TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Now’s The Time To Speak Without Fear

Many don’t have the desire nor the time to keep up with to the national news on the life and times of the associates of Donald J. Trump. If you’re not interested, that’s fine … but if you are, you can read the entire federal complaint against Paul J. Manafort Jr., and Richard W. Gates III at https://www.justice.gov/file/1007271/download. I have no comment, other than this: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has just started to “Make America Great Again.”

I’ve often wondered how the minds of some people work. In my articles in the Moorhead Extra and online at unheralded.fish, I’ve commented on a lot of things, including but not limited to the protests across the nation. On Facebook, I may be less diplomatic, to be sure, but have never lost track of what I was trying to say.

Take the NFL football players who have taken a knee during the National Anthem, or the display of the flag before the start of each game. Half of those who criticize the players say they are disrespecting the flag, and the remainder are split between disrespect for the national anthem and insulting our military.

Some refer to what the military wear as “uniforms” and the players as “costumes.” Well, my friends, the military do in fact wear military uniforms. Meanwhile, the players wear athletic uniforms. Those who say the players wear “costumes” are plenty brave on Facebook, but they wouldn’t dare say that to any football player’s face, much less a professional athlete.

I look at this whole situation from an American standpoint. Folks say the military fought to protect or honor the flag. I believe it was, in fact, to honor what that flag stands for: our Constitution, our way of life, and — most importantly — our individual freedoms.

Those who complain that the flag is being dishonored obviously forget (or don’t know) that flag etiquette prohibits the flat display of the flag, the very thing that occurs during NFL games and other events.

Our Constitution guarantees that we all have the right to peacefully protest. There are a lot of protests I don’t like … but I tolerate them because that’s what the law demands. (Of course, if the protest is designed to elicit injury, like yelling “fire” in a theater, it’s not protected, and one should not stand idly by when an act inciting to violence occurs.)

Some in the NFL have legally exercised their right to protest what they perceive to be police violence against minorities. (Yes, it does occur too often nationally — but not in this area.) They drop to one knee, just as one would do, for example, when one enters the catholic church. It is not an act of disrespect.

At no time have the NFL players indicated anything but real respect for our military; yet some have concluded that taking a knee is an act of disrespect. That assumption is not only a stretch; it amounts to absolute nonsense. I cannot conceive how the military comes into play in the NFL protests. But I’ve lost friends on Facebook because they conclude that something I said somehow insults the military.

I don’t consider honoring the right of the players to silently protest to be the equivalent of a genuine insult to our flag or our military or our country.

Lord, if one wants to complain about disrespect — to the flag, to the military, to the national anthem — just watch the spectators in the stands. They talk, keep their hats on (even in hot weather), laugh, eat and drink. And where is the outrage? There is none … because the spectators aren’t mostly black, and they aren’t on the field.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that if those players were all white and doing the same thing, no one would say a word! Does that make me racist? Or just a law-abiding observer?

Anyone who thinks I don’t respect and honor our military either has never read my articles or is so incredibly narrow-minded that I’m best off without them. I have relatives who have served and friends who have been killed in action. I have a friend who was a World War II prisoner of war. While I have never served, I am deeply indebted to those who have.

* * *

I’ve recommended in the past that Native American history be included in our history books and that we support the Native American Museum of History.

On Dec. 29, 1890, the final chapter of America’s long Indian wars came to a close in South Dakota. There, the U.S. Cavalry killed 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Most believe that was the worst massacre in Native history. But it wasn’t.

On Jan. 29, 1863, the U.S. Army’s 3rd California Volunteers, under the command of Col. Patrick E. Connor, rode down the frozen bluffs overlooking the camp of the Northwestern Shoshone Indians along the Bear River in Idaho and massacred more than 490 men, women and children. My research shows it was the largest slaughter of Native Americans in the history of this country. They called it a clash of two diverse cultures trying to share the same land, and the Shoshone lost.

In reviewing the history of other Native American massacres, it seems that many occurred when the men were out hunting, leaving women and children behind in camp. That’s who were raped, brutalized and killed. Yet none of the histories I’ve reviewed has disclosed any white man being charged and convicted of his violent, murderous behavior.

That might well be an important reason why Native American history is sadly absent from our textbooks. That omission in itself is a historical crime.

We are long past the time when we must acknowledge what our original Americans endured — who did what and when — and admit we had no valid excuse for the murders of innocent people.

We have no difficulty talking about what the Nazis did to the Jewish population in Europe. It now time to admit what the white man did to the Indian in the Americas, and address what can be done to provide the Natives with the support they so richly deserve.

In light of history, I for one have no difficulty understanding the emotions that boiled over last year at Standing Rock in North Dakota. First, we murdered the people; now we attempt to murder the land they survive on. Not pleasant to think about … but if you do, you can understand their position.

Right off the bat, someone will complain now that I dishonor law enforcement when I comment on Standing Rock. If so, they are the same type who argue I don’t honor the military by supporting legal, constitutional protest. No man on this earth has more appreciation of sound law enforcement than I do. But just as judges might rule incorrectly on occasion, individual officers can and do err. There’s nothing disloyal about commenting on either.

We are all capable of overreacting. That’s a simple fact of life. After 55 years of the law and 45 years on the bench, I think I’m a good judge of people. We have a great way of life in Fargo-Moorhead, but that doesn’t make us perfect.

The recent demeaning of immigrants and their worth to the community is driven by the same type of people who judge Americans by their color — wrong when the Natives were being massacred, and wrong now.

As a people, we have always been better than the bad that sometimes happens. In some cases, the general population had no idea that bad things were happening out of sight. Far too often, however, good people did know and said nothing.

Given who currently occupies the White House, now is not the time to be silent. Now is the time to speak up without fear and to loudly complain about wrong; to complain about prejudice; to complain with a sure, strong voice about lawlessness.

We as a people are much better than the national image 45 seems to portray. Be heard. Amen.

4 thoughts on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Now’s The Time To Speak Without Fear”

  • Tom Coyne November 2, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you, Tom. Always appreciate your insightful commentaries. Keep fighting the good fight for inclusion, not exclusion.

  • John E. Davis November 2, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    What a service you are rendering to good discourse and reflection. May God continue to bless you.

  • Thomas A. Davies November 2, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks Tom.

  • Thomas A. Davies November 4, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Thanks Jack, your the man I admire most on the planet.


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