Despite all the noise coming from the Charlottesville assortment of racist lunatics, it is important to recognize that they don’t have “real” power. We should pay even more attention to the folks with REAL power, the power structure that was able to force President Donald Trump to do something he didn’t want to do, and that is condemn racism. WE should really fear those with the power to legislate, implement and institutionalize racism.
No matter how important the avowed racists think they are, in a racist/classist society they too are suckers. Because this society at bottom is organized around class,with white Supremacy tossed in to make sure the rich and powerful remain rich and powerful, while the rest of us fight among ourselves for the crumbs. White Supremacy was employed to “divide and rule” us. And it works.
As White as the Charlotteville racist mob was, they weren’t able to get in Rockefellers, or the Vanderbilt’s, or the DuPont’s party last weekend. Those who tried getting in on the basis of skin privilege, pointing to their White skin as their pass for entry, were politely turned away while being told; ‘We are sorry you are our color but not our kind (class).
The greatest threat to Civil Rights, human rights and racial justice has always been the US government doing the bidding of the ruling class.
Consider its history. It was the government that passed laws, including the Fugitive Slave Act, making allowances for slavery. It wasn’t some stick wielding thug who wrote, when Dred Scott sought freedom from slavery after having resided in free states that Black people,” have no rights that the White man was bound to respect.”
Rather it was a member of the executive branch of the US government, Chief Justice Roger Taney of the US Supreme Court, who wrote those words in the famous 1857 case that declared that Blacks, free and un-free were not citizens of the country.
It was the federal government that allowed the Southern part of the United States to legally codify racial segregation for the purpose of discriminating, disenfranchising and dehumanizing Black people. The executive branch in 1896 in Plessy v Ferguson codified Jim Crow segregation, making it the law of the land, disingenuously declaring that separate was equal.
Even the Depression Era, New Deal which introduced Social Security, knowingly excluded menial laborers, maids, house servants, gardeners, and landscapers, jobs in which because of societal discrimination Blacks were primarily mired in.
It was the US government that sanctioned the thieving of Indian land. It was the US government, not a bunch of Wild West thugs that forced the Indians off their land with its military. It wasn’t loud mouthed racists, but government policy to rip Indian children from their parents and place them in re-education centers like the Carlisle School, which made news recently cause it just returned the bodies of children who died or was murdered at the racist institution.
It was the US government, not a group of Nazis that passed legislation limiting Chinese immigration. It was the US government not a group of racists that interned Japanese during the 1940’s.
While the racists scream anti-Islamic epithets and insults it is the US government that has invaded and bombed Islamic nations. The neo-nazis make xenophobic and anti immigrant insults, but it is the US government that has separated children from their parents under the guise of border security. The last administration set records for deportation, while its drones delivered cruise missiles that killed thousands of innocent Middle Easterners.
It was the federal government that segregated its troops and while giving out the GI Bill refused to insist that segregated institutions and neighborhoods allow Black access. They chose not to intervene, effectively sanctioning the racism and discrimination of the day.
It was the federal government that opened the door to and made segregated housing policy. The US government’s, Federal Housing Commission in 1934 gave bonuses to contractors who agreed to disallow Blacks in their new suburbs. The government had a hand in redlining as well. Look it up!
Even when the Supreme Court granted a little relief from oppressive segregation in Brown v Board of Education, the government lacked the will to enforce it with the exception of token shows like the one put on in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.
Indeed, the federal government’s legislative branch passed Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws in the 1960’s but they didn’t provide the ability to enforce the law, thus Black folks still experience discrimination to this day.
When the Black and Brown communities of the US were hard hit by the cocaine and crack epidemic (which incidentally evidence has turned up revealing that the US government played a role in delivering crack to the doorsteps of inner city USA) the response by the government was draconian. The US Congress passed laws and declared a so-called War on Drugs that turned out to be nothing more than a war on Black and Brown people.
The results of that war are still being felt as a staggering number of Black men and women are locked down as a result of the criminalization of drug addiction. Notice the more humane approach to the opioid and heroin epidemic, which has primarily impacted the White community.
