Thursday, December 04, 2014

Smoking Kills

 Calhoun's Cannon for December 4, 2014

 If you’re a big black guy illegally selling individual cigarettes on the streets of New York, you’ll be swarmed by a gaggle of small, scared, inept, poorly trained white cops who will put you in an illegal choke hold, and despite your repeated cries of, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” you will die on the sidewalk, and none of the cops who killed you will be indicted on any charges by a grand jury even though the whole event was caught on tape for everyone to see.

So, what is there left to say about all this, except to cynically observe that this is just another example of how tobacco kills?

Surely, we’ve all gone nuts.  We have armed ourselves to the teeth, convinced that the ghost of old Nat Turner is coming out of the swamps with his cane knife to kill all us white folks in our beds.  We arm our kids to the teeth with toy guns that look so real that recently a couple of inept, poorly trained cops ended up doing a roll-up shooting on a 12 year-old kid.  They didn’t get the word that he was a kid and the gun was a toy.  Nope, they saw a scary black guy waving a gun. Blam! Done and done.

Anybody want to lay the odds on what the grand jury findings in that case will be ?  No?

White America has been listening to a rising chorus of talk-radio, social media, cable TV 24/7 “news,” wink-nudge racial dog-whistle music since Obama got elected.  The tune is an old, old one and is always the same:  Black people aren’t “real Americans,” they’re criminals, they’re animals, they’re “demons,” they’re dangerous killers.  And when they’re not being those things, they’re being greedy, lazy welfare queens, or cheats and moochers or drug dealers or felons.  They’re the dreaded Other.  And they’re scary. And they have to be controlled and kept in their place. By the police.

Repeat that false meme enough times and is it any wonder why too many Americans have become a frightened citizenry armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons of war?  And because the citizenry is now outgunning the police, we now have to supply our police units with full-on Army surplus assault vehicles and weapons so now we’ve turned our streets into war zones and turned our citizens into enemy combatants, with the two sides too often facing off in dangerous Us versus Them confrontations.

Or consider how our illegal drug use has been the driver for turning Mexico into an abattoir and our own streets into deadly free-fire zones for warring drug gangs. While our inadequate mental health, drug/alcohol treatment services leaves too many impaired people (many of whom are armed, just like the rest of America) wandering the streets to be dealt with by a militarized police who are trained and primed for fusillades, not the slow, messy business of helping sad, broken minds.

Or how we have allowed our communities to rot, our schools to fail, our health and safety net to shred while The Wall Street Boys and their handmaidens in Congress shipped our jobs overseas, looted the national treasury and walked away scot free.  And then, instead of engaging in massive, nationwide civic regeneration and repair, we turned these choking, broken communities over to the police to just keep order, while we walked away. 

And now we stare in wonderment when selling single cigarettes on the streets of New York is a crime that is now punishable by death while Justice turns her face away, not only blind but deaf and dumb as well.


Texas Ranger said...

Morality in this country is "shot":

"One McConnell [campaign] bumper sticker reads, succinctly, "COAL. GUNS. FREEDOM."

If you don't think this kind of rhetoric and the deaths of these black kids are are connected, you need to think again.

Sandra Gore said...

On a more hopeful note, then police chief (white) Combs has been indicted for fatal shooting of unarmed black Bernard Bailey in South Carolina. Took 4 years but it happened.

Bob from San Luis said...

Ann: Your comment about the police being "poorly trained" could not be more spot on; of the recent shooting deaths by police officers in the line of duty, how many of those incidents escalated from a face-to-face encounter that changed from questioning to physical confrontation to using a non-lethal weapon or technique to then, finally resorting to deadly force? None of them; in every case recently, the immediate response is to use deadly force first; no effort made at scaling down the confrontation, no chance for the alleged suspect to retreat or allow themselves to be subdued, they are executed on the spot.
I understand that being a law enforcement officer is going to put a person into dangerous situations, confronting potentially dangerous individuals, but if you are not receiving adequate training to be able to deal with suspects in a non-lethal manner, you have no business wearing a badge and carrying a firearm. Deadly force is supposed to be the last resort, not the first choice in dealing with a potentially dangerous situation.

Churadogs said...

Yes. All connected. With the added issue of fear of black folks. Was listening to a researcher who interviewed cops, thousands of them, and what was at the heart of most of the white cops was a genuine fear of black males. It wasn't racism per se, it was a genuine fear that this black male was going to kill them. (Officer Wilson was 6/2, Brown was 6/4 yet Wilson saw "a demon," he felt like a "little kid") That's deep, unconscious stuff, much of it coming from our collective popular culture -- always scary black/brown men as villains, and old Nat Turner out of the swamps. And much of it coming from our racial divides. Most white cops don't live in the communities they police so black people are The Other, alien, scary, unknown. (And demonized by the dog-whistle music of the right wing as inherently criminal, inherently suspicious, inherently dangerous and NOT "real Americans."

This is a poisonous brew and runs deep in our history. I can only hope that the protests and attention from these killings will bring some real change in how we police ourselves.

And a wake up call as to how this poison is sickening all of us. America is getting to a place where none of us can breathe.

Churadogs said...

Apropos the discussion above, here's a link to a fabulous study of how our brains trick us into being a "racist." Lizard brain and twisted popular culture -- a bad mix.

mom said...

if you don't say anything, nothing will change.

Mike Green said...

Gee, where is all the outrage from the open carry gun nuts decrying a person shot just because they were carrying a gun?

Churadogs said...

Mike: Heh-heh. You're right. The 12 year-old kid was simply open carrying. Oh, wait. He was open-carrying while Black. That's different.