Thursday, July 18, 2013

Obama considers Ray Kelly to head DHS

One thing which my father and other mentors always told me is to pay less attention to what people say and more attention to what they do. Actions speak louder than words. A manager might say that she's impressed with your experience and skills but if she ensures she pays you less than everyone else in your department with equal or lesser experience then perhaps she's not really all that impressed. A couple might say they would enjoy coming to a get together at your house but if every time you invite them they're busy or you get voicemail then perhaps they're trying to politely send you a message. Another person might tell you that your business plan is going to take the world by storm but if he's unwilling to invest chances are he doesn't have faith in your supposed business acumen. 

So with all that in mind it was irritating to hear a President who has spoken eloquently about the evils of racial profiling in Arizona and elsewhere to, if not quite endorse, float a big fat trial balloon towards the appointment of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to replace outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. New York Senator Chuck Schumer has been lobbying to get Kelly that job. Obama offered Kelly praise, saying he would be "well-qualified" for the position.

Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York," Obama said. "And the federal government partners a lot with New York, because obviously, our concerns about terrorism often times are focused on big-city targets, and I think Ray Kelly's one of the best there is.

The problem with that is as you may have known from reading this blog and others is that Commissioner Kelly has been the overseer and architect of an official racially based stop-and-frisk policy that targets black and Hispanic New York citizens. It's primarily aimed at young black males but anyone and everyone with the requisite level of melanin is targeted regardless of gender, age, income, style of dress or other characteristics. You can be a twenty something hoodlum in a hoodie looking for someone to rob, a thirty something professional dressed to the nines for a career changing job interview, a fifty something grandparent walking to church in your Sunday best or a sneaker wearing pre-teen going to school. It doesn't matter. The police have quotas to meet. And they intend to meet them, no matter what because those are the incentives that Kelly has laid down. And as far as Kelly's boss, Mayor Lord Bloomberg is concerned the NYPD needs to be stopping fewer white people and more black people. One wonders if the President agrees with Bloomberg's statements. Kelly has been a vociferously nasty defender of the stop-n-frisk policy even as it finally starts to wind its way through court challenges. Kelly shows zero signs of being concerned with the constitutionality of his policy, its complete lack of effectiveness or the fear and hatred that it engenders among the black and brown population. Kelly has the ability to stop and frisk people on a level than Zimmerman could only dream of. There are over 8 million people in NYC. There are 53,000 in Sanford. At the time of this writing only NY Representative Hakeem Jeffries has had the guts to publicly criticize the idea of having Kelly as DHS head

"He's been a good administrator, and perhaps I could even support his potential appointment to this position in the absence of the massive aggressive stop-and-frisk program that he's run, and the unconstitutional Muslim surveillance program, but that's kind of like saying, I had a good year, if you don't count the winter, spring, and fall," Jeffries said.

There's got to be an effective balance between national security or effective law enforcement on the one hand and a healthy respect for our civil rights and civil liberties on the other. Ray Kelly, during his tenure as police commissioner under Michael Bloomberg, has consistently disrespected that balance, and that's why I think he would be a poor choice for secretary of Homeland Security"

We shouldn't be too surprised by President Obama's statements. After all it is under his watch and with CIA assistance that the NYPD has worked hand in hand with DHS/CIA to run surveillance of left-wing protesters and activists as well as Muslims of various backgrounds, outside of New York City and even outside of New York State. And the President has not as far as I can recall had an unkind word to say about Mayor Lord Bloomberg or Commissioner Kelly. NYC and NY State have not been threatened with loss of federal resources or sued in federal court after every policy change. This is is stark contrast to the President's words and actions against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  Again, neither of those people are running the kinds of programs which Kelly is running.  The Executive Branch has reigned them in. Actions speak louder than words.

If you are upset about profiling, if you think that Zimmerman was wrong to assume that Martin was up to no good because of his race and clothing then I don't see how you could possibly think that Kelly is doing a good job in New York City with stop-and-frisk or that he should be given national responsibility as DHS Secretary. The President often likes to have it both ways. He's a politician after all. But people nationwide and especially those in New York should recognize that the President's statements are troubling. You can't claim to be against racial profiling and speak positively of promoting one of the nation's most vigorous profilers. It would be a serious betrayal of the President's most fervent base to put someone like Kelly as DHS head. I think, as I have said before, that people in NYC and across the nation needed to make this stop-and-frisk policy a red-line issue in the same way in which Arizona's SB1070 became. This is a situation where the President must choose. It is also one where I think he already has...

What's your take?

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