Tag Archives: KKK

Jerry Neal took APD down a progressive path

I am sad at this moment, having just learned of the death of a man I considered to be one of the finest law enforcement officials I had the pleasure to know.

Former Amarillo Police Chief Jerry Neal is gone. My memory of his service goes back a good bit.

I arrived in Amarillo in January 1995 to take my post as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. Neal had been at his post for 14 years already, having arrived here from Norman, Okla., to rescue a police department that had fallen into serious disrepair.

Chief Neal retired in 2007 after 26 years as the city’s top cop. He modernized it immediately. He introduced a new level of professionalism and service He insisted that the PD clear up cases that had gone unsolved. On his watch, APD established its Citizens Police Academy to acquaint Amarillo residents with the myriad aspects of police work; I happened to be one of those who participated around 2003 in an academy “class.” I found it to be an invaluable education on the difficulties that police officers face every day they go to work on our behalf.

The chief was a progressive police officer and administrator who worked hard to bring his department into the modern age.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reported: “Chief Neal helped modernize and shape the Amarillo Police Department into what it is today,” Cpl. Jeb Hilton wrote in the news release. “He is remembered as a fair boss, a great leader and a good friend. His legacy at the Amarillo Police Department lives on through his son Officer Kent Neal. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Neal family.”

I want to share a story about Chief Neal that I’ve repeated many times over the years.

In 2006, the Ku Klux Klan obtained a permit to demonstrate in front of Amarillo City Hall. I thought it would be worth attending this event — with notebook and pen in hand — to witness whatever might happen. Amarillo PD, along with the Potter County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, had set up a huge security perimeter in front of City Hall to ensure minimal contact between the Klansmen and the public.

That was a good call.

Chief Neal was there, dressed — and I use this term cautiously — in full battle gear: blue uniform, flak jacket and all the hardware that police officers wear when facing potential hostility.

I was chatting with Chief Neal when a Klansman walked up and asked Neal, “Uh, chief, may I ask you a question?”

Neal’s offered a classic response. “No,” he responded tartly. “Now … get away from me.”

Oh, how I wanted to high-five him at that moment. I didn’t. His intolerance of a reviled hate group spoke volumes — and I told him so later, in a private moment.

Jerry Neal was a great cop who took seriously his oath to “protect and serve.”

U.S. has set a new standard for morality

Call me old-fashioned. Maybe even a bit of a prude — when we’re talking about officials who hold high public office.

Thus, when I hear the former director of the FBI declare that the president of the United States is “morally unfit” to hold the office, I nod my head in agreement.

James Comey delivered a blistering attack on Donald Trump, saying that the president’s moral character doesn’t measure up to the office he won in the 2016 election.

Comey — whom Trump fired a year ago because of what he called “the Russia thing” — cited a couple of key examples: Trump’s willingness to place “moral equivalency” between KKK’men, Nazis and white supremacists and those who protested their march in Charlottesville, Va.; and the president’s history of treating women “like meat.”

To be honest, Comey is far from the first American to declare that Trump is “morally unfit” to be president. Many millions of others of us have been said that before he ever won the election.

And that brings me to the critical point: Americans have redefined morality and have exhibited a clear and present tolerance for the kind of behavior that would have disqualified a presidential candidate.

Let’s get real for a moment, OK?

Trump admitted on that “Access Hollywood” recording how he is able to grab women by their “pu***”; he has admitted publicly cheating on his first and second wives; Trump has stated out loud how he was able to walk into beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms while they were half-dressed.

We hear now that Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to a porn queen to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she and Trump allegedly had a year after he married Wife No. 3. The president denies the tryst occurred, but … the lawyer paid the money!

Trump has lived an existence filled with excess and moral depravity.

And yet …

He won enough Electoral College votes in November 2016 to enable him to slip into the Oval Office and take the reins of government.

This is the height — or the nadir — of political confusion.

Trump’s base, which comprises a huge chunk of the evangelical Christian movement, gives this clown a pass on his litany of debauchery and infidelity. Why? Because he promises to appoint conservatives to the federal judiciary; and those judges will rule against issues that evangelicals find repugnant: gay marriage, abortion and the prohibition on preaching Scripture lessons in public schools.

