Friday, January 21, 2011

EXTRA: Progress in our mindset, why not theirs, when it comes to Burge, Sasha?

Perhaps I am paying too much attention these days to the conservative ideologues. Because I noticed a pair of stories in the news on Friday that gave me a smile, but in my mind I can already hear the irate rants that will come from the “right” that will see them as further evidence of our society being flushed down the drain.

One of those stories, of course, was the fact that one-time Pullman Area police Commander Jon Burge finally had to stand before a judge on Friday and hear his fate – 4 ½ years in prison.

THAT’S 54 MONTHS, significantly higher than the 21- to 27-month range that legal experts had said Burge could get for his convictions last year on charges that he did not testify truthfully in civil lawsuits filed against the police for his professional behavior some two decades ago.

That will please the people to whom Burge has become the poster boy for all that is wrong with law enforcement. I’m also sure that at age 63, time spent incarcerated in a federal correctional center will not be a pleasant experience – even if he winds up serving his time in a minimum-security work camp of sorts.

But you just know we’re going to hear the rants of the right; those people who thus far have reacted to the criminal case by saying that the people who suffered torture tactics while in police custody must have done something to deserve it.

That kind of attitude can be all too prevalent when it comes to people who are part of the criminal justice system, including those who regularly spend their time hanging around courthouses.

WHICH IS WHY I found it bold that U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow admitted while imposing sentencing that she took into account letters she received from the people who suffered from Burge and the police officers under his supervision.

As Lefkow put it, this case shows, “at the very least, a severe lack of respect for the due process of law and (Burge’s) refusal to acknowledge the truth in the face of all this evidence.”

For yes, even as of Friday, Burge says he did nothing wrong, although he said before being sentenced that he wished he had not brought “disrepute’ upon the Chicago Police Department. Which means he wishes he hadn’t got caught.

In my mind, that makes Burge as unrepentant as the lowest of criminals whom the conservative ideologues usually would be quick to denounce.

THE OTHER STORY that I’m sure will tick the ideologues off involves a cutesy report from the welcoming ceremony held Wednesday at the White House to honor China President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States.

It seems that the younger of the two first daughters, Sasha Obama, is studying Chinese languages in school, and used her brief moment with Hu to speak with him in his own language. I also noticed in a wire service report that Sasha at one point was seen waving a miniature Chinese flag.

How long until Rush Limbaugh or some other conservative commentator tries to turn this moment into something unseemly? Photograph provided by the White House.

Personally, my mind comes up with a joke about Sasha Obama, all of 9, somehow managing to rewrite U.S. foreign policy toward China with her brief moment of speech with Hu.

You just know, however, that it will be only a matter of time (if it hasn’t happened already) before someone takes that photo of Sasha with a Chinese flag and puts it into a grotesque context. We may even hear some nonsense rhetoric about how U.S. children shouldn’t be dignifying other languages, and that this is an example of what is wrong with our nation.

YES, IT’S RIDICULOUS. Anybody who would seriously get that worked up over this is absurd. About as absurd as those people who continue to want to see Burge as an example of what our law enforcement ought to be.

Anybody who can’t see Burge for the flawed cop that he is also probably really thinks Sasha Obama is about to undermine our society. The rest of us, in fact the majority of us, ought to ignore that trite trash.


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