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George Floyd: The Class War's Latest Victim

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A man named George Floyd was murdered by four police officers in Minneapolis last week. One kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, while two others kneeled on his torso and one stood by and watched. They seemed more-or-less unperturbed that they were being filmed by witnesses. The video picked up George's pathetic pleas to let him up. The police had been called by a shopkeeper who suspected Floyd of having passed a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd was in his car nearby when the officers arrived on the scene. Police removed him from the vehicle, handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground, kneeling on his neck and body for over eight minutes, the final two of which he was, according to them, "unresponsive" (he apparently had no pulse). By the time EMTs arrived, he was already dead and could not be revived. He was pronounced dead at the hospital soon after. See the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_George_Floyd">Wikipedia article</a> for more information. <h>How can they do this?</h> George Floyd was executed in the street in broad daylight on the suspicion that he had tried to use a fake $20 bill. Swift justice from self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner. Does that sound harsh to the officers? Is it possible that they made a mistake? That their use-of-force led to an unforeseeable accident? How could this accident have avoided? Was he really resisting arrest? No, the video belies that claim. He was handcuffed prone. He was not a threat. They were armed with pepper spray, truncheons, and pistols. He had no weapons and was face-down on the ground with his arms pinned behind him in cuffs. He couldn't even have gotten to his feet alone. Where was the threat? Why were they sitting on him? Had he perhaps been disrespectful? How could they ignore his pathetic mewling? Why did they not even care that they were being filmed? They obviously thought that they were perfectly within their rights to teach this <del>POS</del>POC a lesson. Let people film it---then they can show the lesson to others. That should keep the other animals in line, That's what they were thinking. Anyone without a badge who did what they did---even without the unfortunate code---would have charged with assault and battery. Certainly the officers felt secure that nothing really bad would happen to them, no matter what the outcome. <h>George Floyd wasn't <i>human</i></h> These officers don't see people like George Floyd as human beings. It's not that they don't care if they live or die, but that they get what they deserve. And they're not alone in thinking this. Look at the reaction of at least half of the rest of the country: George should have known better and not been counterfeiting money. Right? These people don't care that it's not a capital crime. They don't care about cruel and unusual punishment (that was a poor choice of words on the part of our founders, as this type of punishment is no longer unusual). They don't care about trials or evidence. A black man was out of line and putting him back in line killed him. Tough titties. You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet. I'm reminded of the photos from Abu Ghraib, which soldiers took of themselves, evincing the same attitude toward what they clearly didn't consider to be other human beings. These are the people we entrust with the power of state violence to <i>protect</i> us, to <i>enforce</i> our laws, not <i>break</i> them. Or so the story goes. <h>Police Violence is a Symptom of the Class War</h> The article <a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/05/29/white-supremacy-is-the-virus-police-are-the-vector/" source="CounterPunch" author="Nick Pemberton">White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector</a> makes an important point, though in a circumlocutory manner, <bq>If the cops are the problem, we are absolved. This horrifies me. Perhaps yes it is a privileged horror but a horror nonetheless. I very much fear the death of white guilt. As toxic as it is, it’s the best we got. Forgive me but just as I see the prisoner as fully human, I also see the policeman in the same light. [...] I see the police officer doing his job when he kills the black man. To me this is far more horrifying than him being evil [...] [...] Not to extradite the problem by washing our hands but to admit that maybe if I was raised in the same way this cop was raised, or if I had the same job he had or if I had the same mental illness he had or what have you, well that could have been me.