“I am thinking about how last week began with 100,000 dead, yet there has been no national mourning. I am thinking about my late sister, a grief therapist, explaining to me once that unexpressed grief turns to rage. The unexpressed national grief and rage right now are connected.” — Dr. Steven W. Thrasher, 2020
“Yet, with another part of my mind, I am aware that no man is a villain in his own eyes. Something in the man knows – must know – that what he is doing is evil; but in order to accept the knowledge the man would have to change. What is ghastly and really almost hopeless in our racial situation now is that the crimes we have committed are so great and so unspeakable that the acceptance of this knowledge would lead, literally, to madness. The human being then, in order to protect himself, closes his eyes, compulsively repeats his crimes, and enters a spiritual darkness which no one can describe.” — James Baldwin, “Blues for Mr. Charlie,” 1964
It’s too much man. It is overwhelming. I am at long last overwhelmed. In any normal week any one of a thousand things we’ve all seen happen in just the past two days of the uprising would have been enough to write five thousand words about but how does one go about choosing among them right now? Like I said last week how do you pick one instance of unchecked state violence against the citizenry as an entry point? Presenting one as the singular overarching example to stand in for the whole would be woefully inadequate. It would feel like an insult to all the ones you left out.
Here’s one anyway though.
Yesterday evening I came home after having left the house for any significant length of time for the first time in months. Remember like a week ago when we are all desperate for a break from the monotony? Really set ourselves up for the old monkey paw gambit there. I turned on the cable news like a fucking idiot and watched I don’t know let’s say it was a tanker truck plowing through a crowd of a thousand people marching along a highway in Minneapolis that was supposed to have been shut down. Maybe it was police in Los Angeles attempting to run over protestors a technique that has become something of a pattern in law enforcement throughout the country of late.
And I felt this dark ink creeping through my veins and I felt my chest getting heavy and it wasn’t until after about an hour of that feeling of my body resetting to its newly natural equilibrium of agitation and exhaustion — I feel always like I’ve got an IV of adrenaline in one arm and an IV of anesthesia in the other — that I recognized that the feeling had gone away for a merciful few hours. I had been back in Boston marching and protesting and chanting and silently kneeling and communing together with my fellow citizens of Massachusetts who like people everywhere else have had enough. For a few hours I found solace in solidarity and I can’t overstate how freeing that was. An unburdening.
Of course things would become more confrontational later on in the city like every other city after I had gone home but there’s righteousness to be found in that as well.
Boston’s mayor sent out some platitudes about respecting our rights to assemble and have our voices heard and get our asses kicked by his fucking goons but there was one thing he said which almost all politicians and liberals and conservatives alike who are uncomfortable with disorder are saying which is that he blamed any violence on people from “outside the city” and that sort of thing has really angered me of late in part because why wouldn’t people who aren’t technically residents of a major metropolitan area travel there to protest? The idea that you have to be an authorized resident of a city to go to a protest there is so fucking infuriating to me. I’m not talking about “destroying” the city but protesting there. Police hurt us everywhere but mostly in the big cities so it makes sense to me that that’s where we would go to demand they stop. Especially when it's the state capitals where our governments are located.
More than that though this idea has taken root everywhere that in every city there are paid crisis actors and people being “bussed in” to cause damage and that is meant to do a few things one of which is to forestall any sense of rising solidarity among the different groups protesting the use of state violence against citizens and disproportionately against people of color.
The second thing is it’s an attempt to create an out group that does not fall under the jurisdiction of our leaders. If a mayor or governor says the people causing trouble aren’t his or her people it’s some other “foreign” group then anything they say or do can be dismissed as illegitimate. Those people are not my people and therefore what they are asking for is not my responsibility to fix.
Thirdly it’s ah fuck I forgot the third one. Gonna be honest with you guys I have not exactly been practicing self care vis a vis the old mental health and substance use over here. I’ve been lashing out at friends and being cruel and spoiling for a fight with anyone who moderately disappoints me and I’m sorry about that. Shit what was I going to say…
In any case please shut the fuck up about outside agitators unless you mean the police.
