Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Killing and Our Current American Crisis - an essay by John Grant

Kill one person, it’s called murder.
Kill 100,000, it’s called foreign policy.

– A popular bumper sticker

Here is an article I just came across in the CP, which resonates my sentiments in an article I wrote recently with the mayhem and senseless killings I see all around from Dallas to Dhaka. John Grant writes, "Everybody seems angry and frustrated these days. What’s important is what people do with that anger and frustration. It’s also important to understand the roots of all this anger." He says, when we vent our frustration and anger in a non-violent or peaceful way, it is no problem. However, it becomes a problem when it is done in a violent way.

He says, "The problem we face in this nation comes from another quarter: It comes from those who, for one reason or another, feel compelled to address their frustrations, fears and sense of insulted self-image by using violence. This category involves people of all classes and levels of status. I would put former President George W. Bush and others like him in this category of resorting rashly to senseless violence. The category would also include Jeronimo Yanez, the cop who shot Philando Castile in St. Paul, and Micah Johnson, the military veteran who murdered five cops in Dallas."

He rightly complains that much TV coverage has been made on grieving relatives of the police cops who got killed, but how about those undeserving Black Americans and Iraqis who got killed? "The dead in Iraq never seem to get much attention, and the crimes of the ruling class seem to just slip away into some obscure memory hole."

He continues, "I have no trouble understanding the anger that motivated Micah Johnson, as I can understand how his military weapons training boomeranged in his head into a misguided terrorist act. It’s called empathy. Which is not the same thing as sympathy; to empathize means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes — even into their head. It’s an effort to understand, not excuse — versus the usual demonization process and intensifying cycle of violence. There’s a tradition of black veterans as justice-seeking vigilantes. John Singleton’s film Rosewood is about a massacre of blacks in 1923 in Rosewood, Florida, and a WWI black vet played by the imposing Ving Rhames leads an effort to fight back. There’s a couple blacksploitation films from the 70s with the same theme utilizing black Vietnam vets as heroes fighting “the man” back home. I can also understand what motivated George W. Bush to invade Iraq and take the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings there. The plot doesn’t seem difficult to grasp: As a leader, he was caught with his pants down on 9/11 and he reacted with “shock and awe” in an unrelated place to bolster a fearsome image. It all went south from there. The point is, while I empathize with both Johnson’s and Bush’s decisions and their accompanying actions, I repudiate them both as criminal. As the Chilcot Report makes very clear about British Prime Minister Tony Blair, these leaders knew what they were doing. They lied their way into an invasion; they were not “misled” by poor intel. Unfortunately, something with the partisan-transcending integrity of a Chilcot Report is unlikely to happen in our culture at this time. The types of killing being discussed here — state mass killing, individual police killing and individual pay-back killing (some might call it terrorism) — are treated differently in our criminal justice system for obvious reasons, most of them political and involving the relative status of the killer and the victim."

Like me, he echoes, "I have no need to see George W. Bush in prison; I just want his actions officially recognized as a national disgrace for Americans and, more important, the people of Iraq — so nothing like it will ever happen again. "

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