The Ignored, Honorable Majority

June 3rd, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 75 comments

Lord Acton’s words, “All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” are often quoted. The sentences that precede that one are less known. Here they are:

“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.”

Since Lord Acton lived from 1834 to 1902, much has occurred since then, a great deal of which validates his warning.

As threats seem to surround us from every direction, gangsters are very much in evidence. Whether they are those in the Chinese government who chose to allow a deadly virus to spread, rogue policemen who misuse their positions, news reporters who sift, choose and outright lie to promote their agenda, or politicians who sit in their luxurious, protected castles looking scornfully down at lives their policies are ruining, gangsters abound.

Every decent human is revolted by the death of George Floyd. Every decent human being is revolted at how that death has been used to excuse looting, violence and anarchy. I think that actually describes most of us. Decent human beings, unfortunately, are not being given attention. If we consider ourselves in that camp, we must struggle against being manipulated by those who aren’t.

In the now-defunct Soviet Union, people knew that the official newspaper, Pravda, was full of lies. We do not have an official newspaper or news organization in the United States, but we are certainly being fed lies every day. The anger industry serves no productive purpose. The evidence of our eyes that shows us hard-working, good Americans of all backgrounds working and living together in harmony is nowhere to be found in the fractured and hostile picture painted by the elite.

Ancient Jewish wisdom equates acting while one is angry with idol worship. You are allowing an alien entity to control you. Since anger breeds on itself, one of the steps towards maturity is learning to respond to difficulties and even to injustice with a reaction other than anger. Even if we agree with someone’s position, the minute fury enters the conversation, everyone involved has lost. When anger is justifiably felt—and abuse of power is a justifiable cause—it should be accompanied by an internal warning that action is needed, but nothing should be said or done until one’s rational mind is once again in control.

For a protest to be productive, there must be a finite and reachable end goal. Desegregating schools; giving women the vote; and demanding that a foreign policy acknowledges humanitarian aims are all protests that brought results. Yet, much that is objected to today is amorphous. The war on poverty, the war on drugs, and yes, war on income inequality or war on racism do not fit the parameters of having measurable outcomes. That leaves the good intentions behind those wars ready for manipulation by gangsters.

The policeman who, allegedly (let’s remember that in the American system he too must be considered innocent until proven guilty, no matter how overwhelming the evidence) murdered George Floyd has been arrested and will be tried for his crime. Because he was a policeman, his sentence should be greater than that of a civilian who murders, and his partners must be held to account for not stopping him. Police policies need to be continually reassessed. Yet, there are many unanswered questions none of which will be addressed by anger. We do not even know if there is any reason to assume that this policeman’s behavior was racially motivated. Heartbroken people marching peacefully in the streets will not answer the question of why a reprobate cop was still on the beat. Targeting all police for attack only ensures that honorable people are discouraged from joining a police force and evidence shows how reducing police presence has real and deadly consequences. Probing questions about abuse of power, misguided union policies, flaws in psychologically evaluating public servants, corruption and lack of oversight won’t be tackled by shouting slogans and certainly not by destroying neighborhoods.

There have been demands in the past that honest and intelligent individuals must recognize have not led to any improvement. There are many more Black mayors, police chiefs, DAs, principals and teachers and lawyers than there were a few decades ago. With great optimism, the American people elected Barack Obama, largely because of his color rather than in spite of it.  The thinking that this would be a path towards viewing every citizen as an American rather than an individual defined by his or her color seems to have been completely wrong. At the close of his presidency, there was more divide in America, not less. As promoted and defined by the elite and the troublemakers, the racial divide in this country is getting worse, not better. Strangely, their pronouncements and edicts are at odds with the camaraderie and friendship that takes place in businesses, churches and neighborhoods all over the land. There is a disconnect between what we are being incessantly told and lectured about and what many decent people of all backgrounds experience.

I cannot imagine any of my Black friends wanting me to excuse violent and immoral behavior by their children any more than I would want them to excuse such behavior in my children. If there are two looters, one white and one black, it would be the epitome of racism to say that because of the color of his skin, one looter’s behavior is acceptable while the other one’s behavior is criminal.  There is absolutely no excuse for viciously attacking innocent people or their property. Only very confused individuals think that tolerating, allowing and condoning thuggish behavior will lead to greater amity between human beings.

There are tough and uncomfortable questions that need to be asked and discussed. These include policing and justice, dead-end schools and the parents who want a better future for their children yet continue voting for politicians who crush options to the status quo, the removal of God from society and how that’s working for us, outside agitators and disparate treatment of citizens. None of us have a complete picture; we need each other’s input. Humility, openness to the opinions of others and astute, logical thinking are required to produce any sort of useful answers. Posturing, over-generalizing, uncontrolled anger and self-interest are all impediments. There is much wrong in this country and around the world but there is also much right. Giving control to gangsters, whether through laziness, cowardice or virtue-signaling and allowing them to set an agenda only leads to more suffering and hatred. This is true whether those gangsters are masked or wearing suits or uniforms, tossing bricks at windows or sitting in the halls of academia and power.

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75 comments

Claire J. says:

Extremely well written and thought out. The biggest gangsters are the largely 535 members of Congress. Ever wonder why they are never outraged by their peers? My best guess is because they are as guilty. Nothing happens to them when they engage in insider trading and not one of them will pass a bill to end it. Biggest fraudsters out there. I put them on the same level as the looters. They’re “public servants” that have net wealth in excess of 10 million. What a joke!

Susan Lapin says:

Claire, my only disagreement with you is the generalization to every member of Congress. I do think that among them you will find honorable people. And, of course, we have to acknowledge that they are elected, for the most part, legally. However, the system is set up in a way that is self-serving rather than one of public service and that promotes an elite group with great power to abuse.

Carl August Schleg says:

I have to agree with Claire J, ALL of Congress, NON of them have taken a paycut, and constant manipulating at our expense.
Thanks for a GREAT POST.