</bq> That is: the real horror is that the system is working as it was designed to. People ask when will the looting stop? It will probably stop when the officers responsible are arrested. But that's just the vector. The disease is still at large and will strike again. When <i>should</i> the looting stop? Now. It's a waste of effort and energy. When should the <i>revolution</i> begin? Also now. Pemberton asks white America to understand that it is at least partially by the grace of their upbringing that they have the luxury of pointing the finger at the police. There are many who have failed to be indoctrinated <i>despite</i> their upbringing but more than enough otherwise nice people who have the most horrific opinions about their fellow human beings, their fellow citizens. Pemberton continues, <bq>I do see the police as working class. They operate on the front lines for the capitalists and the white supremacists <b>while we attempt to socially distance ourselves from the days they accidentally fulfill our own ideology and hatred.</b> I say this not as a conspiracy but as a believer in the subconscious racism. I know that most ruling class white people would shoot a black person quite quickly if they went through the police academy. (Emphasis added.)</bq> Because the problem isn't a strong state, or a government per se. The problem is a corrupt government, one that works for only a privileged class. The working-class police should actually be there for the downtrodden and disadvantaged, to protect them from the ravages of the privileged elite. Instead, they work <i>for</i> the elite, because they are fed table-scraps in the form of higher-than-average salaries for a locality and, usually, ridiculous amounts of overtime and membership in one of the only surviving and very strong unions in the land. Pemberton is spot-on, though: most people would look away, walk away, assuming that the police have a good reason for doing what they're doing. After all, just like the police know in their guts that nothing really bad will happen to them---white males FTW---these other people also know in their guts that this kind of police assault will also never happen to them or to anyone they know. That's why they don't care. Because why should they care if a bunch of animals get what they deserve while they're trying to steal what other hard-working people have to earn? So goes the logic, right? It's so easy for them to convince themselves of their righteousness in their horrific racism. The mechanics of this argument are employed everywhere: thinks back to the 80s and 90s when AIDS raged across the world. It took forever for treatment to gain traction because it was just happening to a bunch of homos who couldn't keep their dicks out of each other. Othering is probably the most powerful social driver humans have. Pemberton continues, <bq>Who needs a strong government, including a strong community-controlled police force more than people of color? Who is more ravaged by crime than these communities? And the crime I mean isn’t just street crime, such as the McMichael dad and son duo, but also crimes such as Flint water. We can’t have it both ways here and say all government is bad when it is the most white and privileged who can survive without it.</bq> The call to "get rid of police" is made from a position of privilege. The underprivileged want police, but they want them to stop attacking them. Instead, they want to be "protected and served" as more than just an expression, but as an actual credo. <bq>To say we don’t need police, they’re all bad, well that’s easy for some people to say. Without the police who is to say that MAGA killers wouldn’t be lynching people in the streets?</bq> <bq>To beat the virus of white supremacy we must control the vectors. We must hold them accountable. But the virus is white supremacy. [...] We shouldn’t just be scared of the cops. We should be scared of becoming them.</bq> <bq>Slavoj’s insight that Trump is hated because he is the last thing left-liberals see before they see the class struggle also applies here.</bq> I just want to reiterate that I agree whole-heartedly: anyone who hates Trump to the exclusion other political opinion, anyone who needs to get rid of Trump above all---is likely blinded to the class war that will continue even when Trump is dead and gone. And that goes double for anyone who thinks Trump will save them: how do they think that Trump has his forces in check? This <a href="https://old.