And Black and Brown society has been terrorized and traumatized by “legal” police violence, harassment and humiliation carried out primarily by deputized racists throughout their existence in the US. That too has been codified in US law. It has come to the fore lately because modern communications technology and social media has made it difficult to ignore.
In 1968 in Terry vs Ohio the US Supreme Court ruled that it is legal for police to “stop and frisk” Black and Brown folks, thus violating their constitutionally guaranteed Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Paul Butler author of “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” got it right when he said, “Stop-and-frisks are brutal assertions of police dominance of the streets, communicating to African American men through– sexual harassment, torture and even terrorism – that they are objects of disdain by the state.”
Furthermore the Supreme Court in 1985 in Tennessee v Garner, ruled that it was ok to shoot citizens in the back if a cop thought it was reasonable.
Strangely these same agents of the State stood by on Friday night in Charlottesville as torch wielding thugs surrounded a brave group of predominantly White young people shouting “Black Lives Matter.” The same agents of the State, the Virginia State Police dressed in riot gear during the disturbances on Saturday actually allowed a group of the thugs to rush their lines pushing and cussing them.
Yet the armed agents of the State showed tremendous restraint, refusing to mace or hit anyone with their sticks while claiming to defend themselves, as they would surely have claimed if the folks doing the pushing and cussing had been Black.
Racists in the US are cause for alarm no doubt, but if we are going to eliminate racism once and for all (like it or not) we are going to have to start with the top, the system of Capitalism buttressed by White Supremacy and maintained by the US government.
justice then peace
As one fellow movie goer said I feel violated, and that about sums it up. If you relish seeing Black people getting their behinds kicked and terrorized and murdered, if Black pain, Black helplessness and Black victimization (minus resistance) turns you on, then this is the film for you.
On the other hand, the film shows that police violence and oppression has been with us for quite some time and it brings to the fore one of the more beastly chapters in that history.
However, the film’s interpretation of the events at the Algiers Hotel during the 1967 Detroit riot undercuts why the rebellion occurred. It wasn’t because of a few bad cops but because of an entirely oppressive police force and oppressive and racist and discriminatory power structure that caused Black Detroit to explode.
Black Detroit existed in a kind of caste society. They faced injustice and discrimination in every aspect of their lives: from limited housing opportunities to inadequate and overpriced housing, underfunded and inadequate schools; the inability to obtain bank loans; job discrimination; White privilege on the shop floor; two tiered wage structures; over-inflated prices for goods and services; higher prices for poorer quality and on and on.
Director Katherine Bigelow’s slice of the Detroit riots is nothing more than a horror film, terror porn, posing as thoughtful art. But Bigelow is not known for thoughtful art, she produced the US propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty” that sought to rationalize and justify US torture while portraying Muslims as violent.
We are treated to one horror scene after another, no doubt police violence and this instance was especially horrific. But it was over the top, starting with a little Black girl being machined gun after being mistaken for a sniper. We witness a cop shooting a Black man in the back who was running from him. There was one brutal scene after another. The film held us down and rubbed our noses in the carnage.
According to interviews Bigelow made this film to wake up White people? “I always feel that the purpose of art is to agitate for change, but you can’t change anything if you’re not aware of it,” she said in a Variety interview.
Bigelow’s statement is problematic on a few levels. First she fails to show folks advocating for themselves and she doesn’t understand her fellow White folks they are more than aware of police violence against their fellow citizens, but they have been programmed to not put themselves in the shoes of their fellow citizens which at bottom is what empathy requires .Unfortunately some White people have made it clear by their inaction and apathy that they are quite comfortable with and un-empathetic to Black people’s pain.
“My hope is that a dialogue comes out of this film that can begin to humanize a situation that often feels very abstract.”
Bigelow reveals her class setting and her proximity to the oppressors, because oppressed folks don’t want to talk about oppression, they want it ended. But the comfortable can afford to dialogue and experiment .
The most dignified moment of the movie occurred when Anthony Mackie’s character take a beating with guts.” I see what you are doing but I am not going to go along with it,” he told his tormentors.
Some reviewers noted that they witnessed redemption in the film, but there is little redeeming or liberating about this film. It portrays Black folks as victims throughout having little to no ability to do anything about the situation in which they find themselves. The White people are doing most of the acting and Blacks are reacting.
