A look at the presidential pardons

Crazy Faith Ministries

The current president, who said during his campaign that he was the “law and order” candidate, has shown and is showing that his concept of the same is far off the beaten path.

Or is it?

As so many people languish in American prisons because of felony convictions for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses, the president is not only attacking the primary law and order institutions of this country, but he is also pardoning people who have been convicted of white collar crimes, people the president said have been treated “very unfairly” by the government.

The pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio was hard enough to swallow, but the pardon of Indian American conservative pundit, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, a rabid racist who was convicted of violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014 and sent to prison, was a slap in the face of justice.

The fact that both Arpaio and D’Souza have the reputation of being racist makes their pardons all that more difficult to take. D’Souza, who relentlessly attacked former President Barack Obama when he was in office, was quick to pick up his racist rhetoric, tweeting, “Obama and his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream and destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both,” reported CNN.

Meanwhile, almost half a million people are in prison for committing drug offenses; nonviolent drug offenses are a defining characteristic of the federal prison system, according to a report issued by the Prison Policy Initiative.

A staggering 1 out of every 5 people are incarcerated for these offenses, the report stated. Were they, too, treated “unfairly” by the government?

The president is within his rights to pardon whomever he pleases, but what is troubling is his dismissal of “the law” as it concerns people who have committed serious felonies and who espouse hateful and racist rhetoric. Arpaio, convicted of a misdemeanor criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order that he stop racially profiling Hispanic Americans, wasted no time in picking up his “birtherism” rhetoric once the president pardoned him, and is running for Senate in his state of Arizona.

We don’t know what project D’Souza will pick up now that he has been let out of prison, but we can be sure it will reek of racism and hatred and now, an arrogance that comes with his pardon. He, Arpaio, and even the president have communicated the message that “law and order” only apply to some people, certainly not any of the president’s friends and loyalists.

The impudence and arrogance of this administration’s disregard for the law, for the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, is so much a part of what it does and does not do is so toxic and disturbing that it is stifling. This administration believes in law and order for just some people. He believes in the Second Amendment, but seems to have little respect for the other freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

It is all very disturbing and feels like the bold-faced white supremacy this country experienced during Reconstruction, leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, is right back in our faces. That this president makes no bones about his racism has caused a flurry of cable news arguments; that’s what we see, but it is also making the way for this president to create policy that is no friend to people of color.

The president is giving the OK to people who live in and practice white supremacy, including law enforcement institutions. The message White people are getting is that it is OK to practice their racism; there will be no retribution, no “law and order” pronouncements that will hurt White people. A case in point is the case of the family of a Black man who was shot and killed by police in St. Lucie, Florida. The offending police officers were of course acquitted, but the jury in the civil trial chose to award that family a judgment of $4, according to CBS.

The message is clear: the law is on the side of only some people.

That’s not a new message, but it feels more threatening as this president’s words and actions seem to be giving people the go-ahead to be as racist as they want. The “law” will be on their side, not on the side of those wronged by the government or the justice system – unless, of course, the wronged is a friend of and loyalist to the president, or just a good, ol’ boy who believes in white supremacy.

It will only get worse as this president subjects this nation to his white supremacist mindset, a mindset that is clear to everyone despite his pronouncement during his campaign that he is “the least racist person” anyone could know.

Tell that to the people of color, the immigrants and others who, under this president, seem to be on a path that will afford them little justice, and certainly not a pardon.

Rev Dr. Susan K Smith is available to preach, and give workshops or hold seminars on the issue of how religion and politics have been ineffective in destroying racism. She is working on a book on the subject at this time. To book her, visit revsuekim@sbcglobal.net, or visit http://www.crazyfaithministries.org.

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