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/gtswih/please_make_this_go_viral_i_am_begging_you_police/" source="Reddit">comment</a> shows Trump's National Guard troops following an MRAP (it's a <i>fucking tank, people</i>) up a neighborhood street in America, bellowing at people to go inside. They gave no warning to those that remained on their porches---where <i>they had every right to be</i>---before exhorting their comrades to <iq>light 'em up</iq> and then firing ostensibly non-lethal ordnance at <i>innocent civilians</i>, who are <i>citizens of their own country</i>. You know what Trump supporters are saying, though? If they have their Trump signs in their yards or on their houses or on their cars, then they'll be spared. Anyone who subscribes to this viewpoint does not care about the rule of law. They do not have principles. They are saying: "I have no principles other than a belief in the law of the jungle predicated on my belonging to a group that has classically been the apex predator.” Shorter: “I got mine, Jack.” <h>Why are the police involved?</h> As noted on <a href="https://youtu.be/4OAwn66KGLw?t=1351" source="YouTube" author="Anders Lee">Redacted Tonight: ~293~ U.S. Spy Mission Against Assange Revealed</a>, Anders and Lee discuss whether <iq>Should guys with guns be called to deal with somebody who's got a fake $20 or a bounced check or somebody peeing in a fountain. We call guys with guns---and women with guns---to come deal with all kinds of shit that they should not be involved in.</iq> Anders pointed out that he actually grew up in Minneapolis and used to work in a store near that neighborhood and the <iq>policy used to be to just not accept it [the counterfeit bill]</iq>. <h>Of course it's about race</h> <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-death-of-george-floyd-in-context" author="Jelani Cobb" source="The New Yorker">The Death of George Floyd, in Context</a> <bq>The video of Floyd’s death is horrific but not surprising; terrible but not unusual, depicting a kind of incident that is periodically reënacted in the United States. It’s both necessary and, at this point, pedestrian to observe that policing in this country is mediated by race.</bq> <h>Hot takes</h> <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/WhitePeopleTwitter/comments/gsm1nn/it_is_forbidden_to_kill_therefore_all_murderers/" source="Reddit.com" author="Leonardo Jacobs">Comment</a>: <bq><b>Some dumbass:</b> Burning an American city to the ground won't bring back George Floyd. <b>Leonardo Jacobs:</b> Bombing Middle East countries won't undo 9/11.</bq> <a href="https://twitter.com/GWANJEZ/status/1184069093084815363" source="Twitter" author="Kentah Gwanjez">Citing Malcolm X</a> <bq>A hundred years ago they used to put on a white sheet and use a bloodhound against Negroes today they have taken off the white sheet and put on police uniform, they've traded in the bloodhounds for police dogs and they're still doing the same thing</bq> From <a href="https://old.reddit.com/r/WhitePeopleTwitter/comments/gtczv9/that_report_sounds_fishy_to_me/" source="Reddit">comments</a> <bq><bq>When Floyd stopped moving and became unresponsive, Kueng checked for a pulse and said he couldn’t find one. Two minutes later, Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck and the ambulance arrived.</bq>But he didn’t die of strangulation guys it was the drugs and counterfeit money that killed him.</bq> <h>A more positive police response</h> This next article notes that there is a difference in how other police departments are reacting to this murder. Black people are still being murdered and America is still nearly hopelessly and probably irreparably racist, but it’s getting better. The article <a href="https://blog.simplejustice.us/2020/05/28/a-second-chance-for-black-lives-matter/" source="Simple Justice" author="Scott H. Greenfield">A Second Chance For Black Lives Matter</a> lays out the facts quite well. <bq>But unlike the dead men before, the reaction wasn’t to defend the practice and explain why it’s necessary or justified. It wasn’t even to tar Floyd with whatever was available, a prior, a random accusation, anything, no matter how irrelevant, to remind us not to care too much about his killing because he just wasn’t worthy of living. [...] Notably, Chief Arradondo didn’t suspend them pending an investigation, but fired them. Don’t be surprised if they don’t stay fired, as union arbitration will be used to challenge the discharges. Or they will find a new home in a neighboring force. There is a possibility that the cop whose knee killed Floyd may be the subject of criminal charges. Or not. {...} Chief Arradondo gave up four names of four street cops whom the brass condemns. This alone will outrage the rank and file, the street cops who believe that no one who doesn’t walk the mean streets understands them, their job. They scoff at the brass, who concern themselves with politics while the street cops concern themselves with the First Rule of Policing.</bq> Another article, <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/500022-tennessee-police-chief-tells-officers-who-dont-have-an-issue-with-george" source="The Hill" author="Aris Folley">Tennessee police chief tells officers who 'don't have an issue' with George Floyd arrest to turn in badges</a> cites a tweet: <bq>There is no need to see more video. There no need to wait to see how “it plays out”. There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this...turn it in.