Racism, Fear, Hate
I finished reading the recent book Killing Trayvons (a book by CounterPunch, with the subtitle: An Anthology of American Violence) just a day before the release of the report about the Ferguson, Missouri, criminal justice system, whose corruption was brought to light after the murder of Michael Brown. The terrible problems reported in Ferguson are definitely not limited to that single suburb.
As demonstrated elsewhere, the city of Cleveland investigated the recent murder of a 12-year old boy by police and concluded the death was the boy's fault. The Chicago police apparently uses a warehouse as a site for abusing those not even arrested for a crime. A recent article about the Ferguson report also points out the sorry state of the American political state.
Blacks are arrested over 3 times more often than whites for having marijuana. There are many police departments across the country which arrest blacks at a rate 10 times higher than people who are not black. African Americans make up about 13% of the US population but make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Drug use is about the same for whites or blacks but blacks are 3 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than blacks.
As this level of police violence against citizens has escalated in recent years, one of the most disturbing revelations is the lack of any accountability in the criminal justice system. There are no publicly available records of such acts. To fill that void, there have been attempts to create an initial data base of such events, though of course it is incomplete as it must rely on public records and the police, being the party being monitored, is apparently not inspired to help ensure accurate record keeping.
Anyone who has worked for a business knows some level of employee accountability is always required, even if only to monitor simple things like the number of absences. An employee that does not make a commitment to be at work and on time every day will probably be lax in his/her assignments on the job. There should certainly be monitoring of criminal behavior by police like the use of unwarranted violence. If there is no monitoring of police misbehaviors than it should not be surprising that such behaviors continue unabated.
As a result of that observation, it is readily apparent the American political system does not care about police violence. If it did then there would be an enforceable mechanism for accountability. That is simply a confirmation that the real purpose of police is not 'to protect and to serve' the public - which was the popularized motto of the LAPD.
The real purpose of police is to serve and to protect the interests of the state. It is very convenient for the state (and its political leaders) for there to be fear and hatred of certain minorities, like the blacks, for that fear and hatred is then focused on something other than the inherent problems in the political system. There are so many articles available online about the police persecution of blacks, even to the extent of a new common joke: being caught DWB. There are other facets to this racism pervading our political system.
As a modern society we have matured to expect some services to be provided within a community, like fire and police protection, road maintenance, utilities (power, water, sewer), and a public education system. Each of these is difficult to obtain as an individual. We can hire our own security guard, erect our own wind turbine, pay tuition for a private school, or even handle the education of our children at home. However, most do not have the resources for these on the 'free market' but instead rely on the community's resources to help with these services - hence a public education system.
Racial segregation in our public schools was recognized as a problem long ago. The quality of education in schools within poor minority neighborhoods was less than that in schools in wealthier neighborhoods. Rather than dealing with the problem of funding schools in a more equitable manner, to improve the less fortunate within a school system, the more expedient political solution was to bus some number of children around, causing distress for them and their families rather than improving their neighborhood schools, where those not being bussed were of course still in the same underfunded school. Over time, this bussing of children became less common and poorer communities became resigned to their fate of unequal schools in their district and in their state.
The subprime mortgage controversy over ten years ago was marked by the lenders targeting minorities, but none involved were ever prosecuted for this racial discrimination.
The trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin was marked with the prejudice of possible drug use by Trayvon - to the extent Trayvon was more on trial, for his potential misbehaviors as if he were a threat to be feared even though unarmed, than George was on trial for the murder. Except for one Hispanic juror, everyone else (prosecutor, defense, judge, other five jurors) was white.
The prevalence of drugs in black communities is the intended result of American foreign policy. During the Contra years of the Reagan administration, the CIA distributed drugs from Central American to various gangs in America, to aid our allies (including the drug lords) in their insurgency against the legitimate democratic government in Nicaragua.
This tactic was the logical follow-up to the War on Drugs that was initiated during the Nixon administration, which was really a war on blacks due to the influence seen by the civil rights organizations. Blacks were already targeted for prosecution on drug related charges (which remains the case to thise day), and by bringing more drugs to the black communities through the CIA, more drug related prosecutions would inevitably result - to the benefit of those politicians riding on a wave of popularity due to more convictions, with the inevitable assumption more convictions must be making the white voters safer from such crime. This drug trafficking by the CIA was brought to the public notice initially through the reporting by journalist Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury-News in 1996.
The unfortunate consequence of Webb's reporting was the reaction by the major US news outlets, who followed CIA staff direction to attack Gary Webb, rather than a further investigation of his revelations. In our new world order, the major media companies will back the administration and the political system rather than holding its agencies accountable for misbehaviors - like this involvement in drugs. Our CIA brings drugs to the minorities and then the criminal justice system targets those minorities for drug related offenses. How vile is that!? That should be a major news story to bring down everyone involved but instead it was suppressed. The major news outlets are never holding those in government accountable for their actions. It is clear, through the events over the past few decades, to those in power black lives do not matter.
This complicity between the media and the government was demonstrated again in 2004 when the NY Times would not publish a story by James Risen revealing the Bush administration illegally wire tapped Americans since 2002, as the story might impact the Bush election campaign.
The role of American media is very important to our political system, to keep the populace in constant fear of terror and angry with those terrorists. The implicit story line maintaining racism helps politicians with domestic policies which maintain the inequalities in our current class system. However that racism is inadequate to foster foreign policies of war and empire. Americans needed a new threat to fear.
