some of you may have read my recent post about the “racist” pastor in the rural texas town where I live. I recently became aware of a new policy issued by the Fort Worth police chief designed to discourage bias by his police officers.
In the increasingly swelling comment stream (which i finally had to stop reading), someone actually commented that he thought all officers already knew to treat all people equally. (The commenter had a point. Officers’ code of ethics requires: “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions.” but is anyone without some type of bias and moreover–can everyone keep it in check?)
“Where has this person been living,” I wondered.
I can’t imagine there being anyone who hasn’t personally experienced biased treatment or not knowing someone who’s been the victim of it, particularly here in the South.
are we (white) people really all that naïve?
the 2004 movie “Crash” was not merely an allegory. it was and still is real. the prejudicial attitudes portrayed by the characters in this movie are visible and extend beyond the tired cliché of a long-haired teenager being harassed because he’s out late at night and probably up to no good or of someone being pulled over for “DWB.”
people are lying to themselves if they think that biased treatment doesn’t occur every moment of every day—and not just by those involved in upholding the law.
those who are poor are still looked down on because they cannot afford the upkeep on their vehicles or afford the insurance that so many of us who can afford have. people of color are still looked down upon or viewed with suspicion. and don’t even get me started on how people are bullied for being effeminate, gay, handicapped, and so on.
so as i read the policy, I can’t imagine anyone balking at a simple policy that mandates fair and equal treatment to all.
“…the order prohibits police employees from considering “race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or other individual characteristics or distinctions” while performing police duty.”
people who posted hateful and derogatory comments attempt to distract from the issue by decrying the policy’s proponet’s political motivations, desire for publicity, and—heaven forbid—shrieking about it being nothing more than a ploy to advance the cause of people who do not identify as heterosexual.
further, they squawk about the policy being abused by those who would feign violation of rights by police. but as they squawk, they fail to consider how vitally precious their own rights would be if they found themselves in the same situation. forget that the poor and the underpriviledged or people of color or non-heterosexuals have just as much right to fairness and equal treatment as any other human being.
so I’ll plainly ask: do we need such policies?
apparently we do.
America is a grand and wonderful place to live. however, Americans are not above reproach when it comes to how it has treated people. we can go back to the time of the Native Americans and how the white man stole the land from them. we can discuss how we enslaved peoples of color—Chinese and African— and built this country on their backs. we can talk about how we failed to recognize the equal rights of women until year and equal rights of all men and women regardless of color until controversial legislation —opposed by majorities of white “Christians” (quotes purposeful)—was finally forced through less than 50 years ago. we even had to have legislation to require that places and opportunities were made equitable for people whose physical capabilities limited them. (and while i’m at it, may i take a moment to compliment those brave men and women (and add “mostly white men”) who had the courage to push this type of legislation through! oh that our leaders today would show the same mettle!)
news and history is rife with abuses by those in power–long before we Americans wielded the weapon of majority and religious persecution.
don’t tell me we don’t need a policy like that.
and don’t tell me that mere political motivation is the only reason for coming forward publicly with such a policy.
the simple truth is that those of us who find ourselves in minorities require protection from a majority who tromps around on the rights of those minorities, wielding a Bible or the law or their own ignorance, bullying those who are not like them.
i hope that as time passes, we will have less need for such policies as a response to hate.
(“Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s” follow-up editorial here.)