In response to a post of mine requesting that folks sign a petition asking trump not to sign a pardon for Joe Arpaio, a friend said that Arpaio is, “…a great American hero.” I admit that I was startled because I have been loosely following the Arpaio case for years and thought his conduct had become reprehensible. But in fact, at first I thought Arpaio’s boot camp approach to prison might have some merit but soon changed my mind as I watched the actual practice. However, I think a great deal of my friend of almost 50 years and so I thought it prudent to do some research…

I started my research with Arizona papers and found articles describing settlements paid by the county for Arpaio’s misconduct. I was led to the wikipedia.org article, and, quite frankly the listing of his deeds there is…well, staggering. People lived in fear and not just brown people, but people who opposed him on any level. He had power, firearms, and a badge. There are other sources of information but they might be labeled “liberal press” or alt-facts. That is why I used wikipedia as a list of places to start, sort of a list that I could then google an issue and get multiple sources and viewpoints. Summarizing his conduct throughout the years would take a lot of space and I refer you to wikipedia to get more details but essentially he would dismiss cases without any investigation, including sex crimes against children. He and the county attorney decided that local officials who were opposed to Arpaio’s methods were corrupt and should be prosecuted (sound like McCarthyism?). They brought cases to a grand jury who ordered him to stop the investigation, something rarely done. The county attorney was disbarred by the state for taking part in what was shown to be a personal vendetta by the sheriff against county and city officials. Two reporters were arrested by Arpaio after they wrote an article critical of him. No charges were filed. They were released after some terrifying hours of secret movement and incarceration.

The Maricopa County Office of Management and Budget found that Arpaio had improperly spent more than $100,000,000.  With no accountability!

The county attorney (same one as in the last paragraph) had been elected on a “control the immigration” platform and enlisted Arpaio to help him. Arpaio then began stopping all cars that had brown people in them and demanded they prove their citizenship. He was eventually sued and lost. He appealed and lost. He was enraged at the judge and had his office begin to “construct” a conspiracy case showing the judge and others had criminally conspired against him. This was also discredited. And yet, Arpaio continued to use racial profiling as a law enforcement practice. He was warned by the judge. He continued. He was warned again and admitted that he was doing it anyway. He was convicted of contempt of court in July 2017, to be sentenced this October, and now trump is considering giving him a pardon.

In summary, Arpaio has been called out for his un-American activities by the US Department of Justice, the US District Courts, Amnesty International, ACLU, The Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, his local elected leaders, his local appointed leaders, and much of his community. (from wikipedia) His abuse of power and his absolute disregard for any input except his own are scary.

So, no my friend, NO…Arpaio is no American hero. He represents the kind of law enforcement entity we left England to get away from some 250+ years ago.

The pictures below are from Fort Ward in Alexandria, VA. Fort Ward was built as a Bastion Fort to protect Washington, DC, during the civil war. The civil war was fought to keep slavery or get rid of it…suggestions otherwise ignore history. As for the statues, they are bookmarks to a time most of us, not all, don’t want to return to…ever. Nazi terror was a significant part of German history, Germans are completely aware of the significance of those years in their history. But there are no statues of Hitler, or Goering, or Himmler. These statues don’t represent American heroes either.

Cannon at Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA

Cannon at Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA

In the "moat" facing cannon outside of Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA

In the “moat” facing cannon outside of Fort Ward, Alexandria, VA

View from inside the Officer's Quarters at Fort Ward

View from inside the Officer’s Quarters at Fort Ward

 

 

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A friend on FB reposted a “news” story that likened the BLM to nazism. O.M.G. Now it’s true that the “news” article the friend reposted came from a neo-conservative, very racially biased organization…that’s not what saddened me. What saddened me was that my friend took the global horror of nazism and the murder of 6,000,000+ people and normalized those atrocities into American life. That really is not okay. NOT okay. When I see the nazi undercurrents of racial, religious, ethnic hatred being supported by the White House and apparently my friend on FB, I am deeply distressed. When I ask myself, “Don’t trump supporters see what’s happening?” the answer I keep finding in the press is, “We support trump no matter what he says or does.” They did not see it in Germany in the 1930s and then…the nazis came for them.

Alabama is having an election to replace Sessions in the senate. The front runner is a former Alabama supreme court justice who was removed from the court TWICE. Once for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the courtroom, the other time for refusing to allow same sex marriages. He is winning in the primary because his ultra-conservative opponent (but not ultra-conservative enough) is supported by mitch mcconnell and not trump. Most republicans today are no longer Republicans, they are observers, too, of the Great American Tragedy.

Railroad bed in Harper's Ferry, WV

Railroad bed in Harper’s Ferry, WV

 

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I did a walkabout in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, yesterday. I am not happy with most of the photos I took but this one of pocket watches taken through the front window of the clock store is sort of okay.

I guess the time was good to visit the historic site of John Brown’s abolitionist uprising. Brown attacked the armory on October 16, 1859, he captured it with 18 men, took hostages and began the occupation of a building that was from then on called John Brown’s fort. The John Brown militia was mostly killed and they killed several during the two day clash. US Colonel Robert E. Lee was in the force that attacked the militia stronghold. John Brown was a militant who said that action, forceful action, was required to rid the country of slavery. He had a history in Kansas where he led a fatal raid on a pro-slavery community. Some historians have vilified Brown for “starting” the civil war, and in fact, until the last 30 years or so, most historians thought he was self-centered, egotistical, and in it for his own glory. Recently, historians are re-evaluating that conclusion and are saying maybe he was right, violence was required.

A friend reminded me yesterday that blame for the terror of Charlottesville is “sideless,” that is all sides are to blame. The lesson of John Brown’s history demonstrates that pro-freedom people can be every bit as unpredictable and violent as their counterparts on the other side of the issue. Of real interest to me in reading about the aftermath of John Brown’s “revolution” was the anger and violence against one another that John Brown inspired throughout the country, including for instance, when a US Senator from Mississippi attacked a US Senator from Pennsylvania with a bowie knife on the floor of the Senate!!

My friend is right that violence on any side should not be tolerated. But echoes of voices from 1859 are reverberating when I hear, “Take America Back!” That represents a “side” that is not just historically despicable and shameful but a narrow vision of humanity that must be acknowledged and protected by our system of freedom of speech but must never be empowered or enabled by turning a blind eye.

Or saying that evil is okay, it’s not.

Clock Store in Harper's Ferry, WV

Clock Store in Harper’s Ferry, WV

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Prayers and tears for the dead and injured in Charlottesville. Prayers and tears for Americans everywhere as bullies and hate groups feel empowered to commit acts of terror and inhumanity and take on more powerful roles in the communities. Few are resisting or are only outraged for a day or two. History repeats itself if you aren’t paying attention…are you?

Hate in America?

Hate in America?

 

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Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin’ seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling…

Burt Bacharach recorded that song in 1969. By that time I was 19 going on “Einstein,” I’m pretty sure I knew all that there was to know by the time I got to be 19. It’s been downhill since then. Sigh.

The rain stopped. The clouds are still around. We had about an inch here, some of the area had two inches. One tornado. Diane was out tending the plants and pointed out the crystal-like reflections of the raindrops on her “hummingbird” flowers. So…here we have it!

Rainy Day Flowers

Rainy Day Flowers

Rainy Day Flowers

Rainy Day Flowers

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