In the 1970's, American special forces created and fostered a new branch of militants who could claim some allegiance to a derivative of Islam. These militants, with American arms and funding, were able to distress the Russian friendly regime in Afghanistan, eventually drawing Russian troops into the country to suppress the insurrection. These insurgents were able to cause enough trouble the Russian troops left the country in defeat. These militants have been very useful to American foreign policy goals ever since, becoming what has been called Al Qaeda, though some pundits refer to the group as Al Cia-da.
In 2000, the Project for the New American Century published their report Rebuilding America's Defenses, noting a catalyzing event like Pearl Harbor could expedite the political changes necessary for this goal of global US preeminence. The 9/11 terror attacks were just what these neocons were waiting for, to implement the new military initiatives in the Middle East, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. As was reported many times, Al Qaeda was used in the overthrow of Gaddahfi in Iraq and Al Qaeda was used in the initial attempts at the overthrow of Assad in Syria.
The latest group to fear, ISIS, came into being when its leaders were in the American prison Camp Bucca in Iraq. Since then there have been frequent reports of American support to ISIS, even including a visit by Senator McCain, who at the time was pushing strongly for American support of arming the rebels to overthrow Assad. Further reports of American support for ISIS have come from Iraq, in their campaign against ISIS forces.
America has a drone program to remote kill 'targets' in other countries, but the identities of the casualties are usually unknown - Americans are killing foreigners without any due process, like an investigation whether each person is actually given of some crime. This is clearly a crime against humanity, and yet it continues unabated.
For America to continue its foreign interventions, to further its global empire, it must avoid too much domestic opposition, a lesson learned from Vietnam in the 1960s when large demonstrations put pressure on Congress to end that war. The War on Terror is simply a threat that will never go away, especially when American special forces and NGOs are supporting those militants that we are supposedly trying to suppress - when acting in our self-appointed role of global policeman.
Anyone who has read the classic novel 1984 is familiar with the use of hatred to fan the flames of patriotism - the daily two minutes of hate and the hate week. The alarmism presented daily in our media about the dangers of ISIS and radical Islam is intended to keep us in fear. These techniques continue to be used in modern America politics and media management, to foster fear and hatred. The change of our main 'terrorist' opponent from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State is rather important, as Al Qaeda was a generic term that the general population see as small groups of guerillas but now the Islamic State has a more meaningful term, Islam, in it. By vilifying the terrorists as members of a radical Islamic sect, the political right wing can take advantage of its alliance with the fundamentalist, evangelical Christians to make this War on Terror also a War of Christians against Islam.
The consequences of this war on Islam was recently observed with the murder of 3 Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The suspect appears to have been motivated by anger toward his neighbors who were Muslims.
There are Christian communities, like in Alabama, which are trying to get laws passed to prohibit sharia law, as if there is actually any remote possibility of such an event - but fear mongering can result in irrational responses like that. Many who watch the mainstream media channels will probably be alarmed by the continuous warnings about Islamic terrorists (but no mention of our support for them).
I was born in 1956 so I grew up in the 1960s, a time of many civil rights demonstrations - which resulted in important political changes - and a time of many anti-war demonstrations - which eventually made the Vietnam War too unpopular to continue, forcing some troop reductions though the conflict continued until 1975. The decade had the hippies, with the popular 'Age of Aquarius' song talking of peace and love.
Fifty years ago, many demonstrators were seeking necessary political changes, to stop war, to stop racial prejudice, to get people to work together - to bring America closer to sustaining a dream of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We are now at the opposite point in society than the 1960s, with very few, large, effective demonstrations, with ever more talk of military interventions in Syria and Ukraine, and now perhaps Iran - to attack foreigners who present as little threat to Americans as did the Vietnamese but whose country is important to our geopolitical schemes - and with the too frequent killings of unarmed civilians and children demonstrating the effect of the militarization of our police forces. Many politicians are keeping society fractured, by trying to prevent people from working together, whether through 'right to work' laws to prevent unions which result in better wages and benefits for its workers or through continued religious intolerance via opposition to birth control access and to same sex marriages preventing couples from sharing their financial resources just like heterosexual couples. With the domestic surveillance program and widespread police abuse, many Americans have less liberty and a dampened pursuit of happiness.
Our society is now more divisive than I recall in my lifetime, as our democratic political system is truly broken. If there were frequent police killings of demonstrators in the 1960s (the Kent State massacre involved the Ohio National Guard) I certainly do not recall hearing of them. Our political culture tolerates, even emphasizes, racial prejudice, fear, and hatred, to keep the populace in disarray rather than capable of pushing for political reform. There is no accountability on our elected representatives as they are now bought as pawns for corporate interests, not serving as public servants.
Perhaps the Ferguson report will galvanize the populace to bring about real change in our local police force behaviors, to break this police state (where police are above the law, able to murder or steal without consequence), but given the atrocious behavior just witnessed with the Netanyahu speech to Congress, with the fanatical applause by our representatives to his errant claims of Iran nuclear weapons, it seems unlikely our imperialistic, blood thirsty foreign policy will change soon. The active foreign policy requires a domestic policy dependent on suppression of dissent. Domestic reform is difficult in the context of pervasive fear mongering, especially when peaceful efforts at political change are perceived as terrorist acts.
created - March 2015
last change - 03/08/2015
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