Saturday, June 27, 2009

You're in my crosshairs, pal

The June 24, 2009 edition of the Chicago Tribune contained two totally unrelated stories that may eventually have a common conclusion.

On February 19, 2007, Anthony Abbate, an off duty Chicago police officer, came behind the bar after his bartender, Karolina Obrycka (roughly half his size), refused to serve him any more drinks.

After throwing her to the floor, Abbate continued to kick her and hit her, before he finally stomped out the door.

Although he was placed on suspension for a period of time, Circuit Judge John Fleming has now dropped all charges against Abbate, and his only punishment is probation.

On June 20, 2009, Neda Agha-Soltan, a 26 year old Iranian woman, was killed by government forces (private citizens are not allowed to have guns in Iran) when she stopped to watch a rally about the recent vote in Iran.

Her dying moments were captured on video, and broadcast around the world on YouTube.

the shot that was seen around the world

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has not allowed funeral services for the young woman, nor has he allowed her family to put up black bunting on their home as a sign of mourning.

So, here’s the deal:

My daughter is roughly the same age as Neda Agha-Soltan.

If government forces took her away from me, I’m not sure what I’d do, but you can be absolutely certain that I’d do SOMETHING, and the government forces would have a lot of sleepless nights wondering what I was up to.

If I were a friend or relative of Karolina Obrycka, I’d also make sure that Anthony Abbate would be a nervous fella for a long time to come.

To quote Jim Malone (Sean Connery) from the 1987 film, The Untouchables:

“They send one of your guys to the hospital; you send one of theirs to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way”

Both of the stories above are representative of what I would call social injustice.

Ultimately, justice will be served, but it will be necessary to use one (or more) of the following strategies:

1) violent insurrection – a few weeks ago, the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan bombed an anti-Taliban Mosque, and killed 80 people. Almost immediately, about 400 villagers went after the Taliban, and were 90% successful in driving them totally out of the area

2) peaceful demonstrations – both Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. used non-violent confrontation as a very effective tool to defeat their adversaries: the British government, and the white racists of the south. Non-violent methods, though, usually carry a price:

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948,

Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

A few days before I reported for basic training at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina for the Minnesota National Guard, and about a month before my cousin Donnie was killed in Vietnam, the picture below was taken at Kent State University in Ohio:

The "rest of the story" can be found here: four dead in Ohio

3) financial incentives

One of my favorite authors is a man named Thomas Friedman. Although he is a regular contributor to the New York Times, he’s also written LOTS of books. On June 23, 2009, he penned a story that described how economic considerations can be just as decisive as other methods of “persuasion”, and (as often as not) MORE persuasive.

The late John Wayne (Marion Mitchell Morrison) once uttered a phrase that describes the effectiveness of economic “incentives”:

“If you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

I’m not naïve enough to believe that the troubles in Iran, or the genuine fears now held by Karolina Obrycka, will vanish overnight, but this much I’m certain of:

We shall overcome some day

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