</bq> The following <a href="https://old.reddit.com/r/MurderedByWords/comments/gt45pe/watch_as_a_texas_cop_destroys_a_minneapolis_cop/" source="Reddit" author="W. Patrick Swanton">comment</a> comes from a retired Waco, Texas police officer: <bq>What you did was kill more than a human being today. What you did was kill a piece of America that law enforcement officers everywhere will have to pay for. You not only killed George Floyd, but you also killed a very fragile thing law enforcement strives to maintain today called trust. I, along with thousands of other real cops watched in horror as you kneeled on the throat of not only your community but ours as well and killed something you may never get back [...] I speak for thousands of officers when I say you are not a part of us and your actions can never be justified in any way, shape, or form. [I hope they are] brought up on criminal charges and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.</bq> There seems to be hope that the baseline attitude has changed, but it might not be nearly enough this time. Let’s hope we don’t ruin everything by insisting on passing purity tests for woke-ness. <h>Will the charges stick? Were they meant to?</h> The article <a href="https://blog.simplejustice.us/2020/05/30/chauvin-charged-but-is-it-legally-sufficient/" source="Simple Justice" author="Scott H. Greenfield">Chauvin Charged, But Is It Legally Sufficient?</a> tackles the legal wording in the complaint against the police as well as the statement of probable cause filed by the police. <bq>Yet, the complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney made almost no effort to assert that the elements of the charge were met, that Chauvin was “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” While the video clearly showed Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, which was naturally assumed, for obvious reasons, to have been the cause of death, that alone does not suffice to meet the element that it was an “act eminently dangerous.” It’s hardly an undangerous immobilization technique, but it’s also not an uncommon restraint, and is a permissible use of force in Minneapolis. <b>That it’s only supposed to be used to restrain someone actively resisting gives rise to a departmental violation, but doesn’t elevate a lawful use of force to an eminently dangerous act.</b> (Emphasis added.)</bq> In the charges, the <del>medical examiner</del>police citing preliminary ME results pointed out <iq>potential intoxicants</iq> as a possible cause of death, so I think we're right back to the usual bullshit. The <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6933246/Derek-Chauvin-Complaint.pdf">statement of probable cause</a> includes the following: <bq>The Hennepin County Medical Examiner (ME) conducted Mr. Floyd’s autopsy on May 26, 2020. <b>The full report of the ME is pending</b> but the ME has made the following preliminary findings. <b>The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.</b> Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death. </bq> Here's a much-shorter video from another angle, showing that there were three men sitting on the victim at once. The original 8.5-minute video is also linked in the Greenfield article, but this one suffices to show the situation. <media src="https://www.youtube.com/v/KU216Fj5WCg" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU216Fj5WCg" source="YouTube" width="560px" caption="New angle shows 3 officers kneeling on George Floyd"> So a handcuffed man was pinned to the pavement by three men for over eight minutes, the final two of which he was unconscious and the officers had confirmed that he had no pulse, but this was somehow an accident due to his heart condition and <iq>potential intoxicants</iq>? I understand that, scientifically, certain intoxicants can't be ruled out until a final report is made. I also understand that this might be seen as exonerating by some---if he wasn't strangled, then he just happened to die of a heart attack as he was being brutally assaulted---but it's like the kid who blames the cat for pulling its own tail---"I was just holding it". <h>Minneapolis is lily-white and racist AF</h> The article <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52854037" source="BBC" author="Jessica Lussenhop">George Floyd death: Why has a US city gone up in flames?