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Thomas Adcock: Woke

Woke

America Screams ‘Enough!’

 Police savagery, racism, poverty, environmental destruction, fascism

by Thomas Adcock

Copyright © 2020 — Thomas Adcock

NEW YORK CITY, near America

Thirty days that shook the world began on the first day of June when hundreds of thousands of outraged Americans—of all colors, creeds, and ages—overwhelmed the streets in cities and towns throughout the United States, all of us pumping the air with fists demanding justice for a dead African American man named George Floyd.

We Americans touched off allied demonstrations of support in countries as disparate as Britain, Brazil, France, Kenya, Germany, and Turkey. The match that lit the flame was the murder, this time in Minneapolis, of yet another black man by a sadistic white cop, in this case named Derek Chauvin.

The killer Chauvin was aided by three of his police fraternity: two of whom dutifully shackled and cuffed Mr. Floyd face down on concrete pavement, thus securing the victim for a crude execution at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin, with a third standing by to scan a gathering crowd for signs of interference. 

Cell-phone video of the execution, televised internationally, showed a nonchalant Officer Chauvin, hand in pocket and obliging the camera as he crushed a knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds while the dying man pleaded for life, with what is now a common refrain in American police-civilian confrontations: “I can’t breathe…Please, man, I can’t breathe.”

In effect, the means of dispatching Mr. Floyd was horizontal lynching—the new normal for extralegal revenge, almost always unnecessary and unwarranted. With old timey lynchings, in which a black man (almost always) is hanged vertically until he can no longer breathe, death comes in about four minutes.

Although occasions of police murder are now on par with slaughters at schools and Walmart stores by civilian gunmen, the incident in Minneapolis proved one atrocity too many in an era gushing with atrocities, not just here in my country but wherever ancient crimes persist—state-sanctioned brutality in service to the master class, fascism, racial and economic and environmental injustice. And poverty, the greatest crime of all. At long last, we are energized and furious—and inspired to demand systemic change. That is change in itself. As Mr. Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna said while riding his fatherly  shoulders, “Daddy changed the world!”

On the first of June, we ordinary Americans put aside squabbles to scream in one voice: “Enough!” For we are Americans of greater morality than our government, and the private interests that own its leaders. We are joined by hundreds of thousands more ordinary people beyond our shores, likewise powered by righteous anger over the common ground of time-stained grievances.

All together, by the millions, we launched a mighty roar of protest a month ago. We continue to roar. Hear us in the streets today, chanting our anthems: “No justice, no peace!” and “Power to the People!” There are those in high position who will cover their ears; there always are. But history—or even sooner, criminal prosecutors—will not treat them tenderly.

Even in this godawful time of mass unemployment and financial wreckage brought on by the coronavirus plague, parallel with the plague of Donald Trump, the beat of noble rebellion goes on, largely sounded by a new generation. Back in 1964, as a troubadour of America’s civil rights and antiwar movements, then 23-year-old Bob Dylan led the singing of another anthem: “The times, They are a-Changin’.”

Today, it is 17-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden who points the way. Hear her thoughts, recently expressed via London’s BBC network: 

“It feels like we have passed some kind of social tipping point where people are starting to realize that we cannot keep looking away from these [unjust] things. We cannot keep sweeping these things under the carpet, these injustices.

“People are finding their voices, and finding that they can actually have an impact.

“In a crisis, you act, and you act with necessary force. …Suddenly, people in power they will do whatever it takes since you cannot put a price on human life.

“It feels like the [coronavirus global pandemic] has changed the rôle of science in our society.

“The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today’s political and economic systems. That isn’t an opinion. That’s a fact.”

In her essay for the June 28 issue of the New York Times Magazine, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones puts forth the case for what some consider a radical change-up in America’s political and economic systems. Titled “It is Time for Reparations,” Ms. Hannah-Jones proposes a logical pathway to justice for a minority population oppressed since 1619, the year the first slave ship from Africa landed in the colony of Virginia:

            “It feels different this time.

“Black Americans protesting the violation of their rights are a defining tradition of this country. In the last century, there have been hundreds of uprisings in black communities in response to white violence.

“Most of the time, these uprisings have produced hand-wringing and consternation but few necessary structural changes…

“The changes we’re seeing today in some ways seem shockingly swift, and in other ways rage-inducingly slow. After years of black-led activism, protest and organizing, the weeks of protest since George Floyd’s killing have moved lawmakers to ban chokeholds by police officers, consider stripping law enforcement of the qualified that has made it almost impossible to hold responsible officers who kill, and discuss moving significant parts of ballooning police budgets into funding for social services. …The cascading effect of these protests has been something to behold. … [Still, though,] white Americans have long known that in a country where black people have been kept disproportionately poor and prevented from building wealth, rules and policies involving money can be nearly as effective for maintaining the color line as legal segregation.

“Wealth, not income, is the means to security in America. Wealth—assets and investments minus debt—is what enables you to buy homes in safer neighborhoods with better amenities and better-funded schools. It is what enables you to send your children to college without saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and what provides you money to put a down payment on a house. It is what prevents family emergencies or unexpected job losses from turning catastrophes that leave you homeless and destitute. It is what ensures what every parent wants—that your children will have fewer struggles than you did. Wealth is security and peace of mind. …[I]t is white America’s centuries-long economic head start that most effectively maintains racial caste today.”

