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Racism, Race Riots, Revolution and the Partisan Precedents of History

 

To begin, we are all following the hate-filled chaos that has erupted from this disgrace:

Sure, there are dipshits who justify such a thing, or cling to hopeful excuses about the victim here having done something wrong, but their justifications, even to themselves, fall pretty flat.

 

Here’s something that happened on Twitter shortly after the video of George Floyd’s murder was released:

 

“(T)wo very different phrases were trending on Twitter: “Make Whites Great Again” and “All Lives Matter.”

“The former, had amassed more than 55,000 (re)tweets by Wednesday afternoon.”

 

This is the reaction of some people to a video that cannot help but horrify.  Yet for some, apparently, this was a positive action taken against some crook accused of forgery.  They claim he tried to pass a fake twenty at a white man’s store (the ‘white man’  in question is named Mahmoud Abumayyaleh), and that–this is a direct quote from some online commentator nowhere near any of the events they are describing, “This giant black thug was a thief, plain and simple.  Know how to save society from creatures like this?  Eliminate them!”

 

Now of course even most modern racists would condemn such a churlish, soulless statement, but it does not conceal the raging vortex of emotion that undermines the anxious white people who think that a 6’7″ black man maybe guilty of a minor crime is coming for them next.

 

I mean, check out this social media conversation about the outrage that followed in numerous cities across the nation.  First let’s look at the source, Tomi Lahren, some smug right-wing instigator whose repeated failure to claw her way into the mainstream has made her increasingly vicious.  She was followed by a comment that is very difficult to counterpoint, which another person re-posted in order to provoke what follows:

Image may contain: 2 people, text that says 'Tomi Lahren @TomiLahren How does looting, rioting and destroying your OWN community bring justice for anyone? Ayesha @ayeemalik99 ldk but they tried peacefully kneeling and yall had a problem with that too.'
Then one of those bored know-it-alls, possibly not even believing what they are saying, tried to condemn the erupted outrage, someone so far away from any controversy or oppression (apparently), that their words lose all meaning.  They said:
  • (It is) (n)ot just rioting and looting. A(n) affordable housing complex under construction was set on fire and a person has now been shot and killed in a robbery at a pawn shop. And what have they accomplished with it all, absolutely nothing(?)

 

The response to this was hesitant, with a marginal effort to make a historical parallel:
  • I agree they should not have done anything like that. But I also understand that YEARS AND YEARS of this Injustice can bring anyone to the brink of actions like this.. if the man was not murdered like he was, or if the cop was fired then arrested immediately I guarantee this would never have taken place. Not justifying what they did. But the cause was inaction, and people feel they are not being heard after all this time. Now they decided to make “louder noises”
    Some else posted a good pic showing how destruction of property made protesting illegitimate, but the tea party back in the 1700s was just that. Standing up and wanting change.

 

Of course the historical parallel is not particularly apt, because outrage over being unfairly taxed for a luxury product verses racial targeting and murder can only be mentioned in the same sentence this one time I just did it.  But the point does take on a deeper meaning when we consider the fuses which have lit the many revolutions of the past.  Let’s continue before we get into that.  After someone (me) claimed that the protesters appear to have accomplished part of their goal by getting dismissive people like them to talk about it the reply was terse and cynical:

 

  • (B)y accomplished you mean wrecking their city which in the long term they will pay for then yes they accomplished it. 😂

And, in response to the other guy:

 

  •  hey dumbass. They threw boxes of tea into a harbor not robbed/looted their neighbor’s stores and set them on fire. And another person is dead now and by my count another four have been shot and not by police. Good job rioters, you total got your justice 😂😂😂

 

After this usual social media pettiness continued for a while I decided to get around to a deeper point I suspect many of these armchair warriors have not even considered in their bold proclamations of either justice or righteousness.
  • Do you understand the precarious state of the entire USA right now? The tense hatreds, the rumors grown fully toxic, with a president fanning the flames for his own amusement, and followers and opponents alike ignited into irrational rage–do you know what the precedents of history show the end result of such social chaos to be? Revolution. Full scale revolution. French revolutionary chaos, where four different sides target the others, slaughtering everything not like-minded. The rage today precedes this.  You know, when we consider history . . .
Now I will admit that I also intended to provoke discussion with these remarks, but I spend so much of my time studying history that such ideas are difficult to suppress in my generally pessimistic mind.  I see the provocation of revolution not just from this horrendous incident, but from the flaming culture wars that have been raging since the beginning of human civilization.
Race, while definitely present in the incident specifically under discussion, is only a part of the larger violence to come.  It becomes easy to blame racism for the chaos because racism is such a targeted and personal thing, a historical evil that has never gone out of style.  And it is often the cause of great civil unrest; but there is another social war that bleeds even more deeply than this.  I will give this example, just on the surface, to imply what I’m saying:

“The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

 