</a> learned me a thing or two about a corner of the country about which I'd known little and assumed much. <bq>The Twin Cities, as Minneapolis and St Paul are known, are still overwhelmingly white - about one-quarter of the population is non-white - and its neighbourhoods are still highly segregated. Most people of colour live on the cities' north sides. They were shaped by racist red-lining policies dating to the early 20th Century, when black families were not allowed to buy homes in certain neighbourhoods.</bq> I'd known about Robert Moses's red-lining in NYC because I'd lived there. I knew about his majestic Cross-Bronx Expressway that he used to segregate the Bronx in the same way as described above for St. Paul. I guess NYC is not alone in its horrific though denied racism. The policies do so much more damage than an individual act of violence, about which much more later in this article. <h>Kelly Thomas</h> For those for whom the death of human beings isn't enough---especially when they're people of color---let this next case remind you that the police are indiscriminate in their hatred of the lower classes. They may subjugate black people <i>more</i>, but they are indoctrinated to hate all poor people. And it's not just the police: everyone in America---no matter how poor they are themselves---is trained to hate other poor people. The state religion is that everyone deserves what they get: the rich and the poor. All is as it should be---just the way late-stage capitalism wants it. <warning>Warning: the "photo of a poor man" link is to a graphic photo of a man whose face has been pummeled to a point where it can barely be recognized as having once been human.</warning> This <a href="https://old.reddit.com/r/Bad_Cop_No_Donut/comments/gt49tf/final_words_of_kelly_thomas_as_he_was_beaten_to/" source="Reddit">comment about Kelly Thomas</a> links to a <a href="https://i.redd.it/jx7695qoms151.jpg">photo of a poor man</a> who was, <bq>[...] a homeless man with schizophrenia [who] was beaten and tased into a coma by 6 members f of the Fullerton Police Department (CA) on July 5, 2011. He died 5 days later. Three officers were charged with manslaughter, but none were found guilty</bq> The photo includes an exhibit from the trial where the man's piteous and nonthreatening pleas with his assaulters were listed: <ul> Dad help me...they're killing me (31 times; his father was not present) Sir please...okay...okay (30 times) Help me...help me, God (26 times) I'm sorry (15 times) </ul> The officers beat him mercilessly, despite his pleas. See <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Kelly_Thomas">the Wikipedia article</a> for more information. Individual incidents of violence are not rare and are not purely racial. The police are shock troops in a class war with a strong racial component. <h>On "looting"</h> Looting is what black people do when they step out of line. When white people do it, it's called "arbitrage". <a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/looting-minneapolis-police-george-floyd/" source="Jacobin" author="David Sirota">Who Exactly Is Doing the Looting, and Who’s Being Looted?</a> <bq>Working-class people pilfering convenience-store goods is deemed “looting.” By contrast, rich folk and corporations stealing billions of dollars during their class war is considered good and necessary “public policy” — aided and abetted by arsonist politicians in Washington lighting the crime scene on fire to try to cover everything up.</bq> <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/gsid98/jeff_bezos_has_been_looting_america_for_20_damn/" source="Reddit.com" author="Warren Gunnels">Comment</a>: <bq>Looting is the wealthiest person in America (Jeff Bezos) increasing his wealth by $40 billion in a pandemic while his company (Amazon) pays nothing in federal income taxes for 3 years, receives a $104 million tax refund, ends hazard pay and denies paid sick leave to its workers.</bq> <a href="https://twitter.com/ProudSocialist/status/1265857422968537088?s=20" source="Twitter" author="Ryan Knight">Comment</a> <bq>You want to talk about “looting”? Over the past 30 years the top 1% gained $21 trillion in wealth while the bottom 50% lost $900 billion in wealth. That is the only looting that I care about.</bq> <a href="https://www.theonion.com/protestors-criticized-for-looting-businesses-without-fo-1843735351" source="The Onion">Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First</a> <bq>I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn’t just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It’s disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this.</bq> <a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/george-floyd-minneapolis-uprising-police-brutality/" source="Jacobin" author="Peter Gowan">No, We Should Not Condemn Uprisings Against Police Murders Like George Floyd’s</a> <bq>Yes, we should condemn the looting of the Global South by Western militaries and multinational corporations. We should fear the terrifying possibility that the COVID-19 vaccine will be enclosed, privatized, and sold for profit; and the looting of underdeveloped nations and underinsured people that would ensue. We should fight back against the looting of underdeveloped nations’ coffers by odious debts and structural adjustment programs being drawn up and imposed by international institutions at this very minute.