Hope R. says:

Mrs. Lapin, the apartheid that took place in South Africa, was that imagined by blacks or did that really take place? What about this Jim Crow Law that happened starting in 1877? Was that about privilege or just plain bias? I am really trying to understand your unfair assessment of people of color in America. What about the Native Americans, were they just placed on a reservation because they are loved by the government or did their land was just handed over by them? You frightened me. I came to this country, got into reading and studying history extensively and I was really surprised that America is called a Christian country. You do not have to study history to know that war and revolutions have always been a part of America and the world. People do not just settle things by talking and signing treaties. The Civil War, American Revolution, Spanish American War, Mexican American War, Vietnam War, Korean War are all evidence of that.

Susan Lapin says:

Hope, I do wish we could talk in person so that miscommunication was less likely. I don’t for one minute question that America’s past included slavery and Jim Crow laws or that there was apartheid in S. Africa. The native Indians were betrayed by treaties and immigrants of all types faced discrimination. I just don’t believe that it is healthy to constantly drag your past behind you rather than having gratitude that things have changed. And my husband and I make the same point about Jews in our America’s Real War book and in our other writings.

You are obviously in pain and I don’t seem to be understanding what you are asking. I am sure you are not in favor of the violent attacks that have been taking place. I don’t know what you think I am favoring. Sorry. (If I don’t respond to any response of yours it is because I will be going offline tonight until after the weekend for personal reasons).

Hope R. says:

Mrs. Lapin, I apologized too. I hope that my mind is not skewed because of how the churches non responses to previous injustices and non support of people of color have me thinking that God fearing people is only a title. I hope I am not thinking that Rabbi Lapin and you, Mrs. Lapin is not concerned either. I am sorry for the miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Name says:

UNBRIDLED power corrupts… just plain power doesn’t….

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Well, actually for what it’s worth, the 19th century Lord Acton that Susan was quoting wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…” I don’t think it a merely semantic distinction but I’m not sure that power and unbridled power enjoy a meaningful difference. Power by definition means that those over whom you have power cannot easily bridle you. They can work to get you recalled or to prevent your reelection but for now, you pretty much have power as an elected representative. Only every now and again does a powerful person go too far and get prosecuted but talking of power, who bridles prosecutors in America? See what I mean?
Cordially
RDL

Hope R. says:

Mrs. Lapin, you are dancing around the issues. I suggest that you really assess yourself. You are bias and do not even know it or don’t want to admit. Don’t tell me about your white friends. I do not care. You may like them but don’t car about their people. Have you ever heard those white mega churches praying publicly for the victims who are brutalized? They do not care? Are they afraid? Well if you are, you should not be a leader. How is it that you can send a bag of rice to Africa, two bags of rice to India, but you cannot pray for the people of color in America. This is laughable. How is it that you can go to higher education and pass with high marks (supposedly) some detailed, difficult subjects but cannot see on video what the policemen are doing? When I saw the victims of police brutality signs with no convictions I was so saddened. I asked myself, I wonder how many more there are that we have not heard about.

Susan Lapin says:

Hope, I’m sorry but I’m not fully understanding your words. I’m not an expert on churches, but I have certainly been a guest in more of them than most Jews. I know nothing of white mega-churches. One of the most optimistic and hopeful things I see in America is multi-ethnic churches where Americans come together to pray for all people. I don’t see these being reported on, but that’s what I see with my own eyes. Many of these churches do support poverty-stricken people overseas but they also do tremendous good in their local communities.

I agree with you that police brutality is awful and that these officers need to face charges, which they are. I do not think they represent most police or most Americans. I don’t see how being against looting, violence and anarchy is proof of not caring about real problems. I think all good people are upset about both police excess and crime. Have you seen the mayor of Atlanta’s words?
https://www.facebook.com/877560412/videos/10163896457910413/

Hope R. says:

Sorry if you misunderstand. I did not say looting is right. The thought even came to me that me and my prayer group should pray for the insurance companies all over America because mega bucks will have to be paid out because of the destruction of businesses. In addition, what I am saying is, why aren’t the churches praying against police brutalities. I have heard them praying for hurricane victims, typhoon victims but not victims right here in this country. I find that mind boggling.

Fred says:

Hope, I find your responses fascinating. Perhaps you can enlighten me on a few things. Why do so many blacks support the Democrat Party? The Southern Democrats were the slave owners. The Southern Democrats gave the country Jim Crow laws, birthed the Ku Klux Klan, carried out lynchings, bombing of black churches in the south, opposed enacting Civil Rights(remember Lyndon B Johnson opposed Civil Rights for blacks and only signed it into law because he was forced into it). And remember that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
Just another point: the main stream media leaves out pertinent facts about the Michael Brown shooting. To fill you in, Michael Brown opened the door of the Police vehicle of Officer Darren Wilson and tried to take his gun. During the struggle, Officer Wilson fired a shot that grazed Michael Brown. Brown’s blood and DNA was found in the vehicle.
Officer Wilson then went to arrest Brown for assaulting him. Brown charged Officer Wilson which cost Michael Brown his life. Even Foxnews rarely mentions this fact.
I hope you will open your eyes to the fact that the Democrat elites don’t care for you, me, black people, Jews etc. They care about power and control and advancing their socialist/Communist agenda. Lord help our country if Joe Biden wins.

Hope R. says:

Well David, it is impossible for me to speak for all blacks or answer for them. It can be definitely a lack of knowledge. I was not born in this country and when I became a citizen I just signed up as a democrat without researching anything. However, I did read it in a history book that many black people in America were indeed republican. Recently I stumbled on a Youtube dialogue how republicans contribute so much to small black businesses, A report also told people to take a look at urban cities in America that were democrats. They were riddled with crimes, broken down and just in an awful state. I was indeed surprised and you can bet I will change to republican. Tradition without investigation is just an outright mistake.

James says:

Dear Hope R….

