The Year in Soundbytes
● by Kevin Howley
During a “routine” traffic stop in Columbia, South Carolina, State Trooper Sean Groubert shot Levar Jones as the unarmed black motorist complied with the white patrol officer’s request to see his driver’s license. In a dashboard video that went viral, an incredulous, but remarkably composed Jones asks the patrolman, “Why did you shoot me?” Mr. Jones’ question – one that succinctly captures the tragic state of race relations in America today – was one of the more dramatic, and disturbing, sound bites of 2014: a year that saw racial politics, midterm elections, popular uprisings, Ebola outbreaks, and the Islamic State dominate the headlines.
10. “I’m not a racist, I love people. I always have. But those words came out of my mouth I guess.”
— LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s ham-fisted apology for a racist rant caught on audio, May 12.
9. “The big worry with these settlements and the way they’re being done … is that you have these emails and these memos, but nothing happens. A fine gets paid, and then all of the facts and who did what gets washed away.”
— Bank whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann’s evaluation of JPMorgan Chase’s $13 billion settlement with the Department of Justice to avoid criminal charges, November 7.
8. “The best way to fight terrorism is to invest in education. Instead of sending guns, send books.”
— Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s advice for fighting the war on terror, October 21.
[Image at the top of this post: Malala.]
7. “We had not seen any video tape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video, we asked for the video, we asked for anything that was pertinent, but we were never granted that opportunity.”
— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell denying that League officials had seen surveillance footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer, unconscious in a casino elevator, September 9.
6. “Sit down and shut up.”
— New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s pithy rejoinder to an angry constituent during a press conference on the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, October 29.
5. “America’s key allies in the Middle East are very much responsible for the rise of the Islamic State (IS), funding and equipping extremists – ‘let’s call them terrorists’ – with money and weapons in their eagerness to oust the Assad regime in Syria, at any cost.”
— Vice President Joe Biden’s refreshingly candid – and summarily censored – assessment of ISIS, October 2.
4. “Enough, I’m tired.”
— Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam abruptly ending a press conference — and inadvertently providing a rallying cry, “Ya Me Canse,” for nationwide demonstrations over the disappearance of 43 student teachers, November 7.
3. “He looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up.
— White police officer Darren Wilson giving his side of the story in the shooting death last summer, in Ferguson, Mo., of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown, November 25.
2. “This is a screaming cry that — we couldn’t ask for a louder one — that says globalization is not working, we don’t have any system of global governance, and we don’t have anything called ‘global health’ to speak of when it comes down to actually getting things done.”
— Pulitzer-winning medical writer Laurie Garrett on the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, September 15.
1. “We tortured some folks.”
— President Barack Obama defending “patriots” who used so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, August 1.
This year’s Miss Congeniality Award goes to US Senator-elect Joni Ernst for her gracious victory speech on Election Night:
“Well, Iowa, we did it! We did it!… But, thanks to all of you, we are heading to Washington. And we are going to make ‘em squeal!”
Finally, the Awful Truth Award goes to Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, for his response to the Ferguson grand jury’s failure to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown:
“It’s officially open season on Black folks.”