Friday, July 8, 2016

Stop it now

We do not live in a world of absolutes.  We live in a world of shades and nuance.  The mediatainment industry does not thrive on nuance, but on soundbites and outrage.

It is possible to deplore the actions of a few police who disproportionately use violence against black men, while recognizing that the majority of police work bravely to serve the public.

It is possible to deplore the violence against officers by an angry black man, while recognizing that he is in no way representative  of nor supported by people who are concerned about police violence.

I am deeply concerned at the divisions I see between those who are angry at the death of Philando Castile, shot during a traffic stop, and those who see themselves as police supporters, who feel that the shocking attack on police is a consequence of media and liberal outrage.

It is possible to see both these events as deeply wrong and deplorable, and to mourn all victims.

 Frankly it behooves both sides to recognize that there are no absolutes. It would help if the police supporters would admit that sometimes cops do the wrong thing. Take Tamir Rice, for example (the boy shot in Cleveland with a toy gun):  the police officers arrived and immediately started shooting. In contrast, in another Cleveland Park earlier this year, two boys playing with toy guns were safely apprehended by an experienced officer who did not screech up with his gun out.

 Similarly, it would be helpful if those concerned about police violence consider the snap reactions an officer must make.  For example, Michael Brown (in Ferguson) was not shot in the back, and evidence supports a close struggle with the officer for a weapon.  The officer's subsequent pursuit of Brown may have been a wrong judgment, but the physical evidence supports his story.  No favors are done by pretending otherwise.

We all have work to do on racism and knee-jerk reactions, on community building and common goals.

There are plenty of forces who right now thrive on division, on us-v-them, on race wars, or police wars, or violence.

 We must not let them win.


JCF said...

Stop it now, or START IT NOW?

START loving one another as children of God. START the love that demands both justice and compassion. START seeing our common humanity, regardless of color of skin, or color of uniform. START believing that "love casts out fear". START seeing that only the "common weal", and not the invididually weaponized, can keep us safe. And START raising up leaders who try to unite, not divide.

Start it now!

John Julian said...

Look: It's a story as old as human society. Gradually, some group gathers money, power, recognition, control away from the rest of the culture, Finally it becomes overpowering. And eventually, the oppressed group can take it no longer—and it explodes in revolution——the "bottom" says, "No more!" and attacks and overthrows the "top".

It ALWAYS happens, and it will continue to happen as one group begins to take control of over another (which is what a social group virtually always does!) and then the oppressed rise up and blast the oppressing group to kingdom come. IT ALWAYS HAPPENS.

Look, even five years ago, someone who talked like Bernie Sanders would be laughed down. But Wall Street has grown too powerful, has oppressed too many people, has harmed too many bodies and souls—and the rise is coming. There WILL be revolution, as Bernie Sanders says.

And the same is true with the police: they took over more and more and more control, pushed themselves way above the public—and now the revolution is happening. And it won't be solved with conversations—it won't be solved until the police get back in line as non-military servants of the people. If they don't, expect a lot more killings of uniformed police! Preaching won't help; conversations won't help. The only thing that will save it is if the police back down, humble themselves, and give up their fantasy of being "defenders of freedom and law"—that's bunk. By definition, a person who wants to be a policeman is looking for a level of social superiority without having to earn it. It's the same with clergy: we put on a collar and suddenly we're "special".

That is what must stop. The fiction that cops are the saviors of our culture and preserver of our laws is pure bunk. Back in the 60's when I visited a cousin in Sweden who was a policeman, I told him about our anti-war demonstrations, about the police beating that I myself had experienced, and he was aghast. "The public are our boss!" he said, "We work for the people and we must be polite and courteous to them or we're fired."

You see, it's possible!