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I'll be updating my Windows 8.1 system right away, but probably lagging as long as possible my Windows 7 system. I despise the interface changes in Windows 8.1, which I think are confusing, unnecessary, and redundant. I am not a fan of Windows in general, but I prefer Windows 7 to any of the other versions they've yet released.
It isn't even just an issue with /r/coontown and their ilk anymore. The bigots frequently metastasize into other subreddits. I remember seeing threads in default subreddits like news and worldnews completely dominated by racists who upvoted bigoted comments about Muslims and black people and downvoted everyone else, until all alternative perspectives were silenced. Democratic forum moderation is only effective if on the whole the users are reasonable. When you give bigoted people a platform like that, it dilutes the quality of the user pool as a whole and affects people even outside the hate subreddits.
Well we could follow Larry Lessig's idea and try to call for a constitutional convention, but that's still pretty unlikely at the moment. So yeah, I think of it as sort of a catch-22. It will probably take a crisis to change anything significant.
I wonder... I've read that Congresspeople spend the bulk of their time flying around begging for money from wealthy donors. Their influence within the party hierarchy, what Senate committees Senators are selected for, etc. are all basically functions of how effective they are at fundraising. I think if you don't address campaign finance, it doesn't matter in the end how you elect the people. The system will force them into behaving like they all currently do, or consign them to a position of diminished influence so that they can't counter the people who do sell out.
Well, before I touch on any of those points I should say that I cannot speak for a "black community" in any way. I am half black, half white, and raised by my white mother in a majority white community. In our society this makes me black, but my experience is not necessarily the same as other black people who grew up in different circumstances. In fact I am not sure there is a monolithic "black community" which acts or believes in a fixed way, as your question implies. My situation is different from a new immigrant from Ethiopia, whose situation is different from that of the people rioting in Baltimore or from Michelle Obama. I also have no real standing to talk about the police authoritatively, as I know very little about police work.
With that said, yes I believe that many of the police are influenced by a culture of racism within their departments, as well as by the subtle (or not so subtle) racist messages that pervade society at large. I don't think that this works in a uniform way across all police departments. It manifests itself most intensely in the way that policing is done in poor black neighborhoods in large cities, but is present in varying degrees in other places as well. I believe that many police see their job as to protect "the rest of us" from the people living in the segregated urban ghettos that American housing and zoning policies to contain the refugees from slavery and Jim Crow. In that sense the police behave more normally outside of these zones, but act more like an occupying army in those places. This is true regardless of the racial composition of the officers, or the communities they view themselves as protecting.
My impression is that this attitude and the problems faced by black people in the areas where poverty is the most rampant are related to each other intimately. People living in poor black communities experience the police as predators who attempt to nab them on whatever charges they can, no matter how minor, rather than protecting them from crime. As a result there is very weak "law and order" despite the intense policing in these communities. Gangs arise to fill up the space vacated by the absent state and resolve disputes between people, often violently. You are automatically assigned a gang that controls the area that you live in, just as you are automatically assigned a state based on what geographic area you are born in. This results in high amounts of crime and vigilantism, as disputes are settled on the street between gangs rather than through courts or other intermediaries. It also creates a paranoid culture where you have to react disproportionately to any slight, lest other gangs in the area see you as targets for predation. The number of conflicts increases, because you need to show you are not afraid to fight in order to deter this. That's a recipe for lots of violent crime, which is a recipe for more police attention. But that means more police predation, a more declines in the legitimacy of the state, etc. So we have a vicious circle. There's more going on than just that of course, but I think that's a big part of it. The conditions are ripe for this cycle to go on unimpeded when there's high unemployment rates (black America's unemployment rate during "good times" is about the same as the unemployment rate for the US as a whole during the great recession, and worse in poor neighborhoods), poor / underfunded education systems, hopelessness, etc.
The real solutions to make this sort of problem go away would be if large numbers of high paying jobs that don't require much education could suddenly appear for everyone, and the legitimacy of the state was somehow restored. Then there would be less hopelessness about advancement through normal channels in the economy and more trust in police to protect people, therefore less crimes, lower share of the population in prison meaning more stable families, and jobs available meaning more wealth which then returns to the schools and other institutions via more taxable money available, therefore less political fear and demands to police that community harshly, etc.