White folks are multi –dimensional in the film. There are the bad racist White cops, the Michigan State Police who recognize a wrong is being done and leaves, the National Guardsman who helps one of the Black teens and the White girls involved escape. There are sympathetic cops like the Internal Affairs folks. There is a nice White male cop who wonders aloud who could do this to someone.
Some reviewers reveal just how far they have not advanced when it comes to understanding Black folks one noted that Motown’s giving the Dramatics a record contract after all the carnage was a form of redemption. Really allowing a few musicians to prosper, atoned and covers for all the brutalization and oppression Black Detroiters faced?
Worse yet the film ends with one of the survivors and original members of the Dramatics who drops out of the group because he is traumatized by his experience, singing James Cleveland’s version of “Peace Be Still.” Is the screenwriter Mark Boal, implying that Jesus is sleep as well? “Carest thou not that we perish” the song asks.
And Micheal Eric Dyson consulted on this film which he is on record praising which raises questions. Was he paid off; has he sold out; or is he not as “Woke” as he would have folks to believe?
Despite the good intentions of the White liberal screenwriter and director, the likely unintentional psychological message is, this is the way it is and nothing can be done about police violence or the system that requires it. In other words resistance is futile, abandon all hope. White folks have power (the White Power Structure even more powerful) they have will, and they have agency. Black people while proving that they can take a beating well they got music and Jesus…..
justice then peace
Russia is merely a distraction, the least of our problems as working class people in the US. Our REAl problems are: how to make a living without working themselves to death, health insurance that is affordable, the high costs of living including rent / mortgage, food, education and just living. Some more than others have to be concerned about being killed or brutalized by law enforcement.
Add to that: a real lack of representation by our so-called representatives in Washington DC; failure to take global warming serious, expansion of the US nuclear capability making first strike an option by nations feeling seriously threatened by the US; failure to take seriously the heroin and opiod scourge,(which incidentally affects primarily the White middle class); and the lack of real wages and real wage increases that keep up with inflation.
Unfortunately too many workers have adopted their bosses perspective on unions, accusing them of stealing wages. But even with its shortcomings unions provides real protection for workers and better working conditions while almost always increasing the workers share of the companies’ profits.
Since Donald Trump has taken office there has been constant focus on him and his foolish behavior along with the court jesters we pretend are professionals that he brought with him. And the liberal wing of the power structure has created its own diversion in their fixation on Russia and its supposed interference in the last US election. But they are merely a ruse to keep our eyes off what’s really going on.
The elected representatives of the people of the United States could not decide on a health care bill that would provide health care for all Americans. Not only could they not come up with a fair proposal, they were actually trying to find ways to make our health care system less affordable ( as if premiums weren’t high enough) while attempting to put even more money in rich folks pocket. The conservative proposal was so preposterous that the right wing leadership couldn’t even go along with it.
Truth is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a conservative idea that was adopted by the liberals to put off the push for what every nation in the developed world has and that is single payer Universal health care. But the rulers in the US have convinced the majority in the US that what’s good for Big Business is good for them. In this case over-sized profits by the pharmaceutical and medical insurance industries.
So while the ACA did get more people who needed it on Medicare and helped young people just graduating from college to access health care through their parents plans, the liberals placed us at the mercy of greedy insurance companies by mandating everyone carry already overpriced insurance with overblown deductibles.
Health care isn’t complicated, the problem has been solved by all of the other developed nations in the world. Ironically our so-called representatives in Washington DC have the best healthcare the State can provide, while trying to undermine that of those they supposedly represent.
On the day after the US decided to enforce sanctions against Russia, the New York Times ran two stories reinforcing the fact that the Russian hysteria is merely a distraction. The newspaper of record, reported that the CIA had spent a billion dollars arming Syrian rebels. In other words, the US government openly admits to attempting to undermine a sovereign nation, Syria, which is a clear violation of international law. The hypocrisy is stunning. This government acts as if its actions in the world are invisible as if no one can see their blatant double standards and disregard for the rules.
