The Politics Of Fear And Anger
The politics of fear and anger have gone viral in America. You can't turn on your television or read your newspaper today without seeing or reading something about fear. We live in a culture of fear and anger. There are SWAT teams kicking down people's doors for simple possession of Marijuana and individuals picking up assault weapons and shooting up the public square in the name of GOD and country.
Our politicians and news media outlets are packaging fear who tell us to fear terrorist, neighbors, immigrants, refugees, and liberal social institutions established to help poor and elderly people. There is a consistent cry by politicians proclaiming that war is the only solution. Since 9/11 we have had a government agency[NSA] monitoring our phone calls and collecting other data about our daily lives. The Dept of Defense has been selling billions of dollars of military equipment to local police forces which have turned our police forces into a military force[See Source]
Our police forces have been getting away with murder shooting and killing unarmed civilians while their departments have been receiving tanks, armor vehicles, flat jackets, helmets, and other military equipment as well.
As we saw in the 'Occupy Movement" peaceful protesters were shot with rubber bullets and sprayed with mace. Enter the war on terror. The war on terror is the logical entry point for constructing governmental policy based on fear. How will they strike us next? The politics of fear has resulted in " We the People" losing our rights of privacy and has culminated in a mentality of fear cultivated by the political elite and the " Military Industrial Complex."
Criminal Justice Plays A Role In The Politics Of Fear And Anger
There is no denying the role judges play in our society. Having fair-minded unbiased judges is critical to a free Democratic society. Judges are tasked with protecting our most cherished right to freedom and basic values. To the point, Judges are the guardians of liberty in America. Judges are the custodians of all the things that matter in terms of evaluating civil liberties. The decisions Judges make matter most of all to people with less power or none at all. The poor. The disfavored and people who have been marginalized. Our Judges must take this role seriously.
However, this writer fears that judicial independence in our nation is at risk. There are efforts to undermine the integrity and functions of our Judges. There is much to lose if this independence is compromised. The decisions and precedents that Judges make effect our lives in a myriad of ways.
For example, it was judicial decisions that desegregated our schools and allowed equal voting rights to minorities. It took a political movement to persuade politicians to act on these egregious violations of our civil liberties. If the everyday person had not acted by forming groups which soon became a movement, these legislative changes would not have happened.
In today's political climate of fear and anger, the progress of the "Civil Rights Movement" in the 1960's has come under attack by right-wing conservative politicians in the Republican Party. They wish to take us back in time when the white man was the only race entitled to these cherished civil liberties.[See Article]
The United States today is a very different place than it was 40 years ago. In the early 1970's when you think about criminal justice in America, there were 350, 000 people in our jails and prisons. Today there are over two million people locked up in our correctional system. There are another six million people on probation and parole. Mass incarceration has affected the lives of millions of Americans. What most people don't appreciate is the collateral effects this has on people’s lives.
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We Must End The Politics Of Fear And Anger
There is a board political reality in America today that suggest we are a nation of fear and anger. Over the last several decades, there have been politicians and their “Christian Right" allies preaching to us to be afraid and be angry. When people are afraid and angry they reconcile themselves to violating the basic human rights of the people whom they are afraid.
If a group or race of people is perceived to be an out-group it's okay to ignore them and their rights to basic human dignity. There are many historical examples of horrific abuse genocide, holocaust, and slavery.
All of these institutions were created and sustained by a political vision fueled by fear and kept in place by anger. When you listen to politicians on the right today there is no real search for the truth there is only the dynamic of fear and anger. What has resulted is mass shootings on a monthly basis and innocent causalities all based on fear expressed by anger when an individual acts out.
In 1996 the Clinton administration passed a “Welfare Reform Act" that allowed states to bar citizens from public benefits food stamps, housing, and medical services if they have a prior drug conviction. In this writer's lifetime, the politics of fear and anger has created a cast system in the United States. And, anyone with a criminal record is considered an “Untouchable."
There are scores of American citizens living beneath the public benefits system many who are homeless. There are single moms with children who cannot get public assistance because they have prior drug and other criminal offenses. It's the poor who have suffered the most from the politics of fear and anger. We have a criminal justice system that has become wealth dependent. No matter how innocent you are no matter how strong your alibi the mere fact you did nothing wrong doesn't shield you from arrest, prosecution, conviction, and long-term incarceration.
Our present criminal justice system treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent.
Wealth, not culpability shapes the outcomes of many judicial decisions today. The poor are being destroyed by this reality. The mentality ill have been locked up in our correctional system. There is very little help for the mentality ill in poor and minority communities. We just throw them in jail or prison. We do not help children who are dealing with these developmental issues we jerk them out of schools because they can't deal with cultural norms we call them criminal we put them in juvenile detention centers they are stigmatized and put on a pipeline leading to criminal behavior.
There is a sense of hopelessness in our minority communities today. Most African America males feel their lives will be lost due to drug violence or racist cops. Many African males believe they will be incarcerated by the age of 21. It's high time we engage these children and communities and fight against these feelings of hopelessness. It is the duty of any conscious citizen to help empower our brothers and sisters.
One of the biggest challenges we face as a society is that most of us have doubts as to what we as individuals can do to affect positive change in our communities. What this writer has learned from my childhood and adult years is you can't buy what you can't sale. If you as a single person have no hope you cannot give hope to others.
We must end the war on drugs. Stop the modern day equivalent to Jim Crow which has led to mass incarceration of minorities and the poor. America is the only country in the world where a 13-year-old can be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. There is no question that large segments of our society in America have been held hostage to the politics of fear and anger. Now is the time to stop this scourge on our citizens and end the politics of fear and anger once and for all.