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Thursday, April 30, 2015
Shrimp don't Cause Oil Spills
....and Fish do not poison ponds.
ask yourself why protests have deteriorated into riot?
Is it a “riot” when roughly 500 out of 10,000 actually perpetrate the sorts of actions that constitute a “riot”?
why did that happen?
could it be that their grievances are not taken seriously, as a rule?
And could it be that this failure to take grievances seriously is, itself, a part of the overall grievance?
.is there currently a Problem in this country of Black People being killed and maimed by police for no good reason?
In historical context, does this fit some kind of long term pattern of behaviour by cops, in general?
from where you're standing, does systemic racism exist?
Or is it a made up thing?
some kind of excuse?
What would you do, if you and yours had been subject to the same long term, systemic treatment?
can you run the thought experiment I've been proposing to seemingly deaf white people, to put yourself in the Black Community's shoes?
To see things from their perspective?
Can you step out of your own perspective and into theirs?
There is a context to all of this.
that context can be apprehended.
once it is apprehended, then we can seriously attempt to get at the roots of things, and maybe fix some stuff.
Otherwise, we can just keep pointing at the burning storefront, without context...blaming angry black folks without evidence or context...and eventually go back to sleep,
until the “Fire next time.”
I was shocked to learn that no one is counting how many People are killed or maimed by police.
Not in any kind of systematic, nationwide, way.
The DOJ keeps track, sort of...but with scant and incomplete data.
Local police are not required to keep track of who they kill and maim, and why...nor are they required to submit such data to the DOJ.
“Criminal justice experts note that, while the federal government and national research groups keep scads of data and statistics— on topics ranging from how many people were victims of unprovoked shark attacks (53 in 2013) to the number of hogs and pigs living on farms in the U.S. (upwards of 64,000,000 according to 2010 numbers) — there is no reliable national data on how many people are shot by police officers each year. “
Careful records are, however, kept and submitted of how many cops are injured and killed and by whom and under what circumstances.
This makes it very difficult to get a clear picture of just how widespread the problem is.
Or , as some want to believe, to prove that there's a problem, at all.
With the advent of ubiquitous video recording devices, there is growing video evidence which confirms the widespread anecdotal evidence of a far-ranging problem.
The usual Tsk Tsk-ing of the usual apologists for Law and Order and for the “Just World Hypothesis”, are now confronted with Youtube videos of ad hoc firing squads on American streets, of terrible beatings, of cries for help, of blood and broken bodies...a disproportionate number of whom appear to be Black and Brown.
In every internet discussion I have seen, there are always those who defend the cops, no matter what the video du jour shows.
“Well, he must have done something”...”If he wouldn't have talked back”....
As if it can be justified, these Extrajudicial, Summary Punishments, even Summary Executions, of Human Beings on the streets...in America.
Mental gymnastics and striking rhetorical contortions are brought to bear in order to paper over a phenomenon that is new to White America...but pretty Old Hat to Black and Brown America.
In the last 30-40 years, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, have been used to whittle away at all of our Constitutional Rights and Protections.
This has been Justified and sold to White America, as necessary, due to Fear...of scary black drug dealers, and scary brown and black terrorists.
And, remarkably, at the same time, Police across the country have been busy shoring up their own Rights and Protections, ironically using their Unions to do so.
Cops in many places now have a “Police Bill of Rights”.
From the Washington Post:
“A complaint is filed against an officer by a member of the public or a fellow officer. Police department leadership reviews the complaint and decides whether to investigate. If the department decides to pursue the complaint, it must inform the officer and his union. That’s where the special treatment begins, but it doesn’t end there.
Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a “cooling off” period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated “at a reasonable hour,” with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only “for reasonable periods,” which “shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.” Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be “threatened with disciplinary action” at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.
What happens after the interrogation again varies from state to state. But under nearly every law enforcement bill of rights, the following additional privileges are granted to officers: Their departments cannot publicly acknowledge that the officer is under investigation; if the officer is cleared of wrongdoing or the charges are dropped, the department may not publicly acknowledge that the investigation ever took place, or reveal the nature of the complaint. The officer cannot be questioned or investigated by “non-government agents,” which means no civilian review boards. If the officer is suspended as a result of the investigation, he must continue to receive full pay and benefits until his case is resolved. In most states, the charging department must subsidize the accused officer’s legal defense.
A violation of any of the above rights can result in dismissal—not of the officer, but of the charges against him.”
Even I, a fierce defender of the Bill of Rights(the one that's been whittled away, and that was supposed to Protect Us from Government, including Cops), didn't know about this, until yesterday. Couple this remarkable occurrence with the already well ensconced “Blue Wall” of Perfidy and Coverup, where even Good Cops are coerced into protecting their Bad Brothers in Arms against having to take Responsibility for their Crimes.
It has become a feature of the aftermath of many of these Maimings and Murders by Police, that the perpetrators,...that is, the Cops....seem to get off relatively easy.