Here is a Gedankenexperiment (Einstein’s term for a thought experiment). Just what if the autopsy of George Floyd returned and demonstrated that his death was caused neither by suffocation nor by strangulation? Now it is reported that Mr. Floyd was contaminated with coronavirus and was under the influence of drugs, including fentanyl. Both virus and drug suppress the breathing apparatus. If I were the policeman, I would have avoided even the appearance of strangulation. But now because of a viral video, everyone in the known Universe now ‘knows’ that a policeman’s knee that was or appeared to be on Floyd’s neck caused his death, even if the poor man died for another reason unrelated.

As for me, I pray also for the poor policemen, who in today’s world are ‘damned if they do’ and ‘damned if they don’t.’ Surely there are a few bad apples in the barrel of cops (I can testify to that personally). But if the police can no longer enforce the Law of the Land because of folks who think like you, we are all sitting ducks at the mercy of anarchist revolution. We will lose our property, then our very lives, and then our Nation.

Your actual name is Fear or Mistrust. You need to embrace the name Hope with which you were blessed. Pray to the Lord that he will soothe your anger and open your eyes to the lovely things that happen in today’s world between all people, that will erase the ugly incidents by which you were brainwashed and lured into submission. Open your eyes to see the roses and not only the thorns.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear James–
Just a point of clarification; I have carefully read Hope’s letters and I think she definitely deserves her name and she clearly sees the roses as well. Take another look…
Cordially
RDL

James says:

Dear Rabbi…

Well, I accept your correction and I ‘Hope’ you are right, that for all of your respondents, ‘Hope’ overshadows fear and all else. On the other hand, I must defend and congratulate your own posting adjudged as not ‘germane.’ For it did contain one singular virtue: it pointed out double and indeed sometimes triple standards that propagate and broadcast those events that serve an agenda, yet sweep under the carpet other events much more prevalent, that occur in patterns insidious, appalling and dangerous.

Beracha and blessings to you both, warriors of great courage…

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks James,
Yes, I still insist my question is an important one to ask but perhaps not in the context of this current conversation.
Thanks for the blessings,
Cordially
RDL

Hope R. says:

Rabbi Lapin, I thank you very much. I do not know how James come to any conclusion that I am brainwashed and I am a pessimist. I told my niece just recently that I crossed a solid white line and I heard the cop siren. He was white and I in no way felt threatened at all. The cop said to me “you could have caused an accident, don’t do it again.” He is right I should not have done that. I thank him so much because I did not want a ticket.

Hope R. says:

James, I am wondering how you can determine that I am brainwashed, a pessimist, a dissident and all that negative stuff that you suggest. I have encountered police officers before down here in the southwest because it so different from the east coast where I lived for years. The rules are different. Just not turning right when I am in the right lane and things of that sort. I heard the siren and in no way felt frightened. Should I have been? I do not believe that I should have been. One thing I do know that communication is a hell of a thing. I also know that people see things from different angles but you cannot walk up to a tree and call it an elephant. I know that sounds silly but you know what I mean. The police office that pushed that elderly man on to the ground then I saw blood, I felt so bad for him. I saw another officer that tried to assist him but was discouraged in doing so. My God! Why?

Christine says:

Beautiful job, Mrs Lapin! We miss your family here in the Northwest.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Christine–
On behalf of my wife and me.
And, do we ever miss the PNW! Oh my.
We even dream of being there. Maybe this summer,
Cordially
RDL

Anna Gilkesson says:

Nice balanced sentiments. However, the people who have been suffering abuse from authorities will find zero comfort in your intellect. Your words are hollow and do not begin to address the carnage inflicted upon many generations of African Americans. Your rhetoric lends very little support to the communities who suffer violence daily at the hands of the protectors. I pray your desire for order also extends to seeking order in an unruly, discriminatory and brutal legal system. I pray you will remain aghast at the daily long suffering and dehumanizing of law abiding black Americans who are scourged daily with disregard and neglect by their political representatives. I dare surmise that if it were black Americans in Nazi camps, there would be no world war two. For the responses to black voices in terror would be as expected, tepid. Your response sounds like this, wait, be patient, voice your discomfort at a more convenient time. Is this how Queen Esther confronted the threat of violence to her people? No it was not. I also do not support looting and mob violence.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Anna,
I’ll let Mrs Susan Lapin respond to your main points but I do have one big, enormous, question that I would love to hear your answer on. Here it is, Anna. Just last weekend, more than 80 Americans with black skin were shot just in Chicago alone. 21 of them have died. Looking at the data and the evidence, you’d have to agree that police shootings are not the reason that blacks die of homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. Why no indignation about these deaths? Why is one black man killed by a policeman so much more worthy of our anger, upset and protest than twenty one black people including women and children killed by black criminals? Is that a fair question to ask? I mean only to learn not to provoke you, so tell me if you want me to remove my question or whether you’ll help me understand this imbalance.
Cordially
RDL

Cindy Andrews says:

Wow!!! That is something to really think about! That question needs to be asked nationally.
ca

Pam says:

I so appreciate your thoughts as the mom and sister of police officers that go to work each day with the intention to protect and defend the communities they work in. There are many things that we all need to consider to make this situation better and nothing that is happening at the moment is one of them.

