Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, August 22, 2014

All These Grievances in One Place

In trying to understand what's happening in Ferguson, I find myself looking back at something like a history of social and economic injustice writ large. One thing you need to know is--Ferguson as a community got the worst end of the recession stick, with the population of actual poor doubling in the past 2 years.  And another thing you need to know is, Ferguson PD supports itself by fining Ferguson citizens. This isn't rare in smaller communities. They rely on locals' eagerness to stay local, to do their jobs, etc.

Another is that there is a trend of police brutality there. When one hears a story about a person beaten by cops and then charged because he bled on them, it almost sounds like someone must be exaggerating for effect. That this might have resulted in a question of how exactly the person came to be bleeding and whether the injuries were all that severe, is, well, a bit of a question. (It did not prevent one of the officers involved with the incident becoming a councilwoman.) But record-keeping might not be the strong point of this police force. After all, the slaying of Michael Brown has hardly anything like an incident report. And so sketchy are standards in this area, that even though this event should have possibly affected how area police forces engage with even "off"-seeming people, there was a similar incident (the police slaying of a young black man) and the story of the police differs from the narrative and video of people on the scene. (This was over so quickly with no attempt to do anything but shoot multiple times.)


The behavior of the area LE also has been extremely contemptuous of the protesters (many of whom are just concerned citizens) and journalists. There have been threats against protesters and journalists. Some seem racially motivated. Given this context, that a surveillance video that purports to make Michael Brown out to be a thief, or a tox screen that indicates marijuana in his blood (like this is a surprise to anyone finding he had an interest in 'Sweets, on account of--really?) are distributed to the public in advance of the scanty incident report is hardly surprising. Although it is disconcerting that someone is floating fake information regarding Officer Darren Wilson's alleged injuries--and badly at that. Good Samaritans meaning to treat protesters affected by tear gas have apparently been targeted, as well as journalists. These are not attitudes that sprang up overnight. They were habits of thought and procedure.

There are reasons people are angry--no need to compare them to Selma or Birmingham or anywhere else, really. Their reasons are their own, and why they take to the streets isn't for anyone to judge preemptively without considering what has and is transpiring.

4 comments:

Formerly Amherst said...

Vixen, there's probably some truth in what you say. Clearly, you find this more compelling than I do. I suppose this is natural if one's thing is the dissection of current events.

My view is that after the subject had been elevated to a sureness of honest investigation, leading to a conclusion that may or may not result in a trial, then my concern was satisfied.

I believe that after those conditions had been met it became the territory of the state of Missouri to adjudicate.

I have noticed with our infotainment that many issues will raise public discussion without the participants realizing that the issues lie with voters in their own state. No matter how New York City citizens may scream about guns, my state comes to its conclusions on the basis of its citizens, and we do not care what New York City says. I may have an issue with the way Pennsylvania runs its prison system. It doesn't matter. I'm out of the loop; you Pennsylvania voters are the ones who make those decisions.

So I really think a lot of this is hot air. Missouri voters, Missouri courts, Missouri political sensitivity, will come to whatever accommodation works for them. I am out of it and have nothing more to say about the matter.

I do find something interesting that you raised in another post. You wondered what Bob Wilson might think about this. Naturally i cannot speak for Bob, but it's possible that my guesses may be a little more educated than most.

Formerly Amherst said...

Bob distrusted the power structure. Naturally, at the time, the zeitgeist was on the left, and a person could innocently conclude that Bob had allegiances in that direction. My experiences with him were that he distrusted whatever power structure was in the saddle. He was a great fan of Raymond Chandler. He thought that Phillip Marlowe was an explemplar of the existential hero in today's corrupt society: A man in a trench coat in the dark of night with a .38 in one pocket and a pint of Bourbon in the other, out to bring some sense of morality and rude ethics to a corrupt world. From the people with money to the people who had none.

Bob was fond of a comment made by political comedian Mort Sahl when Sahl was asked what he thought of the TV series "I Spy." You know, it starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. Really, it was the first buddy show, and one of my black friends and I joked that the team could have been us. Mort Sahl said what it meant to him was that a black guy could be just as big an SOB as a white if given the opportunity.

Bob put more quotation marks around the conspiracy theory of history than anyone else I have met. I have never since run across as cogent an examination of the conspiracy that involved Banco Ambrosiano, the Cherry Hill Gambinos, P2, the Freemasons, and strongman totalitarianism in South America. Bob distrusted the power structures and found conspiracies in all of them.

You know, Vixen, my two favorite UFO writers are John Keel and Jacques Vallee. Vallee is still alive and one of the most educated and intellectually creative and astute men to evaluate the UFO phenomena.

At a certain point Vallee stopped investigating in the United States and started looking into UFO phenomena in places like Paraguay. He explained that you could not longer explore the UFO phenomenon in any country that had a large intelligence budget. The phenomenon is absolutely real, but once the intelligence community saw people respond, they realized it was too valuable to remain unused by them.

