First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me
Pastor Martin Niemoller, speaking about Nazi Germany
First, they’ve come for the people of color.
America’s police forces increasingly serve as a a private corporate army, beyond the reach of the law.
But our nation is distracted by race. And millions of white Americans are under the illusion that what was done to Michael Brown and Eric Garner can’t happen to them.
These un-prosecuted killings of African-American men go way beyond racial prejudice.
They are the calling card of an Orwellian state:
America’s founders established grand juries to protect citizens from frivolous prosecution. But today’s corporate state has twisted the system to protect killer police from public scrutiny, putting them above the law.
The ultimate message is clear: police can kill American citizens without cause and face no public trial. (Steven Rosenfeld lays out the details at Alternet http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/10-ways-system-rigged-protect-cops-who-kill )
The current focus is on skin color. Thankfully, Americans throughout the US have risen up in protest, demanding social justice and an end to racism.
But the larger issue is a police apparatus now inflicting random terror in service of a corporate state that has mutated far beyond public control.
We are still being assaulted by a cynical 40-year drug war used to disenfranchise and violate the basic rights of millions of Americans with no real recourse.
In the name of that drug war, and the one on terror, police randomly confiscate (steal) billions in cash from citizens of all races, in direct violation of the Bill of Rights and any sense of a real legal system. Police departments use these officially sanctioned armed robberies to help fund heavy war-time weaponry also coming to them as “surplus” from the federal military.
Citizens of color, the young, the poor and the elderly are being systematically stripped of the right to vote by a modern electronic Jim Crow. The dominance of a corporate one-party system is furthered by the use of privately-owed, easily-rigged electronic voting machines. .
The NSA and other official agencies are spying on us without restraint.
Our ability to communicate through an open, neutral internet is also under attack. Meanwhile a San Diego rapper with no record of violence has been charged with multiple “crimes” based on his lyrics. As anger with America’s billionaire elite spreads, we can certainly expect the counter-attacks on open speech to escalate.
That the victims of these latest police killings are most often men of color is tragic. It also gives the corporate media the perfect distraction behind which to hide the root problem.
Throughout our history, race has been the reliably lethal facade for all sorts of political repression. It’s the hate-filled poison perfectly designed to divide and distract us.
The sickness is real enough. But the ultimate cancer we face is the rise of an all-powerful corporate state and its iron grip on a violent, unaccountable private army licensed to kill—no matter what the race or cause—while knowing that the once-sacred right to a public trial does not apply to them. Should the attacks on the internet succeed, we’ll also be hearing less and less about them.
Thus we are all in the shoes of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Those who think themselves somehow above it all by virtue of race or class are simply not paying attention.
Unless we rise up to secure social justice and our basic legal rights, we’re all just a single cop away from being as dead as the very latest victim of official violence… at any time, for no reason, with no recourse.
HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at www.solartopia.org along with SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. His upcoming book is THE SPIRAL OF US HISTORY.