Recovery, our first Op-Ed and #VERB
Meet William Berkley, CEO of Recovery U and more.
Just because there is a global pandemic and a government coup, recovery doesn’t stop. It’s one day at a time and no days off for the CEO of Recovery U, Mr. William Berkeley.
Mr. Berkeley shares his journey from incarceration to leading West Virginia’s second-largest recovery facility. AbundantLifeHousing.org also joined us.
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BLACK BY GOD OPINION
Active and Passive Racism
by Tim Sayre
7 January 2021
This has been an interesting day. After witnessing an attempted insurrection yesterday on live TV, I awoke this morning and sat in front of my computer with a cup of coffee and scrolled through Twitter. I was amazed to see the amount of support for this act of sedition that was present. Not only that, I was flabbergasted by the number of people comparing it with the protests which have been ongoing since George Floyd was murdered this past spring. Now I realize that we have had a very divisive few years politically and that a lot of people are viewing things with bias. This is happening on both sides, but there is a line that was crossed, and that is the difference.
I have served in the military for over nine years. I took an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It may sound like a cliché, but my oath does not expire. At one point, that meant that I would gladly take up arms to defend it, and have twice, but that time is gone. If conflict ever comes to me in such a manner that I cannot avoid it, then so be it. Until then, I am honor-bound to uphold my oath. That is what this is about, calling out seditious traitors to the Constitution.
Insurrection is defined as, “ A rising or rebellion of citizens against their government, usually manifested by acts of violence.”
Sedition is defined as, “ A revolt or an incitement of a revolt against established authority, usually in the form of treason or defamation against government “
The Constitution gives Congress the power to suppress insurrections in Article 1, Section 8. That same Constitution actually gives us the right to protest; or rather, the 1st amendment does. Are you starting to see the problem here? When one thing is supposed to be prevented and the other is specifically permitted, there should be no comparison. The difference being one group started to legally exercise the right to petition the government for a redress of their problem while the other marched into the Capitol and prevented Congress from exercising their legal duty to report the Electoral College vote.
I can understand where the anger is coming from our very President, Donald Trump. He may not have started these events, but he is an expert at taking advantage of them for his personal gain. When you constantly bombard people with lies, they tend to start believing them. It is easier when you play to biases that are already there and use propaganda designed for maximum effect. When you also take into account that it has been going on since Reagan, it shows how pernicious it is. I have been hearing the GOP tell me for years how the Democrats are going to take my guns, yet I still have every one of them. Rural people are often less educated and easier to control because of it. There are often increased instances of prejudices due to lack of diversity as well. Also, the ones that are more educated or otherwise not as easily influenced sometimes withdraw and keep their opinions to themselves in order to avoid conflict. The GOP took advantage of this and the natural divisiveness that comes with the Democratic party to lure these voters away. For example, on Parler and Twitter, two social media platforms, there are numerous claims of a fraudulent election and stolen votes, yet only one out of 63 or more lawsuits filed by the GOP et al have come to fruition.
Once the propaganda machine went live on social media, there was no stopping it. Well, they could have taken action to stop it, but that time is long gone. It seems everyone was more interested in making money than doing the right thing.
People like me have been screaming for four years how this was going to go, and it is no accident, nor has it been exaggerated. It is straight out of the history books. Folks laughed when it was compared to the rise of the Nazi party, but it just keeps getting worse. Almost one-third of the country voted for a president who called for an angry mob to march on the Capitol. This indicates that the problem is not going to go away on 21 January. Trump couldn’t even begin his “concession” speech (he never actually conceded nor did he offer congratulations to Biden) without falsely claiming, despite 63 court losses, that the election was fraudulent, then proceeding to order his supporters to storm the capitol, with deadly consequences.
You see, when bad things happen and good people stand by and do or say nothing, they are no longer good people. Inaction is the same as, if not worse than, bad actions. We hear that there are just some “bad apples” in our police forces, yet there is truth to the saying that one bad apple spoils the bushel. Not once have I heard that analogy in the past year of protests over police violence. However, I have heard many times of folks getting fired for reporting those “bad apples”
What kind of message does that send? And we wonder why Black people say there is systemic racism inherent in our system.
