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Member since: 2002
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Why White Americans Don’t Believe in ‘Personal Accountability’ For Police

Do the nation’s police suffer from the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’?


By a margin of 41 percent to 34 percent, white Americans say police treat African Americans and white people equally, according to a YouGov poll conducted 11 days after Freddy Gray’s death. African Americans, however, overwhelmingly—76 percent to 13 percent—said that cops treat them unfairly.

The responses of white Americans are unsettling in light of the seemingly endless video accounts of racially tinged police violence circulating online, the millions of dollars cities have paid to settle police brutality lawsuits, and the many studies that have demonstrated a racial bias in policing.

A disturbingly large number of white Americans, it seems, willfully dismiss the evidence. Perhaps their own relatively uneventful contact with police provides comfortable distance and deniability. Or maybe white America has been swayed by persuasive and powerful counternarratives, especially from conservative media.

Whatever the explanation, there is a bewildering disconnect between white tolerance of police misconduct—including homicides—and the call for “personal accountability” that has long permeated our national policy discussions. Championed by conservatives and furthered by liberal elites wary of social justice, “personal accountability” has been elevated to a national religion. In the 1990s, with full cooperation by the Clinton administration, this rhetoric was used as a cudgel against the poor in order to pave the way for draconian welfare reforms, packaged as “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” The same dogma helped justify the “three strikes you’re out” and “mandatory minimums” policies that fueled the country’s racist and expensive incarceration frenzy. Today, politicians brandish the term to demand drug testing for poor recipients of public aid and to cut social programs that help the needy.

To me, besides the tragic nature of the AMTRAK crash...

Is the fact that a train in this country derailed because it was going 100 miles an hour. Compared to Japan, France and just about anywhere else where passenger trains don't derail when they're going 100 miles an hour, this pretty much spells out the myth of American Exceptionalism.

American Exceptionism basically gives this country the impetus to sit on its collective asses and forget about improving its own general condition. American Exceptionism gives us a failing infrastructure, crumbling airports, busted water mains, falling bridges, broken levees, an unreliable electrical grid and pot holes that you can lose your Buick in.

American Exceptionalism makes us think it necessary to spend billions of tax dollars propping up the weapons industry on white elephant aircraft that can't fly just because they might get wet.

American Exceptionalism makes people think that it's alright to defund our passenger rail after a train only going a 100 miles an hour jumped the track.

American Exceptionalism makes us think that it's OK to be stupid and regressive, that it's just fine to export our own industrial base, allow our cities to crumble into ruins and dismantle our public education system.

American Exceptional costs lives as well. Not just the lives lost after a passenger train going only 100 miles an hour jumped the tracks, but also in lives lost because we think it alright to commoditize human pain, illness and misery. To create prisons for profit and police forces that behave like occupying armies.

American Exceptionism is a roadmap to decline and even self-destruction. Because, why bother improving our banking system, reversing income inequality, abolishing all forms of discrimination, providing affordable housing, advancing renewable energy sources, promoting global peace over profit-driven war and building, maintaining and operating a modern passenger rail system where the trains can travel at 100 miles an hour without jumping the tracks?

We don't need to do any of that because we're "exceptional," right?

So, since when did we need an exception from improving our own general lot?

Edit: I understand the point that several folks have made here, that the train derailed because 100 miles an hour exceeded that portion of the track's capacity. There's no question here that train was going too fast. However, the rhetorical point that I was making was the fact that nothing had been done to prevent something that was wholly preventable. Whether it be fixing that portion of the track to accommodate a higher rate of speed, our installing some form of automated limiter to slow the train down in order to transverse that particular area safely.

But most of all, I wanted to tie those obvious remedies to the actual reaction of Congressional Republicans to DEFUND AMTRAK. This is the exact same mindset which prevents ourselves from improving our own lot in all of the other ways I've mentioned and more. This mindset is rooted in American Exceptionalism, which is merely resting on our own laurels.

Yes, the train went too fast for the track. But it didn't have to.

The "I'm Determined" Piano Tutorial

"ALL at the same time."

Wasted Talent...

Way the go, Cotton...

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About time...

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Damn HAARP...

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