Yes there are some small percentage of “fake protestors” just as there are (being generous here) a handful of decent human being cops. But if you're talking about either right now you're obfuscating the actual problem. Are there white supremacists in our midst wrecking havoc? Sure. Are there some anarchist types whatever that means destroying things for fun? Sure. But it does not matter. Police brutalize and murder people every single day. They are doing it right now. They’re doing it more than ever right now. That’s the issue. Anything else you’re talking about is an attempt to distract from that.
Another means of distraction people seem to be really invested in lately is sharing stories of friendly cops here and there kneeling and marching and not killing people for five minutes like it’s a video of a bear getting into someone's swimming pool. Awwww that's not what they're supposed to do! He thinks he's people. So to that end I’m begging you other white people especially not to share feel good pictures of cops meeting the baseline expected standards of human decency and professionalism right now. It's no different than writing “not all cops” which is a synonym for “all lives matter” which is another way of saying “I am fine with systemic racism and police brutality.”
Here I encourage you to read this entire thread:
Oh right I remembered the third thing.
Picking out various groups amidst the protests who are really responsible for the destruction and don’t have their official protest papers in order is a way — especially for comfortable white libs — to disprove of the protest in more socially respectable terms. None of them would dare speak up against people of color protesting for their lives but they also really really don’t like the idea of people pushing back against the state and forcing change — they would prefer that you vote the police baton off of your skull — so they take that instinctual discomfort they are feeling and place it upon a more socially acceptable group to despise which is as it always is the left.
To be a serious and respectable member of polite political society you are permitted to criticize the extremes of the right like the white supremacists and the far left like “antifa” and that’s it. The center is off limits. Just like the police you don’t come for your own guys.
That’s why in particular cable news libs are so fucking horny to have antifa or whatever to be mad at now they just constitutionally cannot level criticism at the police or black folks on air it's abhorrent to them. The two guiding principles of the lib mind are you can't blame anything on people of color because being perceived as racist is social and professional death and you also can't criticize the people whose job it is to oppress them because being perceived as anti-police makes you some kind of activist. You can be against some specific police but not The Police. Due to “journalism” taking a stance against the police on a systemic and not merely “a few bad apples” level is seen as being biased and unobjective just like when it comes to criticizing the military.
That’s also true of Democrat politicians approximately zero of whom I’ve seen use the actual words systemic police brutality or talked about how to fix this in anyway besides soggy broad messages of healing and coming together. Democrat politicians prefer to call out generic racism as the problem because it’s amorphous and uncontainable and not the specific ingrained racism of police forces which they actually have power over and would then have to put their necks out to stop.
Ah fuck it I don’t know. I can’t think straight. That’s all I have for now. I was going to run an interview I did with Detention Watch Network about what’s going on inside the detention facilities we’re holding immigrants in during the pandemic but I’ll save that for the next one. Turns out all the other things that were bad before this uprising are still bad.
Here’s a pretty funny story from 2003 via UPI:
U.S. forces should not be blamed for the lawlessness and looting in Baghdad as it is a natural consequence of the transition from a dictatorship to a free country, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday at the Pentagon.
"The task we've got ahead of us now is an awkward one ... It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," Rumsfeld said.
"And for suddenly the biggest problem in the world to be looting is really notable."
Rumsfeld said he believes time will take care of the problem in Baghdad, as it seems to have in the southern cities of Umm Qasr and Basra, where looting has largely abated and the streets are back under relative control.
In Qatar on Friday, U.S. military officials said U.S. forces do not intend to crack down on looting in Iraq because it might alienate the Iraqi people they are trying to win over.
"If the coalition simply imposed control on the population, that wouldn't achieve the desired effect. We wouldn't be everywhere and we might also alienate a population that doesn't need to have another regime with a grip around its neck," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a Central Command spokesman….