</bq> <bq>Should we blame working-class black people for lashing out at a government and economy designed to repress, exploit, and subdue them; during a pandemic in which capitalism has made it near impossible for them to survive? Should we participate in this ritual condemnation even though our media consistently treats identical acts of property destruction by sports fans as simply revelry and exuberance, and corporate looting of working-class communities as business as usual? [...] If you care about looting, turn your eyes to the militaries, the police, the pharmaceutical companies, the private equity ghouls, the landlords, the real estate speculators, and the billionaires. And demand that a world once looted from the vast majority be now returned to them.</bq> <h>Killer Mike</h> Killer Mike held a press conference with the Atlanta mayor to plead with people to stop destroying property---to not attack the CNN headquarters. He's trying to be the voice of reason and doing a wonderfully passionate, emotional, eloquent, and seemingly extemporaneous job of it. Masterful and moving. <media src="https://www.youtube.com/v/7lf_2JyXocY" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lf_2JyXocY" source="YouTube" caption="Killer Mike Press Conference" width="560px"> <bq>We don't want to see a Target burn. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground. [...] Stop making people be so fearful and give them hope.</bq> <h>Cornel West</h> In a similar vein, Cornel West was allowed to hold forth at length in an interview with Anderson Cooper. <media src="https://www.youtube.com/v/cs3jdyfx_fo" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs3jdyfx_fo" source="YouTube" caption="“We are Witnessing America as a Failed Social Experiment” - Dr. Cornell West Preaches on the System" width="560px"> <bq>I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment. Our culture is market-driven with everybody for sale, everything on sale [...] What we're seeing now in America is chickens coming home to roost. [...] What we are witnessing is a lynching at the highest level. I <i>thank God</i> that we have people in the streets. Can you imagine if something like this happened and nobody cared? [...] Unfortunately, it look as if the system cannot reform itself.</bq> It's nice to see that brother West has got his mind right once again. He spent some years wandering in the wilderness during the first few Obama years. He is absolutely right that the system cannot reform itself---because it doesn't want to. Why should it? As far as the system is concerned, everything is working as designed. It's a race problem yes, but it's so much more a class problem. That's why putting <iq>black faces in high places</iq> just assimilates them into a different class. The skin color doesn't matter; the hierarchy does. It's not that white people can't speak out, but they should really shut the fuck up about rioting for a few days and see where it goes. There's no need for us to voice chiding opinions right now. Especially if you're going to reprimand those animals for misbehaving. Especially if you said nothing when armed white men stormed state capital buildings because they didn't want to wear masks. Or if you said nothing about protesters blocking ER entrance lanes at hospitals---all while carrying AR15s. <h>Acceptable and unacceptable violence</h> We all know the powers-that-be are secretly delighted while publicly scolding whenever a Target goes up in flames or a Louis Vuitton bag is stolen. They know that they'll be able to use that handful of examples to represent the "whole lot of 'em" and regain control in no time whatsoever. The article <a href="" source="CounterPunch" author="Tim Wise">Protest, Uprisings, and Race War</a> <bq>Those who have rarely been the target of organized police gangsterism are once again lecturing those who have about how best to respond to it. Be peaceful, they implore, as protesters rise up in Minneapolis and across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd. This, coming from the same people who melted down when Colin Kaepernick took a knee — a decidedly peaceful type of protest. Because apparently, <b>when white folks say, “protest peacefully,” we mean “stop protesting.”</b> (Emphasis added.)