Thursday, August 25, 2005

Through the Looking Glass

I hear plenty of stories from friends, including those who are police officers, that a lot of people get busted for DWB (driving while black). Officials at various levels of government usually claim such a charge is simply an urban myth, but I'm not so sure, especially given the news that came out this week.

Bob Herbert's column in today's NY Times references this police tactic, along with what happens to someone who documents its use nationwide.

The Bush administration has punished a Justice Department official who dared to tell even a mild truth about racial profiling by law enforcement officers in this country.

In 2001 President Bush selected Lawrence Greenfeld to head the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which tracks crime patterns and police tactics, among other things. But as Eric Lichtblau of The Times reported in a front-page article yesterday, Mr. Greenfeld is being demoted because he complained that senior political officials were seeking to play down newly compiled data about the aggressive treatment of black and Hispanic drivers by police officers.

My first thought when I read the story was that burying the messenger who tells uncomfortable truths has always been a favorite tactic of this administration, which seems to exist largely in a world of fantasy. (Grown-ups don't do well in the Bush playtime environment. Remember Gen. Eric Shinseki? And former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill?)...

The beginning of the end of Lawrence Greenfeld's tenure as director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics came a few months ago, as his agency was completing a major study showing that black and Hispanic drivers were treated more aggressively than whites when stopped by the police.

Mr. Greenfeld was overruled when he tried to include references to these disparities in a news release announcing the findings of the study. The study was then buried in the bowels of the Bush bureaucracy.

Mr. Greenfeld obviously failed to understand that the preferred methods of dealing with uncomfortable facts in the fantasyland of the Bush administration are to ignore them, or simply wish them away.
[Emphasis added]

Now, I understand that much of what we call reality is consensual, but that consensus is based on experience. Take gravity, for example: most of us agree that we fall down, not up.

Apparently the Bush administration is unaware of this version of reality. It prefers to be more creative. Months ago, the insurgency in Iraq was in its last throes. The fact that scores of US soldiers (and hundreds of Iraqi civilians) have died since then doesn't seem to dent the Bush world-view. Anyone within the administration, no matter at what level, who disputes that world-view becomes a non-person. Like Mr. Greenfield.

If it weren't for the fact that I am actually living in this rather trashy dystopian world, I might be amused at the simplistic constructs invented by our dear leaders. Instead, I find myself more and given to stockpiling canned goods.


Blogger Eli said...

Would this administration even be believable as fiction 5 years ago?

2:47 PM  

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