Ved Brown says:

Wow!
I’m not Anna but I am very perplexed about your ”comparative” ideas expressed here. The key tenet with Anna’s comment is centered around Black Americans’ “abuse from authorities” —generationally—. My take from Anna’s comment is that the “protectors” (the brutal legal system, political representatives etc) of Black communities are so often the ones who inflict violence on the very citizens they have sworn an oath to protect and serve. I’ve taken liberty to address your 3 questions here:
(1) there actually is indignation about the deaths of Blacks you mentioned— many social & religious groups are working incessantly to protect & serve the lives of innocent Black Americans— ;
(2) black men seem to be killed systematically by those “in blue” whose very job it is to protect & serve— nevertheless , the look on the face & in the eyes of the Minnesota policeman who suffocated the life out of the Brother spoke volumes about him, his badge, his respect for human life…
(3) whether your question is “fair” is irrelevant at this point— by the very nature of your inquiry seems indicative of your insensitivity to the value of Black men’s lives— or American men “in Black skin”…
Oh— BTW — you said you had, “…one, big, enormous question— I’m wondering which of your 3 questions was “THE” big, enormous one…

Susan Lapin says:

Ved, I agree with you in this case. I think my husband’s question does need to be answered in that complacency at a level of violence is not a good thing, but that is entirely separate from abuse of power by those sworn to protect us. I do think it matters a great deal as to whether, as you say in point 2, “Black men seem to be killed systematically.” I don’t think the statistics support that contention and certainly not if you don’t include men who were posing a violent threat. Having said that, one case is one too many and issues such as police not stopping each other when there is a bad behavior need to change as does union protection for those who should no longer be on the force.
There are real problems of police who start out as “bad eggs” or become that along the way. That in no way condemns thousands of good officers and it isn’t helpful to generalize in that way. I include in the “bad egg” group not just the extreme as we see in this case, but treating any civilian with a lack of respect or in a bullying way. At the same time, the inner city needs to heal itself as well. No one (except for those get rich and powerful on the suffering of others, including political figures) benefits from the destruction of the family and the promotion of victim mentality of the past few decades. I don’t accept the either/or mentality and that was the point I was trying to make in my piece.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Yes, Susan,
You are correct; my question is not really germane to the matter under discussion. Thanks for such good writing.
With love
Your husband

Jean says:

Using the George Floyd case as an example of “black men being killed systematically by those in blue” is like using Typhoid Mary as a reason to expel all the Irish. There is a bigger story behind the Floyd story, and it won’t come out until trial. The officer and Floyd knew each other – had worked together at a seedy strip club, in fact. There appears to be more of a personal beef involved in this killing, rather than anything to do with race. Because the underlying story, the motive for the murder, doesn’t fit the news template, I seriously doubt that the facts of the case will ever be reported (or they will be buried as a “by the way” story on page 58D of the New York Times) so the narrative of “institutional racism in law enforcement” will continue to be broadcast and believed. For the record, you may wish to look at the number of blacks who are victimized by black perpetrators and then extrapolate that to the number of blacks who are incarcerated or killed while being pursued by police. One stat logically follows another here.

Susan Lapin says:

Jean, I have to say that if there is a personal beef involved then the crime is more heinous than if it was an ‘out of control’ moment. We cannot tolerate the police using publicly-provided permission to use force as a means of exacting personal revenge. However, as you say, that removes the race issue and compounds the tragedy of stoking violence based on that assumption.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ved,
Thanks for writing. My one big question is why is there so little indignation about the hundreds of murders of innocent black victims by black criminals when compared to the comparatively rare death of a black criminal at the hands of a white policeman? But as my wife correctly pointed out elsewhere in these comments, that question of mine is not really relevant to the issue under discussion. However, it is relevant to the point you raise about who actually is sensitive to and concerned by the huge number of innocent black citizens murdered by black criminals.
Cordially
RDL

Ved Brown says:

Dearest Rabbi—
Thanks for addressing my comment…
As you know, “Criminals” do what “criminals” are expected to do— commit crimes… while those who have sworn a solemn oath to protect the lives of Black Americans are expected to do just that— protect and serve … The inconsistency of your comparison remains even more striking now— to say the least! There’s a Holy Bible verse that says, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…” & I cant help but listen to your heart! Hopefully, I’m mis-hearing what you meant to convey…
Although I’ve both admired and dearly respected your financial advice and have purchased copies of your book, right now I’m ABSOLUTELY shocked — for one— at your choice to compare the detrimental effects of “criminals” on “hundreds” Black lives WITH the (“rare”) effects of sworn protectors (“…the hands of white police officers…) on “a Black criminal…”! How did you make that huge jump in logic— inconsistently? When did this particular Black man (of whom this topic originally arose) become a “criminal”? In this specific case what crime was he convicted of? Furthermore, the “…hand of a white police officer…” in this particular case is actually now an accused criminal; — Yet, in your statement you conveniently referred to a Black man as “…a black criminal…” while you described the white man as “…a white policeman…” — ironically, in this particular case, I think the roles have been reversed.
At its most fundamental core, your description of the relative magnitude of the violence of white policemen toward Black men seems to minimize the issue… even your words that you’ve used to characterize the murder of Black men (“black criminals”) by “…the hands of a white policeman” tends to slightly legitimize such criminal actions of white police officers… was that your intention?
Again, thank you for taking time to read and respond to my inquiries.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ved,
I appreciate you writing and want to address your points as best I can. It may require separate answers. For instance, you ask when did George Floyd become a criminal? The answer is when he participated in a home invasion and poked a gun into the belly of a pregnant woman and was tried and sentenced to jail. Not that this means that he was to be murdered if that is what really happened but it does make him a criminal. Of course it is a huge problem if police are corrupt, and undoubtedly some are. But it is also a problem that protests that degenerate into riots occur because of the death of George Floyd in a situation where a white policeman is involved, but no protests when a black criminal shot David Dorn, a 77-year-old black retired police captain who was a pillar of the community in St. Louis. Dorn was attempting to prevent the looting of a pawn shop on Martin Luther King Drive when he was shot dead by one of the criminals. Numbers do matter, Ved, especially in a nation of 325 million of which 40 million are black. Let’s work together to become a nation that truly ignores the color of skin and focuses on character.
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ved,
You say that the policeman as of this date (early June 2020) is an ‘accused criminal’. I am sorry my friend, I really don’t want to correct you on seemingly small matters, but I think that this is a big matter and this may be at the root of where you and I disagree. The policeman is accused but he is not an accused criminal. As a matter of fact, by our laws, he is actually presumed innocent. And this must be so regardless of his race, gender, occupation or anything else. This is true until the time he is tried and pronounced guilty at which point he becomes a criminal. Without this rule of law, nothing would work and even our economic system and the practice of business which you and I both support would collapse.
I think you were 100% right when you corrected me saying that this discussion has nothing to do with how many blacks are murdered by other blacks on an average weekend in Chicago, Baltimore or any other city. I was wrong and I’m sorry for bringing it up. It is worth discussing but not in this context when we are trying to find out if this policeman is a rogue bad guy. And if he is, why would the (black) police chief not have fired him after one of his earlier 17 complaints? And why would MN’s black attorney general not have filed charges against him in the past 19 years of his service. It seems as if there are many worthwhile questions to explore while we await the policeman’s trial. We also need to know the number of instances and the frequency of white policeman killing unarmed black men and the precise circumstances.Also we need to examine circumstances, right? In summer 2014, white cop Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. On the surface, a case of a white policeman shooting an unarmed black man. But is that what really happened? Those who rioted, burned, looted and destroyed for three days might have thought so. Yet, after extensive investigations the grand jury as well as the US Dept of Justice concluded that officer Wilson acted in self defense. For many Americans that settled it. Others decided that these conclusions were wrong. Similar circumstances surrounded the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD in early 1991. Was he resisting arrest? The trial came to that conclusion. Later the federal government tried the officers again on civil rights charges and found half of them guilty. Again, uncertainty in the minds of many Americans. The riots in 1992 killed over 60 people. So it goes…
How do you and I reach common ground on this matter? I am saying that we need real evidence, and statistical information. Is there a pattern of cops brutalizing black men more than white men or do they get rough on anyone resisting arrest regardless of color? I don’t know. Do black men resist arrest at a greater rate than white men? Again I don’t know but I think the data is relevant before we declare a problem and escalate protests into more. Is it wrong to mention that a vastly disproportionate amount of violent crime is perpetrated by black men and to try understand what is going on? Surely not but today it is hard to know. I am not looking for a fight for sure. But neither do I want to be inhibited in pursuing my own interest in probing for the real truth beneath the sensationalist headlines. I don’t want to be vilified for examining real issues dispassionately. That is what is called freedom and constitutionally protected rights and I think they’re important for anyone and everyone. As a long time friend, Ved, you probably know that I strongly oppose hurling around the charge of anti-Semitism because I think it is immoral to accuse people of things they have no way of defending themselves against. I don’t think we ought to start having ‘thought crimes’ in the US. There is no way to defend yourself against the thought crime of thinking something. Which is why tyrannies like the old Soviet system routinely charged people with thought crimes. I think it is just fine for people to have irrational dislike of Jews as long as they don’t act on those beliefs against Jewish life or property. Laws were intended to regulate our actions towards one another and never our thoughts or beliefs. What made America special, among other things, was that unlike in Europe where Catholics and Protestants killed one another, America was supposed to be a place where people with different beliefs could be friends and could cooperate for mutual benefit. It seems that in some areas you and I might have different beliefs, but in honor of the American ideal, I consider you a friend.
Cordially
RDL