I’ve watched a lot of protests this past year and went to a few. It seems I have this crazy idea that everyone should be treated equally. I know, it’s radical, but it really does work out better for all of us. Some people think that means that they have to give up part of their pie to the newcomers to the table. That is just not the case. There is enough pie for everyone, we just bake more. It’s not called socialism when we help one another, it’s called social responsibility. Just by living in society and benefitting from the rules means that we are responsible for ensuring the rules apply equally to everyone. Anyone who can amass enough wealth to end world hunger in our society owes a great debt to said society. I am not advocating that we take anything from anyone. I am advocating tax reforms to the point of actually making sense and being fair, then using those taxes to benefit society rather than allowing the practices we have now which allow giant corporations like Amazon to pay zero taxes on billions of dollars of profits.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is that there are two kinds of racists; passive and active. The active ones are the skinheads, the KKK, etc. Those are easy to spot, usually from the flags, bumper stickers, where they go on social media, places they frequent and so on. The passive ones are the worse of the two. They masquerade as nice people, church goers, your family, law enforcement officers, elected officials, etc. The ones that say, “I’m not racist, I have Black friends”. The ones that want to “make America great again”. Great for who? I don’t see Black folks getting treated too nicely at many points in American history. Neither were the Irish, Italians, Polish, or Chinese at other points in history.
Our westward expansion almost eradicated the Native American people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. In some cases, American citizens were discriminated against, such as when the Japanese-Americans were interred in camps during World War 2 or the Tuskeegee experiments on Black Americans. The only ones who always had it good were the rich, old, white men. If you look at most of our government right now that is what you will still see. It doesn’t take a sociologist to do a study to tell what will happen if we keep electing the same kinds of people.
The active racists are easier to shut down because you can see them coming. They announce themselves pretty well. The problem is when we stop calling them out. That is tacit approval which encourages them to continue. Then, you see that sort of thing everywhere. The more you see, the more approval there is. Pretty soon, it is common to see this garbage and it becomes the norm. After that, it is used as an excuse for the next level, and so on, until it becomes ingrained in society. The only thing we can do is to stop it now, before letting it get to that level. Sometimes free speech must be suspended, and this is the time. Any speech condemning one group, no matter the group, needs to be squelched. Your rights stop where my safety begins. You are allowed to own a gun, but not to shoot it within 300 feet of a house in West Virginia. That does nothing to interfere with your right, yet has everything to do with my safety.
The most important distinction here is to make sure it is the people, not the government, doing the squelching. If the government starts down that slippery slope, may the gods help us. We have a civic duty to prevent any person or group from taking the liberty of any other citizen or group. My oath does not expire, and now, the limits of my oath are speaking out. It pains me to see those militia wanna-bes spouting that muon labe crap. I was in a real special operations unit for six years.
The passive racists are much harder to deal with, mainly since they’re so much harder to spot. These are the ones that are nice, the ones you go to church with, the ones you see at work. Make no mistake about it, you are surrounded by passive racists. But this isn’t the worst part, no, it goes deeper. They don’t even know they’re racists! How do I know this, you ask? Because it used to be me! And my dad, most of my family, and almost everyone I grew up with, in rural West Virginia. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like a Klan rally; there just weren’t any Black folks where I grew up, until my senior year in high school when a Black family moved into the town next to mine.
I’m not saying there would be any overt racism, rather the opposite. Most of the passive racism happens through silence. Every time you hear that “off color” joke and don’t say anything, every time you hear about Black people referred to in a derogatory manner and don’t say anything, or see the meme of the Obamas as apes and don’t report it, you give your tacit approval. As I stated earlier, when enough people are giving tacit approval, it becomes the norm in society. When it becomes the norm, it’s hard to change. At one time it was normal to own Black people, and now we know better, but damn, that one was hard to shake. We are still feeling the effects of that, and that is where the problem we are facing now comes from. Too many years of apologist propaganda and not enough people saying anything led to tacit approval. Tacit approval led to societal norm. When your societal norm says that you can’t drink out of the same water fountain that I can because your skin is darker than mine, you need to re-think your societal norm.
As I write this, more information is forthcoming, some of it pointing to the Secretary of Defense not authorizing the deployment of requested National Guard troops, which leads us to the possibility of the being a coup attempt. We shall see what comes out in the days ahead. The time and place for this to be protested has long gone. The evidence of fraud was dismissed over 60 times so far. That is the distinction between this and a protest.
Tim Sayre, 7th generation West Virginian, veteran, father, grandfather.
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