Good morning, all tripped up, begotten; all riots and protests. Welcome. This is Words From The Midwest.
It’s the kind of morning I feel I have to write. And not because I have anything instructive to say or anything terribly inspired to bring across, but because I’ve been kicked in the gut by my newsfeed today: Ferguson is burning. Cities across the country stand in solidarity.
Now, let me first say that everyone saw this coming and no one could stop it. That should be known first and foremost: No one can stop a people from responding to a situation which comes across as unjust and no one can stop a police force from using their weapons for controlling an out-of-control crowd. Protests in Missouri turned into riots and people who could have done better, did worse. There really is no justification for looting or setting fire to cars no matter how upset you are. But people in this country – this world – tend to misplace their anger in all sorts of ways and force is unquestionably the answer which it seems we as a People come to sooner or later.
But if you think for even a moment that the failure to charge an officer with a crime he was found by a jury of his peers to have not committed was the last straw, you’re mistaken. This, like every other bullshit thing we’re dealing with in this country, is a problem deep seeded in hatred and Our inability to separate fact from fiction amidst Big Media and Propaganda with a capital P who shape our arguments amongst ourselves. Because who really knows who started the riots in Missouri last night. Perhaps the very presence of a militant force is what will be remembered. That all-encompassed Fear officers in full riot gear, armed to the teeth, instill in an already angry and bewildered population; a people already victimized and yet already labeled as dangerous just by gathering in public, freely.
This, like the mass shootings which plague this country, isn’t simply an issue of class or race, although both of these things play their part. Hell, if I were to sit here and try and frame an argument where those weren’t front and center in my testimony, I’d be a goddamn fool, or worse. But they do merely set to underscore the key issue: that lethal force is ever necessitated. A man with a gun verses a man without one…we know the outcome all too well: the man with the gun wins every time. And if we are to believe what the evidence shows, the officer in question simply did as he was trained to do: kill. And that may very well be the problem. When confronted with something against us, something that we fear on the basis of context – or when we ignore context and focus on the Fear itself – we aim and fire. That goes for the police – who, by the way, shot and killed a 12 year old boy with a bb gun in Cleveland yesterday – and it goes for our system at large. How can we expect peace when our society doesn’t train us for peace? How can a couple thousand people in Missouri not be expected to fuck shit up when They have been fucked with for too long? Perhaps peace isn’t the answer. Perhaps the answer is to burn the motherfuckers.
I mean, that’s what we do. That’s what We do.
And that’s all anybody seems to understand.
Unless we take back our right to peace; our responsibility to act peacefully. Because it is a responsibility. One we’ve neglected for far too long. Because if we respond to every instance of prejudice – and, even supreme, injustice – with violence, what does that say about us? It says we see your call and raise you the same. It says that we’re here to say, ‘fuck it,’ there’s no other way.
And again, maybe there isn’t. Maybe this is another day in the life of what it means to be American: that somehow, some way, there will be retaliation, no matter how misguided. Maybe we’re on the verge of something big.
It seems we are.
Let’s try to turn it into a force for Good.
Not a force for More Of The Same.