Can we talk? I understand that you might be busy trying to figure out what the hell to do with the Rizzo statue, now that you’ve won the battle to get it back. Well, as my late mother used to say, we’re badly in need of some common sense here. Mom was always impressed with my book smarts. Not so much with my common sense. Put this column down as a belated attempt to please mom.
I’m OK with us taking a hard look at the police budget. I don’t think cops need to carry the kind of weapons needed to invade North Korea. But let’s be serious. We also shouldn’t use the police budget to punish cops for bad behavior. Their budget should be based on what’s realistically needed to keep Philly safe. No more. No less. Don’t count me on your team when you use words like “disarm” or “defund.” You can’t eliminate the police department. If a burglar is breaking into your home and you call 911, do you really want a social worker to show up? By the way, contrary to a misleading Trump campaign ad, Joe Biden forcefully came out against “defunding” the police when it was first suggested.
I’m not worried about satisfying McNesby and the FOP, either. City police have been well compensated. Cops are raking in overtime. But the money spent is not reflected in the murder statistics. It’s like we woke up in Deadwood, and everybody thinks they’re Wild Bill Hickok. While the number of murders is going down in other big cities, parts of Philadelphia look like the killing fields. A realistic look at the police budget is long overdue. Just so long as we don’t let ideology determine what the new police budget looks like. It makes sense to sort out which functions require police and which don’t. And appropriate funds accordingly. If that means we need to shift funds to other departments, so be it.
Some white folks like to point to black-on-black crime and use it as justification for police killing unarmed blacks. Why don’t black people care about blacks killing blacks, they ask. If you’re one of these white folks, you haven’t been paying attention. Nobody wants their 6-year-old kid shot dead while sitting on their front step. Grandmothers have organized groups trying to fight the drug dealers terrorizing their neighborhoods and gotten executed for their effort. If you think blacks don’t care about black-on-black crime, listen to their cries for help. And take note.
Crime in black neighborhoods doesn’t justify excessive police violence. Watch the 11 o’clock news. Some white police officers are killing unarmed blacks without cause. And if you don’t see what the rest of us see, maybe you’re willfully blind. Don’t attempt to diminish what’s at best sloppy policing and at worst murder, by blaming the victim. Example — George Floyd had been found guilty of home invasion and served five years in prison. In the minds of police apologists, that made Floyd a “thug.” Never mind that Floyd had turned his life around before he was senselessly choked to death by a cop on a Minneapolis street. And even if he were a thug, police still wouldn’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner.
About that argument that white lives matter as much as black lives. Yes — but check your history. White lives have always mattered more than black lives in this country. And it’s not only that black folks were enslaved back then. It’s that the effects of that enslavement are felt even today in the form of economic and social inequality. “Black Lives Matter” isn’t an attempt to exclude the importance of YOUR life, but that their lives are worth as much as yours…
About masks and COVID-19. How can we possibly survive the pandemic if our lives are essentially in the hands of a president in denial and twenty-somethings who want to party because — “Hey, it’s summer, dude!” I can’t pretend to know why Trump won’t wear a mask, despite the advice of his own medical experts. He has a black mask, but says half-seriously that he looks like the Lone Ranger in it. Well, ke-mo sah-bee, you don’t look so great with or without the mask. Wear the damned mask — if only to set an example for the rest of your cult. As far as the “cool dudes” out there, you find masks uncomfortable. If it were up to me, I’d draft you. Send your sorry asses to Parris Island and see whether that inhibits your social life. Dude.
Regarding COVID-19, there’s much talk about whether it’s fair to endanger the health of players by opening the baseball season during a pandemic. Players are not being forced to do anything. They can opt out. What happens if too many players either opt out or test positive for the virus? Suggestion. During World War II, FDR asked baseball to go forward and play for the good of public morale. Healthy players were NOT exempt from the draft and many served. Professional baseball was forced to rely upon mostly marginal players. One of them — Pete Gray — had only one arm. Many of these men would never have made it to big league ballparks if not for the war.
Where some see danger, others see opportunity. They’re out there waiting for their chance. Play ball!
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