It is the final weekend of June as I write, a revolutionary month in the chronicle of time. Still, we march and roar, here in New York and in U.S. cities from coast to coast—black and white, Asian and indigenous, men and women, young and old. We have tasted the sweetness of our power. As the kids say, we are “woke.”

Veterans of social protest, those of my own generation, remember a Pete Seeger song that sustained us as marched in the streets of 1960s America, never mind the threat of violent police officers—

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

We’ll walk hand in hand, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

We shall live in peace, some day.

We shall not be moved

We are not afraid, today.

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome, some day.

The little man in the big white house in Washington has rendered himself irrelevant to the patriotic spirit of June 2020, due to ineptitude and giddy ignorance and personal indecency and public corruption and wanton cruelty. In six months’ time, perhaps sooner, the little man shall be evicted by us ordinary Americans sick and tired of his tenancy.

Most of us are sadder but wiser for knowing the little man in the big white house. Accordingly, we shall keep a weather eye on those among us of fascist impulse, those who opened the door to one of their own—a man envisioned by Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). Take note of Il Duce’s purported last words before summary execution by Italian partisans as he attempted to flee to Switzerland: “You may kill me now, but I will come back as the leader of another nation, a much more powerful nation.” 

In the manner of his fascist predecessors, the little man in Washington revels in concocting demonstrations of false strength that thrill his followers and hoodwinks one half the American political establishment, namely his sycophantic Republican Party. The party and its adherents fail to see the flaccid theatre for what it truly is: a mask that hides the existential fear of a pathetic little man.

Among the latest theatrical productions was an American remake of nazi agents provocateur who set fire to the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933, blaming it on communists plotting against a new government under a freshly appointed chancellor, Adolf Hitler. Nowadays, the little man in Washington speaks of “deep state” agitators and “far-out leftwing radicals” plotting against him and the America he proposes to “make great again.”

On the afternoon of June 1, the little man desired theatre—as a tough-guy response to thousands of us ordinary people engaged in orderly, peaceful protest against police savagery just outside the big house gates. The little man summoned a gang of militarized goons to hurl tear gas canisters into the crowd—a battlefield war crime, as specified by the Geneva Protocol of 1925—and thwack troublemakers with billy clubs. As an added touch, a U.S. Navy medical helicopter buzzed overhead the terrified crowd, also a war crime per the Geneva Convention of 1949.

The aim of this stagecraft was to allow Donald Trump to manfully stride past the demonstrators toward St. John’s Church, there to solemnly hoist the Holy Bible for waiting TV news cameras. Which he did, though he held the scriptures upside down upon after his toothsome daughter presented Daddy with a good book in her Max Mara leather handbag, retailing at $1,540 (€1,365).

Meanwhile, clouds of tear gas wafted over the White House and its surrounding landscape of exquisite lawns and a majestic statue of a racist past president—Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), who happily led an extermination of Native Americans resistant to his Indian Removal Act of 1830, which seized lands long occupied by indigenous tribes of the West.

The spectacle in Washington on the first of June might have been the last act of a man called “Fatso the Führer” behind his wide back, a man whose attempted condolence calls were declined by the families of African American men and women slaughtered by white cops. But the little man’s show goes on, and will surely go on past the latest scene I can include by publication deadline:

According to news broken by the New York Times—with follow-up confirming reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post—Donald Trump was made aware that President Vladimir Putin of Russia paid bounties to Taliban thugs who murdered twenty soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, most of the victims American along with a few British.

Mr. Trump, a famously habitual liar, denies having been dutifully briefed on the Kremlin’s contract murders, even as the United Kingdom of Great Britain confirms such briefing. Formally and collectively speaking, Russia’s conduct amounts to an act of war against the U.S. and the U.K. by a hostile nation.

The little man’s response? Shortly after March, the last time it is known that Mr. Trump was briefed on the perfidy of his friend Mr. Putin, the president of the United States lobbied the powerful intergovernmental economic organization known as the Group of Seven, to re-admit Russia, expelled for the violent takeover of foreign territories.

A dear friend of mine in none other than Minneapolis—Bill Semans by name—has for years asked what now seems right and reasonable to ask: Is Donald Trump an asset or an agent of the Kremlin? To which I would add: Besides being president, is Donald Trump an American traitor?

Article 3, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution defines traitorous complicity in a foreign act of war as “adhering to [the] enemies [of the United States], giving them aid and comfort.”

I am reliably informed by a Washington source in Congress that important persons are studying accompanying legal papers related to Article 3, Section 2. Just as another group of important persons in the Pentagon are developing contingency plans in the event that Mr. Trump might require military escort to remove him from the White House should he not accept the results of November’s presidential election.

We live in interesting times, as the Chinese say. And as has been said several times in this space, “I refuse to live in a country like this, and I am not leaving.” With millions of others, here and abroad, I shall participate in noisy demands for change in an America whose sins we mean to honestly address. The time has come for brave talk, and brave action. The time is now.

We ordinary people are mindful of a couplet from William Shakespeare’s play, “King Lear”—The weight of this sad time we must obey/Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

—Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag

tadcocknyc@gmail.com

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