The UFO phenomenon can be used to distract attention from some covert effort nearby. It can be used as a cover to deflect investigation. It can be intentionally created with light shows and lasers reflecting off clouds to practice disinformation techniques.

The UFO phenomenon can be used in many different ways, by creating it and by using some existing phenomena to conceal whatever reality and truth there may be.

In the 1960s we polished up a new way of conducting protests, civil disobedience, mass marches, high-pressure guerrilla theater, and other techniques that grew out of a genuine desire to right wrongs and create a better society. naturally in retrospect one can see the stupidity and banality in many of our efforts.

Today we see the same thing happening with orchestrated social protests. A legitimate matchstick can quickly become a national bonfire with people using an issue for their own agenda.

I think Bob would have instantly wondered why, when 50% of national crimes are done by black criminals and 90% of the 50% is blacks victimizing other blacks, does the rare and occasional conflict with white authority get media attention when hundreds of blacks killed by other blacks is not worth mentioning.

Bob would wonder how someone like Al Sharpton, a known fraud, can editorialize on TV one night, rush to agitate some conceivably legitimate protest, then return to report on his own agitation the next day.

My suspicion is that Bob would see through this, and a see the orchestration of some agenda that is not mentioned or reckoned with by reporters. And he would see that many of these public outbursts that can be legitimate are now such a known quantity they are a cliche the operators know how to swoop in and exploit for enigmatic purposes.

The thing that animated the Bob Wilson I knew was always "who is that man behind the curtain?"

Vixen Strangely said...

You might have me go off on white-on-white crime, or the tendency of property-related crimes to occur among poorer people who, well, don't have a whole lot of property. Statistics give you an idea of what's happening, but not why. If there's black-on-black crime, a lot of that has to do with motive and opportunity--people do stuff to people near to hand. It's a crappy world--my concern with police brutality, especially slayings, has a bit to do with how power structures like local police forces reflect the ills of society (like class and race bias) and possess the means to make what should be preventable--legal. So someone like Oscar Grant or Ezell Ford being slain by police is a part of the same dehumanizing that results in flash-bang grenades landing in a baby's crib or family dogs getting shot for no reason--just the force of a government power structure unaccountable to people because they (unwittingly) serve Choronzon. Humanity has little part in them.

I think one of the most useful things I got out of reading Wilson was the idea that communication is only possible between equals. One of the faults I've noticed in protest culture is that "speaking truth to power" is only as useful as the ability of power to receive the message. The luxury of privilege is the ability to shut out the voices of the dispossessed, or shut them down, or, in a better-case scenario--let them be heard out but not even understood.

I think that's where we are with Ferguson--there are people who won't understand why people are marching in the humid night with the smell of tear gas clinging to them, unless they can identify with the people who saw the still body of a young man they saw alive just a while before, bleeding on the street. That empathy to see what they're saying is a kind of abyss to cross that requires dropping an investment in identity that has served as a protection against the reality of what state power can mean to the vulnerable.

I think one of the wiser things I've seen out of Ferguson is, that kind of like "Occupy", the people are skeptical of leaders or outside people swooping in and trying to make it about them. They kind of booed Jesse Jackson. I don't think they embraced Sharpton either. The problem with people like that is--even if they bring the media--can they relate the story? Can they make conversation happen? People who are broken interlocutors may have done their work, but they can't speak to power and be understood.

I tend to be more social-media aware, and realize my feeds are curated because I try to weed out bullshit, so I am at a loss when trying to contemplate how people who get their news from, say, CNN, understand all of this. I'm probably one of the least cynical Gen-X people I know--I think the internet might make communication possible when people have a kind of veil between themselves and others, where they have to confront ideas, and not labels.

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, you're very thoughtful about the dynamics connected to Ferguson.

As I've already explained, they don't let me vote in Missouri. And so unless I want to find a civil rights organization in Missouri and send money to them, I'm out of the loop.

However, one of the surrealistic things about this is that black citizens of Ferguson make up around two-thirds of the population. They have an absolute voting majority if they vote in a bloc. They can change just about anything in that town they want to.

They are the ones who have the power in Ferguson. They can easily run a black citizen for mayor and for all the city council positions. They can easily vote every one of them in, and they can demand half of the police force to be removed and hire black officers instead of white ones.

The change they want is entirely in their hands and at their fingertips.

Here's a conspiracy for you. What if some developers wanted to build a mall outside of Ferguson, but did not have the property to rent spaces for commerce? What if the developers needed to find a way to engineer the white flight that will inevitably occur after this incident? What if some corporate types decided that businesses fleeing Ferguson could operate a lot better in the mall they wanted to develop? Businesses and white people will now flee Ferguson, and Bob would be asking the question, "Cui bono?"