State-Sanctioned Murder and Hollow Politicians’ Words

440px-Tompkins_square_riot_1874 The police kill citizens in the United States.  The bodies speak for themselves.  And we should not turn them into mere body counts; we should know their names.  Even so, some type of blinking counting calculator, like the one that tracks the national debt, would help place this state-sanctioned violence into perspective.

The horror is that the very people who are supposed to protect you can kill you. This undermines, overturns, overthrows all that we believe in as Americans.  When the blue line gets defensive — and, before the dust settles, asks for justice for their families, though they did not speak in the same language about the families of the people that their officers just shot — it rings hollow. The gap between citizens and their protectors turns into a ringing noise that echoes through a Death Valley, or a Grand Canyon, bouncing off cliffs in unexpected ways.

As Norman Stamper, Seattle’s police chief during the 1999 anti-globalism uprising, said, we don’t want to be civilians — we are citizens.  And we don’t want our 18,000 police precincts to be militarized, making us all just what — collateral damage?

The ringing noise indicates how great this crisis of legitimacy is in the United States — including not just the sitting government, the presumed elected government, or the hopeful government.  It’s a crisis on both sides of American politics — the political process (elections), and what the election achieves (governance).  Police brutality betrays the most basic relationship — that between the citizen and the state.

The national election is not legitimate when Republicans nominate someone like Donald Trump — who scares the whole world, not just Democrats or “Feel the Bern Democrats.”  Even Republicans who get poked by Trump refuse to back down and won’t support him.  Even the Koch brothers refuse to give him any of their $898 million.

This is not to say you can relax.  No.  No.  No.  The Republican money is going darker, it’s getting shoved into little dark holes — that is, smaller races. Think of this like rats — nesting, gnawing, biting babies or the elderly in the deep caverns of government — municipal elections where no one participates, where corruption runs rampant from Minnesota to Texas, from New York and New Jersey to Louisiana, and from Nevada to Montana, then down to Arizona, and back up to Oregon.

It is the politicians from these races that cause the most harm — kill the most people they were democratically elected to serve.  Balanced as they were President Obama’s words can not console the nation enough.  Meanwhile, Democratic contender Hillary Clinton is out of step in referencing President Lincoln‘s words.  They do not resonate — at least this the July convention month. #



-1  Violence begets violence.  It is escalating across this land.  As I watch with horror, however, I am heartened by the impact this beloved man — Philando Castile – is making in death.  His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, in her shock, schooled this nation into shame.

Like Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till, Diamond is standing up for all black men murdered by vigilantes deputized in effect by the police.  In Philando’s case being murdered by the police is one step closer than vigilantes, and one large step worse than it was in 1955.  Sixty-one years of not enough progress, for sure.

Barack Obama should come home to attend all the funerals, in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, so that this will trigger the right type of mobilization – real citizen participation for real reform.

Obama needs to use his last days in office to lead the nation, with the heavy hand of executive action superseding municipal, local, and state actors like the police, whom the United States of America funds on a national level.

Family First in Face of 2016 Horrors

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*Diamond Reynolds Graphic Video-Police Killing Castile Philando

Given today’s and yesterday’s police-brutality news, the O’Briens’ family-first policy will soon revolve around a First Amendment freedom search. And by search, I mean a journey. What this means is that each member of our family unit (4) will explore or figure out what we individually mean when we say we are all for freedom of expression (speech, press, assembly, association, and expression).

Fred and I will undoubtedly disagree. We reside on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Yet I know this does not mean we will be disagreeable, or even uncivil, in our dinner-time discussions. We’re not shy about searching for core primary values (i.e. substantive values, not due-process ones, like hollow terms such as meritocracy, freedom, liberty, or fairness). No one in this family sees eye-to-eye on fairness, since it depends upon each person’s perspective.

Now, the other two members of our nuclear family will be more reluctant to write it down. Being age-appropriate argumentative teens, I suspect, they will not “necessarily” think this is a good dinner-table discussion, and will argue throughout the meal how onerous (and unfair) a demand Fred and I are imposing.

At least it beats my “design your own dystopia” request of a few summers back. Being in Italy at that time, I thought it only fair that the junior members of this nuclear family should think about this topic. After all, they could feel the presence of Antonio Gramsci, Machiavelli, or even the ghost of St. Augustine. Alas, no one followed up on their dinner-table assignments, but we did have a lively discussion about political utopias and dystopias — enough of a discussion to know that we’re leaning more toward the dys- than the u- in these long, hot summer days of 2016’s horrors.

*Click on Link as You Tube Took Down Live Video