BY: Martin Love
PEJOURNAL/NORTH CAROLINA – What with all the violence and protest after the murder by a Minneapolis cop of a hapless Black man, the U.S. has been in riotous turmoil in myriad locations to an extent probably not seen on American streets since the height of the Vietnam War.
And it’s not just over racism and police methods, but the murder of George Floyd was the sudden spark – a murder which in fact was a fairly common occurrence inside the U.S. It has been estimated that such crimes by police have occurred on average three times every day somewhere in the country. But it’s important to note also that the majority of people killed inexplicably by the cops happen to be Whites. It’s not hard to note that something has gone terribly wrong in the U.S.
One can remember when the situation was a lot better, back in the days, say in the 1960s, when if a person got pulled over by police, one could exit one’s car and go sit with the officer in the patrol car and friendly chat at the side of the road while he wrote up a ticket for some alleged infraction. No longer. If one exits a vehicle one could get shot nowadays by police.
Police departments in many cities and towns have become militarized, no thanks to the Israelis who have trained many officers to be like they are, and officers are occasionally itchy to find a suspicion to harm the innocent, often because police are themselves paranoid about getting harmed themselves and see “the other” everywhere.
Policing in America is actually, 95 percent of the time, just boring. Officers ride around in cars punching license plate numbers into their database computers looking for most anything that might be amiss like a lapsed registration, or just a broken tail light or whatever. This creates the potential for violent escalation because subjects often are and feel set upon and harassed. There is pressure on cops in their patrols to do something every day, to avoid showing up back at their stations at the end of their shifts having found or done nothing, and sometimes one can even stumble across cops parked in some remote spot simply passing the time. This is the base case impetus for action of one sort or another. The other impetus is simply wanton cruelty because suspects or citizens are viewed as enemies first by many cops, some of them having signed on to their jobs because they literally enjoy the domination aspect of their work. Donald Trump recently demanded that U.S. police and soldiers demonstrate “dominance” on the streets whenever they can to choke off protests, a charge that was criticized in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by people appalled by what happened in Minneapolis.
One must recall that the earlier notion that police exist primarily to “protect and serve” citizens has fallen by the wayside: now, it appears, the primary role given demands on police in the U.S. by the entrenched “establishment” is to preserve the stratified status quo and that is not pretty this century at least. Some cops, but admittedly a minority of them, embrace this posture because it permits them to exercise an innate cruelty against others, particularly if they happen to be Black or members of some other minority or poor community.
The question now is whether the current social (and political) crisis in the U.S. is different than those in the past and more serious, portending the utter breakage of the social contract and maybe the dissolution of the U.S. as a whole into some kind of lambent anarchy.
This crisis is not exclusively “about” any one problem in the U.S., but encompasses a raft of ills that have been burgeoning for decades, including U.S. militarism overseas. It feels like the federal government, especially under Donald Trump, has lost its capacity to deliver a sense of harmony and responsibility to average Americans, to get them to feel like the government itself (not just the police) exists to “serve and protect” citizens. Sure, the people who support Trump and his ilk, particularly the rich who live comfortable lives and don’t want anything taken from them (including taxes), are a very small but powerful minority of Americans now. Trumpists applaud the idea of “dominance” by the police, who have become their foot soldiers, and meanwhile division is rampant both at the top and the bottom of American society.
This divisions actually serve the maintenance of the status quo (just as divisions between Muslim majority nations do), so it’s not something that Trump and minions so far have honestly attempted to minimize or rectify at home or abroad. At home the appeal has been to misguided “patriotism” and as well to blame outsiders, even Russians, Chinese and Iranians!, for the abysmal state of U.S. society at the present time, especially given the deepest economic recession since the 1930s.
Thus the world, long dominated by the cruel U.S. “empire”, holds its breath and waits to see what is going to unfold in the U.S. this decade. IF the current social unrest is serious enough, then real and positive changes will occur in time. But unfortunately not without tremendous upset in the process.