The Daily Escape:
Mt. McLoughlin, Cascades Range, OR – photo by kayalfainart. Unclear if that’s another mountain in the background, or Godzilla peeking at us.
“…and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people, the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” ― John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath”
This could be written today, because new grapes of wrath could again be harvested.
Think about the grim future ahead for today’s high school and college graduates. With 40 million unemployed, jobs will be scarce. Wages will be stagnant. Many of those 40 million may be out of work for quite a long time, as will many of the new grads. Many families will go hungry.
Add to that the people who are protesting the killing of George Floyd. This uprising involves a direct challenge to police power, along with a clear challenge to political power as well. That’s visible in Trump’s militarized reaction to Constitutionally-guaranteed protest.
We’re experiencing confusion and tension that has put many cops on edge at a time when their goal should be de-escalation, not escalation. There have been an untold number of similar incidents in the past where police officers have been exonerated in cases of seemingly obvious abuses of power.
That has led America to understand that its police forces can act with almost total impunity. As Wrongo has said earlier in the week, historically, this has hurt black and brown people the most. Here’s a chart that shows American’s current attitudes towards the police:
Source: Morning Consult
People may finally be fed up. There’s the tension over the pandemic, and the economic pressures it’s created. And there’s Trump, who seems only capable of pouring gasoline on what is already a bonfire.
The militarization of American law enforcement, already a massive problem, has been taken to the extreme by Trump. He thinks nothing of brutalizing a crowd of protesters so that he can be filmed walking across the street to wave:
“…an upside-down Bible in front of a church he rarely attends and whose leaders and congregation work against the policies he trumpets.”
Trump has threatened to use the US military to put down protests, even if state leaders do not want the US military in their states. Secretary of Defense Esper has spoken of a need to “dominate the battlespace” (he subsequently recanted) in reference to something that is not a battle, and that involves civilians, not a hostile enemy.
Our military is monitoring protests in multiple states, including flying drones over Minneapolis.
On Monday, Washington DC saw a bizarre “show of force” with helicopters hovering much lower than permitted over crowds of peaceful demonstrators. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley, was patrolling near the White House in his camouflage uniform.
On Tuesday night, troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division and 1st Infantry Division arrived at Joint Base Andrews near Washington DC.
But who would they be fighting against? These tactics — mass arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, intentional and unconstitutional attacks on peaceful demonstrators and journalists — are familiar, because they’re the tactics employed by authoritarian governments all over the world in response to local insurrection.
But, is what’s happening in our cities an insurrection?
Replacing the police with the military would only escalate the situation. Violence begets violence. But creating more “resistance” may well be the Trump Administration’s plan.
Let’s agree that there was unnecessary violence and property damage in many cities. Facebook and Twitter are ablaze with comments saying that a massive show of force is absolutely necessary to put down the insurrection.
Out of nowhere, GOP politicians from local to federal levels are singing a chorus of “Antifa” is a terror group, and the primary cause of the problems on the streets of America. Antifa, short for anti-fascists, describes an amorphous group of people whose political beliefs lean far left, and do not necessarily conform to the Democratic Party’s platform.
The problem with Trump’s claim that it’s a terror group is that it doesn’t have central leadership, according to federal law enforcement officials. Worse for Trump is that many of Antifa’s Twitter accounts turn out to be run by fascists in Europe.
“Antifa” is vapor in the US, and recognizing it as some defined group is a joke that has been taken seriously only by America’s Right.
Painting disparate punk assholes as some kind of formal group is ridiculous and counterproductive.
We desperately need to get the twin problems of the coronavirus and the nationwide civil disobedience behind us.
These infections need to be cured.