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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What would YOU do if you thought people in YOUR town were executing YOUR family members?

Lets suppose you have a neighbour and you don't get along. We have all been in that situation.
I have, many times. 
I have also had many more neighbors that I got along great with and was glad to have known. But we don't really mention them much. And they aren't relevant to this discussion.
Now, you do your best to avoid contact with that neighbor. In some ways, so does he. But when it comes down to it, if he wants something his way, and you are in the way of that, there will be contact. And conflict. 
Now, lets suppose you have a dog. Your dog barks a bit, Nothing major. Dogs bark. And your dog doesn't bark any more than the average dog. You don't leave him out at night. He doesn't howl and keep the neighborhood up. He doesn't sit at your front door and bark loudly at every passing car with headlights that goes down the street. You might let him out late at night in your backyard to take care of his business, but you bring him back in right away. And he rarely barks at all when he does that. 
Now, one night, for some reason, you take him for a walk, and he sees something. Maybe a cat. Or another dog. Or just something that rattles him. He barks his head off. What can you do? It happens.
The next day, your neighbor engages you. He doesn't mince words. He warns you to get "that dog under control, or I will."
You are somewhat startled, but you say nothing. You ask him, "what does that mean, 'or I will'?"
He doesn't say it outright, but he hints he will kill your dog. Being a reasonable person, you warn him that he would not do very well to do something like that. We have laws. If he has a problem with something you do, he can take that up with the law. He has been sufficiently warned. There is no misunderstanding here.
Anyway, he is standoffish and you know he has no intention of obeying the law. Which you are also doing, by the way. So, your dog barks again. Dogs bark. It was bound to happen.
He comes screaming over--with a gun--threatening and with full intention of killing your dog. You have no choice, you shoot him. He is 
1) trespassing
2) threatening physical harm, to your dog and possibly and likely you 
3) giving you no choice. Kill or be killed.
Now, he is dead. Now what?
Well, in normal circumstances, somebody was in the wrong. In a normal world, it would come out that he was in the wrong, instigated the incident, and you are innocent.
But wait. What if you live in Ferguson, Missouri? Or pretty much anytown Southern USA? And now, lets suppose he was respected in the community, somewhat rich and powerful, AND white. And you are black, Joe Average, a nobody, and possibly even have some past history, which isn't relevant but still a consideration in the real world of justice.
Likely, you are going to jail for murder. Or, in an alternative turn of events, he kills your dog, injures or kills you in the process, and he gets off  found innocent. Somehow.
What would YOU do if you thought people in YOUR town were executing YOUR family members? Or would. And they are likely to get away with it. And the law has failed you.
Your neighbor is above the law.
In your view, and your segment of societies view, the law doesn't serve you, or justice, but in fact serves those with the power and privilege to benefit from them. There is basically no law.
What would you do about that?
I know what I would do.
I watched a very short CNN clip this morning. I can't post it because it isn't easy to add those types of clips on a blog. But here is the text.

"We have come to terms with the fact that, in the United States of America, it is perfectly legal for police officers to murder people of color. And I think that is something that we're coping with and that is the reality we live in. There is no justice when you are murdered by a police officer and you are a person of color. That is a harsh fact to embrace and accept in today's times."

-Tef Poe, speaking to CNN last night on the incidents in Fergeson. 
What would you do if you thought people in your town were executing your family members? And getting away with it. 

He told Amanpour that, in his opinion, teenager Michael Brown was “murdered because [officer] Darren Wilson feared his black skin.”

When people believe they are getting screwed, whether that is true or not, they basically feel that they have nothing to lose. The most basic instinct, to live and the need to survive, has been removed in the minds of many in Ferguson, and all over America. Once that happens, they don't care anymore about any potential consequences. You have broken their hope and spirit, and there are only two kinds of people who result from that status.
First, some just quit and go away. There are enough of those. They make up the group that protest peacefully, and many just have opinions on what is going on, or they accept it as the way it is, as the Tef Poe related above. They are realists. Maybe they are cowards. Probably not. More likely they think it just isn't worth wasting their lives fighting a war they can't or will never win. 

Can they (we) win that war? Maybe. I don't know. So far, in my almost 50 years, I have never seen it won. And if you look at the history of humans, not a dent has really been made in that war. A few battles have been won, but in all cases, a lot of blood was shed, life was lost, for very minimal gains. The average guy isn't really interested in being a martyr for someone 50 years from now to reap that benefit. I'm certainly not.
But secondly, and mostly,  the most dangerous people are the ones that perceive themselves as having nothing to lose and will do anything. Like lighting a city on fire and burning it to the ground. What do they care? In their eyes, it isn't their city anyway. These are the types that burned Ferguson to the ground, or at least attempted to do so. They aren't martyrs. They are fighting for their lives, and figure they have nothing to lose anyway. They aren't fighting for a future generation. They are fighting so they can live and not have the fear that their neighbor (the state) will come over and kill their dog and themselves and not have to pay any price for that.
That is their dog in this fight. Themselves. Not the big picture.
Now, we can look back at Ferguson with some reality and perspective.