“Paid Leave”...”Administrative Leave”....even, in one recent case, a “Paid Vacation in the Bahamas”. Every benefit of the Doubt is to be afforded to them, and to hell with the Bleeding Heart concerns for the Folks arrested and incarcerated and surveilled and beaten.
Then, after the Police investigate themselves, behind closed doors, if anything comes of it, it goes to the Secret Grand Jury...run by the local Prosecutor...in Secret.(Jury rigging is rampant, as well)
More often than not, no Indictment is handed down, and the Cop in question is either back on the job, or soon in another job, in another department.
The black marks do not follow cops to their new posts.
No one keeps track of that information, either.
How many scandals and instances of Police Corruption must we endure, before we are allowed to look at the Roots?
Of course, none of this is new to Black and Brown People.
It is also not New to many White Folks who are, somehow, different...be they Gay, or Tattooed, or “Scruffy Looking”, or outside the ill-defined Norm in some other way.
In Baltimore, this state of affairs has been ongoing for some time:
And yet nothing substantial is done.
So here's another Black Person killed by cops...severed spine and crushed larynx, while in police custody.
And the Black Community rises up in anger and desperation, as is their supposed Right, under the US Constitution...and once again, they are met with Violence by cops...and by, apparently, drunken white sports fans, shouting “Nigganigganigga”...
And once again, White America turns a blind eye to the obvious validity of the complaints. The comments range from “They should get over it” to “look at the Nigs, burning down their own neighborhood” to “drop the daisy cutter and cut off their welfare checks”.
And at the same time as all that Racist Rhetoric is the insistence that “we're not Racist”....indeed, that it is the People who point out the Systemic Racism who are “Playing the Race Card”.
Is it any wonder, at all, that Black and Brown America continues to feel ignored and under the gun?
Is it any wonder that so many take to the streets when yet another Black Person is killed by Police?
At roughly the same time as the growing flood of videos of People of Color being harassed and otherwise violated by Police....who are , let us remember,the part of Government that is closest to the People....
At the same time, there is a substantial portion of White America who seems hell bent on Revolution...who wants to go about armed, in order to protect themselves from Government coming to “take their guns”....and even “put them into camps”.
The Irony, here, is shocking, to me.
Is this the fruit of the “Powers that Be” applying the age old tactic of Divide and Conquer?
Is the Tea People's hatred of Black and Brown America, based on easily dispelled Myth and Innuendo, so great that they cannot see the common theme?
How convenient for the growing Corporate State that the People are so divided.
How did we get to this point?
When did Cops become the ones whom the Bill of Rights(or even their own Bill of Rights) was meant to protect?
It looks like the opposite of what Jefferson intended...and Madison and all the rest. So, what happened?
Three things, I believe, are at the root of this.
1. the War on Drugs(which is itself an extension of the War Against Commies, and has been followed by the War on Terror).
2.Systemic Racism (which, too is related and intertwined with the parenthetical statements above)
3. Control. The first two can be subsumed under this heading, which is thoroughly contradictory to our greatest traditions of Liberty and Freedom of thought and Conscience. The folks who run this country have never wanted “too much freedom” for the people further down the ladder.
Any opposition to the Status Quo is to be crushed in it's infancy....or later, if necessary.
There can be only One Definition....One Idea of what Freedom means.
...and it is to be Theirs.
I usually use Maggie Thatcher's handy shorthand for this, “TINA” (“there is no alternative”).
So, around the turn of the last century, there was growing unrest in the factories and on the farms, and some of those workers read the works of Marx, Gramsci, and others.
The Word came from on high that “Socialism” and “Communism” were great evils that must be “stamped out”...”Defeated!”.
But those rascally Commies were insidious...they could be anywhere.
Palmer Raids and the arrival into a position of power of one J. Edgar Hoover, further set the stage for our troubles, today.
That stage had already been set, ironically, by otherwise Liberal folks(Progressive Movement), who with the best of intentions ran a decades long campaign to eradicate Alcohol.
Around the same time as the Palmer Raids, there was the Volstead Act, which criminalised alcohol. Prohibition, as is well known, led directly to the rise of Organised Crime, which, in it's turn led to the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.
Similarly, the idea of Dangerous(other) Drugs was made up from whole cloth...Marihuana, which most Americans had never heard of, was one of these.
At that time, Pot was a drug associated with Mexican farm workers(who sometimes joined unions) and Black Jazz Musicians....who were Black, and thus suspect.
Harry Ainslinger was the point man in eradicating, first Heroin, and then the Evil Weed...Marihuana...but only as they were used by “Undesirables”.
See Reefer Madness, for context, and a good laugh.
It was never about Weed, itself, but who was using it.
(William Randolph Hearst supported Marihuana Prohibition due to his large forest holdings, and thus equated Hemp with Pot...and Dupont supported all of this, due to their recent Patent on Nylon)
But it was Racism and Control of the Narrative that were the driving forces behind this.
This slacked off a little during the Second World War...after all the Communist Russians were our Allies....but ramped right back up once the Cold War began.
