Smart people saying smart things (3.9)

Smart people saying smart things (3.9) March 9, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Gangsters of Ferguson”

The bonus of being white in Ferguson meant nigh-immunity from plunder. The bane of being black in Ferguson meant nigh-inevitable subjugation under plunder. Plunder is neither abstract nor theoretical. Plunder injures, maims, and destroys. Indeed the very same people who were calling on protestors to remain nonviolent were, every hour, partner to brutality committed under the color of law. …

The residents of Ferguson do not have a police problem. They have a gang problem. That the gang operates under legal sanction makes no difference. It is a gang nonetheless, and there is no other word to describe an armed band of collection agents.

Mychal Denzel Smith, “DOJ Report Confirms Racism Is Alive and Well in Ferguson. Now What?”

The Department of Justice released its report on the Ferguson police department and confirmed what the residents and activists from the area have been saying since the small Missouri town became a bright spot on our collective maps: the police are shakedown artists, harassing the black community and filling the coffers of local government based on fraudulent and/or unnecessary arrests, summonses and fines, and doing so in a violent manner. It’s good to have this documentation. It’s good to have this evidence. But the desire of the American people to do nothing to address racism, much like climate change, is impervious to facts. No matter how much evidence you throw in our faces, we’ve decided it’s our right as Americans to pretend the problem doesn’t actually exist.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, “They came with horses. They came with nightsticks.”

Elias Isquith, “America’s ‘Ferguson’ confusion: Why the problem has been completely misunderstood”

One of the major stumbling blocks separating the Fergusons of today from what a city in the United States is supposed to be is a level of historical ignorance and denial that makes confronting white supremacy head-on all but impossible. So long as the mainstream refuses to own up to the way race-based plunder is not contrary to but rather in concert with U.S. history, we will continue to understand racism as what happens when a bunch of mean cops sit around forwarding each other racist jokes. And until we’re willing to recognize that Ferguson is New York City is Los Angeles is Chicago and so on, fewer “politically incorrect” emails is all the change we’re going to get.

Derrick Jensen, in The Culture of Make Believe 

Hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, “normal,” chronic state — where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised — to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.



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