The other story, “Wall Street Climbing Sharply Skips Washington’s Soap Opera ” was just as stunning. According to the article, “Despite the disorder in Washington — with a revolving door at the White House and roadblocks on Capitol Hill — Wall Street and corporate America are booming…., blue chips like Apple, Caterpillar and U.S. Steel have all reported strong earnings in recent weeks that surpassed analysts’ forecasts.
“None of the soap opera in Washington matters,” said Frank Sullivan, chief executive of RPM International, a Cleveland-based maker of specialty coatings and sealants like Rust-Oleum. “Nobody in business cares about who talked to who in Russia.”
In the meantime twitter and the Big business press and liberal pundits keep us interested in a story about Russian interference. Some are naïve and have bought the hype, but others are knowingly trying to turn public opinion against Russia, which will in turn make it easy for the warhawks and profiteers (whose mouths water when they consider the trillions of dollars of rich natural resources that country possesses) to one day try to trick us into believing that it will be in our best interest to go to war with folks who are merely trying to survive and make a living just like us.
We as working people got lots of problems but Russia isn’t one.
justice then peace
Every time someone in authority suggests discriminating against any one or any group in this society it is detrimental and is a blow to civil rights and human progress. President Donald Trump’s proposed military ban of Transgender people is wrong and sets up that community for even more discrimination and possible victimization. However, the US military is not an organization folks should be dying to sign up for, considering its track record over the last 50 years.
Furthermore, it does strike a rather discordant tone to say, we want to be allowed to be as backwards and as hawkish as anyone else. But the sentiment is correct, the Transgender community should be able to participate in any part of US society without fear of discrimination.
Hopefully the Transgender community and other communities will use this controversy as an opportunity to pause and consider what it really means to serve in the US military and to ask tough questions.
The US government has been at war continually for the last 15 years. As a result, hundreds of thousands of completely innocent people have been killed and thousands more have been displaced and made refugees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US bombing and intervention in Libya and Syria have turned thousands more into refugees.
Most US citizens are oblivious to this because society encourages self centered preoccupation with our own lives and the time required to just make a living distracts people from knowing what their government is doing. Add to that, corporate Big Business media diverts our attention daily with the constant reporting on the latest Trump/Russia distraction.
The Trump administration has been constantly bombing Syria and independent sources have revealed that just in the last few months a few thousand Syrians have been killed.
The Obama administration’ drone campaign killed thousands of Muslims in the Middle East. A large percentage of those targeted had done nothing deserving of their fate and were completely innocent. The US government even admitted that it often launched drone attacks without actually knowing who they were trying to kill.
The interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq despite all the flag waving were simply wrong. Afghanistan had not attacked. The US’s the rationale behind that invasion of Afghanistan was faulty and was the result of bullying. Many people believe that the US intervention in Afghanistan was because the country attacked the US on 911 however the majority of those accused of that act were Saudi Arabian nationals. And the invasion of Iraq was proven to unjustified from the very beginning as the US failed to find the weapons of mass destruction that they said was justification for its aggression.
The ongoing efforts by the US military all over the world is not about US security but about US expansionism.
Whether we care about it or not the US military is carrying out a very aggressive and oppressive policy around the world.
Several studies have tried to estimate how much the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have costs so far, drawing from those it’s safe to say the US has spent between 4 and 6 trillion dollars. Imagine what can be done domestically with just a trillion dollars?
While it’s absolutely imperative to fight discrimination of all kinds its unwise to rush to be a part of something, (in this case something immoral) just because we want to be included.
Black people ran into the same conundrum in World Wars I and II. During World War II Blacks were still being discriminated in US society, South and North, in fact many were not allowed to work in government factories producing goods for the war effort. But Black leaders insisted that Blacks be included in the war effort.
Incredibly, when Blacks signed up they were placed in segregated units and experienced intense racism from their fellow countrymen. The vast majority were used as support units driving trucks, digging graves and delivering supplies. The Tuskegee Airmen were an exception and even they served as a segregated unit. Oddly Blacks were not rewarded for their service and they returned to find civil society as closed to them as ever. Nobody cared about their sacrifice, because frankly the society didn’t care about them.
It would represent even more progress if while rightfully defending its right to equal opportunity and to be included in ALL of US socie, the Transgender community joined other communities in voicing opposition to these aggressive and illegal wars.
justice then peace