I will admit it. I’m guilty of repeatedly dismissing the logic of stockpiling guns in preparation for the day when our government takes a hard turn into fascism. In recent days though, I find myself reassessing that argument. Don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of buying a gun and I still think gun regulation is still terribly lax in this country, but seeing these now daily emails from city and county governments mandating citywide curfews has me disturbed.
I grew up thinking America would never get to this point. It can be easy to think that sure we were doing well and once we fix the police departments than everything will be fine. The default position for my brain was give the government the benefit of the doubt, both when I was Republican and now as a Democrat. It’s the easy position and it seems logical.
I’d say, “The government hasn’t been given the right tools or there just needs to be the right person in power.” To a certain extent that may be true, but it all comes out as a wash if the actual mechanisms of power are broken, irrespective of the people who hold the levers.
What’s been brought into stark focus for me in the past week is that America has always been broken, since its founding, and only now, when the smoke and mirrors that has been pushed forth for two centuries is dissipating, can white america hopefully start to see it for what is really is.
In the wake of a pandemic and worldwide protests, the cracks in the system are laid bare. The contradictions in our society are crystallizing: how Trump can seem to mobilize the government to respond meaningfully to help healthcare workers and hospitals get PPE but somehow is able to move swiftly in squashing protests, how Republicans railed against mandated lock downs when they couldn’t get a haircut but are mum when a similar tactic is implemented to squash protest, and how the most violent members of our society are the ones supposedly committed to serving and protecting communities.
Supposed allies to the cause have proven to be charlatans, slovenly beholden to order over equity and property over people’s lives. Politicians profess their allegiance to the cause with one hand while funneling excessive amounts of money and military gear towards police departments with the other. Blue check marks on Twitter give police brutality the benefit of the doubt while clutching pearls at broken windows.
None of this is news to non-white folks. This is a lived experience for them every day. These issues didn’t all of a sudden begin with George Floyd or Covid-19 or even Trump. These are the same conversations that were had in the 90s and the 60s and so on. The war has been waging for a long time, and while it’s nice that people like me and others are finally getting some sense of the scope of the violence that has been happening, but that support is long overdue
There are all these battlelines that we draw in our politics: right and left, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat, poor and rich, blue collar and white collar, and the list goes on. The truth is that these all are just proxies for the deep line that was drawn in the sand since our country’s founding: the people squeezing with all their might and the people gasping for air.
Because I’m going to be honest. It’s been damn hard to find prominent allies refuse the urge to qualify the protest with a condition.
“We stand with the peaceful protestors, but…”
Looting is wrong? Well, why does that matter more to you than the systemic oppression and murder of black and brown lives by our criminal justice ecosystem?
If the protesters would only control the looters, than we would take them seriously. Why is that a condition to taking them seriously? Do you only support the cause as long as it’s not too rowdy? God forbid, you’re inconvenienced.
There are some good cops as well. These are just a few bad apples. Many of these good cops stand by and do nothing while their bad cop brethren trample over rights, assault people unprovoked, and kill indiscriminately. What are the good cops doing about that?
The complaints go on, but the fact is that all these qualifiers are deflections mixed with projection. If your first instinct is to zero in on a flaw of the movement or an argument that’s not relevant to the message or some bad actors than your completely missing the point. Yes, all of the businesses affected should be given help and support to be made whole again. Yes, cops occasionally do good deeds. Yes, I’m sure a small portion of the protesters are. only their for personal gain, but if you’re more worried about a window being smashed, than the knee of the justice system on your POC friend’s neck, you need to think deeply about why that is the case.