In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and worldwide protests against police violence: internationalism in the Fourth of July, rain-jacketless National Guardsmen, and professionals concerned over the safety of Chick-Fil-A.
Consciousness changes so rapidly these days, in our era of social media, the tweet, the viral Facebook post and YouTube video. In the early 20th century we had something comparable, the telegraph. And now everyone has their own telegraph in their hands, and they send abbreviated texts not just to close relations, but broadcast them to the entire world, with video, multiple videos from different angles of the same event. One doesn’t even have to wait for these things to be published; you can watch state repression live with hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of others, all at the same time.
The powers that be must be very frightened.
They might be even more frightened because Trump wields that same technology. Saying the quiet things aloud, you know.
So, notes on the social climate.
Echoing and mocking the retort of “All lives matter” to the slogan “Black lives matter”, Twitter users are gleefully extending that concept internationally. The connection is being made between imperialist violence abroad and state repression at home. Over and over again I see “the chickens have come home to roost”, and even, in reference to the coming 4th of July, “America’s independence doesn’t matter until everyone’s independence matters.” Americans share photos of the Hong Kong protests, trying to learn from their peers, Palestinians share information on the various types of arms used in population suppression, Brasilians share videos of how to neutralise tear gas canisters with traffic cones. Not good news for anyone seeking to stoke jingoism and national chauvinism in preparation for a new great power war.
Amidst all this, virtually no coverage of escalating tensions in Syria. On Wednesday, US Special Forces fought Russian troops in an hours-long stand-off to prevent the Russian patrol from entering Dêrik, northern Syria.
As protests nationwide are met with increasing police violence—livestreamed to the whole world—the police departments in many cities have decided to let the protests alone, if only briefly. In Oakland, California and elsewhere, without the police, the marches have turned to singing, dancing… The politicians in those places have made the bet that it would be better to leave their workers’ gatherings unmolested, so as to not further enflame social tensions. They are scared and they see below them a social volcano waiting to explode. Calculations, not sincerity. Now it’s left to be seen as to whether these will embolden the workers and youth to make more radical political demands, or lull them into a false sense of triumph… D.C.’s mayor had one of its streets renamed “Black Lives Matter Way”, across from the White House, and had the road painted in bold, yellow letters. A strategic decision to save the White House, notwithstanding Trump’s injunctions to “dominate” all social opposition.
The political establishment is closing ranks amidst rising calls for defunding or outright abolition of the police.
I have never seen those calls in a public space before. And now tens of thousands are echoing it. Not simply reform—abolition!
Do they know that that demand will not be carried out by the class that depends upon the police to enforce inequality? They will find out, sooner or later… We’ll have more black politicians, and even more black cops, and the class lines will become ever starker. –If it gets to that point. Assuming nothing else happens before then…
The National Guard has been deployed to D.C., and far from intimidating the protesters into submission, the soldiers have only increased the contempt of the city’s workers. A vet marched by a sorry excuse of a phalanx on June 4th, excoriated the young men (they look like kids!) and yelled at them to “Close up the gaps!”
“Close up the gaps! What are you doing?! What the fuck is this?! Don’t look at each other, look at me! Listen to what your Staff Sergeant says! Listen [to] what your Staff Sergeant is saying! That’s right, Sarge! Sarge, hey good job Sarge! LOOK AT THIS GAP! LOOK AT THIS FUCKING GAP! Holy, fucking, shit! You can’t close a fucking gap?!”
An email from a commander in the Army Reserve says, “There are NO circumstances that we would ever shoot at our fellow Americans! We trust law enforcement to do so.” A quote from Lieutenant General Charles D. Luckey, commanding general of the US Army Reserve Command…
And the boys take refuge in the hallways of the White House after the clouds break rain, because the brass deemed it correct to provide them not a single Gore-Tex, and they sit down slumping against the walls, open bags of snacks. Wishing for home, or maybe their woobies. Another man complains that his unit was deployed to a hotel, stayed there for eight hours, then went home.
“I’m NG, currently on state active duty because of the protests. Thankfully our most eventful incident so far involved a medic providing aid to a protester who was hit by a car trying to evade police. It’s super weird. I would definitely prefer not to be here doing this, and I’m super uncomfortable supporting police with how they’ve acted. I would much rather be supporting the protesters…”
I hope people can see that our military is different than the police. They don’t want to be there. Many want to be protesting with you. They don’t want to be ordered to attack protesters and they cannot just quit like an officer can quit the police.— Mother_of_four (@_MotherOfFour) June 4, 2020
On Buffalo, Idaho:
“That new video of the fuzz approaching an old-ass man then push him to the ground and he’s lights out? Well there’s about 50 cops around, [and] the only ones that check the casualty are the NG folks. This shit is bananas man.”
“Blood immediately starts pooling behind his head and cops keep walking, push the cameraman aside. Fuckin’ insane.”
“What in the fuck. Thank you for sharing this. And did I see the cop stop the other from bending down to check on him? Jesus Christ.”
“Bro, what the fuck is this.”
“That’s fucked up for real.”
“So can any of you envision a point at which NG troops are compelled to intervene on the behalf of protesters because law enforcement is getting out of hand?”
Everyone knows them, the most infamous being the verbally aggressive female “Karen”. They weep over Gucci stores instead of the dead, cannot imagine how such “riots” would be beneficial to their “cause”. Successful dentists and their clients alike share their fears for their gated neighbourhoods, jokes—only half jokes—about buying firearms to protect their homes. (I had to keep my mouth shut, so to speak, during a dentist’s appointment last week.)
“So have you been keeping yourself safe?”
“From the riots or from Covid?”
“Honestly, we just need to come down on them more. Stronger, dominate them. Then we’ll restore peace and order in this country.”
The nurses at my hospital were half-joking about their fears that rioters would burn down the local Chick-Fil-A. One physician said, “This has been the worst year ever.” He is currently working on deadbolting everything in his house and making an escape latch door through his roof. One nurse is doing the same. Another physician complained:
“People get paid [to protest]. The out-of-towners. All the businesses are gonna be boarded up. I feel sorry for all the businesses.”
They openly joke about shooting protesters, these people sworn to protect human life. Half of them come to work in “Blue Lives Matter” hoodies. This was before Floyd’s killing. Though, I admit, I haven’t seen them wear them this time…
During the elections four years ago, a nurse contemptuously branded the hopeful, left-wing supporters of Bernie Sanders as “childish” and “immature”.
“These people don’t understand that they can’t be impatient. Change takes time You make meaningful reforms, compromises. You have to work with the other party. Eventually, you’ll get what you want.”
That same week he openly and without shame stated that “in the event of a revolution” he would hide out in his private log cabin in the Colorado mountains.
Link to the Reddit thread referenced.