Adah Burton says:

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, thank you for your question. Let me first say that I am against rioting, looting, and vandalizing as a form of protest. I am an African-American woman, wife, and mother of two young adult sons who is just as appalled by the senseless killing of Blacks by other Blacks. However, unlike murderous white police officers who kill unarmed and/or handcuffed Black people, none of them have taken an oath “to protect and serve” ALL citizens.

Susan Lapin says:

Adah, I agree with your objection and thank you for articulating it so well. I think that if, as two decent people who represent many others, you and my husband sat down to talk and make a “plan of action” we actually could see progress in this country.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing, Adah,
As my wife rightly pointed out, my question is a valid question but not really part of this discussion. The only question is whether the Minneapolis matter is reflective of wide spread police bias and brutality. We should examine the data and evidence on that. Many have encountered police officers who are jerks and clearly many are worse than jerks however is the proportional number higher than, say, the number of public school teachers who are corrupt and incompetent or even the number of doctors who have negligently killed patients? We are far from indicting all of the teaching profession or all of medicine so let’s look at the numbers and evidence. Not many have yet done so.
Cordially
RDL

Ved Brown says:

Dear Rabbi—
In reference to your response to Adam:
I think that whenever you choose to broaden the key critical issues of this discussion so that you include factors such as relative proportionality & unrelated professionals (educators, doctors, ) & omit factors such as gender and race, as well as whenever you make generalizations about incomparable behavioral outcomes (mid-education, death from mal-practice) , then you tend to simultaneously dilute the significance of the main factors of the original discussion— lessening the severity of the main problem at hand: the white policeman who allegedly murdered the Black man, George Floyd—the abuse of power by those who’ve been entrusted to protect and serve…do you actually see the problem and the severity of its outcome so broadly?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ved–
When it comes to reprehensible human behavior, yes I do omit ‘factors such as gender and race’ and can’t believe you don’t. After all, who would want to live under a justice system in which laws are applied differently depending on race and gender? Is the ‘main factors of the original discussion’ the policeman who allegedly murdered George Floyd? Then why not await the trial? Furthermore, I think one is entitled to ask, how frequent an occurrence is this? Granting that even once is far too much, is it valid to compare the number with how many police were gunned down in the same period before declaring it a systemic problem? I do think numbers matter if we are going to label this a national problem. I’m sorry we don’t agree on this Ved, since there is much I am sure we do agree on, but I still dream of an America where race is not a factor.
Cordially
RDL

Val says:

Thank you for that question and the reason we don’t hear about it is that it does not fit the agenda of the MSM. They would rather spread hate using black vs white examples. I believe the Democrats have contributed to the squashed dreams of black Americans promising equality but never delivering. With their continued platform of bringing in more illegals, sorry to say, the black community will suffer more. They used blacks for votes and now they using browns.

