“Ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it.” – James Baldwin
I keep thinking about this double standard we operate within where when we send violence out into the world, it’s war, and it’s official, righteous, and just – but when our enemies send violence to us it’s terrorism, and it’s criminal and evil. Our wars are waged to defend our way of life – they tell us it’s freedom, but really it’s so that the rich and powerful – who are almost always white men – can stay that way.
This hypocrisy is universally applied on both foreign and domestic fronts. Our response to domestic uprisings and attempts by the people to engage and take the power back, are labeled by the establishment and it’s media as fundamental threats to our way of life. On the local level it plays out the same way. A homeless encampment set up in protest of prejudiced and classist laws, is “a poke in the eye” – the laws however, are about “public safety” and “making Olympia a better place to live” (for the comfortable middle class white majority) despite the direct danger they place many vulnerable citizens in. The media then takes up that mantle, and runs editorials villainizing the engaged citizens. This is leads to an atmosphere where certain citizens are considered “less than” and clears room for hate crimes to happen. This isn’t hyperbolic, this is literal.
On a national level it’s scaled up, but similar tactics are used to suppress dissent. The difference between the response to the KKK and the Black Panther Party is a perfect example. The KKK are attributed with almost 3500 lynchings alone, who knows how many other deaths, or unsolved disappearances you can add to that. On the other hand, you can’t find any data that shows the Black Panther Party were murderous thugs. There was some violence associated with them, no doubt. But not mass murder. Yet they’re the group that’s been labeled by history to be violent, radical, terrorists.
The KKK is an organization that has existed in various forms, and has always fought and murdered in order to uphold the white supremacist power structure in our country. The KKK continues to exist (splintered as it may be), continues to elect politicians into state, federal, and local office, and a blind eye is turned to their violent activities.
The BPP’s goal was to dismantle that power structure – not through violence, but through community engagement – voting, self-reliance, organizing, etc. Being a threat to the white supremacist establishment, they were labeled domestic terrorists, and were systematically jailed, murdered, and otherwise squashed by the FBI, acting as guardians of whiteness.
I’m not sure there’s a clear path forward. Vote for DeRay Mckessen if you live in Baltimore. Vote for candidates in your city who say Black Lives Matter. Ask them about it. Make sure they know WHY they’re saying it. Don’t let the mushy moderate political system kick the can down the road.
Happy Sunday Everybody!