re safe. If you're middle class, you´re ¨rich¨. Somewhere in the 70's, without being aware, we became the frogs in an enormous pot of water. With Reagan, the stove was turned to low. It simmered as changes were being made outside of the pot where we were swimming in glorious ignorance because we felt smug and safe. Rules and laws like the Fairness Doctrine were changed or ended. Corporations were given the status of ¨people¨. We kept swimming, although the water was getting warmer.

In 1991 Rodney King was beaten. The cops were acquitted and a riot ensued. TMZ has a message from Rodney Kings daughter to the family of Tyre Nichols. Sandy Hook happened in 2012 and there was not a peep from anyone going about their daily lives. In 2015 a narcissist made fun of someone with a disability and became president of the United States - not because of the popular vote but because of the deeply flawed Electoral College. He created a crack in the carefully constructed GOP roadmap to power allowing vermin, snakes, and cons to slither in on his coat tails.

If we take the time to look back, we can see the journey to this moment. Are we going to jump from the pot and become who we think that we have been and are, or are we going to become dinner for the minority? Each American needs to own his/her responsibility in all that got us here and be brave enough to fight for every single American - black, brown, yellow, red, white, woman, man, child, LBGTQ+, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, + +++++

If not....

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

How is it that when Black cops commit an unspeakable crime they are fired and charged within 2 weeks yet white cops get paid leave and charges and trials are put off for years. Yes, shame on them for their actions and Yes shame on them for thinking they could get away with white cops' behavior.

And my apologies to those I have just offended.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

I believe Christians have an elevated responsibility in these days when so many attitudes are not being challenged and in fact are sometimes supported or at least tolerated by our “Christian nation.” I am a United Methodist and benefit from the writings of Rev. Benjamin Cramer, website below.

Ben posted last night, “When people are literally dying from mass shootings and police brutality in our country, but our culture just hears the loudest voices in Christianity protesting drag queens and books, we can’t expect people to believe our religion has anything to do with life conquering death.”


Expand full comment

I understand the horror of readers of the image of Black cops beating an innocent Black man. I understand how seemingly impossible it is to comprehend their actions. I've been a psychotherapist for over fifty years and both my experience and my training afford me a way to understand and empathize with the Black officers. I offer it to you all here. My field has a name for this horror: it is called "identification with the aggressor." Think of the child of an abusive father, beaten and scorned by his father, who grows up to be an abusive man himself. You wonder, how could this happen? Wouldn't that child grow up to be gentle and kind, to have the kind of love towards his father he wished he could have had? Sometimes that does happen. But just as often, the child, desperate to cope in a violent home, becomes violent himself, sees violence as the solution, as the source of power and control. Indeed, sometimes the child idealizes the violence and sees gentleness and kindness as weak and unmanly.

Imagine if that child instead chose to be gentle and kind? How long would he survive in that system?

Those five Black policemen were all raised in a violent system, and like the child, have learned to cope by identifying with the violence and defying, denying, despising the gentle side of themselves.

Of course it is terrible that these five Black policemen committed this terrible murder. But we need only to look at four hundred years of slavery and violence against their their own fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers to understand that these men, to survive, had "identified with the aggressor."

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

I really appreciate your advice on talking and listening to other's concerns and above all showing respect 🙏 for their feelings

That's the only answer for America 🇺🇸 to rise above our calamities and become better people from sharing it with each other just like Bobby Kennedy said to the people in Indianapolis the night that Martin Luther King was shot. He risked his own safety to calm down a crowd trying to turn ugly. Perhaps somebody like Obama can promote 🤔 peacefulness. America 🇺🇸 has too much dysfunction still from J6

Hope the DOJ proceedings are still fruitful for that and civil rights violations like this crime!!!

Government only works properly if all the people hold it 🤔 accountable

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

Thank you, Robert. Especially your last paragraph.

The Island by Langston Hughes

Wave of sorrow,

Do not drown me now: I see the island

Still ahead somehow.

I see the island

And its sands are fair: Wave of sorrow,

Take me there.

Expand full comment

I can't talk about that Memphis video. "If my thought dreams could be seen, they would put my head in a guillotine."

Expand full comment

A nation is a being, and ours is very sick. We are not healthy. We show signs everywhere that we are suffering. We are being killed by sick, unhappy people who take out their discontent on people less powerful than they. We are creating the kinds of inhuman organisms you find in Stephen King's novels that terrorize the most innocent among us. What happened to that young man who was trying to get home was purely evil. That's why we can't stop it.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

My take on this latest incidence of police violence: it is evidence of the increasing authoritarianism of our social and political culture. Police Departments appear to be set up in an authoritarian model, which is what needs to change. Our guardrails against authoritarianism have traditionally been the First Amendment, (freedom of press, right to speak and protest), and the Courts, (civil and criminal recourse), and legislative actions and oversight.

It is pretty obvious that extreme right-wing leaders like Trump, DeSantis, others leading or legislating in so many states, in Congress, are doing their best to remove those guardrails. Trump did it systematically for four years. Biden is doing his best to restore the guardrails.