James Comey is as correct as he can possibly be in assessing Donald Trump’s moral unfitness for the presidency.

Some of us out here in Voter Land still want officials elected to high public office to represent the best in us. Donald Trump represents damn near the very worst in us.

The man is a disgrace.

Trump displays his delusion

Donald Trump is not at all shy about displaying his delusional traits whenever possible.

Such as today.

He told reporters that the best of the best are lining up, just anxious as the dickens to come to work in the White House, in the West Wing. Why, they’re falling over themselves to get hired by the Trump administration.

Except that he’s lying once again.

The best aren’t lining up. Indeed, the few grownups the president has brought aboard are bailing out right along with the nut jobs, ideologues and individuals under indictment for assorted criminal acts.

The latest actual adult to hit the road is Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser. Cohn quit over Trump’s fit of pique that resulted in his declaring his intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.

Trump wants a trade war. He says it’ll be “easy” to win. Cohn disagrees. Indeed, Cohn was reportedly enraged at Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Va., riot that killed a young counterprotester. You’ll recall how Trump said there were “fine people … on both sides” of a dispute that included KKK members, neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacists.

Who in the name of good government would want to work in an administration led by someone who would equate racist/hate group members with those who oppose them?

The president’s delusion won’t allow him to recognize what the rest of the world sees clearly. The Trump White House is nothing more than a chaotic clusterf***.

Sick.

Unity remains a distant goal

Donald Trump vowed to deliver a speech this past week that would “unify” the nation.

It didn’t happen. He didn’t deliver. His State of the Union speech was met with disdain from roughly half of the room in which he spoke and about the same percentage from Americans at large, those of us who watched the speech from far away, on our TV screens.

It now begs the question: How are we ever going to be unified?

I believe it starts with the president of the United States.

We have one individual with a political constituency comprising the entire nation: it’s the president (and yes, you can include the vice president, too, given that these individuals run as a ticket).

But the president stands behind the bully pulpit. He is the one we listen to. He is the one with the message, the policy, the principles we look for. The president also is the one who is capable of delivering the message of unity.

It’s been one year and about two weeks since Donald Trump took the oath as president. How much has he done to unify the nation?

Practically nothing!

He blasts congressional Democrats for failing to cast any votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president ignores — he didn’t forget — that not a single Republican cast any votes to approve the ACA back in 2010.

Trump continues to pound away at the media, calling journalists the “enemy of the American people.” He undermines the media for reporting what he calls “fake news.” He plays directly to the base of supporters that continues to support him — no matter what!

The president uttered that hideous assertion that white supremacists/Nazis/Klansmen comprise “fine people.” Who in the world actually believes that utter crap — other than the president?

At his State of the Union speech, the president uttered a remarkably divisive comment, declaring that “Americans are dreamers, too.” How does someone who proposes to unify the country poke his proverbial finger in the eye of those U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children but who want to forge a path toward legal residency and even U.S. citizenship?

How can we reach a unified state? It must begin with the president. It’s the president who must set the tone.

It is not enough to declare your intention to unify a badly divided nation. It is incumbent on the head of state to deliver unity in the form of rhetoric that seeks to calm the storm.

The unity that Donald Trump proclaims he wants remains far in the distance. My fear is that this president is incapable of getting us to that point. He cannot function in such an environment.

Does the president ever surprise us?

The more I think about it, the less surprised I get over the epithet that flew out of Donald John Trump’s mouth earlier this week.

I refer to his questioning why the United States accepts immigrants from “sh**hole countries” such as Haiti and those in Africa.

African Union member states have called on a retraction and an apology from the president of the United States. Democratic politicians in this country are howling about the racist-sounding rant the president leveled during a White House meeting to discuss immigration issues.

But this comment merely is the latest in a disturbing pattern of behavior that Trump has demonstrated for many years.

He questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president; he called white supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis “very fine people”; he said an Indiana-born federal judge couldn’t adjudicate a case because of his Mexican heritage; he has attacked a Muslim Gold Star family; he called Mexican immigrants criminals; he called for a ban on all Muslims entering this country.

And on and on it goes. Seemingly forever.

He cannot control his impulse to denigrate groups of people. He seems always inclined to target darker-skinned people or non-Christians. He plays solely to his political base.

Why is it a surprise, then, that he would blurt out an epithet about “sh**hole countries comprising dark-skinned citizens?

It’s not. The surprise would come if Trump ever could find a way to offer a word of kindness and compassion for those who want to come here in search of a better life.

I do not expect that from Donald Trump.

Once more … about immigrants

I cannot resist offering another comment on that unpresidential epithet about immigrants from Haiti and Africa.

It might be my final comment. Then again, maybe not.

Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump’s fit of pique earlier this week about immigrants who come here from s***hole countries hits me personally.

I am a direct descendant of Americans who chose to come to this country from a part of the world that once was considered a s***hole. All four of my grandparents were ethnic Greeks. They risked all they had to come to this country in the early 20th century.

What I haven’t discussed in this blog is how Greeks were treated by other immigrant groups with whom they lived in the Land of Opportunity. Perhaps you are aware that groups such as the Ku Klux Klan sought to intimidate Greeks who had settled in the United States. The Klan considered Greeks to be, um, subpar.

I will not equate what happened to those early Greek-Americans with what the Klan did to African-Americans at the time, or even to Vietnamese immigrants who came to this country in the 1970s after the end of the Vietnam War. Please know, though, that some Americans thought little of immigrants who came here from southern Europe.

They were thought to be from a s***hole place.

Discussion about immigration always catches my attention. It is because I grew up with a keen awareness of my ethnic background. My grandmothers particularly were keen to instruct my sisters and me about our heritage.

They were proud Greeks and they imbued that pride in all of their grandchildren.

So, when the president of the United States disparages immigrants who come here willingly from s***hole nations, he raises my hackles. Donald Trump’s racist ignorance might not raise the hackles of other Americans. Whatever. We all have our own consciences and I wouldn’t dare interject my own values into another American’s heart or mind.

I simply will express my utter outrage that the leader of the world’s greatest nation has chosen to play favorites with those who want to craft a better life for themselves and their descendants.

My grandparents would be appalled.

***

Here is part of the inscription inside the base of the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The president has dishonored those time-honored words.

Trump cements a racist pattern

OK — and if you’ll pardon me for saying this — let’s “tell it like it is.”

Donald John Trump has exhibited a clear pattern of racist views.

The president today said the United States needs to curb immigration from “s***hole countries” such as Haiti and those in Africa. He then said we need to encourage immigrants from, oh, Norway.

We are witnessing yet another demonstration that the president of the United States has racist thoughts. He has revealed yet again what lurks in what passes for this man’s heart.

It fits a pattern.

  • He called white supremacists, Klansmen and Nazis “fine people” after the Charlottesville, Va., riot this past summer.
  • Trump insisted for years that the nation’s first African-American president was born abroad and wasn’t legally entitled to campaign for, let alone, occupy the office to which he was elected twice.
  • When he announced his campaign for president, Trump said Mexican immigrants were rapists, murderers and drug dealers.
  • The five young black men who were acquitted of raping a white woman in Central Park many years ago should be executed for a crime they never committed, Trump said; he’s never apologized for that statement.
  • The professional football players who kneeled prior to games to protest police conduct against black Americans are “sons of b******,” Trump said.
  • Trump has said Haitians “all have AIDS,” and said Nigerians live “in huts.”

This is the man elected president of the United States? This individual is supposed to represent the very best of the greatest nation on Earth?

I am tired of dancing around the issue. It’s time to call this man what he is. He’s not just a pathological liar. He is a racist.

He’s also a disgrace.

Still waiting for unification

Has it only been less than a year since Donald J. Trump took the presidential oath of office?

Gosh, it seems like so-o-o-o much longer. Does it to you? No need to answer.