What would you do if you thought people in your town were executing your family members, or friends, and they were the ones who are supposed to protect you? And the state was seen to be condoning it and saying it was okay. Justified.
You would do exactly what the people of Ferguson did two nights ago. You would be foolish not to. If you didn't, you would be saying you condone it, are okay with it, and have nothing to show them its not okay. 
However, that doesn't mean that Michael Brown was murdered. Killed yes. He was killed. But I don't think anybody knows for sure how it went down. 
But was he murdered? We don't know that. A jury of citizens says he wasn't. But, that isn't what this is about. People in Ferguson believe that IF he was murdered, he would get away with it. That is the issue. The perceived lack of justice. And when there is no justice, there is violent outburst. That is all you have left. When you think you have nothing left. Like the right to live and not be killed for no good reason.
I tend to think, in this case, that there was good reason to kill Michael Brown. But, I can't be sure. Nobody really can. There is no video of the entire event, Ferguson is a racist town, in a racist state, in a racist country with a history of incidents where people of color have been killed and murdered and the murderers walked scot-free.

Above, I added a clip of the trailer for the movie Mississippi Burning. It is a story based on facts. A real incident. That happened 50 years ago this year. Things haven't changed much. Only that it was easier to get away with it then, if you were in fact guilty. But make no mistake about it. It still happens a lot and Ferguson is not an isolated incident. Nor will it be the last. Or a freak occurrence. 
Below, I have included a link to the actual incident. For the most part, the criminals got away with it. And the state had a big part in making that happen. Or trying to.

That is what the people in Ferguson were rioting about the other night. I don't think they even know one way or the other if Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown. They just know if he did, he is likely to get away with it. Because Wilson is a white cop in a racist town and Brown was a young black man in that town. And the citizens have had enough of it. They don't care anymore. Even if that means more violence. Peaceful protest has not worked, in their eyes anyway. I would tend to agree with them. 

“[Ferguson Police] Chief Jackson came up with excuse after excuse and it just appears to be a complete cover-up in my opinion. I live in Missouri, I’m from St. Louis, I know how the police are, I can’t sugarcoat it for you.” 

-Tef Poe

Ferguson. It is a textbook microcosm of what our society is. Have and have nots. And what we do about that. In the view of the black community, especially the ones that live in that region and many others like it, they do nothing but protect their own, violate the civil and human rights of blacks and anyone of color or different religious background than themselves, and engage the state to make that all happen. A state that is supposed to be for all, but is only for those it serves to protect and help flourish.

Chris Rock has a very humorous video that has been out there for quite a while. It is very funny. Chris Rock is a funny guy. But there is some truth to it. Certain things you do will get your ass kicked, or shot, by police.
In this case, as was related the other night, Michael Brown did many of those things. That is if you believe the story they are telling us. I don't know either way. But it is clear he did flee, and might have been dangerous.
Policing is a very dangerous job, especially in towns like Ferguson, and many like them. I have been to much bigger towns, like Memphis, New Orleans, Washington DC and Little Rock where I saw much of the same type of thing that occured in Ferguson. They just aren't safe places to be, and police officers go right into the eye of that storm everyday. That doesn't give them a pass to shoot unarmed citizens of any color who aren't resisting the law, but it does make it understandable that it happens enough when some do flee or threaten. Police officers die just about everyday in the line of duty and they are not likely to cut you much slack when you show that you are hostile or resisting on some level. It's a tough call in this particular case, and I suspect we will never know either way what the actual truth of it is. Nor is that what the riots in Ferguson are about. 
The history of the world is conflict and conquer. That is how humans rose to the top of the food chain. There are winners and losers. Those that rise, those that don't. Those that have. Those that are have nots. And power follows that stream.
It would be easy to stop a Ferguson from happening. Everyone just share, let others have, and not have more than they need.
That would go against every principle our society is built upon. We used to vilify the Russians for having a society like that. Where is the freedom? The freedom to be great. The freedom to get what you deserve, either way? And so, there will be inequity and laws that serve some while hurting others. Will that ever change? I don't think so. The history of humans says it wont.

“I think right now the most important point is that this isn’t the end, in many ways this is just the beginning.”

No,  I would argue its neither. It is simply a continuation. It will happen again and again. It always has. It always will. Some will rise, many will rise because they conquer, and that will happen through conflict. Violent conflict. And when those who are at the bottom attempt to rise, they will engage and encounter those who will attempt to conquer them again. That is how it is. How it will always be. It is how humans rose to the top of the food chain. It's a tried and true method of success in life. It wont change. There is no reason for it to change. The only possibility is that the players change. One day, the blacks and people of color might be the top of the food chain, and they will act the same. Just as the Chinese did when they ruled and the Brits did when they did. And on, and on, it goes.
Ferguson looks like a jungle these days, and that is because it's a jungle out there, and it gets worse everyday.

The law of the jungle always rules over our lives, no matter how far up the food chain us civilized humans have come. And that law is simple. Those who have conquered and risen to power get to make and enforce the laws that benefit them. 
That is a law you can always take to the bank that will be enforced. Those who don't benefit will feel forced into violent protest, and likely, most will die trying to fight that power.
It's dog eat dog out there, and right now, the top dog is a white man with a gun that works for the state that is run by white men. They rule this jungle. 
And it gets "worse here everyday" as Guns N Roses claimed.

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