Still, during this time, Drug Laws were used mostly against People of Color.
It wasn't until the late Sixties, that things escalated.
Richard Nixon looked out the Whitehouse window, and saw there on the lawn, a whole bunch of folks who were not only against the war in Viet Nam, and refused to fight...but who were against Corporate Capitalism, and what was then known as the Establishment.
Many of them were even Commies...or at least Socialist( which were again conflated and equated, at this time).
Here was the weapon to use against all those “Unamerican” Americans.
There was still a large Racist aspect to this, due to the “Uppity Negroes” wanting to be Americans, too.
When Tricky Dick launched the “War on Drugs”, it was understood to be a War on Liberalism, and all that that connoted.
Ever since, the WOD has been a Weapon against Liberals and Black Folks and Brown Folks and anybody else that got on the Official Shit List.
Consider...that very same year, 1972-3, is when what would become the Reagan Revolution began in a hotel lobby in St Louis.
The two go hand in hand.
That's also when Roe v Wade came down.
Soon it was Morning in America, and to hell with efficient cars and thrifty energy usage, and regulation of the large, and of course, to hell with anything resembling Liberalism.
This was conflated, once again, with Godless Communism, and considered the Antithesis of Freedom.
Meanwhile, the WOD was used to put Black Folks back into their box...the Black Panthers and the Watts Riots and a million other things, most with a substantial Mythological content, was all scary to white America, and was painted in such a way to reinforce that innate Fear
All during this entire 50+ year period, various scholarly organisations and the research arm of the Government, itself, did studies on Drugs.
Every one of these studies on Marijuana indicated to one degree or another that it was NOT equal to Heroin or Horse Tranquiliser.
That it was relatively harmless, and even (sometimes) that it had therapeutic qualities that deserved further study.
But science doesn't matter, as anyone near TV news in the past 40 years can surely attest.
The Systemic Racism was largely ignored for many years...even after the Civil Rights Era. The Official Story was that Racism was Over...and all them Black Folks should, yup, “Get Over It”.
To point out Racism became, itself, Racist. The more overt and ugly forms had been driven into the shadows to fester and percolate...and were a large part of the Southern Strategy of Nixon, and Reagan.
To agitate for reform became a quaint exercise of a remnant liberalism, already defeated(along with, eventually, the Evil Empire of Communism).
Myth and Obfuscation and Innuendo.
During this entire period...but especially after 1973...Our Rights were whittled away.
Numerous Exceptions to almost every one of the Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights were formulated, and implemented...often without substantial debate, either in Public or in Congress.
We had learned the lessons of the Cold War Anticommunist Hysteria well...do not Question.
Do not be “Soft on Drugs”, “Soft on Crime”...Morality was brought to bear...and wild tales of Welfare Queens, eating out our substance and hooked on dope.As the economic system had repeated hiccups and infarctions, we were encouraged to blame the Poor...who were all Lazy and “On Drugs”...for the resulting economic malaise and disruption. Black Folks were Poor, as well, and thus also to blame. "Poor" became Code for "Scary Lazy Dangerous Black Person."
All of this must be taken into account in any discussion of crime, of drugs or of race.
It is all of a piece.
One can even argue that the Systemic focus on Black People by the Drug Warriors and Prison Profiteers, had the effect of shoring up the Employment Numbers...by removing “Surplus Labor”.
Judges and Congressmen and Prosecutors and Mayors and large Outfits like the NAACP were averse to being labeled as ProDope...let alone Socialist....so the bad behaviour by government continued.
Cops developed half baked Theories to justify their assholeish behaviour...especially against Black Folks.
“Broken Windows Theory” is now the fundamental Theory of Law Enforcement. Go after Jay Walking and Loosies and the guy with a joint or a hash pipe, the guy sitting on his stoop with a beer...all the little, easy shit.
Layers of laws against everything from sitting down in public to spitting on the sidewalk were formulated and put into place in cities and counties across the nation.
And all of this combined with that age old underlying Racism and Classism(anticommie/antisocialist) to create the Police State we live in today(well...a lot of us, at least)
My Dad can go into his front yard and drink beer, and the cops just wave.
Let a Black Fellow do the same, and it's an Offense, or at least “Suspicious”.
We can deny this reality all we want...insist that this narrative is overblown and hysterical..overly dramatic.
But all that will do is continue the carnage and the injustice.
Reform is what is needed so desperately...but for that to even begin, the folks who have born the brunt of all this must be listened to...and the cherished Unexamined Assumptions must be weighed against Observable Reality.
Bad Ideas...Faulty Thinking...must be rejected.
Marijuana is not a “Gateway Drug” any more than Milk is.
Black People are not “Animals” who are out to get us...and, yes, calling them “Animals” or “Cockroaches”means that you are, indeed, a Racist.
Let us end the Injustices.
Let us be the Shining City on the fucking Hill, at long last.
Let's quit screwing around with Dogmatic Inertia when what we've been doing not only doesn't work...but is itself a Travesty.