I recall so vividly one of the many promises the then-president elect made during the transition into power. He pledged to “unify” the country ripped apart by one of the most divisive, hateful, spiteful and insult-driven presidential campaigns in history.

How’s he done so far as his first year in office approaches?

Umm, not too well.

His fellow congressional Republicans have sought to govern without any help from congressional Democrats. The president has cheered them on.

The only phrase from the new president’s dark, dismal and desultory inaugural speech mentioned “the American carnage,” and how he intended to stop it “right here and right now.” Has it stopped?

Nope. We’ve seen massacres in Orlando, Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. How has the president responded to them? By blaming Democrats.

The Charlottesville riot perhaps is the nadir of the president’s plan to “unify” the nation. He talked of “good people” among the white supremacist, Nazis and Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a Confederate memorial.

How many “good people” have you ever met who belonged to the KKK, or offered that stiff-armed Nazi salute? I know the answer to that one.

The conservative media are now leading the chorus for the president to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, whose “Russia thing” investigation is proceeding with all deliberate speed. Is that a unifying component? Hardly.

Let’s sum it up.

The nation is as divided as ever. Maybe more so since, oh, the Civil War or the Vietnam War. The president who vowed to bring us together hasn’t made the grade.

The honeymoon he was supposed to get when he took office vanished the moment he began — on Inauguration Day — offering that dark view of the world’s greatest nation.

Unity? We’re far from it, Mr. President.

Who should go? DACA residents or neo-Nazis?

Here it comes. I feel a raging rant boiling up. I know it won’t fly, but I must  get something off my chest.

Some of the very Americans who are angry at those who came here illegally as children, those who qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law, also represent an ideology against which this country went to war.

I refer to the neo-Nazis, the morons who hate all immigrants, particularly those who aren’t of European descent.

On one hand we have DACA residents, many of whom came here as toddlers or younger. They have forged good and productive lives as Americans. The U.S. of A. is the only country they know. Donald J. Trump has decided to rescind the executive order that granted them temporary protection against deportation. They might be rounded up in six months and sent packing if Congress doesn’t come up with a legislative answer.

Those despicable neo-Nazis want them out immediately if not sooner.

If I were King of the World, my preference would be to deport the neo-Nazis over the DACA residents. Yes, yes. I know. They have the constitutional right to express their political views, no matter how vile and disgraceful they might be. The neo-Nazis take the despicability cake by a mile!

While I’m at it, I’ll throw the Ku Klux Klan onto that dung heap, too.

My father went to war against the Nazis in 1942. He was among the Greatest Generation that saved the world from the tyranny espoused by the Third Reich and the Nazis that murdered roughly 6 million Jews in Europe. Nazi soldiers, sailors and aviators tried to kill Dad  on multiple occasions.

This is the ideology that some so-called Americans choose to honor with that hideous stiff-armed salute?

Who is more preferable to have walking among us, I ask? Those who have lived in fear because of something their parents did or those who speak as champions of an evil, tyrannical ideology?

There. Rant over. I feel better.

Where has Dick Cheney been hiding?

Paging the former vice president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney!

You might recall — as I do — that Dick Cheney was a vocal, frequent and occasionally obnoxious critic of President Barack H. Obama. Yes, throughout Obama’s two terms as president, Cheney was making himself available on TV and radio talk shows to tell us how the president was endangering the nation, that he was the “worst foreign policy president” in U.S. history.

So, Obama leaves office. Donald John Trump Sr. takes over. Trump has made a mess of a lot of things.

The Russia matter? Allegations of collusion with the Russians? North Korea? Declaring that an aircraft battle group was steaming toward Korea when it actually was traveling in precisely the opposite direction, from Australia into the Indian Ocean?

Then we have the domestic stuff: Charlottesville and the president’s seeming cozying up to Nazis and Klansmen; the transgender ban in the U.S. military.

Where is Cheney? Mr. Vice President, have you nothing at all to say about the new president? You were pretty damn quick on the verbal trigger when Barack Obama was the man in charge.

It’s not that I necessarily want to hear what the former vice president has to say. It’s just that the current political debate seems so quiet without his voice.