Ved Brown says:

Dear Rabbi—
Although I have made a good effort to get you to focus your comments on the REAL overarching issues of this editorial, it seems to me that you continuously use your best efforts to minimize the horrific, vile & inhuman manner in which a Black man was murdered at “…the hand of a white policemen…”. Although you’ve continued to concede that your comments are not relevant to the conversation at hand, yet it seems to me that you’ve not remained within the current domains. I think that’s what’s so shocking to me as I’ve read through your detailed responses.
To be sure, it seems like you are introducing many extraneous unrelated factors into the issue at hand in order to minimize the murder of one more Black man at “…the hands of a white policeman”. It’s almost as though your aim of diluting the real issue outweighs your sense of compassion for the manner in which an innocent Black man—George Floyd’s— life was taken. Hopefully, I’ve totally missed your points! I’m praying that I’ve mis-read your intents.
Rabbi, your detailed responses on this thread have opened my eyes quite a bit. Nevertheless, I’m actually VERY thankful.
Veda

Miriam Cohen says:

Anna Gikesson wrote: ” I dare surmise that if it were black Americans in Nazi camps, there would be no world war two” – which seems to imply that WWII had been fought for the (white) Jews in the Nazi camp. Really?
Great Britain stood alone and fought only for its survival after Europe’s surrender in 1939-40 . Russia entered (unwillingly) the war in June 41 when Hitler suddenly attacked it.
The US entered the war only after Pearl Harbor attack in December 41.
In the meantime millions of Jews have been gathered all over Europe in ghettos and sent to camps – very often with the help of their non-Jewish neighbors.
The Jews were not – in any way – a “priority” during WWII; on the contrary – the Jews would have been on the bottom of a list, if such a list had existed ( just google “why wasn’t Auschwitz bombed” !).
I get it that someone’s views of the present are seen through the lenses of his/her ideology, but it’s wrong to try to correct history to suit it.

Hope R. says:

Rabbi Lapin, obviously you are not saying that the majority of blacks just walk around killing one another and not being productive. I am certainly one of those who have an extra job on Saturdays that I can work up to 14 or 15 hours just on a Saturday. I also know many blacks that have two jobs. I also have to wonder if those stats are true. Surely you must know that the broadcasts on television are sensationalized and exaggerated.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Hope–
So good to read your letters; thanks for writing. No of course I am not making any stupid and bigoted pronouncements about all or majority of anyone. I see it in my own community. Many wonderful Jews and some of whom I am considerably less proud. The stats I quoted are FBI figures that no leaders of either party dispute. I would never quote figures that I got second hand from tv or opinion websites. I assure you that you don’t need to defend anyone to me. You and I do not judge people in groups or balkanized identities. I also never judge what I assume are people’s motivations. Only God knows what is in someone’s heart. I judge individual behavior and I am sure you do too.
Cordially
RDL

Hope R. says:

Thank you, Rabbi Lapin.

David says:

Dear Anna,
I did not find Mrs. Lapin’s words to be hollow at all — and I suspect that you glazed over her “call-to-action” which was perhaps directed at you (and so many people who rush to action, but actually make the situation worse). For example, Mrs. Lapin challenged you to question things like police unions: Many people give lip service to ending police brutality, but those same people actually support the policies that encourage it — My experience is that most cops are not racist. But police unions (like teacher’s unions) make it almost impossible to fire the few “bad apples”. Yet I would venture that a majority of demonstrators support left-leaning politicians who are bought off by, and support these public-sector unions.

Mrs. Lapin is calling on us to use rationality; to take a step back and re-think our assumptions; and to actually make a difference, rather than thrashing about — which seems to be what you would prefer to see. The passion you feel is justified; but isn’t it time to start *fixing* the problem?

Respectfully,

Hope R. says:

David, there is no way you can know most police. That is a crazy statement.

Pat says:

The breakdown of the black family – brought upon by liberal policies designed to insert the government as father figure – has done more to contribute to the poverty and hopelessness in the black community than anything since slavery. Following slavery black family units were the norm, given that they were denied that for so long. What broke the black family apart? President Johnson’s War on Poverty which incentivized having children out of wedlock. No father in the home. Well, 50 years later we see the results. A majority of black children growing up in single parent homes. Poverty. Hopelessness. And a political party that NEVER speaks to the potential of blacks as individuals, never inspires nor worst of all assumes or believes they can succeed. Instead, they dare point to the results of their ill guided policies as proof that blacks “need” the government even more to take care of them. How insulting and de-humanizing.

Zua Olear says:

Well written.
I am a Black man and i fully agree with your take.man The Liberal Democrat policies have destroyed Black communities and families.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Zua–
I think it is incredibly courageous for any Black man to speak out publicly against the public policies of liberal Democrats as you have. I have to assume that this is not the only venue in which you’ve made your thinking public so I salute you, Sir.
Cordially
RDL

Val says:

This came directly from BLM website: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” I was shocked because I did think the fatherlessness was government aided. But it looks like they are for communities raising the children.

Hope R. says:

Pat, I understand what you are saying, I have read that too. If my husband decided to leave me for my friend (just a story) I cannot blame my friend, my husband made that decision too. Where I grew up, there were always a mister and Misses. I still remember their names until this day. I have always said to myself I would not have children out of wedlock. I stuck by that belief. I also know I had to choose the right partner. So the choice for a man to exit his home, he cannot blame the government. The men should have thought about the consequences.

Pat says:

I agree Hope. The men are making wrong choices. But those choices come from a mindset that has been encouraged by the incentive over decades which created the culture of it being “normal” for men to not be in the home. We can look at the stability of the black family prior to 1965 and see the timeline of it’s disentergation. Children without a dad suffer the consequences in so many ways and are less equipped to get out of that cycle. So it repeats.

Hope R. says:

Pat,

I listened to people in the Caribbean and I am sure it happens in North America too. Blacks are coming from two parents homes to this day. Some males do not want to do the right thing. They know they are not suppose to have 5 girlfriends at the same time. They know they should work for a living and stop using women for funds, they know they are no suppose to have children all over America. Have you ever heard this phrase “My life is what I think it should be.” How many times have you asked young children and adolescents “what do you want to be when you grow up?” They always have an answer. It may change in time but they know what they want to become.

