“You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest”

Ferguson, Michael Brown, Mike Brown, #michaelbrown, #mikebrown

Afghanistan War veteran Paul Szoldra:

In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, “We are a military force, and we are in control right now.” Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.

And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. “The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop,” tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.

If there’s one thing I learned in Afghanistan, it’s this: You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest.

Afro-Punk (AKA The Story of My Life)

afropunk

Pretty much sums up my adolescence/early adulthood/current state of existence (I’m so old I remember when being black and playing rock/punk/metal was a radical, disruptive act, etc):

Bonus: Interview w/ James Spooner, director of Afro-Punk: The Movie:

Also, too: Live performances (because AGGRO):

 

The Murder of #MichaelBrown And Why ‘Black Rage’ Is Entirely Justified

Michael Brown, Ferguson

MSNBC, quoting Dorian Johnson, eyewitness to the shooting by Ferguson, MO police of Michael Brown:

“There are two crowds. An older crowd that wants justice but there’s anger. Then it’s the younger crowd that wants revenge but there’s anger there, too… . What do you expect when something is steadily occurring and its hurting the community and nobody is speaking out or doing anything about it. I feel their anger, I feel their disgust.”

Michael Brown, Ferguson

Brittany Cooper:

Mike Brown is dead. He is dead for no reason. He is dead because a police officer saw a 6-foot-4, 300-plus-pound black kid, and miscalculated the level of threat. To be black in this country is to be subject to routine forms of miscalculated risk each and every day.  Black people have every right to be angry as hell about being mistaken for predators when really we are prey. The idea that we would show no rage as we accrete body upon body – Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown (and those are just our summer season casualties) — is the height of delusion. It betrays a stunning lack of empathy, a stunning refusal of people to grant the fact of black humanity, and in granting our humanity, granting us the right to the full range of emotions that come with being human. Rage must be expressed. If not it will tear you up from the inside out or make you tear other people up. Usually the targets are those in closest proximity. The disproportionate amount of heart disease, cancers, hypertension, obesity, violence and other maladies that plague black people is as much a product of internalized, unrecognized, unaddressed rage as it is anything else.

Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us.  They are a compass pointing us to a raging fire just beneath the surface of our national consciousness. We feel it. We hear it. Our nostrils flare with the smell of it.

James Baldwin called it “the fire next time.” A fire shut up in our bones. A sentient knowledge, a kind of black epistemology, honed for just such a time as this. And with this knowledge, a clarity that says if “we live by the sword, we will die by it.”

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Bag News Notes:

For these acts and images to do more than express the release of anger over one more senseless killing — fueled by the invisible crisis in America of a two-tiered economic system, the rage over institutional racism and the persistent harassment of black youth on town and city sidewalks by increasingly militarized police departments — is still another textbook example of America’s racial and class polarization. The looting photos should not be fodder for finger wagging or utterances of “what do you expect?” Rather, as transient reactions to the same impoverished and marginalizing conditions that spawn these meager “convenience” franchises in the first place, acts of violence — sensationalized as they are — are little more than one more (albeit shocking) expression in a constellation of of cause-and-effect.

Michael Brown, Ferguson

Update: Mia McKenzie (h/t):

I wish I didn’t have to tell some of you that victim-blaming when a Black person is murdered by police is a huge no. That it doesn’t matter if they were on the honor roll, or smoked weed sometimes, or were going to college, or what brand of hoodie they wore, or even if they spent time in jail at some point. That the right to walk down the street without being a target for murder by the police isn’t a right one should have to prove themselves worthy of. That we should all just have that right by virtue of being human beings.

When you’re Black, you don’t always get the benefit of being seen as a human being, though. Black people are seen as ‘up to no good’ by default. The truth is that our lives, like anyone else’s, are filled with good choices as well as mistakes, achievements we’re proud of as well as missed opportunities. Successes. Failures. Just like everyone else. But what’s also true is that we, as marginalized people, get fewer do-overs. The system is rigged to punish us at every possible opportunity. Longer prison sentences compared to whites who commit the same crimes and disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for even Blackpre-schoolers attests to this.

If we were to talk about a victim’s past, we would have to talk about it in a context of oppression. But, you know what? We don’t need to talk about it at all. Because it is irrelevant to issue of their victimization. Just like bringing up a victim’s past to justify her rape is wrong, bringing up a victim’s past to justify his murder by police is also wrong. Yes, even when those people are Black.

