Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Navi Pillay Needs to Mind Her Own Business


(If anyone out there still has to copy long, messy URL's by hand, please accept my apologies for not taking the time to create a Tinyurl for this page...if notified that youall need this, I'll try to do it.)

That Navi Pillay feels upset about a shooting is not even newsworthy. That she feels personally concerned, because of her own dark complexion and the possibility that racists might see her as "suspicious" too...is, I would think, unnecessary. People who see all dark-skinned men as "suspicious" usually see all middle-aged women as completely uninteresting. But if she has a son who also has a dark complexion...who's likely to be shot on suspicion of involvement in a color war that has nothing to do with him...I can relate, Gentle Readers. An e-mail that came in this morning revealed that some of you may not realize how much an Irish-American can relate.

There are two simple reasons why many people distrust anyone who can be described as "a big Black man." One is that a disproportionate amount of violent crime is in fact committed by men who are larger than average, darker-skinned than average, or both. The other is that, good friends being hard to find in this sinful world, even African-Americans sometimes reach middle age without ever feeling friendship or brotherly/sisterly love toward an African-American man.

While working in Washington, I bonded with one of the best friends anyone could have wished for, a retired football player of almost pure African descent. A regular customer who respected my marriage, he proved his loyalty to my husband and me on several occasions. He was the sort of man who can generally afford to be both brave and gentle because nobody would want to quarrel with him. As we all moved into middle age, this man was called on to serve as a coach, teacher, counsellor, and mediator. I was--not so much shocked, because I'd heard of bigotry before, but disgusted, that there were people who claimed to find his presence intimidating. And one of them was legally Black.

Yes, there's still prejudice in these United States. The simplistic idea that human beings can be divided into racial groups, and/or that violent crime can be prevented by separating these racial groups, is dead by now. The more complicated forms of prejudice that make even African-American storekeepers reach for concealed weapons when two African-American high school boys walk into the store may never die, because they'll probably always have some basis in reality.

I doubt that Navi Pillay has ever transferred from an evening train to an evening bus in Hyattsville, Maryland. It's an interesting sociological exercise. I've eavesdropped on teenagers griping about the wariness of storekeepers, the warnings of police officers to move on and not loiter in the store where they were waiting because they were wary about standing out on a street corner until a group of them had assembled. Meanwhile, an older Black man looks up, spots a group of African-American teenagers, quickens his step, and tightens his grip on something in his pocket. Awww, look at all the lonely people...

Usually I didn't bother waiting for the bus. One night as I walked home I noticed that a thin, wiry person in a hooded jacket was following me. I didn't ask for trouble by even trying to look at the face. I ducked into a store, but when I came out the same person was still following me. I walked fast up the busy, lighted street. This person walked fast too. I turned into my neighborhood, still walking fast, reached into both pockets, opened my knife in one pocket, and the person was still following me. When I whipped out my cell phone the person spoke: "Ma'am? I live on [street name]. I've been walking with you for security." Whew, it was only one of the neighborhood kids who mowed lawns and shovelled snow for extra cash but wouldn't even touch money when I'd dropped it on the sidewalk. I noted, with some amusement, my own sudden shift from wary-city-woman mode to protective-mother mode. But until she spoke I hadn't even realized the person following me was a girl. (I hadn't known she was African-American, either, although that's what the majority of people in that neighborhood were.)

It is tough to be a decent young man of any size or color. It is especially tough for the ones who are over about 5'9"; it's hardest of all for the ones who also have dark skin. Many people are too physically afraid of these guys even to try to be fair. Some say that there's a Bible prophecy that foretold that Jesus Himself would have hair more like lamb's wool than like goats' hair. I wonder whether, if that were true, some so-called Christians would think they needed to keep one hand on a weapon if they met Him, too.

Meanwhile there are those who want to use the late Trayvon Martin as a poster boy for all victims of profiling, and there are those who resent his use as such and want to know why this or that other victim of some crime is being overlooked. Personally I'd just as soon stay out of it. I didn't know Trayvon Martin and I've not chosen to use my limited online time to view or listen to any of the videotapes that have been circulated. Neighborhoods need to be watched. Young people, especially young men with dark complexions, need to be careful about doing things that increase their perceived "suspiciousness." Neighborhood watch groups need to be careful about profiling people who aren't actually doing anything suspicious. I would have hoped that everybody already knew that.

But when it comes to Navi Pillay, although I can relate, I must also observe that sometimes excessive concern about what's going on in some place far from your home can be a smokescreen put up to postpone having to deal with problems for which you have some actual responsibility.

Remember how it came out, after the Waco disaster, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms wanted to redirect media attention to any criminal case they could find, because some B.A.T.F. agents were under investigation for unethical office practices? I would just as soon have stayed out of that story, too, but I was goaded into it because I was the only person some of my employer's audience knew who'd ever attended the church from which David Koresh had been excommunicated. And if anybody out there thinks that giving a hypervigilant, domineering man a government office makes him less trigger-happy or prone to profiling or prone to violence, I recommend that that person study the Waco disaster. At the very least, the neighborhood watchman who shot Trayvon Martin was a soul brother to the B.A.T.F. thugs who shot Robert Williams and lied about it, the trained police officers who shot Amadou Diallo, or perhaps a trained military serviceman like Robert Bales--or Lieutenant Calley. The fact that he'd paid for his own gun with his own money, and was working as a volunteer in his own neighborhood, is immaterial.

Many of us like to think of the United Nations in idealistic terms, as an idealistic humanitarian organization that offers mediation services to national governments and thus helps to prevent war, at least between countries that accept mediation services. And I don't doubt that that is what many people who work for the U.N. want to make the U.N. Most people have some capacity for good will; most people would prefer to accomplish good rather than evil in their jobs.

However, the fact is that United Nations workers have often violated human rights. Navi Pillay has no right to confront any national government on this issue until she's addressed the U.N.'s own record on this issue. Most recently--I mean, last week:


They had good intentions, but they accomplished evil results. And the stories about U.N. workers who didn't even have good intentions, referenced on the Breitbart page above, don't come from all that much further back.

Navi Pillay needs to stop hanging over the fence and look to her own back yard.