The question we have, is how to get Americans to understand that they so often vote against democracy by voting for these people. That is our dilemma.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

When those then-police officers encountered Tyre Nichols, they saw him only as he was to them at the moment. They did not see or care to see him as a father, a son, an excellent photographer (see the link that HCR has kindly posted on her page today), a friend. We can, and should condemn those men for what they did, but let’s also admit that every day we do the same. The stupid driver who can’t figure out where they’re going is just stupid or lazy, nothing more. The criminal in the dock is a robber, and that’s all. Political opponents are reactionaries or racists or fascists, not loving children or parents. Perhaps trying not to feel and think that way is a tiny step toward human progress.

Expand full comment
Jan 28·edited Jan 28

Robert and Jill, you've both had quite a week yourselves. I hope you can rest and take time to just be. William's comment to which you linked us is deeply moving and brave. Thank you for pointing it out.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

In silent protest of FB welcoming Trump, I have deleted my FB account. Too many GOP members have decided money is their god; a tragic state of affairs prompting me to be more politically active. Grrr!

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

Racism affects us all. I come back to this story often when thinking about racism…

Krista Tippett interviews Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa:

“I think… that we have very gravely underestimated the damage that apartheid inflicted on all of us. You know, the damage to our psyches, the damage that has made — I mean, it shocked me. I went to Nigeria when I was working for the World Council of Churches, and I was due to fly to Jos. And so I go to Lagos airport and I get onto the plane and the two pilots in the cockpit are both black. And whee, I just grew inches. You know, it was fantastic because we had been told that blacks can’t do this.

…And we have a smooth takeoff and then we hit the mother and father of turbulence. I mean, it was quite awful, scary. Do you know, I can’t believe it but the first thought that came to my mind was, “Hey, there’s no white men in that cockpit. Are those blacks going to be able to make it?”

And of course, they obviously made it — here I am. But the thing is, I had not known that I was damaged to the extent of thinking that somehow actually what those white people who had kept drumming into us in South Africa about our being inferior, about our being incapable, it had lodged some way in me.”

Expand full comment

I give you the analogy of police culture and mushrooms.

The mushroom is a fungus with a vast underground root system (the “mycelium”) that quietly exists out of sight without the need for sunlight, and periodically, when the time, the proper temperature, and moisture coincide, the mycelium produces the above-ground fruiting body that we commonly call “toadstools,” or “mushrooms.” We can harvest these fruits, but the below-ground plant that we don’t see, continues.

Police culture exists largely out of the view of the public, and only periodically, when the conditions are wrong and the cameras are running, does the public see the “fruits” of such culture. We are outraged by these periodic “beatings” and “killings,” but the police culture continues.

When you perceive any system to be dysfunctional, I invite you to change your perspective: You will discover that there are people who may be benefitting in big or small ways from the dysfunctionality. They tolerate and perpetuate the status quo, and oppose change.

Let’s think about all those who might possibly benefit from police department dysfunctionality.

• Is it white people who tolerate police violence against black and brown people if it assures the safety of white people?

• Is it white supremacists who want minorities “kept in their place.”

• Is it the politician who needs the police to look the other way when the politician breaks the law? Speeding ticket, domestic abuse, drug use, driving while drunk?

• Is it politicians who ask police to look the other way on behalf of a donor? After all, we believe we live in meritocracy, but to get ahead, we still rely on “who do you know.”

• Is it the police union presidents who need union members’ votes to keep their status and enhanced income.

• Is it lawyers who are on retainer to defend the police department?

• Is it the privileged class who depend on police violence to restrain the non-privileged class of persons?

• Is it storekeepers who use favors and gifts to bribe police to protect their shops?

• Is it parents who hope their child can get status and upward mobility with a job as police officer, and therefore tolerate “bad police practices” regardless of the misdeeds of the police?

• Is it people who thrive of “authority” and become police officers so they — without earning respect—can nevertheless “demand” respect, and have the right to punish anyone who “disrespects” them using “qualified immunity,” as permission.

• Add your own.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

Dark money makes a dark world. We live in a country that worships money and those who possess it, by whatever means. I believe reversing Citizens United would go a long way in letting in some light. I value the work of Sheldon Whitehouse and others for that reason. Corruption is a fixable problem, but I agree about the frog in the pot. We must admit where we actually are, here and now, so that we can address it. We have many problems, but there are a few that are core, and this is one of them. Just imagine, if dark money were removed, how different our Congress would look; how many vile people would never have been elected. It matters.

Expand full comment
Jan 28Liked by Robert B. Hubbell

Dear Rob,

I want to add both my congratulations and deep condolences, first for the birth of your new granddaughter and then sadly for the loss of a dear friend. While none of us are immortal, our Jewish tradition teaches us that our lost loved ones live on in the memories we hold dear and the acts of goodness and loving kindness they performed while they were in our lives.

May your granddaughter grow up strong and healthy and learn of and be inspired by her grandparents who daily bring hope and encouragement to millions living through these “very interesting times”. Thank you for sharing your intelligence and clear thinking with all of us.

Expand full comment