Now to be fair, the rabble-rouser speaking makes it clear, following the brief remark that will be endlessly paraded across the news cycle, that he is not talking about physical violence.  (the video: (https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/politics/2020/05/28/couy-griffin-cowboys-for-trump-tweet-dead-democrat-video/5279278002/) He even adds a recognition that this is exactly what his video would become.  Yet it does not change the reality, that with our brief attention spans and headline-only reading literacy, people from either side will both condemn or praise the sentiments that the clever Couy Griffin, a Texas county commissioner, put out there for us to feed upon.  By being so vague and offering such a warning, he frees himself from responsibility for the inevitable violence that some lunatics will cause to erupt.  While the President, submitting the seven seconds of halloos and cheers over the blanket statement to his 44,000,000+ followers, numerous of whom are radical conspiracy theorists believing that everything is out to get them, and that Donald Trump is their only hope for salvation, is bound to form some sort of armed resistance in whatever perverted form the crazed yahoos with nothing left to live for will march in step with, convincing themselves like any other terrorist sect that they are trying to purify the world of evil to make the next generation safe.
But I have gotten off track, my own ranting reflecting radical rage over radical rage.  Let us return to icy commentating.
Here’s a few more comments on the shooting before we move on:
Being the history buff that I am I cannot help but point out that the idea of racial supremacy is not originally an American thing.  It has become so, particularly in the post Civil War years, but any other inkling of such attitudes have been adopted from, primarily, the British, the Spanish, and the French, our original conquerors.  What was left behind upon the liberation of our land from those once great empires is the attitude of superiority that transcends simply race or religion or economics.  It is about being, about feeling chosen and, more than anything, it is about the frustrated yearning for whatever it is that individuals believe they deserve.  What is owed to them and how it is blocked by all those people getting in their way.
Racism itself is easy for folks such as this.  It is instantly recognizable, the clearest symptom of partisan warfare.  And because one race in this nation (or actually three in particular, identifiable:  African, Asian and Native) have been enslaved by those controlling the government and economy, those folks are the simplest to take advantage of.  Block education.  Keep them out of skilled labor.  Cut off the support needed to help communities to survive.  Export drugs into neighborhoods.  All of this is a clear historical record of institutionalized racism.
But there is more to it than just blanket intolerance.  There is something more sinister, the sort of prejudicial divide that has always fueled the outward rage of violent people.  It is the anger that even people who are honest when they claim they are not racist exhibit when pressed into a situation where they are confronted by their own bigotry (remember, hating people who hate is still prejudice).  And it is this where we come to that lingering phantom that has existed even among slave communities, even in African nations where barbaric kings sold their enemies to the Europeans.  This is not meant to undermine the virulence of racism, but is an attempt to identify the ideologies that underlie the stinking wreck of human civilization that we claw our ways out from every few hundred years.  It is partisanism.  Partisanship.  The eternal warfare over people with different ideas on how the world is meant to be.

For example:

  • The justice will come after the looting and rioting when the cops go to prison, what the looting and rioting is accomplishing right now is if these cops don’t go to prison don’t expect any peace! This are the consequences of allowing racist comments and acts to go unpunished!! There will be major changes for the better after the riots! Just like in The LA Riots!!

 

Certainly this person’s heart, as they believe, is in the right place, but there is a clear misunderstanding of how society works, of how order is restored, and how progress is made.  In addition to declaring that “racist . . . acts (shouldn’t) go unpunished,” something that most people will get behind, they make a rather sinister suggestion that “racist comments” need to be punished too.  This is a dangerous step to take.  Should those this person disagrees with take complete control over the nation where they live, and then outlaw all “opposition speech,” the devastation would clearly be drastic.  One cannot legislate the silencing of assholes because who is an asshole is a matter of perspective.
Here’s another side, one from a terrified or profoundly indifferent person, someone so selfish they can only look for personal advantage in something gone so devastatingly wrong, their cheap joke begging for a laugh.  Look what this idiot’s response to social unrest is:
  • Black dude’s dead, Ima get me a new pair of jordons…

 

Inevitably, left or right, conspiratorial thinking–one of the grave toxins that fire up every revolution as they get ready to boil–takes over:
  • Did anybody ever consider that Republican plants might be in the crowd to start up some violence? Considering that the “protests” at various states Capitols were engineered by Republican operative and not an organic gathering, what is to stop them from starting up some violence in a crowd to make the protesters look bad? I would not be surprised if that were true.

 

Or, of course,

 

  • This is all fake video of some n(*****) (the racist who posted this provided the asteriks) getting arrested.  The liberals are trying to make this thief into a hero, like they always do!  Make America White Again!

 

And yet such cartoonish hatred, such superficial bias serves as a cover for that deeper evil I have been raging about.  It is the swallowing partisan divide that drains away all patriotism, all pride in nations and communities.  It sets people against one another.  Race, gender, drugs, abortion, laws, jobs, housing, health care, freedom . . . all of these issues can be applied to race, or taken on their own merits, or used to exploit any other concern that worried people have, offering who to blame alongside fragmented solutions.  As for police killing black men, an atrocious repetition that keeps happening and happening on the nightly news, let us take a brief look and see if we can’t draw some conclusions:

 

Since 2012, in January police have killed 365 people; in February 298; March: 327; April: 336; May (including George Floyd): 229; June: 294  The we get to the heart of summer: July: 380; August: 363; September: 266; October: 212; November: 263, and December: 245.  Now, granted, some of these killings were legitimate, some bad guy shooting at them, or committing other acts of otherwise unstoppable violence, and the cop had the misfortune of being sued by a particularly sharp attorney who forced the police to make an example of a mostly innocent officer.  But more than 60% of these killings were of black men, and this does not even count the many more that were dismissed by courts as “justifiable homicide” for whatever various reasons.  And since the rules for such statistics have changed since Donald Trump got into office, I suppose we can all expect yet another long, hot summer.

© 2020 Lance Polin

 

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