Monday, August 29, 2022

"Old Rocky Face, Look Forth!"

So I'm back to my question: "Why wasn't "America being tested" in the civil rights struggle? Or the anti-war movement, both of which roiled the streets of the '60s. Well, some of the streets; and a few of the campuses. It was 1970 before that "ferment" reached Kent State, where none of the anti-war protestors (a minority of the students) were shot or killed; and where all the National Guard soldiers were excused because the students were either doing bad things (protesting an illegitimate war) or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time (on their college campus going to class).  No, none of the students doing "bad things" were shot, but guilt by association supported the law enforcement-military power structure, so, you know; that's fine.

I saw riots in the streets when King was killed.  I saw police riots in Chicago in '68, and in the streets of Selma and Montgomery and Birmingham and on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, but non-white people were the reason for the riots (they were demanding justice, in each case), or college students and "hippies" were involved (Chicago), so it wasn't "America being tested," it was "justice being done" and "order being restored."  Hoover spied on King, and COINTELPRO spied on a lot of people, but again, that wasn't "America being tested."  The gross injustices of Jim Crow and segregation didn't "test America."  But now that white privileged people are complaining about how Trump is being treated (and not quietly also about how non-white people are not showing enough respect and obeisance to white people), America is "being tested."

How does that work again?

Revelations about Tuskegee (the experiments even now only 90 years ago) and the Tulsa Massacre (just over 100 years ago now, but only recently "rediscovered"), rolling people down the street with water cannons, dogs assaulting peaceful marchers, JFK shot in the street, and then King, and then RFK; and none of that "tested America"?  Yeah, maybe it did, but it's curious the hand-wringing is at its worst because the people we are supposed to be afraid of are white people.  When non-whites are violent?  Well, you know, we kinda expect that.  It's subtle racism one way ("those people are animals!") or the other ("well, consider how unjust we've been to them.  They can't help it!").  White people threaten violence? "It's the new civl war!  It's the end of civilization as we know it!"  I know there was fear of "civil unrest" when the Black Panthers were a force to be reckoned with, but when it's the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, it's suddenly "a republic, if you can keep it.  And you probably can't."  We were pretty darn sure the republic was bigger than the Black Panthers.  We don't seem to be as sure about the Proud Boys.  Huh.

I thought non-white people were supposed to be the existential threat and the scariest ones.  Yeah, I know that's terribly racist, and I mean it rhetorically, not as a legitimate point of argument.  But then why is it the fear factor is driven up and meant to be taken more seriously when white people are the ones supposedly ready to take arms against our very society?  Because the only people truly terrified of the non-whites rising up to destroy everything white people had, were the racists whites we're now supposed to be so afraid of.  The very scary people are the white people we expect to be civilized.  Whoops!  There's that racism again!  Or is it just America's hidden wound?

And I still wonder:  what's the benefit of being afraid?  Cui bono?  The scary people?  Or the people telling me to be afraid of the scary people?

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