Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I called Javier Ortiz absurd, and other comments for local 880am's The Gray Zone

Awake and with little to do this morning I noticed on twitter that Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava would be speaking on a local business/politics/talk radio station 880am The Biz's weekday morning program The Gray Zone. She didn't specify what she'd talk about, but as an upstart who deposed a well-connected incumbent I have interest in what she says.



The first segment of the show concerned an assistant police chief who abstained from saluting the flag, or pledging allegiance to it. President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Javier Ortiz began a political with-hunt to punish Assistant Chief Anita Najiy, literally calling in to question her job-commitment, told local 10 news that she "actively refus[es] to show allegiance to the United States of America." Though later in the same radio program he failed to mention any direct connection between flag pledging and national allegiance, or job commitment.
I tuned in en medias res and caught a discussion specifically about flag burning, endured a comment that it should be illegal. I immediately called in to tell them that discussion of criminalizing flag burning does not belong in the United States, and that a self-claimed patriot does not in the same breath denigrate the Bill of Rights. Rather, a hypocrite speaks of limiting speech, when the very institution charged with maintaining peace and order (the police) actively employs people regularly engaged in felonious criminal activity. Who lacks commitment and allegiance, officers who refuse to worship a flag or those trafficking cocaine? Politicians like Mr. Ortiz can't ever address ongoing corruption, but have little trouble engaging in political scapegoating.
To close this segment let me make my personal argument on the issue. The very rights and privileges the public discourse states we have fought for since the founding of this nation are likewise the rights and privileges we cannot violate in their protection and acquisition.

Commissioner Danielle Levine Cava joined the second segment covering "climate change" and "sea level rise". I agreed with most things she said save this caveat: someone who does not understand climate science cannot have informed opinions regarding climate change.
I opine that the our climate changes resulting in greater storms and increased flooding in South Florida, among other effects. I won't argue this opinion as a fact, however I still avoid Biscayne and NE 163rd street during any long rain. Coming to terms with my personal reality departs greatly for making the argument that 97% of climate scientists agree pollution accelerates climate change. Why? Note my language, and I borrowed it directly from the commissioner: accelerates climate change.
(I remember when the buzzword was "global warming." You don't hear much about that anymore except from the politically unplugged because ANYbody who is SOMEbody knows that it's climate change, stupid!)
The distinction of acceleration is important because without more information there are many possibilities left to us, the most obvious being that the climate is changing regardless of human actions; that pollution only increases the speed of the change or the severity of the change. In this particular option humans do not cause climate change. But if 97% of climate scientists all agree that the climate is changing, and they have a good idea of how it's changing, the discussion needs to move away from the infantile debate on whether we have an impact or not, and instead focus on what we need to do to maintain our standard of living, which is very honestly and literally the ONLY voting issue in the public discourse.

I got a very special treat in the third segment with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, my favorite example of political corruption at work. She came on the show to address issues regarding human trafficking, but unfortunately the discussion descended to an abortion services funding provision in a federal law, and promoting services for victims. While both those tangents are interesting, it's unfortunate that the State Attorney did not use this opportunity to educate and inform Miami and Miami-Dade County about the current state of human trafficking in the area and the success or lack thereof in her department combating it.
Like in other markets of extreme criminality human trafficking survives as a profitable industry due to the complicity of powerful, wealthy people in all corners of the community. It's no surprise that many studies and investigations have found ties between major public events and increases in human trafficking wherever these events take place. This about that when politicians rave of the benefits of Ultra, or speak of Super Bowl pipe dreams. You also might ask yourself how many more people organized crime can get through our port now that the Port Miami tunnel is working!
I cannot comment or criticize the efforts or any organizations the State Attorney addressed while discussing services and shelters for victims of human trafficking, but I wonder if she cannot help more by going after the structural supports which create the need for victims' services to begin with.

When I initially called they suggested I call again at 9:45, so I called at 9:41. Before I had a chance to address anything (and was I full of thoughts!) Javier Ortiz actually had the nerve to call in and publicly denigrate Assistant Chief Anita Najiy; question her commitment and allegiance. While never once referring to any specific rule or regulation she broke, though expecting us to believe she did, and what's worse, not once bringing up any demonstration of subordination or irresponsibility. In his tirade Mr. Ortiz (who admits to filming during a ceremony, something that would probably get any other person arrested or removed from the room) had the nerve to bring up her oath to the constitution, and in the same breath denigrates the very thing in demanding she pledge allegiance to the flag by placing her hand over her heart.

(Good thing he wasn't in my public school classes where I would remain seated during the pledge because I refuse to talk to inanimate objects, which when you think about it is rather practical. Imagine a chef pledging allegiance to a cutting knife. Heaven forbid the knife ever break...)

When they finally allowed me to speak I couldn't much think about the things I wanted to say in regards to the other segments because I was incensed with Mr. Ortiz and took the opportunity to say so. I made it clear that religion is besides the point concerning questions of constitutionally protected expression. His arguments were absurd, I stated, because the only important qualifications for someones allegiance and commitment are how well they actually do their job. Unprofessionally going on a public forum to attack a fellow officer showed tremendous lack of respect and foresight. It's one thing for a civilian to criticize and question the actions of police officers, that is my right and responsibility as a member of a democracy. For a policeman, especially the leader of the FOP, to speak so freely and with malice about another cop demonstrates little if any fraternity.
Perhaps he's trying to send a message to all other cops that when you don't follow the arbitrary politically charged dictates of a department you will be ostracized and singled out. Or maybe it's just a big "fuck you" to Muslims in the police force? He couldn't stop bringing up her religion. He couldn't stop bringing up politics.
I hate to use a phrase from grade school but he who smelt it dealt it.
It's pathetic for someone charged with representing police, and also who took an oath to the constitution, someone like Javier Ortiz, would attack this person, while allowing corruption, laziness, and nepotism to plague the department whose employees he is charged with protecting. He is protecting obedience and blind nationalism. Patriotism requires standing up for and protecting the constitution, not arbitrary cultural values.
Do you think the founding fathers pledged allegiance to the flag? They wouldn't even pledge allegiance to a king, why would they belittle themselves by bothering with a flag?

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