Barring a magic wand that makes the economy better, I think the first step at least would be setting up an independent group of people to investigate police cases, and lowering the intense legal protections on police that make it almost impossible to prosecute them for wrongdoing. Police should stop spending so much energy trying to score drug convictions and meet quotas / make ticket revenue for the city, but instead focus on serious crimes such as murder, robbery, assault, etc. so that people don't feel like they need extralegal protection. Police shouldn't do "stop and frisk" type activities, or constantly pull people over for minor "broken windows" style crimes when the murder clearance rate in the city is sitting around less than 40%. Police who are called about a crime shouldn't accuse the caller of committing crimes or search the house for drugs when they are let in to discuss it. Ideally police should have more funding so that they can have more officers walking the beat and talking to residents of the community they are supposed to protect, rather than impersonally driving around in police cars. Ideally as many officers as possible should be recruited from the community that they are expected to police in order to increase trust, although in communities where trust has already broken down this is often difficult to achieve. Police should also be trained not to shoot except as a last resort, and every gunshot fired should be documented and subjected to review by an independent civilian commission as to whether it is justified or not. Statistics on police shootings and the circumstances in which they occur should be federally mandated for collection.
I don't think all of these will solve the issue overnight, but over the long term I think it would cause a significant improvement.
Hm, hard to say. I haven't read the book since I was very young. There may be better books covering the same subject matter out there that I am unaware of. But I would say that if you struggle with anger, shame, or self doubt like I did, the book teaches a number of ways of thinking about those problems that I think would probably be useful.
I was very influenced by "The Art of Happiness," a self help book jointly authored by the Dalai Lama and a western psychologist. It helped me through a very dark time in my life, and introduced me to mindfulness meditation as a coping mechanism. I feel that it taught me the importance of being honest, not only with other people but with myself.
I don't think violence is a realistic solution to the problem. The best that can be hoped for is self defense against white supremacists, as Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and other black leaders advocated a few decades ago. This is feasible as long as the killers are people like the KKK, or Dylan Roof. Perhaps some of the church bombings can be prevented by neighborhood patrols if they are properly organized and watchful, as a substitute for police protection.
But insofar as the police themselves are the people murdering black people under cover of law, this is not realistic, because self defense will be interpreted an act of rebellion against a legitimate state by the vast majority of Americans (and even the majority of middle class black Americans such as myself). They will not interpret these actions as self defense against predatory police, rather as the threatening actions of criminals that need to be put down.
Nonviolence in the sense of Martin Luther King seems unlikely to produce the requisite change as well, as police killings take place dispersed across the country in a hazy continuum of "justifiaibility," rather than all in one place at once. TV footage of the mass killings and beatings of peaceful protesters trying to vote is more dramatic than TV footage of one case of police brutality, which apologists for police and police unions can insist was justified to protect the lives of officers because of unseen threats posed to the officer.
I think new tactics are needed, and are in the process of invention. Cameras are a good first step that brings media attention to the most egregious shootings, but obviously not sufficient in light of the Eric Garner acquittal, among others. If I knew the next step of the answer I would be out demonstrating and trying to guide things in that direction, but I think that America is too segregated, both by race and by class, for people to really understand the issue. There is not yet a powerful enough impetus for the kinds of political changes that will be necessary to solve the problem, though things are moving in the direction of at least some form of criminal justice reform, which is a positive sign.
I've actually run into a lot of people who think this. Whenever you talk about continuing discrimination in the US, they tell you to stop playing the race card or "whining."
My impression is that white people think that racism is Bull Connor with the firehoses out and burning crosses, and they are threatened by the idea that things that still happen like the disproportionate incarceration of blacks could represent a continuing racially based injustice. They mostly want to ignore and forget about the problem, to the extent that they think it's a problem at all.
But I honestly think that racial discrimination, voter discrimination, and segregation are making a comeback, and nobody is talking about it as much as it deserves. The lack of bipartisan outrage over things like the impediments to voting in the South (e.g. voter ID laws, moving of poll places to hard to access locations, etc.) is stunning to me, because we just went through dismantling things like that only a half century ago. I think America is going to sleep walk itself into more and more racial tension if things keep going the way they are.
Privacy is a different matter than network neutrality. Destroying privacy is the business model of most of these companies. They operate a service nominally for free, but you pay with your personal information which is sold to advertisers. In contrast most of these companies gain nothing from not having network neutrality, and some (Netflix especially) stand to lose a lot by losing it. It would make every major internet company have to pay kickbacks to ISPs or risk having a disadvantage in reaching their customers. There's a good business case against it from all of their perspectives I think, entirely apart from the political ideals held by people on the internet.