Mike Rowe just delivered the best response on the nation-wide protests over the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner

We're big fans of Mike Rowe. Rarely does a celebrity use their platform to espouse the values of common sense, hard work, and decency as well as the Dirty Jobs and Somebody's Gotta Do It host. Mike regularly takes to Facebook to answer fan questions, and today he took on one of the biggest topics in the news today: the anti-police protests across the country that have broken out in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

A fan named Meghan asked:

Hello Mr. Mike Rowe. I'm a big fan and also happen to work in the lower Haight as well as live in Alameda. I have to ask with everything that is going on in Ferguson, how do you feel about the protests in SF as well as the looting/rioting in downtown Oakland?

photo via Mike Rowe's Facebook page photo via Mike Rowe's Facebook page

Here's how Mike responded:

Hi Meghan

Last week, those very protests blocked off one of the major arteries, and as a result, I was 90 minutes late to a holiday dinner in Alameda. I apologized for my tardiness, and was told by my hostess not to give it a second thought. “It’s a small price to pay,” she said, “given all that’s at stake.” Another guest, already well into the eggnog, wondered aloud if a heart attack victim waiting for an ambulance stuck in traffic might hold a different view?

Within moments, everyone was talking about Garner and Brown, and the conversation got very political very quickly. A liberal guest said, “Look, I wasn’t there, but it seems pretty clear that both men would still be alive had they been white.” A conservative guest replied, “I wasn’t there either, but it seems pretty clear that both men would still be alive if they hadn’t resisted arrest.”

This annoyed the liberal, who asked the conservative why Republicans wanted a “police state.” This annoyed the conservative, who asked the liberal why Democrats wanted “total anarchy.” Things continued to escalate, and within moments, fingers were pointing, veins were bulging, and logical fallacies were filling the air. Ho! ho! ho!

For once, I kept my mouth shut and listened as a roomful of decent people tore each others throats out. It was remarkable, because no one disagreed on the big points. No one disagreed that black lives mattered just as much as white lives. No one disputed that racial bias in law enforcement should be exposed and eliminated. In fact, no one disagreed about the basic facts surrounding each case. The breakdown happened over relevance and context.

My conservative friends were focused on the fact that both men died while resisting arrest, and were therefor responsible for their own demise. They wanted to discuss the killings in light of the incredible risk that all police officers agree to assume.

My liberal friends were focused on the fact that both men were unarmed, and were therefor victims of excessive force. They wanted to discuss the killings in the context of historical trends that suggest bias plays a recurring role in the way cops treat minorities.

By dessert, it was clear that both sides wanted law and order. But the conservatives were convinced that order is only possible when citizens treat cops with respect. Liberals, on the other hand, were arguing that order can only occur when cops treat everyone the same. And round and round we went. The chicken and the egg.

Later, on the drive home, I called a friend of mine back in Baltimore. He’s black, successful, and hard-working. He also resents the way he’s gotten swept into the zeitgeist of Ferguson. In his words, “I’m a pawn in someone else’s agenda, and I’m sick of it. I know what bias looks like in my life. I'm tired of being represented by two petty criminals who died resisting arrest.”

I hadn't thought about it like that, but he's got a point. The vast majority of black Americans have never broken the law. And yet, millions of lives are now entwined with the death of Brown and Garner. That's not fair, but it's hardly breaking news. Minorities are constantly stereotyped and the impression lingers. Looters and arsonists run amok, and Black America suffers the association. Now I'm trying to get my head around the fact that two cops are dead in Brooklyn, assassinated by a lunatic in “retaliation” for Ferguson and Staten Island. Unbelievable.

How much worse can it get for the millions of law-abiding minorities, struggling to be seen as individuals? How much worse can it get for the thousands of honest cops, trying to protect a citizenry that doesn't seem to appreciate their daily sacrifice?

A few days ago, people were marching in the streets, literally calling for the execution of police. (“What do we want? Dead Cops!”) Others are standing by today, waiting to lionize the assassins who answer the call. These are not the champions of justice; these are the enemies of civilization, and it’s up to sensible people on both sides of the aisle to close ranks and shout them down. If we want to live in a nation of laws, we need to support the humans sworn to uphold them. They’re a lot of really great cops out there who have promised to do that very thing, including the one in my family. We’d be screwed without them.

To answer your question Meghan, I support peaceful protests, and I’m all for rooting out bad cops. But let’s not stop there. If we're serious about saving lives, and eliminating the confrontations that lead to the demise of Garner and Brown, let’s also condemn the stupidity that leads so many Americans to resist arrest. I don't care if you're white, black, red, periwinkle, burnt umber, or chartreuse - resisting arrest is not a right, it’s a crime. And it's never a good idea.

Mike

PS. In lighter news, it's come to my attention that CNN will attempt to air a new episode of SGDI, tonight at 9pm Eastern. (Assuming we can get through a whole day without a riot, an earthquake, a terrorist attack, and ebola outbreak, or a Zombie Apocalypse).

Mike

 

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

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