</bq> He makes the salient point wonderfully: there is no acceptable way for subjects to revolt. <i>Anything</i> they do other than bow and scrape and suck up their own misery is stepping out of line. They are like children of old: to be seen and not heard and, honestly, not even to be seen. Just clean the public bathroom when no-one important is in there and move on. Wise goes on, <bq>We [Americans] are here [America] because of blood, and mostly that of others. We are here because of our insatiable desire to take by force the land and labor of others. <b>We are the last people on Earth with a right to ruminate upon the superior morality of peaceful protest.</b> We have never believed in it and rarely practiced it. Instead, <b>we have always taken what we desire, and when denied it, we have turned to means utterly genocidal to make it so.</b> (Emphasis added.)</bq> This is the crux of it: the people rioting are being as American as they know how to be. They have stopped being subservient---but <i>they are the wrong ones doing it</i>. They are exactly the subjugated peoples who should be making everything run smoothly for those who used violence to subjugate them before. Wise continues, <bq>To speak of violence done by black people without uttering so much as a word about the violence done to them is perverse. And by violence, I don’t mean merely that of police brutality. I mean the <b>structural violence</b> that flies under the radar of most white folks but which has created the broader conditions in black communities against which those who live there are now rebelling. (Emphasis added.)</bq> This is a powder keg of injustice <i>lit</i> by George Floyd's murder. This is a large swath of America admitting that they don't believe in America anymore. And it's not just black people---this is really a class war, after all---but anyone who knows that the game is rigged against them, who knows that their services are forced from them in what in any fair world would be called a slave system (we call it a "gig economy"). People are rioting partly because they care about their lives, but also because they no longer care what happens to America. America has never done anything to show them that it cares about them. People have finally (maybe) given up. And thus, "burn it to the ground" seems like as good an idea as any other. That's always been the danger of bringing people too close to desperation. The U.S. ruling classes used to be much better at controlling the masses, at tempering desperation with hope to keep its subjects under control. No longer. The rulers have gotten meaner and meaner---in the sense of "stupider and stupider"---they're piggy-eyed greed overwhelming any instincts they might have had. They forget---or likely never learned---how the system actually works. And now they're breaking it---or may have broken it. Maybe that's ascribing too much thought to it. There are certainly people who are there to spread mayhem and steal while the stealing is good. Still, in the scale of violence, burning down a Target store is peanuts. The real violence is state violence and it is perpetrated even more insidiously; in an overwhelming number of cases, it gets its victims' acquiescence. <bq>Zoning laws, redlining, predatory lending, stop-and-frisk: all are violence, however much we fail to understand that.</bq> This is a point also made by Slavoj (Z-)i(z-)ek in his book on <i>Violence</i>: the larger the violence, the more likely it is to be subsumed in the tapestry that underlies a culture. How easy it is to moralize about so-called looting and rioting when you control the terms of the debate. <bq>[...] it is bad enough that we think it appropriate to admonish persons of color about violence or to say that it “never works,” especially when it does. We are, after all, <i>here</i>, which serves as rather convincing proof that violence works quite well.</bq> I suppose that's the main point: at the same time that we enjoy the fruits of our past and very-much ongoing violence, we admonish against using our weapon against us. It's hypocritical, but makes sense as a strategy. We've never been much worried about being hypocritical. <bq>What is worse is our insistence that we bear no responsibility for the conditions that have caused the current crisis and that we need not even know about those conditions.</bq> The first rule of Fight Club is we don't talk about Fight Club. <h>You're protesting wrong</h> And, just in time, the article <a href="https://blog.simplejustice.us/2020/05/31/roasted-coffee/" source="Simple Justice" author="Scott H. Greenfield">Roasted Coffee</a> lands in my newsfeed. I'm going to pick on Greenfield, not because he's particularly egregious, but because his article is <i>right there</i>, ripe for the picking. What's he going to do? Tell me I'm blogging wrong? I praise him for a different article in a previous section. Greenfield writes, <bq>Cornell West may be right, that the system can’t reform itself, at least not to his satisfaction. It gets better. It gets worse. But it never gets fixed, and never to everyone’s satisfaction. Even as people try to fix it, it just gets more broken under the weight of good intentions coupled with simplistic solutions, hysteria and outrage.