My previous post on the American social and political state started out as a simple grumble about the starched suits on Fox in America and their ability to see bad in everything that isn't basically - well, them. It so quickly and easily turned into a review of why being in America at the moment is a really bad thing.
So when I received word of several racially-themed reasons to reinforce this conclusion, one after another, in my inbox, it felt wrong to ignore them.
The Trayvon Martin case was the then-latest incident to highlight some deep undercurrents that so easily rise to the surface in some districts. A teenager, wearing a hoodie on his way back from the shops to his house, carrying nothing more offensive than sweets and a drink, was apprehended by local neighbourhood self-styled superjusticedude George Zimmerman. He notified the police and - against their wishes - went after him, apprehended him and shot him dead as he screamed in terror.
The police refused to arrest him.
There's a possibility some deeply racist bastard might be thinking that good ol' patriotic Zimmerman, on seeing a young, hooded black kid, 'acting suspiciously', might be somewhat justified in some sort of preventative action. After all, this could have been a danger to the neighbourhood. He wasn't, but he could have been; and in Zimmermans' committed mental state by that point, he was going to be the hero of the community by getting to him before Trayvon got to his 'target'. He must have forgotten to do all the things that you would do before shooting him dead, is all.
So for those looking for justification in his actions, hoping that there is some sort of explanation that doesn't involve widespread racist hate in the force tasked with protecting people on the street: how about this situation, which came to light just a few days later: Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., an elderly and distinguished black man who fought for his country, is shot dead in his own house by police. What heinous crime did he do? He fell asleep at his home, and the medical alarm round his neck - there because he had a heart condition - was accidentally activated. The police came, and responded to the chain lock and his half-asleep assurance that it was a false alarm by tazering him, breaking the door down, shouting racist obscenities at him, apparently shooting him with a beanbag gun, and just for good measure to ensure justice was done, finally shot him dead in his own home with live ammo.
Punishment for the cop involved? Err, no. No punishment, no layoff, not even suspended or stuck on a desk job. His identity has not been released after six months, and he is apparently still at work in the same neighbourhood.
America, what the hell is going on with you? Has the last 50-plus years of civil rights advances gained such small ground that these things can happen now?
Of course, when your would-be president nearly uses the n-word to describe your current president (yes, I know there's a chance that's not the word he intended - but you give me a credible alternative after listening to it closely ten times), it's clear that for all the progress in equality and human rights America and the west in general has managed, we would be naive to think that we are a long way from where we need to be.
Edit: Extra bonus shooting of black people by cops: What do you expect from police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? Assistance, compassion? How about a group of them shooting people from a bridge and then trying to cover it up.