Susan Lapin says:

As I did say in my Musing, police who abuse their authority by using excessive force must be punished more severely than a civilian who does exactly the same action would be. However, I think it is a grave mistake to extrapolate from one – or from 100 – bad cops to every police officer. Once someone is not a physical threat to a police officer because they are subdued, officers have an obligation to care for them. I don’t see any decent person arguing differently. If there is a breach of that trust, 99.9% of Americans would support working to fix that problem. Murdering police officers or cursing at them or pelting them with bottles seems to me to stop progress in that area rather than promote it.
I tried to make a distinction between decent and honorable people – of all races – and those – of all races – who aren’t. Just as I am not represented by the “woman’s march” people though I am definitely a woman, I do not accept that everyone (or most people) with dark skin is represented by those looting and advocating violence in the name of “Blacks”. As to neglect by political representatives, that is a problem that can only be fixed if the individuals stop voting for these people. You can’t keep electing people who take advantage of you and then cry “foul.”

I was not advocating patience, but rather strategy. Anger, whether personal or as a group, tends to be anti-productive. We often need to choose in our daily lives and in crises whether we want to temporarily feel better by expressing anger (usually with long-term damage) or if we would rather fix a problem. Rabble-rousers encourage the former. That is one of the reasons that we seem to be moving backward rather than forward in living peacefully together as a nation composed of many different groups.

Miriam is right that we did not fight World War II to save the Jewish people. That was a by-product for which I am grateful, but it is not why England or America entered the war.

James says:

Your analysis I found thoughtful, accurate and well-written and would defend it if I could. Interesting, isn’t it, how some, including some of your scathing critics, delight in dredging up ‘centuries of injustice to black people’ and waving it before our faces? The great black American scientist George Washington Carver wrote in the early 20th century how he was impressed and gratified by the advances that the Republican emancipation had produced for his people. He predicted that the future was bright for black people in America, with one caveat. He warned that some would arise, that would delight in dredging up old injustices and reopening old wounds to make themselves relevant or to pander for personal or political gain. One wagers that these instigators today are not all black, but simply opportunists who want to manipulate the emotions and actions of black people to serve a hideous agenda. One very prominent man, rich as King Midas, comes immediately to mind, who would turn the US into a socialist utopia. And don’t levy reparations for slavery on ME: I never enslaved anyone. In fact, I am cognizant of some who lost promotion or a position in medical school to guess what? A woman of color. The rampant injustice swings BOTH ways, thanks to liberal politicians who would force our current generation to pay for ‘centuries of injustice’ that occurred long before we were alive. But know what? If I dredged up and harbored the ‘centuries of injustice’ that were ‘inflicted’ on my people, I would squander so much psychic energy that I would never get anything done, and I would be a miserable, stunted person. Presidential candidate Herman Cain (an honorable black man whom I supported) said it so well to the injustice-mongers who scream ‘Reparations!’ or pull down Confederate statues: ‘Quit dreaming of a better past.’

Alice says:

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I wrote a letter to the editor of the East BayTimes regarding the same issues and they will never print it. Mr. Willie Brown, Barbara Lee, and the numerous other black leaders especially those who have been in office for many years have never done a thing to stop these issues. They have a heavy burden to bear regarding race relations. The governor of CA just said it is our fault. No, it is not the people, it is the elite politicians who are in power much to long and blame everyone else. Thank you both for your commonsense. One politician talking to another politician is never going to solve any problem. Can anyone answer why this cop was still working on the force with as many citations as he had in his file and no one knew this. Come on. It’s the same answer over and over.

Glen says:

The intent of my questions is to open an honest and civil dialog. How do we factually know George Floyd’s insidious murder was racially motivated? Are people passing judgment on the reason behind the hideous crime – how does anyone truly know? Are people claiming because the officer is white and George Floyd black that automatically constitutes racism? Why are those claiming racism, without facts, not guilty of a racist judgement? Are people basing opinion on facts or emotion and misappropriated anger? Why are people not as outraged by the rioters seriously injuring and killing police officers that are both black and white?

Ishtanokfillili says:

Very well said, Susan.
I appreciate you writing this. I came across your “musings” after I just spent an hour or so explaining things like this to my young adult son who is wondering how to navigate all that is happening in the world.

We are members of a Native American tribe. Many times, it seems that ethnic groups foreign to our land, get all the attention as if Native Americans no longer exist. In fact, we are overrun with foreigners. We could have much to be angry about, considering our history with foreign invasion, removal from lands, abuse, forbidden to speak our language, families being ripped apart, and so on. Indeed, there is much to work through with all that we’ve sustained. And, indeed many Native’s are angry and being the victims.

But, the way I see it, all peoples have been hurt in one way or another. We have a choice to be victims or victors. A victim will always be held back by their own mind. They will continue to demand payment for their pain no matter how much is given or done for them, and it will never be enough. Someone will always owe them, and they will never be free. I see this among many indigenous people. I’ve been in conferences with indigenous people from all over the globe. They all have the same painful story. The pain of invasion, violence, oppression etc etc. History bares out that this has been happening for thousands of years.

As for me and my family, we choose to forgive. We are free. No one owes us anything. We aren’t looking for revenge or a handout. We trust the Creator of All Things to help us and provide for us, and right any wrongs committed against us. We don’t demand some form of payment from others. Because we aren’t looking to be paid back for the wrongs done to our people, we are free to grow personally and professionally.

There will always be pain in this world until the Creator sets things right in the last age. Meanwhile, we must make every effort to use the gifts and talents the Creator gave us to serve others and bring honor to Him. And, as you explained, we can do things that actually have a measurable outcome for real change, like taking proper legal action against those who break the law.

Abusing others and their property because we’ve been abused, is never the correct action.
This is what I tell my children, “hurting people, hurt people.”
I would rather pass on wholeness to my children.