</bq> I agree that <iq>good intentions coupled with simplistic solutions, hysteria and outrage</iq> are the source of much grief in the world. But not even half of the parties responsible for a large part of the current boondoggle of public policy in America can be said to have had "good intentions". He writes that <iq>[i]t gets better. It gets worse.</iq>, but goddamn if it doesn't seem to break the same way for the same beneficiaries most of the time. Even when it breaks for the underdog, it's just on the surface. Below the surface---where it matters---the proper and ordained beneficiaries are still cleaning up. They win no matter what. And others lose no matter what. It stays the same with barely a blip of difference for the overall goal: keeping a large supply of what is essentially slave labor available in order to keep the world functioning so that Greenfield can go motoring in his Healey with the Missus. As much as he and I can sympathize with what's going on, we cannot, not really. We may have started out suffering or poor or uncertain, but the world rewarded us for hard work. That's not how it works for everyone. Some people can't win for losing---by design. So up rears that word "privilege"---but it's not impossible for those of us who benefit from privilege to be aware that we do. I know that Greenfield does (I've been reading him long enough). Telling people who've never benefitted from a single privilege---who suffer from anti-privilege wherein they can do no right---what the right solution is---and it's not rioting---is kind of horseshit. The U.S. is already a dumpster fire for 99% of the people living there. Greenfield knows it, but instinctively, he's going to try to keep them from burning it to the ground in a way that will affect his 1% way of life. I know how he feels. When the world burns, my own privilege will burn up with it. I have the benefit that I don't actually live there anymore, but I'm still saddened to realize that America may be too dumb to avoid driving itself off of a cliff. <bq>But burning a Starbucks won’t stop police from acting upon their presumption that black men are more likely to be violen[t] criminals.</bq> Burning the Starbucks doesn't have a point. It's not going to fix racism, but it's also not meant to. It is an excrescence of a poisoned system. It is underprivileged, underfed, undermotivated, undereducated, and probably some criminally-minded people acting out. When a riot starts, the rats <i>enter</i> the sinking ship.<fn> A lot of people have never been given any indication that what they do matters at all. They've never benefitted from a positive feedback loop, as I have. No matter what they've done, the system has called them garbage---useless refuse who should be happy to suck pondwater, who should be happy for the dribs that circle the drains where they're told they deserve to live. It doesn't matter. Be a bad person? Get killed in the street. Be a good person? Get fucking killed in the street. They are doing what they've been taught, just like we are. They have their role to play and we ours. They act the part of mindless apes hooting and hollering at the fire they've lit---and we hoot and holler to defend the status quo that guarantees our <i>own</i> subjugation to the <i>true</i> rulers. Our scraps are just bigger than theirs. The masters of the universe do this <i>on purpose</i> to get our allegiance and have us play the role of scold for those lower than us on the totem pole. The question is always the same: will we hold it all together for one more go-round? This time, however, it's being asked in the context of an economy absolutely shattered by COVID-19. This time, there may not be enough scraps to go around to keep all of the myths in the air. The corporations via the Fed are getting their share, as usual. Americans---"main street"---were already not getting their share. If enough people stop believing the myth, it doesn't matter how loudly Greenfield and Co. clap---Tink's gonna die. It's coming down. <hr> <ft>Here in Europe, the May 1st protests are ostensibly worker-positive, union-positive, leftist, peaceful marches celebrating labor---but are, often enough, infected with "riot tourists" who show up to ruin it for everyone. Who gets coverage in general? The guys breaking shop windows. Are there a lot of them? No, the numbers in Zürich are usually quite minuscule when you read the police report the next day. Who gets coverage in business-friendly papers? You better believe it's those damned leftists and their inherently violent tendencies---<i>we should totally ban all unions, just to be on the safe side</i>.</ft>