SHOCKING: Republican Voter Suppression Efforts Suppress Democratic Votes

The NY Times:

Several recent polls and studies suggest that long waiting times in some places depressed turnout in 2012 and that lines were longest in cities, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken shortly after Election Day, 18 percent of Democrats said they waited at least a half-hour to vote, compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans.

Wait — it gets better:

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis.

A separate analysis, by an Ohio State University professor and The Orlando Sentinel, concluded that more than 200,000 voters in Florida “gave up in frustration” without voting.

“When I got there, the line was around the building,” said Jonathan Piccolo, 33, who said he had waited nearly eight hours to cast a ballot in Miami-Dade County the Monday before Election Day.

“It’s one of the most sacred rights you have,” Mr. Piccolo added. “They should make it as painless as possible.”

Features, not bugs, kids. Democracy is apparently a major impediment to Real America.

Update: A reminder from comments that voter suppression tactics are a burgeoning export market for Uncle Sam.

Creeping Fascism Like Woah

Business Insider:

The AP reports that 5,000 Golden Dawn supporters marched past the US Embassy in Athens, chanting anti-Turkish, anti-US and anti-immigrant slogans. The anti-US feeling was prompted by memories of a 1996 territorial dispute between Greece and Turkey that only ended peacefully after the intervention of the US, and led to three Greek navy officers dying in a helicopter crash.

Related: The Indy: How Golden Dawn is nurturing the next generation; Der Spiegel: ‘Golden Dawn’ Fosters Ties with German Neo-Nazis

IOKIYAR to Infinity.

Ok, so I know IOKIYAR is (and has been for ages) SOP in DC. Still, the manner in which the Village took Rosengate oh-so seriously (and turned it up TO ELEVEN) but is now suddenly backpeddling re: The Nuge’s semi-coherent call for Obama’s assassination (gosh, campaign surrogates sure do say the darndest things!*) is especially galling.

Steve M. breaks it down:

 [T]he press will shrug off Nugent because the press has been in denial for years about just how insane right-wingers are. No matter what angry, extreme, menacing, paranoid thing right-wingers are up to, the press is always looking for signs that it’s all just a silly phase, all just the work of a few outliers.

Mainstream journalists don’t want to admit that the vast majority of people in the right-wing base agree with every word Nugent said.

They certainly don’t want to believe that there’s any genuine connection between what Nugent said and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney! Such an upstanding, responsible man! (Never mind that Romney has done the gang initiation and become one of the right-wing crazies. Never mind that his campaign actively sought out Nugent’s endorsement.)

The press acknowledged that Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke remarks were extreme, and mocked Santorum surrogate Foster Friess. But now it’s Romney we’re talking about — the guy who reassures the press that the GOP is perfectly safe and responsible. Unless Romney picks a Palinesque running mate, no one in the press is ever going to believe that any right-wing extremism has anything to do with him — or his voter base, even though what Nugent said precisely captures that base’s thinking.

I don’t believe the Beltway is starting to fall for Romney like it did McMaverick (tire swing!) But without question Village refs are far more easily worked by sharp-elbowed wingnuts than by progressive interests. Plus, Mittens’ rep as a flag twisting in the political winds perversely appeals to reflexively cynical Villager scorn for anything that resembles sincerity & passion (oh so savvy!)

Which is (sadly) good news for Mitt Romney and bad news for those who appreciate reality that is unobstructed by the fuzzy view from the bottom of some stenographic wanker’s highball.

*Politico may titter at wingnut incitement of violence towards members of the US Federal government — including POTUS — but the Secret Service sure doesn’t.

Dueling Ledes (Compare & Contrast), Redux

AP video, Feb 15, 2011:

A recent [US] government report states the terrorist threat from Canada is greater than from Mexico, and that only 50 kilometres of the border is adequately patrolled.

CBC News, today:

Major job cuts at the Canada Border Services Agency could undermine national security and public safety, according to a security expert and public-sector union officials.

First food safety, now border security? The wanton Harpercon Budget 2012 slash ‘n’ burn austerity spree has so far made Canada a little TOO open for business. And it’s only just begun.

NDP Agriculture critic Malcolm Allen, commenting on cuts to CFIA, sums up what is shaping up to be the primary takeaway from the aftermath (thus far):

“These cuts put Canadians’ lives at risk.”

Image: conner395, Flickr. Used under CC license.