James says:

Well said indeed, Ishtanokfillili. I also have reason to be a ‘victim,’ for I am told that I also descend from Native Americans. And all of us at one time were subject to injustice. But the young folks who scream about ‘centuries of injustice’ were born ignorant of that knowledge. Someone carefully spoon-fed them how ‘underprivileged’ and ‘oppressed’ they are due to ‘centuries of injustice.’ The weak-minded are being seeded with anger and hatred to be used like Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’ to inflame societal unrest to advance a socialist coup. But I refuse to be a victim. I interact cordially in my multicultural neighborhood with members of all races, colors and creeds. Look for the roses instead of the thorns. And light candles instead of cursing the darkness.

Kristin Grose says:

Your insightful thoughs comport so well with mine, Rabbi. Leaning heavily on prayer along with activism these days but getting very concerned that the level of the opposition’s audio amplified through the MSM. Will keep my ear to the grindstone…no letting up on either the secular or sectarian side. God Bless.

Norman Bailey says:

A wonderful column, Susan. Barbara and I enjoyed it greatly. A voice of sweet reason in the midst of the howling mobs–left, right, it doesn’t matter. Fascist or Antifa, they are part of the same phenomenon, just as the fascists, nazis and communists of the 20th century were. Although they hated each other they hated liberty, justice and reasoned discourse even more. Be safe and well, Norman Bailey

Vicente Mendoza says:

Thank you for a great column, Sussan. It’s a broken system. Everything in this nation needs reformation; tax code has to be reformed, immigration reform, healthcare reform, etc., and people expecting too much out of government and too much government control. The problems are deep-rooted. I have been meditating on the 10 commandments as Rabbi Lapin explains them. As you say, “there is much wrong in this country and around the world but there is also much right.” Rabbi, where do we draw a good and healthy balance in all of this?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Vicente–
Since you ask, I don’t recommend trying to ‘draw a good and health balance in all of this’. What I do recommend is taking care of your civic duties by voting and forming alliances with like minded people but really focusing on your five ‘Fs’. Build your friendships so you don’t face tribulation alone, build your finances that you can easily withstand pressures, build your family to give you a stake in the future, build your faith, and build your fitness.
Cordially
RDL

Lisa says:

Thank you Rabbi Lapin and Mrs Lapin
I so appreciate this forum you have provided for us in voicing our opinions. I appreciate the respect and validation this forum has provided for us all. Especially for such a time as this. May HaShem always bless you and keep you and to all involved. Baruch HaShem.

Mark says:

Susan, I think your weekly column gets better and better. Also, I never before was aware of the full quote from Lord Acton. Thank you for that!

M. Randall says:

Have we considered how much of this unrest is driven by the narrative presented to us in the mass media? I have been waiting to read a report that clearly distinguishes between the peaceful protesters and the rioters. And yet they are combined into the same group (I would even like to say, “often combined’ but I am still looking for the exception).
Case in point is a recent article in Fox News (our supposed conservative news source) which spoke of the St Louis retired police officer who was “killed during looting sparked by the death of George Floyd.” Let us be clear. The death of George Floyd sparked peaceful protests to address what many see to be systemic problems of how the African American Community is treated by law enforcement. The looting and rioting is being done by a group of self-centered, criminal-minded thugs, who could care less about Mr. Floyd, and who took advantage of the situation, not letting the crisis go to waste.
There were no riots sparked by the death of George Floyd, but peaceful protests.  Had the there been no protests, there would have been no riots. No, I am not blaming the protesters for creating the situation. “The right to peaceably assemble” is a Constitutionally protected right given to us by our Creator. The blame rests squarely on the rioters and looters.  We must continually distinguish between the two, even if the media does not. 
How different if the story spoke of the officer “killed by looters who brazenly inserted themselves into the peaceful protests sparked by the in-custody death of George Floyd.”

Jacquelinel Frazier says:

Was it proven to be the cause of death? I thought he had underlying medical condition. While the video is disturbing, it is not proof. Last i heard there were two different opinions both having reasons to side with different parties. What are the facts? For too long we have excused or overlooked indecent behavior which has now escalated to mob mentality, costing lives and lifetime of work in an instant. While i agree with your points, i disagree with the use of “murder”.

Carl August Schleg says:

NOT meaning to stir the ‘pot’ and start insanity, Candice Owens just did a great ‘Other side of the coin’ commentary on YouTube.
Let’s ALL GO OUT and have a GREAT DAY and HUGS to ALL MY BROTHERS and SISTERS OUT THERE!!!

Brea says:

I agree, Candice Owens summed it up so well and brought some perspective to this whole situation.

Mark Z says:

Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Brea says:

I’d like to change the subject a bit. Your words “ When anger is justifiably felt———it should be accompanied by an internal warning that action is needed, but nothing should be said or done until one’s rational mind is once again in control.” Thank you for this. It made me think of my marriage relationship. You are empowering me! Again, thank you.

Susan Lapin says:

I am so glad to see such a robust conversation and sorry that I had to be offline for a few days so that I missed reading and responding. I do think that if we shut down uncomfortable conversation we shut down moving forward in a positive direction.

Gordy Beil says:

I offer this from Martin Luther King’s “I have A Dream” speech given on August 28, 1963 (paragraph 7, sentences 4 & 5 and paragraph 8, sentences 1 & 2):

“…In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence.”…

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Gordy,
Beautiful words; who could fail to be uplifted by their eloquence? However, in all fairness, let’s also remember some other equally influential words spoken by Martin Luther King: “Riots are the language of the unheard.” MLK used that phrase in an interview with Mike Wallace on CBS in 1968 and again at Stanford U in 1969. Maybe other times also. But just because MLK said it, I don’t think that makes it a universal truth. How do you think most of those beating up and killing people (of all color) and looting stores (including those owned by blacks) might have responded had we been able to ask them, “What do you feel unheard about?” My feeling is that they were about free stuff not about being unheard. Yet undoubtedly some felt legitimized by those words just as others felt worthily restrained by those you quoted. King was a complex man and like many accomplished men, he had great strengths and great weaknesses. Smaller men generally have smaller strengths and smaller weaknesses.
Cordially
RDL

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